[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
Saudi Women Break Drive Ban, Defying Warnings, by Reuters
A few women filmed themselves driving in Saudi cities on October 26th, defying government warnings of arrest and prosecution to take part in a campaign against men-only road rules, activists said. Police put up checkpoints in some parts of Riyadh, Reuters witnesses said, and there appeared to be more traffic patrols than usual on the streets of the capital - the latest sign of the sensitivity of the issue in the ultra-conservative Islamic kingdom.
Saudi Arabian Women Vow to Keep Up Campaign Against Driving Ban, by Reuters
Saudi women demanding the right to drive said they would keep up their campaign a day after government warnings and a heavy police presence thwarted their call for many women to get behind the wheel. Activists are asking Saudi women to go on driving in public and posting online photographs or films of themselves doing so, after putting dozens of such videos on YouTube in recent weeks.
Saudi Campaign + Bob Marley = “No Woman, No Drive,” by Your Middle East
The #women2drive campaign for women`s right to join the busy Saudi roads has taken a rather unusual turn. It`s the Bob Marley classic that is subject of a unique rendition. In the clip, we see comedians jam away as they tackle one of the most controversial gender issues facing the Kingdom today.
Teenage Kiss Arrests Spark Furore in Morocco, by Aida Alami
The arrest and pending trial of two kissing teenagers has thrust a debate about personal freedoms into the public spotlight. The couple plus a friend who took a picture of the kissing teens and posted it on Facebook were charged with indecency. The case ignited outrage on social media websites, and human rights groups such as Amnesty International condemned the arrests and asked for the charges to be dropped. The hashtag #FreeBoussa ("free kiss" in Arabic) trended on Twitter. A group of about 30 people even organised a "kiss-in" in front of the parliament on October 12 in the capital, Rabat, exchanging a short kiss and chanting, "Long live love!"
Hezbollah Is No Resistance, by Anno Bunnik
In its early years, Hezbollah – the self-proclaimed champion of Islamic “resistance” – was a model underdog: representing the marginalised Shias vis-à-vis Lebanon’s wealthy Sunnis and Christians and fighting against foreign occupation by the region’s most powerful country. But developments in recent last years, both domestically and regionally, elucidate that Hezbollah is anything but a resistance movement. Domestically, “the Party of God” has used their struggle against foreign occupation for other means: to grab and consolidate its control over Lebanon, and, in Syria, to fight for the survival of a brutal dictator.
Protest Law Bans Sit-Ins, Allows Harsh Security Measures, by Mada Masr
The newly passed Protest Law imposes strict limitations on the right to assemble, including an article banning the right of protesters to continue their demonstration throughout the night, reported the independent daily newspaper Al-Shorouk on October 17th. The law has been met with voluble criticism. In addition to perceiving the law as a violation of the basic right to assemble and protest, many also worry that the vague language used in articles granting permission to use force against protesters or cancel protests could open the door to severe violations of demonstrators’ rights.
Egyptians Irked by Official Bid to Curb Protests, by Laura King
A government push to dramatically restrict Egyptians’ right to protest is drawing a storm of - yes - protest. Disparate political groups, together with human rights organizations, have united in vocal opposition to proposed new rules that would make it all but impossible to stage a large-scale march or rally, unless its purpose was to glorify the government or the army. Under the measure, would-be demonstrators would have to report their plans in advance to law enforcement officials, who could forbid, postpone or order the relocating of any gathering
Egypt’s Rights Groups Slam ‘Repressive’ Protest Bill, by AFP
Seventeen prominent Egyptian rights groups, including the Cairo Institute for Human Rights and the Egyptian Initiative for Personal Rights, on October 24th criticized a draft bill regulating protests, slamming the “draconian restrictions” they say will stifle freedoms won in the 2011 uprising. Under the draft, security forces can attend or disperse any meeting on several grounds including the vague “threatening public order”, and obstructing traffic, the groups said.
Student Protests at Egypt’s Al-Azhar Challenge Army, by Michael Georgy
Thousands of students from Egypt`s al-Azhar University staged a third day of protests on October 21st, in one of the boldest challenges to the army since it toppled Islamist President Mohamed Mursi in July. The unrest suggests Mursi supporters may have shifted tactics, focusing on sensitive sites rather than huge street protests which often lead to strong action by security forces.
Egypt’s January 25 Revolutionary Youth: Where Have They Gone? by Hesham Shafick
February 11, 2011 is a day that can never be forgotten. The people of Egypt believed in the power of “the January 25 youth” and expected them to lead the Egyptian revolution forwards. However, from that day on, they seem to have stopped in their tracks and have now gone to ground, leaving us with one question: “Where have they gone?’’ Those who once organized us in the streets and the squares, and who are able to re-organize the power of Egypt’s youth to achieve its revolutionary goals are the ones we need most today. Although they were a threat to the whole gamut of political actors, the counterrevolution has not yet had to confront them directly.
Anarchists in Egypt, Will The Black Bloc Please Stand Up? By Goos Hofstee
Egypt`s Black Bloc grew out of their struggle for liberation from an authoritarian system. While the group’s tactics originated out of a plan to protect women revolutionaries by forming a protective human shield around them at protests, the violence of the police and armed forces against peaceful protesters meant that the Bloc soon began to fight against the Morsi regime. Since Morsi was ousted, the Bloc has been fighting the military regime, with the goal of “defense of the Revolution” against any dictatorial regime, be it military or religious. Yet, while the Egyptian authorities are treating “the Black Bloc” as a singular, defined group, the reality is much more obscure.
Meet Amr Ali, The New April 6 Coordinator, by Ahram Online
The April 6 Youth Movement has published a biography of new coordinator Amr Ali, the first to hold the position since co-founder Ahmed Maher. Ali was responsible for the Egyptian group`s public works from September 2009 to August 2011, and was a member of the movement`s political office from September 2011 until October 2013. The April 6 Youth biography calls Ali a central force behind the group`s policy of nonviolence.
Online Mapping Aims to Stop Harassment of Women in Egypt, by Daniel Jensen
Tech startup HarassMap is taking a stand against sexual harassment in Egypt, where 99.3 percent of women have experienced it, through one of the few places free speech remains relatively uncensored – the Internet. Since 2010, victims have been able to text, tweet, or email the company to report assaults when they happen. HarassMap responds with advice on how to get help and posts the reported details to its site on a Google Map. A small team of local investigators then tries to verify the report.
Laughter At The Time Of Polarization, by Mada Masr
In his come-back episode after a period of self-imposed silence, renowned satirist Bassem Youssef didn’t disappoint. Journalist Dina Samak put it like this in a tweet, “Bassem Youssef didn’t tell people today the king is naked but asked everyone to look at his clothes.” In so doing, Youssef showed one more time the potential of humor as an unmatched political weapon but also as a mirror through which we can better see each other; a view that we cannot afford to have while in ongoing conflict mode. He also showed the potential of negotiation with perceived limitations as an alternative to silence.
Inside Bahrain After the Government Crackdown, by Vijay Prashad
Nada Alwadi was a reporter for Al-Wasat, Bahrain’s most popular daily newspaper and was one of the journalists who reported honestly about the events on the streets of Manama. She was detained for 10 hours in April when a photograph of her at a journalists’ protest at the Pearl Roundabout surfaced. After leaving the country, she founded the Bahraini Press Association as a vehicle to fight for the right of journalists to report stories. This is an interview with her about the situation in Bahrain and the rights of journalists in her country.
Bahrain: More Tear Gas Than People, by Mona Kareem
Over the past two weeks, an independent group called “Bahrain Watch” has been leading a strong campaign on social media networks against the import of tear gas in Bahrain. The group which defines itself as “an independent research and advocacy organisation that seeks to promote effective, transparent and accountable governance in Bahrain” initiated the campaign “Stop the Shipment” after obtaining a leaked document that reveals Bahrain`s plans to purchase 1.6 million canisters of tear gas – that`s more than its 1.3m inhabitants. The campaign calls on netizens to send emails to officials and companies to stop the shipment based on collected evidence that prove the dangerous use of tear gas in Bahrain.
Tunisia Protesters Urge Government to Resign, by Al Jazeera
Thousands of opposition activists have protested in central Tunis, demanding the resignation of Tunisia`s Islamist-led government, before a national dialogue aimed at ending months of political deadlock. October 23rd`s demonstration took place amid a heavy security presence, with armoured vehicles and anti-riot police deployed along the Tunis boulevard.
Tunisians Must Choose Ballots Over Bullets If We Are to Secure The Revolution, by Rachid Ghannouchi
In other Arab countries, the march towards freedom has been violently repressed. Our role now is to protect Tunisia`s revolution. Democracy is not in everyone`s interests – least of all those who enjoyed the fruits of dictatorship and corruption. Democratic transitions have always seen a push and pull between those who seek to break down dictatorial systems and those who would lose out in a new era of democracy. It is thus not surprising that some want to use violence to plunge the country into political deadlock.
Iran Sentences Activist Actress to Prison, by AP
An Iranian actress known for her political activism in support of the country`s reformists has been sentenced to 18 months in prison after facing security charges. The case over the 24-year-old actress, Pegah Ahangarani, points to the internal, and sometimes conflicting, centers of power in Iran as calls for greater openness by new President Hassan Rouhani have angered Iran`s more conservative judiciary. Ahangarani, who has appeared in about 20 films, has been detained twice since the protests in 2009 over the disputed re-election of then-President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, but she was released without charges. Recently, she has been banned from traveling abroad.
We Dream A Million Palestinians Protesting, by Carolin Smith
Friday is demonstration day in Al Ma’sara, and for the past seven years the village Popular Committee has chosen nonviolent resistance against the Israeli occupation. Looking back over the years, organizers feel it is the demonstrations themselves that represent their greatest achievement. With the Palestinian colours flying, demonstrators trek through the village chanting “1, 2, 3, 4, occupation no more.” Their voices are loud and powerful; words are the only weapons they use.
Stop The Shipment Of Tear Gas To Bahrain
A global campaign has been launched to stop the flow of tear gas to Bahrain, after research and advocacy group Bahrain Watch published a leaked official documentshowing that the government may be planning to import 1.6 million tear gas canisters and 90,000 tear gas and sound grenades.
"Write your Constitution" campaign
A month on, the National Council for Women’s (NCW) ‘Write your Constitution’ campaign is showing promising signs of success in encouraging Egyptians to have a say in the drafting process of the new constitution. The NCW has managed to get citizens involved by holding meetings nationwide with different groups and communities in Egypt, as well as civil associations, political parties, trade unions, universities, rural workers and state institutions’ employees.
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.
“The Arab Revolution Is a Cultural Revolution” by Ceyda Nurtsch
Ezzedine Choukri Fishere is an Egyptian novelist, diplomat and academic. In this interview with Ceyda Nurtsch, he talks about the new Egyptian identity and why the Arab revolution is just the beginning of a long process
Revolutions: Photographs of the Arab Spring is an exhibition presenting 55 photographs captured by Remi Ochlik during the “Arab Spring.” It is hosted by the Culture Service of the French Embassy in Washington, in partnership with Reporters Without Borders.
The Pixelated Revolution aims to study the various tips and directions on mobile phone documentation, as shared via the medium of Facebook and other virtual communication tools during the ongoing events of the Syrian revolution.
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
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