[This is a monthly 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 monthly roundup to DARS@jadaliyya.com.]
News & Commentary
Glimpse Into 2014 Struggles Draws Image of Upcoming Year, by Roqayah Chamseddine
This year was a powerful amalgamation of torment, dissent, and small victories – a mixture of struggles, oftentimes intersecting, which will shape the new year.
Nonviolent Conflicts in 2014 You May Have Missed Because They Were Not Violent, by Erica Chenoweth
Erica Chenoweth highlights a few key stories that might have been missed in 2014 because of our tendency to focus on things that blow up. The historical record suggests that people who wage nonviolent struggle (rather than armed struggle) tend to win more often without creating the damage that leaves societies in disarray. These are five stories she focuses on: the fall of a dictator in Burkina Faso, the fall of a government over corruption in Bulgaria, nonviolent resistance in in the Ukrainian civil war (both Ukraine and Russia), nonviolent resistance to the Taliban in Pakistan, and nonviolent resistance in Palestine and Israel.
Notes Towards an Analytics of Resistance, by Costas Douzinas
New forms, subjects and strategies of resistance have emerged in recent mass protests and insurrections, from the Arab Spring to Spain, Greece, Turkey and Brazil. Insurrections, exodus and democratic experimentation respond to the economic and social landscape. How can we generalise these new forms of resistance? When does resistance arise, how does it work, can it ever succeed? Using historical and recent examples, this essay proposes seven theses on the philosophy of resistance. We have entered a new age of resistance and potentially radical change after fifty years of failures and defeats of the left.
Using Technology in Nonviolent Activism Against Repression, by Kelly McKone, Maria J. Stephan, and Noel Dickover
In an era of crackdowns on freedoms of peaceful assembly and association, what role can technology play in strengthening nonviolent civic mobilization? How can activists strategically apply the full range of technologies to build and sustain movements where the options for nonviolently resolving conflicts seem to be diminishing under increased repression? This report explores avenues for engagement between activists and external actors to use technology in support of movement building.
In the Mideast, as in France, Satire Is a Weapon Against Extremists, by Nahrain Al-Mousawi
Islamic countries of the Middle East have led the way in attacking the extremists of groups such as Islamic State by using the instruments of satire. The use of mockery and caricature as a way of mocking Islamic extremism is, in fact, in some ways far more pronounced in the Middle Eastern media than it is in Europe. Some claim humor is a way of taking back power – the power to name, to shame – on an uneven playing field. And although there is a tendency to dismiss the impact of social media, not to mention the role of humor, it is worth noting that this is where the networked Muslim majority might do the most damage in discrediting Islamic State.
We Need Another Giant Protest, by Thomas Friedman
Jihadist zeal is easy to condemn, but will require multiple revolutions to stem. What we need is a million-person march against the jihadists across the Arab-Muslim world, organized by Arabs and Muslims for Arabs and Muslims, without anyone in the West asking for it — not just because of what happened in Paris but because of the scores of Muslims recently murdered by jihadists in Pakistan, Yemen, Iraq, Libya, Nigeria and Syria.
At Least Eighteen Killed As Protesters Clash With Police in Anniversary of Egypt’s Revolution, by Ahram Online
At least eighteen people have died at protests around Egypt on the fourth anniversary of the 2011 Arab Spring revolution. Clashes also erupted in downtown Cairo between protesters and a number of supporters of President Sisi during a protest at the Journalists Syndicate. The secular April 6 Youth Movement, which was outlawed last April, had also called for protests in a number of downtown squares after the killing of activist Shaimaa El-Sabagh.
Unauthorized Memory, by Yasmin El-Rifae
On 24 January authorities shot and killed Shaimaa Sabbagh on Talaat. She was marching, along with other members of the Socialist Alliance Party, through downtown to commemorate those killed since the uprising started four years ago. The authorities have made it clear that unauthorized memory and mourning will not be tolerated. Public language, thought and opinion is either legal or illegal, patriotism or treason. Spaces for freer thought remain on the margins, for now. What has remained constant is that the state does not know how to use its violence without hubris stemming from impunity.
The Meaning Behind the 25 January Revolution, by Lamis Andoni
Tunisia`s Jasmine Revolution of 2011 was the beginning of a renaissance in the region and an undeniable source of inspiration. However, it was the 25 January Revolution in Cairo`s Tahrir Square that provided the impetus for a series of revolutions across the Arab world from east to west; the only thing that could and did stop it were unprecedented levels of brutality and ferocity on the part of the deep state. We had never seen anything like this in all of Egypt`s history. The slogan of 25 January – "Bread, Freedom and Social Equality" – did not only pose a threat to Arab regimes but also threatened many economic and political systems around the world. Arab and other systems do not allow freedom of thought and expression, or the development of an independent and functioning political system.
A Girl Tried to Break Egyptian Social Taboos, by Nada Deyaa’
Mennatullah El-Husseiny is a law student who decided to fight the general outlook of Egyptian society towards girls and her rights to do everything that is entitled “only for men.” The pure courage showed in her shaved hair up to her tattoo with the Arabic words “Shakily A’gebny” (“I like the way I look like”) is not something Egyptians get to see daily. And that applies as well to her small kiosk selling hot drinks in down town Cairo.
Egypt Female Cyclists Pedal for Acceptance, by Agence France Press
Women enjoy more freedom in Egypt than in deeply conservative Muslim countries such as Saudi Arabia, but the most populous Sunni Arab country still considers it inappropriate for them to ride bicycles. Unlike in many countries, the two-wheeler is considered unsafe for travelling in Cairo`s traffic-clogged roads. For Egyptian women it is all the more challenging given the city`s notorious sexual violence, and female cyclists in particular are targeted by passers-by. Every Friday morning, Go Bike, a group that promotes cycling, arranges cycling tours. Many participants are women. Go Bike aims to "change society`s perception" about girls riding bicycles, said the group`s spokeswoman Hadeer Samy
The Egyptian Lesson: How to Strengthen Student Opposition, by Amro Ali
As the regime clamps down on universities that seem to be the last visible site of opposition to the regime, it is not destroying student activism, but dispersing it. Student politics act as the pulse of society and introducing new ways of learning, bridging the gaps between academe and society. The Egyptian regime might just be building up the new student opposition that it is trying to eliminate.
The News Website That Is Keeping Press Freedom Alive in Egypt, by Leslie T. Chang
The online newspaper Mada Masr formed before the military coup in 2013. Amid a growing crackdown on free expression, its staff have risked their lives to continue reporting. Its reporters spoke about how the hazards of practicing journalism were affecting their coverage. They rarely go to protests these days; the risk of getting shot at or arrested is too high. But they are tackling subjects whose narrative, until now, has been dominated by the government, such as persecution of human rights activists.
A Quick Look Back at the Revolution’s Internet Sensations, by Andeel
The article provides a brief overview of several artists and bloggers that became well known through their use of social media and other outlets during and after the 25 January revolution in Egypt.
“Palestinian Lives Do not Count Here,” by Patrick Stickland
Hundreds of Palestinians in Israel protested on 19 January as thousands participated in the funeral procession of a Bedouin man with Israeli citizenship who died during a confrontation with police the night before. Protests were held by activists in Haifa, Jaffa, Nazareth, Beersheba, and Rahat, as well as by students at Tel Aviv University, Ben Gurion University, Haifa University and the Hebrew University in Jerusalem.
Breaking Taboos, B.D.S. Gains Ground Among Academics, by David Palumbo-Liu
The combination of unmitigated building of illegal settlements, massive and inhumane military operations, and legislative maneuvers to codify racism have changed the playing field for Palestinian civil society. If not in resounding resolutions in support of the Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions (B.D.S.) movement, we see a significant shift of attitude in academic organizations. And what the American Studies Association has done, in endorsing the B.D.S. movement, has been to launch a new and unprecedented national discussion on the issue of Israel-Palestine, one that promises only to gain volume in 2015.
American Historical Association Rejects Israel Boycott, by i24 News
The American Historical Association rejected a resolution for boycott, divestment, and sanctions against Israel. The unaffiliated Historians Against the War brought the resolution forward in an effort to impose a restriction on investments with Israel. The resolution was blocked with a vote of one hundred and forty four to fifty five rejecting any similar resolution that denounces Israel and calls for divestment.
Israel: Dissident Reservists Dismissed, by Jodi Rudoren
The military terminated the service of forty three reservists from an elite intelligence unit who in September signed a letter refusing to participate in “actions against Palestinians” for moral reasons. A leader of the reservists’ group, speaking on the condition of anonymity because the military prohibits members of the clandestine Unit 8200 from being identified publicly, said “the army is trying to make the issues that we were trying to raise go away by making us go away.” The letter claimed that its work harmed innocent people, amounted to “political persecution.”
Damascus’ Stifled Voice from the Left, by Budour Hassan
From the beginning of the Syrian revolution and well into 2013, the Syrian Revolutionary Youth injected a breath of fresh air into the lungs of an uprising that was being increasingly suffocated by the Syrian regime and counter-revolutionary forces. The collective embodied a clear political vision that was not restricted to vague demands for a democratic, civil state. As the uprising went towards militarization, the Syrian Revolutionary Youth attempted to sustain the peaceful side of the uprising.
Pressure Grows on Saudi Arabia Over Blogger Facing Second Flogging, by Ian Black
Pressure is building over the case of Raif Badawi, the jailed Saudi blogger who is due to be flogged for a second time as part of his controversial punishment for setting up a website to promote free speech. The United Nations high commissioner for human rights, and the governments of Canada, Jordan and the United Kingdom have publicly expressed concern over the punishment. Protesters holding photos of the activist with “#FreeRaif” slogans lined the street outside the Saudi embassy in London. But expressions of concern have not led to any diplomatic action against Saudi Arabia, which is also regularly criticised for its prodigious use of the death penalty.
Bahrain Rings in the New Year with Arrests, Tear Gas and Protests, by Mohamed Hassan
Bahrain`s Twittersphere is one of the most active in Arab countries, where Bahrainis use Twitter as one of the few channels still available to demonstrate dissent, which continues to percolate despite repression. The heads of the two largest political groups are in prison; the leaders of the 2011 protests are also in jail and all the country`s leading human rights activists are either in exile or facing trial. More than three thousand citizens are imprisoned for their participation in the uprising.
Iran Is Becoming a Footloose Nation as Dance Lessons Spread, by IranWire
Over the last few years a dance class craze has swept Iran’s cities, with young Iranians eagerly signing up to learn the samba, salsa, rumba, tango and other passionate dances. Groups of young men and women gather to practice something exciting but deeply illegal. Because the state’s Islamic morality codes forbid unrelated women and men from mixing in private, underground dance classes are not advertised openly. But news of the classes is spread mainly by word of mouth.
Iranian MPs Push for Trial of Green Movement Leaders, by Reza HaghighatNejad
Over two hundred MPs have demanded a decision be reached regarding the fate of the Green Movement leaders Mir Hossein Mousavi and Mehdi Karroubi. The campaign for Mousavi and Karroubi to be released is demanding answers from the government as to legal grounds for their continued incarceration. Karroubi and Mousavi, both former presidential candidates, were placed under house arrest after millions of the people took to the streets to contest the results of the 2009 presidential election.
Iranian Women Stand United in Protest and Hope at Asian Cup, by Joe Gorman
The Iran fans at the Asian Cup, a soccer tournament in Australia, have been a revelation. Banned from attending football matches in their home country, women from both Iran and the diaspora were never going to miss such a rare opportunity to watch the national team. Families piled into buses, cars, trains and planes to cheer on the team. “This is a golden opportunity for the Iranian community to protest, to express themselves, to put pressure on the government,” said one activist. Several activists have been working quietly on protest banners for the past few months, which they smuggled in and unveiled during one match, mocking Iranian censorship.
An Algerian Author Fights Back Against a Fatwa, by Doreen Carvalajal
Algerian writer Kamel Daoud has received glowing international reviews, literary honors and then, suddenly, demands for his public execution for his debut novel. His book, Meursault, Counter-Investigation, is a retelling of Albert Camus’s classic The Stranger, from an Algerian perspective. A Facebook fatwa has been since issued by a Salafist imam from Algeria. No one has been arrested in connection with the death threat that surfaced on 16 December on a Facebook page that is now blocked. Some Algerian artists fear that the government’s tepid response to the threat is part of a new tactic to increase political pressure if they step out of the line.
Charlie Hebdo: Turkish Court Orders Ban on Web Pages Featuring Front Cover, by Constanze Letsch
A Turkish court has ordered the country’s telecommunications authority to ban access to some online news portals showing Charlie Hebdo’s latest front cover, which depicts an image of the prophet Muhammad. Police stopped and searched trucks leaving the printing press of the Turkish secular newspaper Cumhuriyet after it had announced that it would distribute a four-page selection of the latest issue in an act of solidarity. The announcement triggered both support and widespread outrage on social media. The hashtag #ÜlkemdeCharlieHebdoDağitilamaz (Charlie Hebdo cannot be distributed in my country) shot to the top of the Twitter trending list and was used by over 1.4m people.
How the Arab Spring Spawned a “Green Revolution”, by Janelle Dumalaon
The Arab Spring sparked a series of protests across the Middle East not just for political change but also for more environment protection. Citizens are taking action to conserve biodiversity. It is still too early to tell whether increased civil society participation has resulted in better protection for Tunisia’s biodiversity.
Egyptian Women Take to Social Media to Explose Harassers, by Ayah Aman
Egyptian women have been using a number of hashtags — among them #Idon’tFeelSafeOnTheStreet, #AntiHarassment and #ExposeHarasser — on social networking sites to speak up about the daily sexual harassment they experience. These campaigns are part of an effort to expose harassers and break the silence surrounding their crimes, which are haunting women in Egypt. Women have tweeted myriad incidents along with advocating the courage to expose and confront harassers.
Then and Now: The Singer, the Graffiti Artists, and the Writer, by Rowan El Shimi, Laura Gribbon, and Amany Ali Shawky
The authors take a look at the trajectories of four cultural producers who became famous during or after the 25 January revolution and find out what they are doing now.
The Quiet Boycott: When Israeli Art Is Out, by Shany Littman
For most Israelis, the cultural boycott of the country is felt mainly when a famous singer or a movie star decides not to come here to perform or attend a film festival. But the boycott, which has been in place officially since 2005 as part of the wider campaign of boycotts, divestment and sanctions, also exists in the field of art, and Israeli artists and art institutions are strongly affected by it. The purpose of the boycott is to raise awareness about the Israeli occupation and Israeli violations of human rights.
Palestinian Art Court Moulds Resistance and Identity, by Rafique Gangat
In occupied Jerusalem, the “judaisation” of the Palestinian part of the holy city continues and the levels of resistance offered by youth who place life and limb in harm’s way grows by the day. Yet art remains one of the many platforms to make a stand on. The Palestinian Art Court, Al Hoash, in Al Zahra Street, housed in an old building in the eastern part of the city, is doing just that.
Conferences & Events
Call for Applications: The Fletcher Summer Institute on Advanced Study of Nonviolent Conflict, Tufts University, 7-12 June 2015, Boston, USA. Deadline: 16 February 2015.
From Contention to Social Change: Rethinking the Consequences of Social Movements and Cycles of Protests, ESA Research Network on Social Movements , 19-20 February 2015, Universidad Complutense de Madrid, Spain.
The Only Thing Worth Globalizing is Dissent. Translation and the Many Languages of Resistance, 6-8 March 2015, Cairo, Egypt.
ICCG2015: Precarious Radicalism on Shifting Grounds: Towards a Politics of Possibility, 26-30 July 2015, Ramallah, Palestine.