[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
Hundreds of Moroccan Women Take to The Streets to Demand Gender Equality, by Tara Culp-Ressler
About eight hundred Moroccan protesters, most of whom were women, flooded the streets of the capital city to demand their government to implement a portion of the constitution that guarantees gender equality. The section of the constitution in question, Article 19, states “men and women have equal civil, political, economic, social, cultural and environmental rights and freedoms” and “the state shall work towards the establishment of parity between men and women.” But Morocco’s Islamic leaders have not fully implemented it. Therefore, hundreds of NGOs have formed the “Civil Coalition for the Application of Article 19” to push political leaders to follow through.
Syrian Activists Fighting – and Failing – to Spark Action, by Max Rosenthal
Many Syrian activists who have become key sources of information from within Syria are becoming frustrated with the lack of impact that their widespread activism has had in changing their situation. Many activists are struggling to find alternative strategies to military intervention that are effective and meaningful.
A First Look at Syrian Info Activism, by Tactical Technology Collective
You have probably forgotten by now that Syria is famous for ping-pong. So what better way to motivate protestors under tight military control than to write encouraging slogans of peace on thousands of ping-pong balls and release them to bounce down the streets of Damascus. This is just one of the tactics showcased in Dawlaty`s Arabic booklet, Tactics used in the Syrian Revolution Movement. This is the first Arabic publication of its kind that compiles and categorizes info-activism in Syria.
April 6 Revolutionary Group Banned in Egypt, by Egyptian Streets
The Cairo Court of Urgent Matters has ordered the prohibition of all activities of 6 April Youth Movement on charges of working to distort the image of the Egyptian state and espionage, reported state media. Ashraf Saeed, a lawyer who was seeking to suspend the group’s activities, had filed the lawsuit. The lawyer also called on the government led by Prime Minister Ibrahim Mehleb to seize the group’s headquarters and assets. According to local media, 6 April may appeal the Court’s decision. If the appeal is unsuccessful, the President must then issue a decree officially ordering the ban of the group’s activities.
Egyptian Female Activists Form “Anti-Coup” Coalition, by World Bulletin
Nine Egyptian anti-coup women`s groups have united to form a coalition with the stated aim of stepping up efforts to end what they describe as last summer`s "military coup" that unseated elected president Mohamed Morsi. "The alliance aims to encourage more activity by women in resisting the military coup," alliance head Hoda Abdel-Moneim stated.
Egyptian Journalists Protest Being Targeted by Violence, by Ahram Online
Dozens of Egyptian journalists protested on 17 April against the recent violence they have been subjected to while covering events in the field as well as what they say is a campaign to prevent them from doing their jobs. The protest, called by the Journalists` Syndicate and held at its headquarters in downtown Cairo, condemned "deliberate attacks journalists are subjected to and the fierce campaign aiming to prevent them from … reporting the truth to the people," the syndicate said.
Youth Movements Demonstrate in Central Cairo Against Anti-Protest Law, by Middle East Monitor
Hundreds of Egyptian political activists from a number of different youth movements organized a human chain in central Cairo on 16 April, demanding for the interim government to abolish the controversial anti-protest law and release all political prisoners. Several youth movements had previously announced that a week of activities would be taking place devoted to protest against the new law.
Egyptian Police “Using Rape as a Weapon” Against Dissident Groups, by Patrick Kingsley
Two political dissidents Omar el-Shouekh and Fadi Samir claim they were raped in Egyptian police custody in separate assaults that campaigners suspect are indicative of a wider strategy as the brutal crackdown on opposition continues. Though their treatment is comparable, the two men come from radically different backgrounds, and this illustrates the breadth of dissent against the Egyptian government. According to government figures, at least sixteen thousands dissidents–mainly Islamists, but increasingly secular activists, too–have been arrested since the start of the crackdown on political opposition that began last July.
Egypt’s Interim President Rules Out Pardoning Activists, by Al Bawaba
Egypt’s interim President Adly Mahmoud Mansour has ruled out clemency for three prominent anti-regime activists serving jail terms, stating that he does not want to interfere in judicial affairs. The three protesters are in prison on charges of organizing illegal protests and alleged attacks on police officers during the 2011 revolution. Several international rights groups and the UN Human Rights Council have expressed concern over the Egyptian security forces’ heavy-handed crackdown and the killing of peaceful anti-government protesters.
Nabi Saleh Breaks the Military Siege, by Nora Tamimi
Nabi Saleh, a small village in the West Bank, was subjected to a military siege imposed by the Israeli Occupation Forces as a form of collective punishment. Saleh is very well known as one of the most active peaceful resistance villages in the West Bank with weekly nonviolent demonstrations. The siege did not last long however as activists from all over the West Bank went to the village to protest. Saleh has proven that the use of nonviolence is not a passive way to pursue the struggle; it is a strategic option that threatens the status-quo, allowing the participants to advance their objectives and achieve them.
Let’s Have Reasoned Debate, Not Distortion and Calumny: A Reply to Russell Berman, by Hilton Obenzinger, Joel Beinin and David Palumbo-Liu
The authors respond to Russell Berman’s article The Goal of the Boycott which aspires to explain the “real” goals of the Boycott, Divestment, and Sanctions movement and the “real” motives of those who support it while providing a history lesson. Obenzinger, Beinin and Palumbo-Liu argue that Berman’s article is based on bad history, bad conceptualization, and bad argumentation.
Boycotting the Architects of Israel’s Occupation, by Abe Hayeem
A nine-year-long campaign to hold Israeli architects responsible for their role in dispossessing Palestinians reached a significant stage on 19 March. The Royal Institute of British Architects approved a call for its Israeli equivalent to be suspended from the International Union of Architects. While the campaign for an academic boycott of Israel has grown in recent years, the 19 March vote could be the first successful action against Israel’s professional institutes. This decision has put the spotlight on how Israeli architects assist the occupation in a most unethical way.
Arab-Israeli Activist Is Moved to House Arrest, by Isabel Kershner
Majd Kayyal, an Arab-Israeli activist who was detained by Israeli authorities over a visit to Lebanon, was released but ordered to be kept under house arrest. He was being held on suspicion of conducting an unauthorized visit to an enemy state and contact with a foreign agent. Kayyal is a freelance writer and he had been invited to Beirut, the Lebanese capital, to attend a conference marking the fortieth anniversary of As Safir, a Lebanese newspaper where his writings have appeared regularly.
Starbucks to Buy a Share of SodaStream, by Alternative Information Center
Despite the on-going campaign to boycott SodaStream due to its production plant in Mishor Adumim Industrial Zone, Starbucks is in advanced talks to acquire ten percent of SodaStream at a company value of 1.1 billion dollars, reports Globe, the Israeli economic newspaper. The newspaper adds that sources close to the deal say that an official announcement will be made soon.
Activists Target Algeria’s “Farcial” Elections, by Tamsin Walker
Algeria’s current President Abdelaziz Bouteflika, is running for a fourth term despite his deteriorating health. Opposition parties have created a movement called Barakat, which translates to "enough" and have been staging boycott protests to voice their concerns over his ability to govern. The president is pretty much guaranteed to win which has caused discontent and civil concern for his opponents.
Algerian Forces Clash with Amazigh Activists in Wake of Elections, by Massoud Hayoun
Algerian security forces clashed with Amazigh rights activists in the northern city of Tizi Ouzou on Monday, days after an election marked by a historically low turnout garnered a fourth term for ailing President Abdelaziz Bouteflika. Analysts and activists say that authorities provoked the violence toward Amazighs, often pejoratively referred to as Berbers, after years of relative calm to distract from concerns that kept Algerians—of all stripes—away from the polls.
Algeria Rights Crackdown Slammed Ahead of Election, by Thomas Hubert
A report published by the rights group Amnesty International stated that “the Algerian authorities regularly ban and forcibly disperse peaceful protests and have imposed severe restrictions on the rights to freedom of expression, association and assembly.” The report cites numerous examples of restrictions to civil liberties, including a 2012 law allowing the government to ban organizations seen to threaten principles as vague as “national constants and values” or “morality.”
Algeria: Pre-election Clampdown Exposes “Gaping Holes” in Human Rights Record, by Amnesty International
Freedom of expression, association and assembly are all under threat with additional restrictions being placed on protests, private TV stations and NGOs in Algeria ahead of the presidential election. Amnesty International reports that the “Algerian authorities’ strategy has been to nip in the bud any attempt to challenge them or their record," causing an increase in restrictions as a show that public criticism will not be tolerated at any level. International human rights groups and UN human rights experts have also been barred from the country along with independent trade unions being harassed amid social tensions and employment protests.
A Guide to Lebanon’s Street Protests, by Marc Abizeid
Thousands of Lebanese workers and activists have been pouring onto the streets over a litany of issues since parliament resumed work this month following a year-long hiatus. Most of the protests are related to the country’s startling income inequality and stark poverty levels. Even before the Syrian war triggered an influx of over a million mostly poor refugees into Lebanon, about twenty-eight percent of the country’s population of four million lived in poverty or extreme poverty, respectively earning a per capita average of less than 4.00 to 2.40 dollars per day, according to UN figures. Parliament has addressed some demonstrators’ grievances with the adoption of several new laws, such as those granting contracts to civil defense and electricity workers. But in most cases legislators have either fallen short of their demands, or continue to drag their feet, fueling an unending stream of protests.
Egyptians Protest New Law on Demonstrations, by Khalid El Kaoutit
One month before the presidential elections, protests against the government are increasing in Egypt. The activists demand more rights and the release of political prisoners. Around three hundred participants clap their hands and shout slogans against the military. The law says that all demonstrations need to be approved by the interior ministry—effectively banning them, the opposition says. Opposition leaders are calling their protest a "marathon," even if the march is less than two kilometers.
Crackdown on Journalists: State Security vs Human Rights, by Amy Brouillete
There is an alarming upsurge in the use of national security and counter-terrorism laws to silence journalists in Egypt. The trial of three al Jazeera reporters continues in Cairo, amid heightened international scrutiny and criticism of the interim government`s crackdown on journalists ahead of next month`s presidential elections. The foreign correspondents—charged as terrorists for aiding the banned Muslim Brotherhood—are among scores of domestic journalists jailed by the military-backed government since ousting President Mohamed Morsi in July 2013. These measures have dashed hopes for a democratic resolution to the tumult of Egypt`s political change and put Egypt on par with the world`s most press-hostile regimes.
Unions, Civil Society Should Forget About Taksim, PM Erdoğan Insists, by Today’s Zaman
Workers` unions and professional chambers that are insistent on holding rallies for 1 May, celebrated in Turkey as Labor and Solidarity Day, in Taksim Square should forget about it, Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdoğan has said. He reiterated his government`s earlier position that unions would be able to hold rallies in İstanbul`s Yenikapı Square, or Maltepe Square if space was an issue. Civil society organizations and workers` unions have announced that they will be in Taksim Square in defiance of the ban.
Saudi Conservatives Protest Against Westernisation, by Reuters
Saudi Arabian conservatives have staged a rare protest outside the Royal Court in Riyadh against "Westernizing" reforms including moves to allow physical education for schoolgirls, local media reported on Thursday. Last week the consultative Shoura Council decided to urge the government to look into allowing sports classes for girls in state schools, something that many conservatives have long opposed. In Saudi Arabia, women are banned from driving and must gain the approval of a male "guardian" to work, open a bank account, travel abroad or even to undergo some forms of voluntary surgery.
Saudi Arabia: Free Prominent Rights Activist, by Human Rights Watch
Waleed Abu al-Khair, a lawyer and human rights activist, was jailed on February 2014 for his legal defense of other human rights activists and his involvement with a human rights Facebook group monitoring Saudi Arabia. His detention comes amid an ongoing campaign to silence human rights defenders and civil society activists throughout the kingdom.
Activist for Getting More Saudi Women Into the Work Force Plans Book, by Karen Zraick
Reem Asaad had started a Facebook group in 2008 calling for stores to hire women because it was embarrassing to interact with male clerks about underwear. Asaad plans to write a book about her experiences and those of other Saudi women along with New York-based co-author Rahilla Zafar. “Someone told me, ‘You have to have some actionable steps.’ I thought, boycott.” The boycott ended in 2012, when the kingdom began enforcing a royal decree requiring stores that sell products intended for women to hire female workers. The successful campaign taught Asaad crucial lessons about persistence—and also about the importance of documenting activism and social change to provide a resource for future change-makers.
Social Media As an Opportunity to Bahraini Women, by Nada Alwadi
Since the uprising in 2011, social media and cyber activism have helped transform ordinary Bahraini women into new leaders who have played a central role in the uprising in Bahrain. Their ideas, voices, and activities have been receiving stronger support from within their often conservative communities and it is now more accepted by the public that democratic transition cannot be achieved without the participation of women.
Bahrainis Continue Anti-government Demonstrations, by Al Bawaba
Bahraini protesters have held anti-regime demonstrations across the country, despite an ongoing crackdown by Saudi-backed forces. On 22 April, people in the town of A’ali and in the villages of Maqsha, Karbabad, and Ma’ameer people took to streets to express their anger over the recent death of an anti-government protester.
Families of Iran Prisoners Stage Protest Outside Parliament, by Reuters
Families of Iranian prisoners charged with political offenses demonstrated outside parliament in Tehran to protest against what they said was violent treatment of their relatives at the Evin prison. Family members holding pictures of the prisoners said more than twenty of their relatives were hurt in clashes with security guards on 17 April.
LGBTQ Communities in the Arab World Face Unique Digital Threats, by April Glaser and Jillian York
Across the Arab world, LGBTQ communities still struggle to gain social recognition, and individuals still face legal penalties for consensual activities. More governments in the region are using digital surveillance to entrap, arrest, detain, and harass individuals who visit LGBTQ websites or chat rooms, or who use social media to protest homophobic laws and social stigmas. Meanwhile, nationwide filtering and complicit Internet search companies have censored content relating to homosexuality by blocking websites and restricting keyword searches.
Riot Gear: How Protesters Around the World Suit Up, by Colin Daileda
No matter the country, protesters show up to clashes outfitted with gear designed to protect them from the state`s military and/or police. There seems to be a perception that wearing armor or carrying light weapons makes the protesters look more credible and forceful. According to Erica Chenoweth, "Interestingly, though, the evidence suggests the exact inverse. In many places, the use of armor or weapons may repel sympathizers who see participation as more risky when protests take on this character, thereby undermining the power of the movement."
The People’s “Marsad” for the Tunisian Parliament, by Rebecca Chao
In Arabic, "marsad" means observatory, but in Tunisia citizens also know it as the name of the interactive website, created by activist Amira Yahyaoui, that tracks and provides updates on all the activities of the Tunisian Parliament, the National Constituent Assembly. The nonpartisan team behind Marsad sits in all of the Assembly`s sessions and posts meeting minutes and discussions of bills, as well as a record of who votes how on each bill. With no other resource like it being provided by the government, and an inventory now of five-hundred and nineteen documents, Marsad.tn has become an essential tool in Tunisia for journalists, activists, and even Members of Parliament.
The Campaign to End Sexual Terrorism in Egypt, by Mohamed Khairat
On 13 April, Dignity Without Borders, in a campaign to end “sexual terrorism,” has released a new video of young schoolgirls sharing their experiences and opinions on the sexual harassment endemic.
Taking on Art Looters on Twitter, by Tom Mashberg
Last August, the Malawi National Museum in Minya, Egypt, was being looted. Monica Hanna, “armed” with a cellphone, sent out a tweet pleading for help. Soon, she, some colleagues and local police officers were hauling the surviving relics to a truck as men fired automatic weapons nearby. “We are trying to create communal watchdogs all around Egypt,” Hanna said in an interview, where she is drawing attention to the looting in her homeland and to the power of social media to help curb it.
Syria’s Graffiti Revolution, by Adrian Hartrick
"This [graffiti] is an opportunity to gain back the public space that was stolen from us by the militias," professes Syrian activist Amer Mattar. Amer is a member of Shera’ (Arabic for "The Street"), a group of young activists in the town of Kafr Nabl who are using graffiti as a way to reclaim a revolution they feel has gone horribly awry. This new campaign is also directed at the people of Kafr Nabl as a means of changing attitudes and mentalities. According to Shera’ founder Nashwan Marzook, they are trying to renew faith in unarmed resistance. “This kind of work will restore the people`s confidence in civil resistance after losing the weapon of hope,” Marzook says.
Creative Resistance: Syria’s Nonviolent Struggle Persists, by Ibrahim Al-Assil
Two civil resistance groups, I Am Syrian and the Syrian Nonviolence Movement, sponsored an exhibit called “Stories of the Revolution.” The display took place in two rounds during March and April, in part of Aleppo outside regime control, despite the city’s ongoing devastation by the regime attacks. Syrian activists know that telling the stories of their struggle is not only crucial to the contest for power, but is empowering for the traumatized population of Syria.
Conferences & Events
Muslim Women’s Activism, 26 June 2014, University of Derby, UK.
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)