[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 Global Suppression of Protests, by International Network of Civil Liberties Organizations
The International Network of Civil Liberties Organizations released a report about the crackdown on peaceful protests in democracies around the world – the tactics include excessive (sometimes deadly) police force and the criminalization of dissent. This is the introduction to the study, "Take Back the Streets," which details cases of suppression in the U.S., U.K., Canada, Israel, Egypt, Argentina, South Africa, Kenya, and Hungary. This publication attempts to address some of the gaps in public debate about the state responsibility toward the protection of the right to protest and assembly.
Saudi Women Drive, Despite Ban, and Find Some Support on the Kingdom’s Roads, by Robert Mackey
A brief flurry of civil disobedience on the roads of Saudi Arabia last week, by women who flouted the conservative kingdom’s ban on female drivers and documented it on Twitter and YouTube, ended on Thursday in a predictable manner — with an image of officers pulling alongside one car, captioned simply, “Police stopped us.” Even so, a look back through the Twitter timeline of the female Saudi blogger who reported that setback, Eman Al Nafjan, also revealed something more surprising — evidence that some of the men the protesters shared the road with supported their cause.
Saudi Women in Kingdom’s Top Advisory Council Call for Discussion on Allowing Women to Drive, by Associated Press
Saudi women on the ultraconservative kingdom’s top advisory council have called for a discussion on the sensitive issue of allowing women to drive, a move that could embolden reformers pushing to lift the ban. Women seeking the right to drive in Saudi Arabia have been energized by a campaign calling on them to drive on October 26. The campaign started as an online petition last month and has so far garnered nearly 15,000 signatures.
The Girls of Al-Tall: Weaving Ribbons and Freedom, by Syria Untold
The town of Al-Tall, in the countryside of Damascus, the Syrian capital, is famous for its highly educated inhabitants and its active women groups, despite the traditional nature of the community. In that context, we highlight the story of the eight ladies of Al-Tall and their contributions to the Syrian uprising.
Akram Rasian Reported Dead, by Robert Russell
Cartoonists Rights Network (CRNI) reports that Syrian cartoonist Akram Raslan has been executed by the Syrian regime after a sham trial. Just last week, an assembly and demonstration by world cartoonists came together in support of Akram – at the time we all thought Akram was imprisoned, but he had already been murdered. Akram’s crime was to make people laugh at the Syrian dictator, Bashar Assad, in his cartoons. CRNI has been monitoring and assisting political cartoonists in trouble for the last 20 years.
Rebel Fragmentation in Syria and Palestine, by Wendy Pearlman
Across time and space, many movements have seen adherents agree on the basic goal of overthrowing a system of political rule, yet compete on issues of strategy, ideology, organization, and the distribution of power and resources. The Palestinian national movement is one such case. In this piece, Wendy Pearlman highlights a few points from the Palestinian experience that can be useful for understanding fragmentation in the Syrian revolt.
The Second Intifada Put Holes in Israel’s Wall of Fear, by Budour Youssef Hassan
The second intifada started out as a mass popular uprising in September 2000, in which unarmed Palestinians from Nazareth to Gaza took to the streets en masse. They faced more than a million bullets, fired by the Israeli army and police in the first three weeks of the intifada alone, and they shattered the pretence of stability that the Oslo accords endeavoured to maintain.
Exiled Iran Dissidents Ponder Return After Rouhani Election, by Yeganeh Torbati
For the first time since Iran`s authorities cracked down on dissent after the 2009 presidential election, some critics are returning from exile, spurred by signs of openness by the government of President Hassan Rouhani. Seraj Mirdamadi, a journalist who had not set foot in his homeland since 2009, is one of this number. He says he decided to go back after Rouhani`s unexpected election victory in June on the basis of little more than a "feeling" and with no assurance that he would be welcome. The hopes and uncertainties of Mirdamadi and other exiled Iranians are shared in part by Western officials searching for a breakthrough in a decade-long dispute over Iran`s nuclear program.
Iranians Lunch #Jeans Protest on Twitter, Taking Jab at Netanyahu, by Christa Case Bryant
In a lighter side to the Israel-Iran standoff over nuclear weapons, Iranians armed with nothing more than jeans and a camera are protesting Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s intimation that they are ruled by a cultic government that restricts not only their voting options but their sartorial choices as well. Other tweets ranged from sassy to vindictive, but all seemed to send a clear retort: We don’t need you intervening on behalf of our freedom. The #jeans protest came in response to a comment by Netanyahu last week in which he attempted to distinguish Iranian aspirations from the theocratic system of government that has prevailed in the Islamic Republic since 1979.
Kissing Freedom Goodbye, by Zouhair Mazouz
On October 12th, a dozen freedom activists hugged or kissed in front of the Moroccan parliament. The event was held in solidarity with the two Moroccan teenagers imprisoned a week prior for posting a picture of their kiss on Facebook.
Tunisia Opposition Calls for Mass Protests, by Al Jazeera
Tunisia`s opposition alliance called for country-wide protests, accusing ruling Islamists of holding up the start of negotiations and delaying the formation of a new government. Political activity has ground to a halt in Tunisia since the murder of opposition MP Mohamed Brahmi in July, amid a bitter standoff between the ruling Islamist party Ennahda and the opposition. On Monday, the National Salvation Front (NSF), a loose coalition of opposition parties, called on Tunisians "in all regions, especially the capital" to take part in a "massive demonstration on October 23 to demand the appointment of a competent government".
Tunisian Rappers Face Renewed Repression, by Monica Mark
The continued crackdown on a vibrant artistic community offers an insight into the tangled politics that could still derail the Arab spring`s most promising transition to democracy. Suffocated by fresh repression under the new Islamist government, artists try to find ways to free their work from the threat of hardliners.
Gaza’s Tamarod Calls For Nov. 11 Protests to Oust Hamas, by Mustafa Amara
The past few weeks have seen the emergence of the so-called Tamarod movement in the Gaza Strip. It is a popular movement aimed at ousting Hamas’ rule in Gaza, accusing Hamas of repressive practices against the Palestinian people in Gaza and of damaging relations between countries with regard to the Palestinian cause. In preparation for Nov. 11, the day to bring down Hamas, according to Tamarod, Azzaman interviewed Hind al-Arabi, media spokeswoman for the Tamarod movement in Gaza.
West Bank Garden of Tear Gas Grenades, by Associated Press
Residents of this Palestinian village have planted flowers in hundreds of spent Israeli tear gas grenades to honor those killed during their weekly protests against Israel`s West Bank separation barrier. The Bilin garden commemorates Bassem Abu Rahmeh, a protest leader who was killed in 2009 when a tear gas grenade struck him in the chest during a demonstration.
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.
We Will Ride Bicycles
An Egyptian women`s initiative has launched a campaign entitled "We Will Ride Bicycles" to confront sexual harassment in the streets and public transportation. The activists behind the campaign said they chose the theme of riding bicycles to promote women and girl`s rights to run errands through cycling without being afraid of attracting negative reaction in the streets.
Revolutionizing Art, by Shehab Fakhry Ismail
In this critique of Cairo’s current street art, the author suggests to move beyond a facile aestheticization of the revolutionary moment. He uses the work of Kundera to analyse the current state and aesthetic impact of Cairo’s revolutionary art.
Taking It to the Streets, by Rashed Aqrabawi
Somehow a malleable relationship between the public, the municipalities, and street artists has been forged in Lebanon. In many ways, there is no legislative middleman; the authorities only step in when street artists begin stepping on private ‘toes’. This is what has made Beirut the perfect environment for street art in the Arab world – the authorities leave it up to the local community to decide on what should or shouldn’t be painted in or around their public space; and, as a result, Beirut has been drawing in various artist organisations attempting to take advantage of the city’s laissez-faire sociopolitical climate.
Conferences & Events
She Who Tells a Story: Women Photographers from Iran and the Arab World, 27 August 2013 – 12 January 2014, Museum of Fine Arts, Boston, USA
From Margin to Center: Connecting Struggles, Forging a National Movement, 25-27 October, 2013, Stanford University, Stanford, USA
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