[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
After the Protests, by Zeynep Tufekci
Media in the hands of citizens can rattle regimes. It makes it much harder for rulers to maintain legitimacy by controlling the public sphere. But activists, who have made such effective use of technology to rally supporters, still need to figure out how to convert that energy into greater impact.
Turkey Blocks Twitter, After Erdoğan Vowed “Eradication,” by Hurriyet Daily News
Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdoğan has vowed to close down Twitter, two weeks after saying he would shut down Facebook and YouTube “if necessary.” “We now have a court order. We’ll eradicate Twitter. I don’t care what the international community says. Everyone will witness the power of the Turkish Republic,” Erdoğan said.
Fearing “Enemies,” Turkey Blocks YouTube, by Senada Sokollu
The Turkish government has blocked YouTube and is outraged over the release of an official recording regarding national and international security questions. The video exposes Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdoğan in a conversation with his advisors about apparently looking for a reason to go to war with Syria. The fate of the perpetrators and the government are at stake. The online community reacted vociferously to the YouTube restrictions. The Turkish radio and television supervisory board RTÜK banned several Turkish media outlets from spreading the video or communicating its contents.
We Won’t Betray Your Trust, Twitter Reassures Turks, by Hurriyet Daily News
Twitter reassured Turkish users on 24 March over the protection of their privacy, following its lawyer’s closed-doors meeting with Ankara over the blocking of the social media platform. “Twitter remains committed to defending the privacy of our users in #Turkey – we won’t betray their trust,” the social media platform’s official @policy account posted in both Turkish and English, directing its followers to its “Transparency Report.”
Erdogan’s Failed Attempt to Ban Twitter in Turkey, by Arzu Geybullayeva
The ban of Twitter is just one of many recent alarming developments in Turkey. In response, there has been much civil disobedience. Several newspapers released short notifications on how to bypass the blocked service. Also, DNS alterations were painted on the walls across the city as graffiti. Abdullah Gul, president of Turkey, and Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdoğan’s supporter, tweeted “one cannot approve of the complete closure of social media platforms.”
In Turkey, Twitter Roars After Effort to Block it, by Sebnem Arsu and Dan Bilefsky
Turkey’s government stood by an order to block Twitter, even as many users, including some high officials, found ways to circumvent and challenge it. President Abdullah Gul was among ministers and government officials who bypassed the ban, using mobile devices and other methods to join a debate over the government’s measures. A barrage of leaks of dozens of phone calls and documents posted by unidentified critics has presented Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdoğan with perhaps the biggest challenge in his eleven years in office.
Turkish Twitter Ban Renewed As PM Vows to “Rip Out its Roots,” by Jack Pitts
Turkey`s Prime Minister, Recep Tayyip Erdoğan, has launched a fresh attack on Twitter as authorities continued to block access to the site and expanded the reach of their controversial crackdown. Erdoğan`s ban on Twitter caused use of the site to rise by an estimated a hundred and thirty six per cent. Erdoğan vowed to "rip out the roots" of the social networking site. After many Turks reportedly evaded the ban by using alternative Domain Name Systems (DNS), the government was said to have tried to block DNS servers.
Palestinians Celebrate Land Day, Demand the Release of Prisoners, by Alternative Information Center
More than fifteen thousand Palestinians commemorated Land Day on Sunday 20 March with rallies that became a show of solidarity for the release of the fourth group of Palestinian prisoners. Palestinians observed Land Day by holding protests in the Galilee, the Negev as well as in the Palestinian territories occupied during the 1967 Middle East conflict. Within Israel schools, businesses, public institutions and medical centers in villages and towns across the country declared a strike in solidarity with the protests.
Palestinians Around the World Declare: “Return Unifies Us,” by PNN
Palestinian refugee camps and communities around the world came together on 22 March, for a day of action on the right of return and in support of Palestinians living in Syria. With demonstrations, scout marches, poster exhibitions, lectures, dabke performances and concerts, Palestinians from Syria to Chile, Lebanon to America coordinated activities to assert their unity as one people under the banner “Return Unifies Us.” The call for popular mobilizations was issued by several of the largest Palestinian national coalitions and signed by over one hundred Palestinian popular associations.
Despite the Cruelties Heaped on them Palestinian Refugees’ Spirit Has Not Broken, by Karma Nabulsi
Despite the hardships and cruel experiences, Palestinian refugees across the world – and leading from besieged Yarmouk refugee camp in Damascus, Syria – are raising the flag of return under the banner “Return Unifies Us.” As a result of a remarkable call issued by a number of large national civic coalitions, which has spread across the global Palestinian body politic, it has now been signed by more than one hundred and fifty popular and grassroots organisations in Palestine and in exile. Palestinians in dozens of locations are coming together to promote the popular demand for unity and the right of return.
Israel Jails Druze Conscientious Objector for the Sixth Time, by Maureen Clare Murphy
Eighteen-year-old Omar Saad was recently handed down a sixth prison sentence for his ongoing refusal to serve in Israel’s occupation army. Saad, a violist, was first jailed in early December last year after he and his siblings performed a musical protest outside of an Israeli military induction center in the Galilee, where the majority of Palestinians in present-day Israel reside. He has since been handed down six consecutive sentences of twenty days’ imprisonment.
Growing Number of Druze Refuse to Serve in Israel’s Army, by Patrick Strickland
The number of refuseniks is growing within the Druze religious minority in Israel, according to Samer al-Sakleh, a 20-year-old who has refused to serve in the Israeli army. Samer considers himself Palestinian: “I am Palestinian, of course, and I am part of Palestinian culture, society and civilization, and Palestinians in the occupied West Bank and the Gaza Strip are part of my people. I will not serve in a military that continuously kills them.”
Palestinians Renew Calls to Free “Leader-in-Waiting” Marwan Barghouti, by Peter Beaumont
Fadwa Barghouti, the wife of Marwan Barghouti, the most prominent of the Palestinian prisoners in Israeli jails, considers the significance of the latest efforts to seek his release. In the negotiations to secure the release of Gilad Shalit, the Israeli soldier kidnapped by Hamas in Gaza, her husband`s name came up for a possible exchange. Arrested in 2002, Barghouti is serving five life sentences after being convicted by an Israeli court in 2004 for his involvement in five murders. Barghouti, an MP and prominent leader of Fatah during the second intifada, has said he will stand for president in the future. There are many who believe he would win easily, even if still jailed.
Cairo University Engineering Students Begin Strike to Protest Violence on Campus, by Marina Barsoum
Students at Cairo University Engineering Faculty began a strike on Thursday 20 March in protest against the previous day`s violence on campus in which security forces clashed with pro-Muslim Brotherhood student groups. Students in favour of ousted Islamist president Mohamed Morsi protested at several universities across Egypt on Wednesday, resulting in clashes when security forces arrived to disperse them. Two were killed and thirty injured in the clashes, according to the health ministry.
Syrian Nonviolent Movements Do Exist, by Mehrunisa Qayyum
A media and policy focus on militant operations in Syria overshadow nonviolent initiatives in the country, which overlooks the necessary factors for peace and reconciliation. Syria nonviolent movements do exist but without much attention. A lack of attention to nonviolent movements and civil society groups in Syria creates a black hole of many activists` narratives. Tools like the crowd-sourced memes, #Syria_NonViolence_Map and #SyriaTracker, offer an alternative narrative, showing how nonviolent initiatives have encompassed bloggers, local councils, graffiti artists, organized sit-ins, medical relief services and demonstrations.
Maria Stephan Speaks on Women in the Midst of the Syrian Crisis, by Pierre Winston
On 12 March, Maria Stephan, a Senior Policy Fellow at the United States Institute of Peace, spoke at the University of Massachusetts in Boston. Stephan presented her lecture, "Why Civil Resistance Works and Women`s Catalytic Role: The Case of Syria and Beyond." Stephan highlighted the peaceful and nonviolent work that the women in Syria have been doing behind the scenes to help stop the bloodshed. She also invited women all across the globe to become more active in their respective communities.
Female Reporter Shot Dead Covering Anti-Sisi Protest, by Reporters Without Borders
Reporters Without Borders is dismayed to learn that Mayada Ashraf, a reporter for the Al-Dostour daily newspaper and the Masr Al-Arabiyya news website, was shot dead as she was covering clashes between police and protesters in Cairo on 28 March. Muslim Brotherhood supporters staged the protests in response to the announcement that Field Marshal Abdel-Fattah Al-Sisi is to be a candidate in next May’s presidential election. Police and demonstrators have blamed each other for Ashraf’s death. Four other people were killed.
Egypt Police Storm Al-Azhar University to Disperse Student Protest, by AP
Two students killed in clashes with police at the Islamic Al-Azhar University in Cairo on Sunday. Egyptian riot police fired buckshot and tear gas at pro-Muslim Brotherhood university students who threw stones at them outside the university, as anti-government student protests continued for a second week. The protesters are demanding the reinstatement of students who have been expelled for taking part in demonstrations or for belonging to the Muslim Brotherhood, and are also protesting against a bid for the presidency by former army chief, Abdel Fattah al-Sisi.
528 Reasons to Doubt Egyptian Justice, by Louisa Loveluck
The verdict condemning 529 people to execution was brutal, tragic, absurd — and most likely futile. International censure immediately followed — not just because of the verdict’s severity, but because due process was so thoroughly ignored: Defense lawyers were barred from meeting their clients or cross-examining witnesses, and many were later escorted from the court under the judge’s orders.
Dear President Obama: Freedom and Democracy Must Come First in Egypt, by Huffington Post
Prominent American university professors have written an open letter to President Obama, expressing deep concern with regard to the policy of the United States in Egypt. "Support for freedom and democracy in Egypt and the Arab world must trump any false notion of maintaining temporary stability promised by an iron fist regime with the barrel of a gun," the latter states.
After Popular Protests, Oman Starts to Pursue Graft, by Sami Aboudi
Young Omanis who took to the streets in 2011 to demand jobs and better economic prospects failed to trigger in their own Gulf state the mass protests that transformed other parts of the Arab world. But they may have had an impact all the same, as authorities are making a start on a task that, even if coincidentally, meets one of the protesters` key demands - fighting corruption. An absolute monarchy run by Sultan Qaboos bin Said, Oman has been pushing cautious reforms, including widening the powers of the Shura Council. Since then the authorities have turned their focus to corruption, strengthening domestic laws by boosting the powers of the state auditor and referring a number of public officials and private sector executives to the prosecution.
Libyan Berbers Pipe Up After Decades of Forced Silence, by John Thorne
One of North Africa`s oldest communities, the Amazigh, or Berber, is speaking up after decades of being banned from even teaching their language under Muammar Qaddafi. Qaddafi’s ouster has allowed them to bring their ancient language, Tamazight, into the open, and launched a debate over minority rights as Libya struggles to remake itself. Last year, Libya’s interim parliament declared Tamazight and other minority languages components of Libyan society and authorized schools to teach them as optional subjects. But for many Amazighs, basic freedom of expression isn’t enough. They also want Libya’s future constitution to enshrine Tamazight as an official language and guarantee its protection.
MAHR Denounces Morocco Campaign Against Protests, by The Gulf Today
The Moroccan Association for Human Rights (MAHR) denounced what it said was a government campaign against it, claiming that recent demonstrations had been violently suppressed and its members arrested. Association president Ahmed El Haij said “it is evident that this undeclared war against the (association) aims to put the brakes on and disrupt its work” and to “hush it up.” Referring to what he called trumped-up charges, Haij published a list of eleven members who have been jailed and another twelve who are free on bail.
The #WithSyria campaign, mobilized people in thirty five countries for an "unprecedented popular movement in solidarity" with the 9.3 million Syrians in need of humanitarian assistance.
Behind Barbed Wire, Shakespeare Inspires a Cast of Young Syrians, by Ben Hubbard
A recent adaptation of “King Lear” took place in the Zaatari Refugee camp in Jordan. The one hundred children in the cast were refugees who had fled the civil war in Syria.
An Essay on Palestinian Hip-Hop, by Revolutionary Arab Rap Blog
The Palestinian hip-hop community encompasses Palestinian artists from Israel, the West Bank, Gaza, surrounding countries and the worldwide Palestinian diaspora. While marginalization, dislocation, and occupation form the thematic core of Palestinian hip-hop, Palestine’s leading rappers cast their gaze much further. They call for resistance against their own leaders and identify Palestine`s struggle with the Arab peoples’ uprisings against their own governments. Revolutionary rappers throughout the Middle East and the world, in turn, are associating their fights against their own societies` social injustices with the Palestinian cause – a process that Palestinian hip-hop artists encourage and amplify.
Banksy, Elbow and Idris Elba Stand Together with Syria in a Moving Video Tribute, by Victoria Richards
An evocative YouTube video featuring Banksy, Idris Elba and alternative rock band Elbow has been released as part of a global vigil to mark the third anniversary of the crisis in Syria. The charity video tribute, which is just over a minute-and-a-half long, brings one of graffiti artist Banksy`s most iconic stencils to life.
Modernizing the Ancient Art of Arabic Calligraphy in Tunisia, by Sophie Ikenye
After his family was persecuted under Tunisia`s ousted President Zine al-Abidine Ben Ali, street artist Karim Jabbari found his own way of expressing his thoughts and feelings. Following the uprising that toppled the government in 2011, he has become a well-known graffiti artist hoping to revive and modernize the ancient art of Arabic calligraphy in Tunisia. He calls his style "calligraffiti."
Saudi Arabia’s Comic Book Fatwa, by Christopher Dickey
Kuwaiti psychologist Naif al-Mutawa created the comic book series called "The 99," after the 9/11 attacks because he wanted Muslim children to have Muslim heroes who were not suicide bombers and jihadists. "His comic books have captured the imaginations of so many young people with superheroes who embody the teachings and tolerance of Islam,” President Obama told a group of young entrepreneurs in 2010. But today there is a new fatwa against them—specifically those showing right-thinking Muslim superheroes.
Conferences & Events
The Revolutionary Public Sphere: Contention, Communication, and Culture in the Arab Uprisings, 10 April 2014, University of Pennsylvania, Philadelphia, US.
Call for Papers: Muslim Women’s Activism, 26 June 2014, University of Derby, UK. (Deadline: 4 April 2014)
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 Role of Diasporas, Migrants, and Exiles in the Arab Revolutions and Political Transitions, WAFAW Conference, 15-17 October 2014, Tunis, Tunisia. (Deadline: 15 May 2014)
Beyond the Arab Uprisings: Rediscovering the MENA region, Call for Panel Proposals, Annual Conference of the Italian Society for Middle Eastern Studies, 16-17 January 2015, Ca’ Foscari University, Venice, Italy. (Deadline: 30 April 2014)