[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
2013 in Review: As Governments in the Arab World Crackdown, Activists Fight Back, by Jillian C. York
The uprisings of 2011 gave hope to many for a new era of Internet governance. Many governments throughout the region have grappled with finding a balance between instituting the harsh restrictions that helped create Tunisia`s uprising and implementing enough control to prevent their own. In 2013, many governments tended toward the former, implementing censorship for the first time or arresting bloggers, creating a deterrent for those who might dare speak their minds. Here are a few of the threats from this year and the ways in which activists have fought back.
The State of the Arab Transitions: A Timeline, by Rafik Hariri Center for the Middle East
Since its founding, the Rafik Hariri Center for the Middle East has closely followed the Arab transitioning countries as they faced their respective social, political, and economic challenges. In an effort to help map the twists and turns, the Center has produced a timeline for Tunisia, Egypt, Libya, and Yemen as each had to navigate momentous and jarring changes to the fabric of their societies. While each uprising successfully removed the country`s leader, each under its own unique set of circumstances, this is where most similarities end. The momentous changes unfolding in each nation have been wrought with political, economic, and social challenges.
Al Issawi A Symbol of Non-Violent Resistance, by Gulf News
Palestinian hunger striker Samer Al Issawi has become the embodiment of the Israeli regime’s deepest insecurities, its injustice and the supremacist values on which it was founded. By going on hunger strike, he has become a formidable force of nonviolent resistance, shaking the occupation regime to its core. This regime holds thousands of Palestinian prisoners, many of them youths, without charge or due process. The hunger strike by Al Issawi, which was emulated by others, shook Israel and will continue to do so.
Boycott “Greatest Threat” Facing Israel, Leaders Say, by Ali Abunimah
While Israeli propaganda initiatives continue to bravely deny that the BDS movement is having any impact, two statements from prominent politicians indicate otherwise. On the one hand, Tzipi Livni, warned that ”The boycott is moving and advancing uniformly and exponentially… Those who don’t want to see it, will end up feeling it.” On the other hand, Ayelet Shaked called “for an Israeli response to the cultural and academic Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions (BDS) campaign against Israel, saying it was the greatest threat faced by the country.”
Tens of Thousands of African Migrants Protest in Central Tel Aviv, by Ilan Lior and Revital Levy-Stein
Tens of thousands of African migrants held a protest in Tel Aviv’s Rabin Square on Sunday morning, against efforts to round them up and send them to a detention center. Separately, hundreds of migrants held a separate rally in Eilat, the seaside resort town where many African asylum seekers or labor migrants work in the tourism industry. Hundreds of asylum seekers, out of the estimated 49,000 migrants from Eritrea or Sudan living in Israel, have been taken into custody or ordered to report to a detention center over the past two weeks.
Turkey and neoliberalism, a prequel to #occupyGezi, by Kerem Nisancioglu
Before the summer of 2013, many believed that the defining feature of urban Turkish youth was the indivisualistic self-indulgence typical of late capitalist consumerism, and a widespread disengagement with social, political and economic issues. This appeared to represent the temporal closure of political imagination predicted by Fukuyama`s End of History, and absence of any alternative visions of what society should look like. But how do we explain Turkey`s depoliticisation prior to Gezi? And does answering this question shed any light on how and why, in 2013, this very same individualistic and apolitical youth paradoxically became the driving force in Turkey`s biggest movement of political contestation since the 1970s?
Women Are Tunisia’s Revolutionary Guards, by Dan Moshenberg
The Jasmine Revolution of December 2010 was more than the ouster of a dictator. It was an assault on patriarchy that emerged from decades of women and youth organizing. Three years later, it still is. Despite the government seesawing repeatedly on its position vis-à-vis women’s rights, equality, and roles, while the state and parts of civil society have colluded in trying to diminish the significance of women’s work and contributions, women continue to push back. Women are organizing: running for office, training, mobilizing, and generally opening common spaces and freer zones. They’re organizing tribunals to hear, publicize and respond to testimony on the forms of violence against women.
Tunisia Starts Voting on New Charter to Put Democracy on Track, by Aziz El Yaakoubi
Tunisia`s parliament began voting on Friday on a new constitution that will help put its turbulent progress to democracy back on track. Finishing the charter is a key step before a caretaker government takes office to end a crisis between Islamists and secular parties that threatened Tunisia`s transition after the fall of the autocrat Zine al-Abidine Ben Ali. "This is a constitution for all of Tunisia`s people," Mustafa Ben Jaafar, president of the transitional parliament, said at the session. "We are working hard with different parties to finish this process."
Why Won’t the West Call Out Saudi Arabia For Persecution of Democratic Activists? by Andy Fitzgerald
A Saudi judge recently sentenced democratic activist Omar al-Saeed to four years in prison and three hundred lashes for the crime of calling for a constitutional monarchy – a government that would likely outlaw such cruel and unusual punishment. Saeed is a member of the Saudi Civil and Political Rights Association, an organization that documents human rights abuses and calls for democratic reform. He is its fourth member to be sentenced to prison this year. There is a lack of public pressure from the US and other allies on the Saudi government for their continued crackdown on ACPRA and other democratic activists, which is important to end the suppression of democratic activism and civil society in the country.
Protesters Gather at Libyan Ministries Demanding PM Quit, by Ghaith Shennib and Ulf Laessing
Protesters gathered outside ministries and major institutions across Libya`s capital on 29 December, demanding Prime Minister Ali Zeidan to quit. Zeidan`s government is struggling to assert control over the North African country, which is in turmoil and has been awash with arms since the 2011 uprising that ousted Muammar Gaddafi. A witness said that dozens of unarmed protesters, who placed a cement block in front of the foreign ministry`s gate in central Tripoli and attached banners accusing Zeidan and his government of failure, were preventing staff from entering.
Bahrain Acquits Police Officers Accused of Torturing Doctors Who Treated Protesters, by Associated Press
A lawyer says a Bahrain court has acquitted two police officers accused of torturing doctors who were detained while treating wounded Shiite protesters in 2011. The doctors were detained at the height of protests in Bahrain by Shiites demanding greater rights from the Sunni monarchy. The case is the latest in a string of acquittals for security officers accused of using excessive force and abusing detainees in Bahrain.
In Blow to Leadership of ’11 Revolt, Egypt Activists Are Given 3 Years in Prison, by Kareem Fahim
Three activists who played central roles in the uprising against former President Hosni Mubarak were convicted on 22 December of participating in recent protests and sentenced to three years in prison, raising fears that the new government was seeking revenge against opponents of Egypt’s old order. Human rights advocates said the harsh sentences were the first verdicts in a political case against non-Islamists since the military ousted President Mohamed Morsi of the Muslim Brotherhood in July. The court’s decision was the clearest strike yet against leading figures of the January 2011 uprising by the new military-backed government, which has empowered the security agencies that were among the main targets of the protesters.
Tension Rises at Egyptian Universities, by Ursula Lindsey
Clashes between the police and students in Egypt have intensified in recent weeks, partly shutting some of the country’s top universities and taking a heavy toll on demonstrators. At least two students have been killed and hundreds more injured or arrested since early November. The ouster of President Mohamed Morsi in July triggered student protests against the military-backed government, resulting in a crackdown by security forces. The Association for Freedom of Thought and Expression, an Egyptian group that monitors academic freedom, has denounced a “widespread violation of universities’ independence and the rights and freedoms of their students.”
Social Media Campaign #notamartyr Seeks to Challenge Taboos, by Venetia Rainey
On 30 December a social media campaign started calling on Lebanese across the world to post a message of what they wanted to change about the country along with the hashtag #notamartyr. Sparked by a series of deadly car bombs and tapping into long-standing frustrations with Lebanon’s many irregularities, the movement soon went viral – particularly among the younger generation. At first, people posted messages decrying the rise in senseless, sectarian violence. But the movement quickly widened to include people speaking about other struggles they face.
Illustrations Against Ignorance and Oblivion in Lebanon, by Juliane Metzker
The young Lebanese graphic designer Maya Zankoul projects a differentiated picture of her country in her humorous cartoons that reject media stereotypes of bombs, war and terror. In one of her more serious illlustrations called "Fight Back," Zankoul sends a message for civilians to continue their lives normally after attack in October 2012, and not fight in the streets. For her, the cartoons are a platform to say what she wants. Unlike in other countries, in Lebanon bloggers are not arrested and tortured.
Conferences & Events
Together Against Occupation and Racism, 2nd Hebron Conference, 11 January 2014, Hebron, Palestine
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
The Third Annual Conference on the Social Sciences and Humanities, 19-20 March 2014, Arab Center for Research and Policy Studies, Tunisia