[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
Calls to Boycott Israel Grow on US Campuses, by Samuel Nelson Gilbert
On 4 December, the council of the American Studies Association (ASA) voted unanimously to endorse the call from Palestinian civil society for an academic boycott of Israeli academic institutions (USACBI), becoming only the second academic association in the US to do so. The decision was described by the ASA as an "ethical stance," which "represents a principle of solidarity with scholars and students deprived of their academic freedom and an aspiration to enlarge that freedom for all, including Palestinians."
New Battlegrounds Emerge at Egypt’s Universities, by Kristen McTighe
As a security crackdown has largely crippled protests on the street, a new battleground between anti-regime protesters and the government has emerged at universities across Egypt, one of the last remaining spaces where opponents of the military takeover have been able to organize. And as authorities have responded with a heavy hand, it is stoking fears that student freedom and the independence of universities are at stake.
Egypt Police Disperse Protests, Fire Teargas, by AFP
Egyptian police dispersed several rallies by Islamists on Friday 6 December. Police have shown little tolerance for the protesters’ rallies since Morsi’s overthrow in July, and a new protest law allows them to swiftly clamp down on all but interior ministry sanctioned rallies. Battered by a crackdown that has killed more than 1,000 people and imprisoned thousands more, the Islamists still organize almost daily protests to demand Morsi’s reinstatement.
Egypt’s Pioneering Nude Protester, by Lizzie Crocker
A new generation of activists is radically challenging religious extremism in the Middle East. Egyptian atheist and activist Aliaa Elmahdy’s controversial actions, intended as protest against Islamic rule and oppression of women in Egypt, has provoked intense debate across the region and has resulted in death threats. Elmahdy recently joined forces with the feminist organization Femen in Stockholm where, flanked by two of the group’s activists, she held an Egyptian flag over her head, the words “Sharia is not constitution” scrawled across her naked chest and stomach in red paint. But by explicitly attacking religion with her “blasphemous” rewriting of the Koran, rather than broadly criticizing gender inequality in Egypt, Elmahdy prompted fierce backlash from influential Muslims.
Arrests Over Satirical Video Lay Bare Emirati Sensitivities, by Ben Hubbard
The authorities in the United Arab Emirates arrested five men who participated in a twenty-minute mockumentary about a fictional martial arts school in Dubai, where grandmaster Saloom Snake trains combatants to throw sandals, strike with the thin ropes of an Arab headdress, and summon help on Twitter for fights that never actually occur. Rights groups say the case is only the most recent example of the extreme sensitivity of Persian Gulf monarchies to the power of social media.
Iran’s Revolutionary Guards Arrest Internet Activists, by Saeed Kalami Dehgan
Iran`s Revolutionary Guards have carried out a new wave of arrests of cyber activists and members of pro-opposition social networking websites. Kaleme, a leading opposition website, reported that at least five Iranians who had shared news about the situation of political prisoners on Facebook have recently been held by the security apparatus of the country`s elite forces. Another opposition website, Sahamnews, also reported that Samad Khatibi, a film-maker and designer, who had been involved in the campaign supporting Hassan Rouhani for the presidential office, was arrested ten days ago upon arriving in Tehran from the Netherlands.
Universal Message Sent from Taksim: Hier Stehe Ich Und Kann Nicht Anders, by Mehmet Ruhi Demiray
Taksim protests, a social movement that expresses itself in quite creative and innovative ways brings together highly heterogeneous groups of actors with diverse political interests, combining liberals, socialists, secular-nationalists, feminists, environmentalists, as well as those who had kept aloof from any political and ideological engagement in the past. Even though the Taksim protests reflect the peculiarities of the mood of the ‘90s generation, the political demands underlying the protests are connected to those that have been raised by political social movements in the past.
Morocco Under Fire Over Women’s Rights Bill, by AJ Correspondents
Women’s rights activists in Morocco have criticized the Islamist-led government for excluding them from drafting proposed legislation to combat violence against women and for seeking to dilute the bill through changes. The long-awaited bill is currently under study in Morocco. It comes after the adoption of a new constitution in 2011 that enshrines gender equality and urges the state to promote it.
Morocco Police Beat Up Sahrawi Protesters: Witnesses, by AFP
Moroccan police violently suppressed a peaceful protest in Western Sahara against a planned EU fishing accord with Rabat that covers the disputed territory`s waters. About fifty demonstrators, many of them women, gathered in the Laayoune city center carrying banners and chanting slogans, including "stop taking our resources." Police, who attacked protesters with batons, beating and injuring many of them, heavily outnumbered the protesters.
Libyan Cities Face Blackouts Soon Due to Protests-State Media, by Ulf Laessing
Many Libyan cities are headed for blackouts in two days unless protesters demanding more political rights end a blockade of fuel supplies to a vital power station, state news agency Lana said. A group of Tibu, a black ethnic minority, and other protesters have blocked supplies of petrol to a power station in Sarir in southern Libya. Along with another minority group the Amazigh or Berbers, Tibu are demanding that their languages and cultural identities be guaranteed in a new constitution two years after the fall of Muammar Gaddafi. They are also want a greater say in a special body that is drafting the constitution.
She Documented Syria’s Chemical Atrocities and Now She’s Been Kidnapped, By David Kenner
Syrian activist Razan Zaitouneh was reportedly kidnapped on 10 December from her office in Damascus, along with her husband and two colleagues. It is still unknown whether she was taken by Bashar al-Assad`s regime or Islamist rebels who have been growing in strength in the area. Zaitouneh is one of the few internationally-known activists who has remained in Syria since the days when civic resistance, rather than armed revolt, was the uprising`s calling card. A human rights lawyer, she launched the Violations Documentation Center (VDC), which meticulously tracks the casualties of the Syrian uprising and provides ground-level reports of the atrocities committed by the regime.
Five Great Female Human Rights Activists in MENA, by Tasnim Nazeer
Despite setbacks in the wake of the “Arab Spring”, the region’s female activists gained strength following the uprisings and have no plans to stop fighting for better and fairer societies. Five of the most prominent female human rights activists in MENA that are striking examples of courage and activism are presented in this article.
Play the Iranian Revolution, by Christine Petré
A new video game portraying the Iranian revolution of 1979 is to be launched in the spring of 2014. Its founder Navid Khonsari is a well-known game creator, residing in the US. His aim is to tell stories about his country of birth and in the process educate its players.
ASA National Council Votes Unanimously to Endorse Academic Boycott of Israel
One year ago, the Academic and Community Activism Caucus of the American Studies Association (ASA) asked the Executive Committee (EC) to consider a resolution to honor the call from Palestinian civil society to support the academic boycott of Israel. The EC forwarded the resolution to the National Council. The Council voted for an academic boycott of Israeli institutions as an ethical stance, a form of material and symbolic action. The voting for the endorsement of the resolution for ASA members is still open until 15 December.
NGOs Campaign Against House Demolitions
Thirty-six international charities and human rights groups on Wednesday 5 December released a statement calling for an immediate end to the demolition of Palestinian homes in the occupied West Bank and East Jerusalem.
Saudi Women Re-Launch Campaign for Right to Drive
Saudi women activists have re-launched a campaign for the right to drive in the ultra conservative kingdom, urging women to get behind the wheel on 28 December.
Sixteen Days of Activism Against Gender Violence Campaign
The 2013 Sixteen Days Campaign advocates for awareness and action on the multi-faceted intersections of gender-based violence and militarism, while highlighting the connection between the struggle for economic and social rights and ending gender-based violence. The campaign emphasizes that women’s rights are human rights, and acknowledges the role of patriarchal systems that embody harmful traditions and legal policies that normalize violence against women, and deny women their right to a life of dignity.
Gaza Split: Watch Palestinian Spoof of Viral Van Damme Volvo Video, by Benjamin Doherty
Palestinian comedians in Gaza have released the above video spoofing the viral “Epic Split” Volvo advertisement that features Belgian martial artist and action movie star Jean-Claude Van Damme. In their video, Mahmoud Zuaiter performs the acrobatics while a voiceover tells about the sharp deterioration of daily life due to the catastrophic effects of the Israeli siege of Gaza.
Palestine’s Freedom Theatre to Stage Mandela Tribute in Brazil, by Sarah Irving
In response to the news of the death of Nelson Mandela, the Jenin-based Freedom Theatre announced today that it will be dedicating its upcoming performances of The Island as a tribute to the former South African president and freedom fighter. The Island, which the company has previously performed in Palestine, Sweden and the United States, is described by the festival organizers as “an adaptation of a true story set in South Africa during apartheid, and focuses on the experiences of Palestinian political prisoners.” As such, it brings together the historical experiences of Mandela and other fighters against apartheid in South Africa, and the contemporary situation of hundreds of Palestinian political prisoners in Israeli jails.
Egypt’s New Hijab-Clad Superhero, by Dina Demrdash
Qahera is the hijab-wearing Egyptian comic-book character fighting back against crime and prejudice. She is the brainchild of Deena Mohamed, a young Egyptian artist who created the first ever Egyptian superhero in a web comic, and it’s picking up a growing fan base. Deena says she had her superheroine with the all-powerful name wear a hijab to combat a widespread stereotype that women wearing the Islamic attire cannot be strong. Her comics address themes such as Islamophobia, sexual harassment of women, and protests.
‘The Square:’ an Impossible Task, by Jenifer Evans
Filmmaker Jehane Noujaim set herself an impossible task with “The Square”: to tell the story of an on-going revolution in a feature-length documentary. In this article the author analyses the film and provides a critique of some of its aspects.
Tunisian Resistance One Verse at a Time, by Christine Petré
Two years ago Shams Radhuouani Abdi wrote down why she was not going to vote in Tunisia’s first free democratic election since its independence 1956. Since then a number of her poems have expressed skepticism against Tunisia’s political development, especially recently when Tunisia is facing its worst political crisis since the revolution.
Conferences & Events
The Struggle for Human Rights: Campaigns, Movements and Cultural Resistance, 15 December 2013, United Steelworkers’ Hall, Toronto, Canada
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
Creative Dissent: Arts of the Arat World Uprisings, 8 November 2013-9 February 2014, Arab American National Museum, Michigan, USA