[This is a bi-weekly roundup of news articles and other materials circulating on Resistance and Subversion in the Arab world and reflects a wide variety of opinions. It does not reflect the views of the DARS Page Editors or of Jadaliyya. You may send your own recommendations for inclusion in each bi-weekly roundup to DARS@jadaliyya.com by Sunday night of every second week.]
News & Commentary
The Arab Spring and The Internet: Research Group, by John Wihbey
Claims about the Internet’s impact on the political upheaval in the Middle East and North Africa abound in popular discourse and news reports. Yet there is a fierce and still unresolved debate about what role social and digital media played in catalyzing and sustaining the “Arab Spring.” The following are studies that bring a scholarly lens to questions around the Arab Spring and its roots.
‘Syrian Revolutionary Youth’ Returns Spotlight To Nonviolent Resistance, by Your Middle East
Since the start of the Syrian revolution in March 2011, the regime has targeted, killed and detained nonviolent activists. However, there is still a group of young activists - men and women - who continue their civil resistance despite increasing militarization. Syria Untold searched for these activists, wanting to give them the opportunity to tell their story in their own words.
The Syrian Resistance: A Tale of Two Struggles (Part 1 & 2) by Maciej Bartwoski and Mohja Kahf
Nonviolent resistance dominated the Syrian conflict only for less than one year - under one-third of the average duration needed to produce results. Even failed nonviolent resistance costs much less in lives and property destroyed, while the probability of democratization is still much greater through people power than with even a victorious violent resistance. What can be learned from a clear-eyed evaluation of the Syrian nonviolent resistance?
Voices of Syrian Women in Civil Resistance, by Nada Alwadi
Syrian women played an important role in nonviolent protests when the Syrian uprising began. But as the conflict turned violent, men and their guns came to dominate the struggle. And with the advent of armed insurgent groups stories of civil resistance in Syria have been submerged. There is a need to better understand the challenges which women faced while engaged in nonviolent resistance. Everyday survival activism performed by civic groups, especially women, has kept the movement alive, and this is done in a much more subtle way than overt protests and demonstrations.
Opposition To Intervention In Syria Utilitarian, Not Ideological, by Stephen Zunes
Contrary to arguments that the ruthlessness of the Assad regime in its attempts to suppress the nonviolent pro-democracy struggle in 2011 was the reason for its failure, it should be pointed out that from apartheid South Africa to Suharto`s Indonesia to Pinochet`s Chile, extremely repressive regimes have been brought down through largely nonviolent civil insurrections. Whether or not a movement is primarily violent or nonviolent, what is important is whether it employs strategies and tactics that can maximize its chances of success.
Egypt Faces Third Revolution Unless Workers’ Demands Are Met, Warns Union, by Patrick Kingsley
Egypt may eventually face its third revolution since 2011 if the country`s new government does not meet the demands of its frustrated labour movement, a leading trade unionist has warned. Egypt`s prime minister, Hazem el-Beblawi, recently proposed a minimum wage increase for state employees, in what was supposed to be a populist gesture. But the leader of the Egyptian federation of independent trade unions (Efitu), a group founded during the 2011 uprising that ousted Hosni Mubarak, has denounced the move as too little too late.
The Egyptian Revolution: Beyond False Choices, by Sherif Joseph
The civil resistance of Tahrir, the manipulations of the army, the self-discrediting of the Brotherhood, and the societal outpouring of June 30, 2013 demanding further change, were not fully anticipated, inside or outside Egypt. If they mean anything, they mean that this is a country still intensely engaged in reconstructing its system of authenticating and wielding political power and finding its way beyond false binary choices between would-be power-holders. The name for that is revolution. It is not over.
Turkish Protesters Are Still Said to Be Ailing From Tear Gas, by Sebnem Arsu
Almost 40 percent of protesters surveyed by a Turkish medical group complained of continuing repercussions from their exposure to the tear gas that security forces used to quell last spring’s antigovernment demonstrations, the group says. “The level and type of force used by Turkish authorities against peaceful protesters during the Gezi Park demonstrations, as well as the targeting of doctors who courageously treated them, was unnecessary and inexcusable,” Dr. Vincent Iacopino, the senior medical adviser to Physicians for Human Rights and the report’s co-author, said in a statement.
Kuwait Youth Movement Reignites Opposition, by Mona Kareem
The Civil Democratic Movement was established in April 2012 to call for a “democratic and civil state framed by its Arab and Islamic identity.” The idea came out of the first youth conference held last year to organize and mobilize the demographic group. Three youth groups — Kafy, Change and Development and Constitutional Equality — agreed to merge under the newly established movement. Although young political groups are getting louder with time, with a more precise agenda to offer and debate, such groups do not yet seem to be able to mobilize crowds.
Saudi Activists Plan Women’s Driving Day To Put Spotlight Back On Road Ban, by Reuters
A group of Saudi activists has begun another campaign to lift the ban on women driving, urging women to get behind the wheel on 26 October in defiance. The campaign, called October 26 Driving, says it has gathered 8,700 signatures on a petition it published on 21 September.
Tunisian Opposition Rallied Against Ruling Islamists, by Reuters
Thousands protested in cities across Tunisia on Thursday 25th to call on the ruling Islamist Ennahda party to step down immediately to make way for new elections to end a stalemate with its secular opponents. Waving national flags and chanting "Leave Now", protesters took to the streets of six cities to demand the resignation a government critics fear wants impose a hardline Islamist agenda. The July killing of a second opposition leader in six months by suspected Islamist gunmen has sparked outrage and calls for the government`s resignation.
Bahraini Activist Ali Abdeluman On How To Escape From A Repressive Regime, by Victoria Turk
Bahraini activist Ali Abdulemam runs Bahrain Online, a pro-democracy platform in a country where holding such opinions can get you arrested. In 2011, as the Arab spring spread, thousands were arrested and Abdulemam says he was one of many tortured to sign false confessions. Last April, the 35-year-old escaped to the UK after being in hiding for over two years. Here is how he managed his incredible escape.
What Now For The Bahrain Rebellion? by Equal Times
Just over one month ago, the Bahraini capital of Manama, and a number of surrounding villages, witnessed pro-democracy demonstrations in response to a call put out by a loose group of youth activists calling themselves “the Bahrain Rebellion” or Tamarod Bahrain. Ostensibly, 15 August marks the anniversary of Bahrain’s independence from British rule back in 1971, and the day before was chosen as the date for the escalation in protests for freedom and democracy which have been taking place since 14 February 2011. But the protests were stifled by security forces who confronted demonstrators with tear gas, pump-action shotguns and birdshots.
Hamas Intimidates Tamarod Activists Ahead of Protests, by Asmaa Al-Ghoul
The Palestinian Tamarod movement was formed along lines similar to those of its counterpart in Egypt, and the movement in Gaza has announced that its goal was to depose the Hamas-led government, drawing criticism from other Palestinian activists in Gaza and the West Bank. In the last two months, Hamas security agencies have apprehended dozens of Fatah-affiliated political activists and journalists and charged them with belonging to the “Tamarod movement.” However, most of those detained have denied any affiliation with the movement.
Tunisia’s Lessons For The Middle East, by Ibrahim Sharqieh
The sudden collapse in 2011 of President Zine el-Abidine Ben Ali’s regime in Tunisia, one of the most robust security states in the Arab world, inspired protests from Egypt to Yemen. Some of these movements managed to topple entrenched autocratic rulers; others did not. Although Tunisia has its problems, it is safe to say that the country is faring better today than most of its fellow Arab Spring nations. The Tunisian approach has distinguished itself in two areas: the sound management of its transition process and its rational, systematic approach.
Algeria’s Controversial Bridge of Love, by Naila Missous
Inspired by "Pont des Arts" in Paris, Algerian citizens are invited to place a lock with the names of loved ones onto the bridge as a symbol of unity within society. However, for many in a Muslim country, the subject of love is somewhat taboo. The love of the nation, the love of family and the love of friends are more welcomed than that of romantic love.
‘Alternative Noberl Prize’ Awarded For Fight Against Chemical Weapons, by DW
The 2013 winners of the Right Livelihood Awards from the US, the Democratic Republic of Congo, the Palestinian territories and Switzerland have been fighting chemical weapons, human rights abuses and world hunger. “This year`s group of Laureates secure the fundamentals of human life. They show that we have the knowledge and the tools to eliminate weapons of mass destruction, to secure respect for human rights, to end the war on women in eastern Congo, and to feed the world with organic agriculture," said Ole von Uexkull, Executive Director of the Right Livelihood Award Foundation on Thursday.
Campaign to lift the ban on women driving in Saudi Arabia
The October 26th movement is a grass-root campaign by women and men in Saudi Arabia, aiming to revive the demand to lift the ban on women driving. The activists have launched an online campaign where participants are urged to sign a petition and female activists are urged to drive on October 26 in Saudi Arabia.
Mia Grondahl: The Egyptian Revolution, As Told Through Graffiti, by Geoffrey Mock
The dreams, hopes and anger of the Egyptian uprising after 2011 found their most direct and emotional expression through graffiti art, according to Swedish journalist Mia Grondahl, who is based in Cairo and has lived in the Middle East since 1996, studying graffiti art throughout the region. Through three decades of the Mubarak regime muzzling civil society, Egypt was most bereft of graffiti art, but the uprising opened it to greater artistic and political expression.
An Iranian Rap Group Calls For Peace, by Joshua Levkowitz
The Obama administration’s recent pronouncements against Syria’s alleged use of chemical weapons were, in part, seen as a warning to Iran. In reaction to some of this stepped-up rhetoric, the Iranian hip-hop artist Base One Basic released a new video called “Call to Disarms (Why Are You Scared of Iran?)”. Base One Basic, or Shervin Nooravi, dedicates the song to the people of Iran, but he also hopes to discourage Americans from escalating the war talk.
Without Words, by Ashitha Nagesh
Two years ago, during the beginning of the insurgency in Syria, Ali Ferzat, Ali Ferzat a renowned Syrian political caricaturist and activist, was attacked, his hands were broken, and he was left for dead on the side of the road – such is the controversy surrounding his caricatures. A few of his works were included in the recent #withoutwords exhibition of Syrian artists at the P21 gallery in London this summer. This is an interview with the artists about his work and the Syrian revolution.
Art of war: Dubai Gallery Haven For Syrian Artists, by Brian Murphy
Inside the gallery, artworks by Syrian artists were drawing auction bids from collectors. Outside on the street, the artists traded the latest gossip from Syria and checked their smartphones for news from the civil war. So goes the divided world for a cadre of Syrian artists brought to the safety of Dubai by their gallery to continue their work but still remain deeply connected and influenced by the bloodshed they left behind.
As Artistic Freedoms Dwindle, A Tunisian Rapper Is on The Run, by Leila Fadel
Ahmed is a rapper whose performing name is Klay BBJ. And he is on the run: A song he performed with another rapper got the pair convicted of insulting the police and harming public morality. The gist of the song is in the chorus: The police are dogs. The rest is too profane to repeat, but it speaks to a grievance many Tunisians share. Human Rights Watch says this case is one of a string of prosecutions aimed at suppressing freedom of speech.
Conferences & Events
Revolt and Revolution, 4-6 November 2013, Athens, Greece
Art and Resistance in the Middle East: History and Change, 16 November 2013, University of Edinburgh, UK