[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
New “Panic Button” App Provides Safety Net to Human Rights Activists, by Amnesty International
Human rights activists in some of the world`s most repressive states will have improved access to assistance when facing the risk of attacks thanks to a smart, easy-to-use app launched by Amnesty International on 1 May. "Panic Button," a mobile app for Android, transforms a user`s smart phone into a secret alarm which can be activated rapidly in the event of an emergency, alerting fellow activists and enabling them to respond faster.
Thousands Rally in West Bank, Gaza to Mark Nakba Day, by Ma’an News Agency
Thousands of Palestinians rallied across the occupied West Bank and Gaza Strip on 15 May to mark the sixty-sixth anniversary of the Nakba, or catastrophe, of 1948. For the first time since 2007, Palestinian political factions organized joint rallies to mark the mass displacement of over seven hundred thousands Palestinians in the conflict surrounding Israel`s creation.
Two Palestinians Killed, Dozens Injured in Nakba Rallies, by Alternative Information Center
Israeli forces shot and killed two Palestinians during a demonstration marking the sixty-sixth anniversary of the Nakba near the West Bank city of Ramallah. Palestinian media reports that the victims are twenty two year-old Muhammad Audah Abu al-Thahir from the village of Abu Shukheidim and seventeen year-old Nadim Siyam Nuwarah from the al-Mazraa al-Qibliyya village, both in the Ramallah district.
On Nakba Day, a Rights-Based Approach to Resist Israeli Colonization, by Amjad Alqasis
A solution to the ongoing colonization and oppression of the Palestinian people should be found through a strict rights-based approach. These rights cannot be guaranteed through political negotiations, but through full adherence to, and implementation of, international law and rights. Thus, the conflict must be judged according to the values and standards of international law.
Remembering the Nakba: Israeli Group Puts 1948 Palestine Back on the Map, by Ian Black
Zochrot, whose activists include Jews and Palestinians, connected the bitterly contested past with the hi-tech present. Its I-Nakba phone app allows users to locate any Arab village that was abandoned during the 1948 war on an interactive map, learn about its history (including, in many cases, the Jewish presence that replaced it), and add photos, comments, and data.
Blast Strikes Protest Boat Docked in Gaza, Activists Say Israel to Blame, by Jack Khoury and Gili Cohen
According to activists in the Gaza Strip, the Israeli military was behind the explosion on 29 April that rocked a boat set to sail to Europe in protest of Israel`s blockade of the enclave. Preparations for the sail had been overtly underway for months, with the support of activists from Europe, the Arab world, and Israel, human rights organizations and local Palestinians. The idea was to set sail in June, transporting Palestinian products from the Strip to Europe to raise awareness of the blockade. The vessel was designed to transport goods and more than a hundred people.
Israel Angered by Methodist Report on Boycott Movement, by Haaretz
The Israeli embassy in London has condemned a Methodist Church report on boycotting Israel. While the report does not recommend that the Methodist Church join the Boycott, Divestment, and Sanctions (B.D.S.) movement, it was condemned by the embassy as an attempt to "legitimize the extremist B.D.S. political campaign."
Israeli Military Officials Caught Off Guard by a “Digital Rebellion,” by Jodi Rudoren
Israeli soldier David Adamov was videotaped having an aggressive confrontation with Palestinian teenagers in the tense West Bank city of Hebron. After military spokesman said his behavior did not comport with the army`s code of conduct, word that he was being held in a military jail sparked what several commentators have called the Israel Defense Forces` first "digital rebellion." The seemingly social-media-savvy Israeli military was caught flat-footed by the reality of soldiers who carry smartphones along with their rifles and who showed they were unafraid to publicly challenge their commanders online.
New Media and the Changing Narrative on Palestine, by Victoria Brittain
Victoria Brittain explores how a multitude of grassroots media initiatives, mainly by younger Palestinian academics, journalists, writers, film-makers, and lawyers, has brought about a new media narrative that captures the essence of a popular street struggle based on morality, legitimacy, and justice. Brittain argues that in Palestine, the number of websites and blogs, mostly written in English by a young generation of highly educated Palestinians, are able to produce a consistent and fearless body of reporting and analysis which is reaching new audiences. She emphasizes that Palestinian new media writers today show the world a different future.
Turkish Protesters Defy Government’s May Day Ban, by Sebnem Arsu and Ceylan Yeginsu
Thousands of demonstrators took to the streets of Istanbul in May Day rallies, confronting riot police officers to protest a government mired in a corruption scandal and accused of imposing a creeping authoritarianism in Turkey. The police fired tear gas, used water cannons and shut down main streets to disperse protesters challenging a government ban on May Day celebrations in Taksim Square. In Turkey, anger against Erdoğan has grown in recent months as a corruption scandal plunged his government into crisis. He infuriated the country’s secular, liberal class by seeking to ban Twitter and clamping down on social media.
Unlock Iran Invites You to Experience Life as an Iranian Political Prisoner, by Sarah Kerr
Unlock Iran is a new innovative visual storytelling platform featuring the stories of Iranian “prisoners of conscience,” or individuals who are detained for political, religious, or other personal beliefs deemed a threat by the Iranian government.
Iranian Activist Says Her Release is a Gesture, Not a New Era, by Deborah Amos
When Nasrin Sotoudeh, a prominent Iranian human rights lawyer, was released in September 2013—along with eleven other high-profile political prisoners—many Iranians saw the move as opening a new era following the election of centrist President Hassan Rouhani. He had promised to release political prisoners rounded up after the contested 2009 elections, when thousands of protesters, as part of the Green Movement, were tried and jailed. But optimism is fading for his domestic campaign pledge as further prisoner releases have stalled. Sotoudeh has a long career in challenging Iran`s court system, taking on sensitive political cases including that of Shirin Ebadi, a Nobel Peace Prize laureate.
Barakat Activists Challenge Algeria’s Status Quo, by Naveena Kottoor
Despite Algeria having been dominated by the same ruling party, military, and intelligence service for more than half a century, a new protest movement called Barakat (“enough”) is determined to challenge the status quo and change the perception that there is no opposition to the permanent rule of the current regime. Barakat activists have been protesting a lack of democratic rights and the exclusion of minorities from the political process, as well as the lack of economic foresight and reform. Their activism comes at a price however, as several members of the movement have been arrested while trying to stage sit-ins and protests, facing threats to their families and themselves.
Algeria: Arrests at Protest Against President, by Human Rights Watch
Algerian authorities have frequently repressed peaceful protests by using preemptive techniques such as arresting organizers in advance and blocking access to demonstration sites. Several human rights activists and union leaders have faced charges related to the peaceful exercise of their right to assemble or their expressions of support for strikes and demonstrations. Officials have been targeting and harassing democracy advocates affiliated with the Barakat or "enough" movement that advocates term limits and opposes a fourth term for President Abdelaziz Bouteflika.
Morocco Workers Protest Despite Minimum Wage Hike, by AFP
Tens of thousands of Moroccans demonstrated on International Labour Day to keep up the pressure on the Islamist government despite its promise to raise the minimum wage. Amid complaints against austerity measures, the government announced a ten percent hike in the private sector monthly minimum wage. Three of the North African country`s principal labour organizations issued a joint statement saying the rise was insufficient.
Egyptian Prisoners Stage Mass Protest, by Al Jazeera
Thousands of Egyptian prisoners are refusing to attend trials and are staging hunger strikes in protest at conditions and the violations of justice. The protests, which began on May Day, come days after nearly seven hundred people accused of violence and belonging to the banned Muslim Brotherhood were sentenced to death in a mass trial that lasted four days.
Protest in Cairo Defies and Mocks Government Ban, by Shadi Rahimi
Days after a court-ordered ban on the 6 April Movement, a few hundred of its members ridiculed the government during a protest in defiance of Egypt`s protest law, holding up balloons and a cake in mock celebration of the ban, and a watermelon inscribed, "Your mother is banned." This is the first time the movement has been legally banned, a move some Egyptian parties are describing as politicized, and which the US government called "troubling."
Bassem Sabry Dead: Egyptian Blogger and Civil Rights Activist Dies After Fall from Balcony, by Maggie Michael
Bassem Sabry, one of Egypt`s most respected bloggers and a democracy advocate who chronicled the country`s turmoil since the 2011 uprising that ousted autocrat Hosni Mubarak, has died. Sabry, a political columnist for a number of Egyptian and international media, won praise for his balanced analysis even amid the deep polarization that has divided Egypt over the past three years, particularly after massive protests last summer led to the military`s removal of Islamist Mohammed Morsi, the first elected president after Mubarak`s fall.
Egypt’s Repression of Free Speech Will Inevitably Fail, by Wadah Khanfar
Arab regimes have tried to monopolize the media for decades. Today, the Egyptian authorities are resorting to the same method: accusing the free media of conspiring against the state, spreading false information, and spying for foreign forces. The oppression of free speech has failed time after time, as the developments of the revolutions were broadcast via television, internet and social networking. The regimes that most fiercely attacked free expression were the most fragile and weak when facing up to youth revolts. The relapse in the path towards democracy and free speech is a short-term hiccup that will not eliminate people`s desire for freedom, justice, and dignity.
A Voice of Dissent in Egypt is Muffled, but Not Silent, by Mayy El Sheikh
After two decades of mocking the powerful as a popular columnist and screenwriter Belal Fadl has been blacklisted. His offense was a newspaper column he wrote in February ridiculing the promotion of Abdul-Fattah el-Sisi—the military leader who ousted Egypt’s first democratically elected president, Mohamed Morsi—to the exalted rank of field marshal even though he has never entered a battlefield. A leader of Egyptian political satire, Fadl has inspired a generation to voice its dissent more vividly than Egyptians had dared during Mubarak’s rule.
Pro-Morsi Students Break Locks on Cairo University’s Main Gates, by Ahram Online
Students supporting ousted president Mohamed Morsi broke the locks of Cairo University`s main gates on 8 May in an attempt to protest outside the campus. The previous week, head of Cairo University Gaber Nassar banned a hundred and seventy three students from taking their final exams due to alleged links to violent clashes at the university. Morsi`s ouster in July 2013, along with the deadly dispersal at Rabaa Al-Adeweya, prompted the Islamist president`s supporters–including students–to protest against what they allege is a coup against an elected president.
Taking Sides in Egypt’s Troubled Revolution: But Which? by Haifaa G. Khalafallah
After their initial shock at the success of the Tahrir demonstrators, the subscribers to Egypt’s old narrative of power recovered ground and began to revert to the familiar ways of running their country. A war between the old and new ways became inevitable. That summarizes the story of Egypt today, where daily battles continue to rage in its streets, workplaces, media, prisons, and even in its morgues. Revolutions or coups seeking to change modern Egypt, whether in 1919 or 1952, never challenged the familiar patterns of power relations, that is to say, their political culture. The triumph of a home grown, new political discourse is the real and most significant Egyptian revolution that took place early in 2011.
Sisi Praises 25 January Revolution Youth for Kick-Starting Change, by Mada Masr
Abdel Fattah al-Sisi during a television appearance on the Sky News Arabia satellite channel said that the youth of the 25 January revolution are fully appreciated for the changes they brought about, but that he doesn’t know how to recognize this. “The youth should be truly appreciated, but I frankly do not know how to deliver this. I urge them to stand by Egypt and to understand the tough conditions it is experiencing,” he said.
Jordan Activists Profile “Honor” Killing Victims, by Farah Maraqa
In Jordan, critics are finding shortfalls in the local press coverage of a March "honor" killing. To fill the void in reporting, one advocacy group, No Honor in Crime, publishes profiles of the victims to humanize them in ways local press reports do not. No Honor in Crime is trying to combat these killings. They are also fighting a law that says a man who "kills, wounds, or injures" his wife or one of his female close relatives after either commits adultery can benefit from a reduced sentence.
#FreeSimpson: Campaign to Free Jailed Activists in Morocco
Eleven members of the pro-democracy 20 February Movement were detained in April after joining a labor protest. Using #FreeSimpson and #FreeKoulchi hashtags, supporters are calling for their release.
Iranian Women Post Pictures of Themselves Without Hijabs on Facebook, by Saeed Kalami Dehghan
The campaign Stealthy Freedoms of Iranian Women was set up by London-based Iranian journalist Masih Alinejad attracts more than 130,000 likes on its Facebook page, with women across Iran sending unveiled pictures taken in parks, at the seaside and in the streets. Although last week, a group of conservative men and women staged a protest in Tehran demanding a tightening of Islamic rules on hijab, Alinejad stated: "I have no intention whatsoever to encourage people to defy the forced hijab or stand up against it. I just want to give voice to thousands and thousands of Iranian women who think they have no platform to have their say."
When Artists Go to War: Inside the PLO’s Information Department, by Nicholas Blincoe
An exhibition of the work produced by the PLO Information Department opens in London. The World Is With Us: Global Film and Poster Art from the Palestinian Revolution, 1968-1980, covers a tumultuous and violent time, but one that saw an extraordinary flowering of creativity.
Graffiti Artists Unite Against Egypt’s Presidential Hopeful Abdel Fatah Al-Sisi, by Patrick Kingsley
Some of the world`s leading political artists are stepping up their efforts to produce street works protesting against the actions of Egypt`s likely next president, Abdel Fatah al-Sisi. International graffiti stars such as Sampsa, Ganzeer, Captain Borderline, and the painter Molly Crabapple have begun to create designs incorporating the slogan "Sisi war crimes" in cities across Europe, the United States, and North Africa.
Conferences & Events
The World is With Us, curated by the Palestine Film Foundation, runs from 16-18 May at the Barbican Cinema, London EC2, and continues from 19 May–14 June at Rich Mix, London E1.
Muslim Women’s Activism, 26 June 2014, University of Derby, UK.
Architecture After Revolution, DAAR in conversation with Ilan Pappe and Okwui Enwezor, Tate Modern, Starr Auditorium, 28 June 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, Annual Conference of the Italian Society for Middle Eastern Studies, 16-17 January 2015, Ca’ Foscari University, Venice, Italy.