[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
Funeral of Turkish Boy Berkin Elvan Brings Thousands to Istanbul Streets, by AFP
Tens of thousands of people have turned out for the funeral of a Turkish boy who died nine months after being hit by a police teargas canister during anti-government protests. The death on Tuesday of fifteen-year-old Berkin Elvan after a long coma sparked violent clashes between protesters and riot police across the country. Police were bracing for further clashes as thousands converged in Istanbul calling for the prime minister, Recep Tayyip Erdoğan, to resign.
Death of Boy Caught in Melee Spurs Protests Across Turkey, by Sebnem Arsu
In the largest protests since last summer, thousands of people hit the streets in more than fifteen Turkish cities to protest the death of a fifteen-year-old boy who became a symbol of civilian resistance after he was struck in the head by a tear-gas canister fired by the police during anti-government demonstrations and slipped into a coma. On Twitter, the #BerkinElvanOlumsuzdur hashtag, translated as “Berkin Elvan is immortal,” became a top global trend as well as a chant in the streets. Demonstrations were also held in European cities, including Stockholm, London and Paris.
Turkey Protests: Two More Deaths Feed Growing Discontent, by Constanze Letsch
Two deaths in two days have highlighted the deepening polarisation of Turkish politics, as tension soared at the funerals of a young man and a teenage boy. Following the burial of Berkin Elvan two more deaths have set the mood in Turkey further on edge. In the eastern province of Tunceli a police officer suffered a heart attack during protests. In Istanbul the death of Burakcan Karamanoglu followed clashes between police and protesters.
Pro-Government Media Apathy Towards Berkin’s Death Turns Into Swear Campaign, by Gülten Üstündağ.
While hundreds of thousands of people bid farewell to Berkin Elvan, who was hit in the head by a police tear gas canister during the Gezi Park protests last summer and lost his battle for life on Tuesday 11 March, the pro-government media`s apathy towards Berkin`s death has turned into a smear campaign against other dailies that announced the event in their headline
Want to Boycott Israel? There Will Soon Be an App for That, by Abbas Naqvi
The B.D.S. application will not only consist of a comprehensive database warehousing product names and descriptions, involvements, and campaign information, but it will also come equipped with a barcode scanner. Instead of sifting through endless websites, googling meticulously, or depending on word of mouth, consumers may now dynamically and quickly identify products that fall within the B.D.S. boycott guidelines—all with the use of their smartphone. All of the products in the application’s database will be researched thoroughly by B.D.S. activists.
New App Makes Boycotting West Bank Settlements a Touch Easier, by Guy Grimland
Israeli bloggers have recently released a new Android application geared toward informing users whether or not their potential purchases were manufactured in one of the Israeli settlements in the West Bank. The bloggers behind the new application are Noam Rotem and Itamar Shaltiel, who run the "Activism is an Open-Source Code," blog, recently released the settlement-boycotting app, naming it "Buy no Evil."
RIBA Backs Brady’s Israel Suspension Call, by Elizabeth Hopkirk
The Royal Institute of British Architects (RIBA) has approved a motion calling for the suspension of the Israeli professional body from the International Architects Union (UIA). The motion, proposed by Angela Brady and backed by more than sixty members, was carried by twenty to sixteen with ten abstentions in a secret ballot. Supporters at the RIBA Council debate yesterday argued that the Israeli Association of United Architects (IAUA) should be suspended until it condemns the policy of building illegal settlements in the occupied territories.
Protest Against Domestic Violence Draws Thousands, by Dana Khraiche
Thousands of women and men marched in Beirut to demand that the draft law to protect women from domestic violence be adopted, in the largest protest yet aimed at pressuring officials to pass the proposal. Holding banners slamming the absence of a law against domestic abuse and paying tribute to victims of such violence, protesters walked from the National Museum to the Justice Palace and chanted slogans condemning the "corrupt judiciary." More than two thousand men and women took part in the demonstration organized by the anti-gender-based violence group KAFA, which has played a vital role in the adoption of the draft law at the parliamentary committee level.
Breaking Taboos: Youth Activism in the Gulf States, by Kristin Diwan
The latest Rafik Hariri Center issue brief, "Breaking Taboos: Youth Activism in the Gulf States" by Non-resident Senior Fellow Kristin Diwan, explores growing youth movements in Saudi Arabia, Kuwait, and Bahrain and their potential to shift the political landscape within each country.
Manal Al-Sharif May Be Saudi Arabia’s Most Awesome Woman, by Sasha Bronner
Manal al-Sharif, the Saudi Arabian woman who sparked a protest movement when she defied the ban on women drivers with a YouTube video of herself behind the wheel, has been called the Rosa Parks of her country. But she resents the label. Al-Sharif is a columnist, blogger and women’s rights advocate that was honored at a Women in the World luncheon. She told the luncheon audience of mostly female media and entertainment figures the harrowing story of her 2011 YouTube video. This article gives a brief overview of her talk.
Iraqi Women Protest Against Proposal Islamic Law in Iraq, by Suadad Al-Salhy
About two dozen Iraqi women demonstrated in Baghdad against a draft law approved by the Iraqi cabinet that would permit the marriage of nine-year-old girls and automatically give child custody to fathers. The group`s protest was on International Women`s Day and a week after the cabinet voted for the legislation, based on Shi`ite Islamic jurisprudence, allowing clergy to preside over marriages, divorces and inheritances. The draft now goes to parliament.
Iran’s Women See No Progress Under Rouhani, by Sabina Casagrande
Women`s rights groups were hoping that the status quo of discrimination against women in Iran would ease under President Hassan Rouhani. "Human rights defenders and women`s rights activists continue to face arrest and persecution," the report of the UN Secretary-General on the situation of human rights in Iran said. "Women are subject to discrimination, entrenched both in law and in practice." EU foreign policy chief Catherine Ashton`s talks with human rights activists during her recent visit to Iran has sparked ongoing protests by hardliners in front of the Austrian Embassy in Tehran.
Syria’s Civil Society: Wael Sawah on the Push for Influence, by Rachel Brandenburg
Despite violence, a lack of resources and insecurity, Syrian civil society perseveres. Syrian-led organizations inside and outside the country support humanitarian aid efforts, share information and relevant skills, and prepare to build the institutions necessary to govern local communities even now and, ultimately, to help get a post-war state back on its feet. They’re also fighting for a seat at the negotiating table in Geneva. In this article USIP interviews Wael Sawah, Executive Director of The Day After Association on TDA’s work and the role of Syrian civil society amid the conflict in Syria.
“Street Agitators” Reflect On Course of Syrian Revolution, by Tareq Al-Abed
In the early days of the popular protests in Syria, many so-called tansikiyyas, or “coordinating committees,” were formed. They were the cornerstone for gathering crowds for street demonstrations, for delivering the public’s voice to the media and for “supporting relief operations.” However, the shift to militarize the popular movement and the introduction of political money have weakened the tansikiyyas’ role in favor of scattered individual efforts. Today, the tansikiyyas are mainly working to archive the last three years of Syria’s history.
Egyptian Journalists Protest Lack of Access to Trials, by El-Sayed Gamal El-Din
Egyptian journalists held a silent demonstration in front of a police institute in southern Cairo where trials are being held, protesting security forces’ refusal to admit them inside for coverage. The journalists were protesting treatment which they say has become routine at the Institute for Low-Ranking Police Officers, a trial venue used for cases from different Egyptian governorates. Journalists were attempting to cover the appeal session for three prominent Egyptian activists, Ahmed Douma, Ahmed Maher and Mohamed Adel, who were sentenced to three years in jail for organising an illegal protest and assaulting police officers.
The Three Phases of Egypt’s Popular Protests, by Nervana Mahmood
The main role in street politics is the lack of any set of rules. It can be spontaneous, leaderless and chaotic. This is precisely why it is crucial to understand its limitations and risks if we are serious about supporting democracy in our messy world. There is a delicate relationship between the protest movement and the state. A regime collapse ends any protest but it also inevitably brings a destructive start to the functionality of the state. This destruction can be short and limited, but also can be long and painful, with bad outcomes that can be worse than the original crisis that triggered the protests in the first place.
Jailed Leaders of Egypt’s 2011 Revolt Describe Beatings, by Robert Mackey
Three prominent Egyptian activists who were jailed late last year for violating a new anti-protest law said that guards had beaten them during their transfer from prison to court for an appeal hearing. In a letter smuggled out of Tora Prison, Ahmed Maher, a founder of the April 6 Youth Movement, which first used Facebook to call for protests against the Mubarak government on that date in 2008, wrote of recently encountering another group of activists who took part in the 2011 uprising and were jailed for protesting on the revolution’s third anniversary in January.
Yemen: Three Years on No Justice for Sana’a Protest Killings, by Amnesty International
According to Amnesty International, Yemen’s authorities have manifestly failed to hold a thorough and independent investigation into the deaths of at least fifty peaceful demonstrators and bystanders killed in Sana’a during one of the bloodiest incidents of the 2011 uprising. On the third anniversary of the “Friday of Dignity” killings, the organization is calling for the creation of an internationally assisted, independent commission of inquiry to investigate this incident and all other human rights violations committed during 2011.
Saudi Book Fair Bans “Blasphemous” Mahmood Darwish Works After Protest, by Alison Flood
The removal of works by the esteemed Palestinian poet Mahmoud Darwish from a major book fair in Saudi Arabia for reportedly containing "blasphemous passages" has drawn widespread condemnation, with English PEN calling the ban an attempt "to censor one of the Islamic world`s most important modern poets." The Riyadh international book fair has already come under fire for destroying the stall of the Arab Network for Research and Publishing, a press which focuses on books about Saudi Arabia and political Islam.
“One Day, You Will All Be Lynched, Dead, Sick or Alive,” by Robert Fisk
In Algeria, journalists have to be careful what they say about the President, even if he is seventy-seven-year-old Abdelaziz Bouteflika, who has decided to run yet again for President after fifteen years in power. However, Kamel Daoud is one of the best-known journalists in Algeria and his crushing of Bouteflika is the talk of his country. "When the world is desperate for freedom, you reduce us to slavery with your insanity," he writes to Bouteflika.
Amina Bouraoui: Barakat! Ça Suffit! Enough! ¡Ya Basta!, by Dan Moshenberg
Amina Bouraoui has started a new, and yet not so new, movement in Algeria, a movement of “Algériens indignés” —Indignant Algerians—to protest against Algeria’s President Abdelaziz Bouteflika, in office now for fifteen years, and his plans to run for another term. On 6 March, hundreds gathered in a peaceful demonstration and were met with police intimidation and, for some, brutality. Bouraoui was arrested. She said: “We organized this protest not only to say NO! to a fourth term for Bouteflika, which would be a shame for Algeria, but also to promote the struggle to dispel people’s fear of expressing ourselves freely and openly in our own country.”
Algeria: Crackdown on Protest As Election Nears, by Human Rights Watch
Algerian authorities are deploying large numbers of police and arresting protesters to prevent demonstrations in the capital in advance of the 17 April presidential elections. Three times during the first week of March, security forces in the capital forcibly dispersed supporters of "the Barakat (Enough) movement," as they expressed their opposition to a fourth mandate for Bouteflika, who has been president since 1999. Since banning demonstrations in Algiers, authorities have repeatedly prevented or reined in rallies and marches whose objective they apparently considered controversial.
UK Puts Business Over Human Rights in Algeria, by DW
A UK oil and gas watchdog Platform together with the Algeria Solidarity Campaign has accused the British government of putting its own economic stability and energy needs ahead of Algeria`s human rights record. A report entitled "Reinforcing Dictatorships—Britain’s Gas Grab and Human Rights Abuses in Algeria," argues that UK eagerness to tap into Algeria’s natural resources during the civil war of the 1990s highlighted its priorities. Priorities, it claims have not changed since. Algeria gives the facade of being a democracy, but it is a dictatorship and human rights are being abused," the activists said, adding that the British government should learn the lessons of the Arab Spring and stop backing autocratic and corrupt regimes in order to safeguard its own interests. Click here to access the report.
International Women’s Day: The Arab Spring Version, by Alia Soliman
International Women’s Day, celebrated on 8 March each year, is a day to honour women and the struggle for women’s rights. Ahram Online speaks to three Arab feminists of different backgrounds on this occasion to explore some of the issues facing Arab women in the post-Arab Spring period. What differences can be expected in the marking of International Women`s Day in the Arab world compared to the West? Will Arab women march for their rights on this day? And if they do, will this improve the status of women in the Arab world?
Syria’s War, 3 Years On: “A Horror Film,” in Faces of the Dead and Voices of Revolt, by Molly Crabapple
Last weekend marks the third anniversary of the Syrian war. Amal Hanano, a writer from Aleppo, has organized a reading of the names of one hundred thousand people killed. In front of the White House, mostly Syrian readers recite these names. It will take seventy-two hours. In wars, it’s easy to see the dead as gore on a Twitter feed, as statistics to be shrugged away. Hanano’s #100000Names Oral Memorial for Syria is an attempt to give Syria’s dead back their humanity. "These faces remind you that the revolution began with hope," says Molly Crabapple about the portraits of the victims she drew.
Conferences & Events
“Poetry of Resistance,” 20 March, AUB, Beirut, Lebanon.
Israeli Apartheid Week 2014, February-March 2014
The Third Annual Conference on the Social Sciences and Humanities, 19-20 March 2014, Arab Center for Research and Policy Studies, Tunisia.
Call for Papers: ‘Bread, Freedom and Social Justice:’ Organized Workers and Mass Mobilizations in the Arab World, Europe and Latin America, 10-11 July 2014, University of Cambridge, UK.
Call for Papers: The Arab Uprisings: Researching the Revolutions, 22-23 September 2014, The Council for British Research in the Levant, Amman, Jordan.