[This is a monthly roundup of news articles and other materials circulating on Resistance, Subversion and Social Mobilization 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 & Commentaries
The Colonial Gas Machine, Teargas Grenades, Secular Humanist Police, and the Intoxication of Racialized Lives, by Dariouche Kechavarzi-Tehrani
Based on a comprehensive discussion on teargas grenades and the “spectacle of the explosion,” Dariouche Kechavarzi-Tehrani, provides an insightful account of the “riot control” weapons industry and “humanist” forms of repression. He writes “A teargas grenade explodes with an aura of spectacle, appears during a clash and supposedly in response to a given event. Although the metropolitan leftist activist may occasionally experience the effects of teargas grenades, the latter do not compose an everyday aspect of their life. Toxicity, in our colonial context, is an event only for the privileged while it composes a fundamental aspect of life for the colonized.”
Jineology: From Women’s Struggles to Social Liberation, by Brecht Neven and Marlene Schäfers
In this interview, Necîbe Qeredaxî, a journalist and advocate for Kurdish rights, discusses the concept of jineology, its emergence and aims. Jineology is “a framework of radical feminist analysis that the Kurdish movement has been developing since 2008, [trying] to transfer the advancements of the Kurdish women’s movement into society.”
Syria’s Arab, Kurdish Women Join Forces to Fight for Future, by Amberin Zaman
Scores of women from Arab and Kurdish backgrounds are joining an “all-Arab women’s force that was formed earlier this year as part of the Syrian Kurdish Women’s Protection Units (YPJ), the globally acclaimed women’s militia”. This multi-ethnic and highly diverse group of women is challenging patriarchy, gender inequality, and ethnic divides in the region.
Syrian Refugees End Two-Week Hunger Strike in Athens, by AFP
Fourteen Syrian refugees were on hunger strike in front of the Hellenic parliament for two weeks, asking to be reunited with their families in Germany. They ended their hunger strike, after the German Consul and officials from the Greek Migration Ministry assured them that they will be accepted in Germany soon.
On Warraq Island, Popular Democracy Defies Secret State Plans, by Heba Afify
After the public announcement in June of the Egyptian state’s plan to vacate Nile islands, and in particular the Warraq Island, the inhabitants of the island started mobilized to defend their lands. “They have expanded their actions beyond the immediacy of street resistance and moved toward developing negotiation strategies with the state and maneuvers to counter smear campaigns.” They formed the Warraq Islands Family Council, representing all the families of the island, to voice their concerns in a more organized manner and eventually negotiate with the state.
LBGTQ Crackdowns, Civil Society and Social Change: A Video Conversation, by Naira Antoun
In this conversation, Gasser Abdel Razek and Dalia Abdel Hameed from the Egyptian Initiative for Personal Rights (EIPR), and Naira Antoun explore the reasons for the recent “ferocious crackdown” on the LGBTQ community in Egypt.
Egyptians Highlight Human Rights Abuses as Government Campaign Backfires, by Shahira Amin
Internet activists hijacked a campaign launched by the Egyptian government to promote the World Youth Forum via the conference hashtag #WeNeedToTalk, to highlight human rights abuses in the country under President Abdel Fattah al-Sisi’s regime. Shahira Amin explains that this had occured within a broader government crackdown on dissent, that initially targeted Muslim Brotherhood leaders and supporters but later expanded to include liberal activists, members of civil society organizations, intellectuals and journalists critical of government policies.
Rif Protests, Sign of A Wider Discontent?, by Giusy Musarò
In this overview of the recent Hirak movement in Morocco, the author argues that “recognizing the Hirak movement as a movement that asks for better living conditions and not as a separatist tendency against the national integrity and security might be a first step towards reconciliation and development, considering that the initiatives undertaken against youth radicalization would benefit as well.”
Morocco: Protesters, Activists and Journalists Detained Over Rif Protests Must Be Released, by Amnesty International
In this recently released report, Amnesty International calls for the immediate and unconditional release of Rif protest leader “Nasser Zefzafi as well journalist Hamid El Mahdaoui and all others detained in connection with the Rif protests and for peacefully exercising their human rights.”
A New Generation of Protests in Morocco? How Hirak Al-Rif Endures, by Mohammed Masbah
Mohammed Masbah compares the 20 February Movement and Hirak al-Rif in northern Morocco. He notes that while similar structural factors underline the grievances of these two political movements, they have taken “different paths in the nature and style, their structure and organization, and their use of social media,” which in turn have contributed significantly to “the enduring character of the Hirak and the resilience of its activists.”
Bahrain Sinks Deeper in Repression of All Dissident Voices, by Dimitris Christopoulos
This is an account of the struggle for human rights of Nabeel Rajab, Deputy Secretary General of the International Federation for Human Rights (FIDH), and the price he had to pay for his activism in Bahrain. Through the story of Nabeel Rajab, the author points out the increasingly repressive treatment that many “dissident voices” have to face in Bahrain.
Balfour Declaration at 100: From Ramallah to Pretoria, by Azad Essa and Ibrahim Husseini
On November 2, thousands of Palestinians marched to the British cultural center in Ramallah and the British Consulate in East Jerusalem, to protest on the occasion of the 100th anniversary of the Balfour Declaration. The protesters condemned the Declaration and its legacy of dispossession, and called for an apology from Britain. Similar protests were held across the West Bank, as well as in the UK, South Africa, and Turkey.
A Message to Artists Who Play Israel, by Steven Salaita
Steven Salaita writes a letter to artists who play in Israel despite calls for international solidarity via cultural boycott. He argues that artists playing in Israel have a moral responsibility and makes a strong case for cultural boycott. “How can your art bring people together when one of the parties can't even attend? Palestinian movement is severely restricted by checkpoints, segregated highways, closed borders, religious profiling, and zones of residence. Many of those lucky enough to enjoy freedom of travel don't have the resources to frequent big-ticket events.”
Against Normalizing the Abnormal: B.D.S. and the Struggle for Palestinians, by Franco Galdini
Franco Galdini provides a comprehensive analysis of the Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions movement.
The Radical Women at the Heart of Palestine’s First Intifada, by Amy Zimmerman
The article is a review of Naila and the Uprising; a new documentary directed by Julia Bacha, looking at the First Intifada through a feminist lens.
A Room of Our Own: Building a New Anti-Racist Space in Jerusalem, by Sahar Vardi
Sahar Vardi, a young Israeli activist, argues that there is not “a single formula for creating activism and change” and she proposes two essential elements for activism: “a space for people to learn, meet others, be exposed to opinions, and formulate positions, and a space to plan and work together.” She introduces the new project Imbala, which aims to create this space for the activist community of Jerusalem.
Raised to Rebel, by Budour Youssef Hassan
Through the story of the Issawi family, Budour Youssef Hassan describes the struggle of the Palestinians living in East Jerusalem’s suburb of Issawiyeh, their everyday resistance and participation in the civil disobedience movement.
One Hundred Days of Arbitrary Detention: One Thousand Elected Officials Join Call to Free Salah Hamouri, by Samidoun
November 30 marked the 100th day of imprisonment without charge or trial for Salah Hamouri, the French-Palestinian lawyer and human rights advocate jailed in an Israeli prison. Hamouri is supported by a growing campaign throughout France; as the 100th day of his imprisonment was marked, the campaign for his support announced that one thousand French elected officials and fifty-six Members of European Parliament had signed to support Hamouri’s release.
Palestinians in Jabal Al-Baba Protest Israeli Expulsion Order, by Activestills
Demonstrators joined the Palestinian community of Jabal al-Baba in West Bank on November 23, to “protest a new Israeli-military order that would displace the entire community.” Over the last month, “similar evacuation orders have been issued against the villages of Ein al-Hilweh and Umm Jama in the Jordan Valley. The latest orders are part of a larger trend of evictions and demolition orders issued to Palestinians living in Area C, the sixty percent of the West Bank where the Israeli military controls not only security but also civil matters.”
Women Speak Out Against Harassment in Gaza, by Mohammed Moussa
A growing number of women in Gaza face sexual assault and harassment, especially by local taxi drivers. Some women say that “the situation is getting worse as a result of Gaza’s broken economy and Israel’s eleven-year blockade that is strangling the Strip. With the unemployment rate over forty percent, more young men are trying to make ends meet as drivers. Despite the “conservative societal norms,” women in Gaza are starting to speak out and demand for more regulations related to taxi drivers.
Art & Culture
Digital Archive Preserves Creative Side of Syrian Revolution, by Ak Naddaff
Syrian graphic designer Sana Yazigi produced the trilingual website, called “The Creative Memory of the Syrian Revolution,” to document how Syrians spoke out and asked for their rights after 50 years of government-imposed silence. The project is an archive of cultural forms of Syrian expression, such as graffiti, murals, drawings, sculptures, videos, photos, poems, songs, caricatures, texts. At the moment there are approximately twenty three thousand documents archived, and available in Arabic, French and English.
The Iraqi Soundtrack to the War Against ISIS, by Alex Shams
The notion of national pride is very noticeable in Iraqi culture, especially in music and music videos. “These videos reflect the hopes and aspirations of many Iraqis today: that ISIS will be defeated and peace will return to the country. They also demonstrate the enduring power of the idea of Iraq as a unifying force, with Iraqi national unity a point of hope not only in the current struggle but also for the future.”
Revisiting the Cultural Field in Morocco and Tunisia after the “Arab Spring,” by Cristina Moreno Almeida
The author provides a critique of post-“Arab Spring” studies that analyze Arab rap music (and other forms of cultural production) as a homogenous phenomenon across the Middle East and North Africa. Apart from the differences between various countries, she points out in the complexity of subversive cultural production as well as its existence beyond the “Arab Spring.”
The State of Kurdish Cinema, by S.J.
In recent years, Erbil, the largest city in the Kurdish autonomous region in Iraq, has seen both a state- and citizen-led cultural revival that has buoyed its film industry. This article considers the lack of infrastructure and government developments that has resulted in artist-led initiatives and self-organised groups, low-budget film- and documentary-making. Kurdish artists in the global diaspora too, are receiving attention for their works, many of which “search for a return, and probe questions of belonging.”
Lebanese Artists Voice Social Concerns, by Florence Massena
Singer Yasmine Hamdan and band Mashrou' Leila are known as some of the most politicised music performers in Lebanon, both of whom speaks publicly on the changes and challenges that their country faces.
Beautifying Beirut: Making Art Out of Garbage, by Gaja Pellegrini-Bettoli
Ayad Nasser is interviewed on his work of rehabilitating the neighbourhood of Ouzai. Originally from the area, Nasser returned to Lebanon and invested in the area by bringing artists to Ouzai to paint graffiti on the walls and create 'Ouzville'. He also founded an organisation called Lebnene, which is aimed to engage all citizens to bring about real change, working to become part of a new government that is lead by its involved citizens, decreasing corruption and self-interest.
Young Egyptian Artists Reflect Social Problems Through Their Lens, by Salwa Samir
Salwa Samir considers the photographic work of young Syrian artists participating in 'Cairographie', a photography and videography festival. The theme of this year is 'transition', to highlight the change and transformation that has taken place in Egypt after the January 25 Revolution, and expressed through” personal experiences and/or sociopolitical topics such as Egyptian workers, the youth, daily life or architecture.”
Palestinian Artist Urges Women to Talk About Sexual Harassment, by Ahmad Melhem
A project by Yasmeen Mjalli called 'I am not your sweetheart' encourages Palestinian women to speak out against sexual harassment and abuse. Despite various youth and community campaigns on the topic, “the issue of sexual harassment continues to be ignored” in Palestine. The conservative traditions, the lack of penalties for harassers in the Palestinian Penal code, and the lack of of accurate statistics and reporting, make it more difficult for women to report such incidents to the police.
Wajiha Jendoubi: “Theatre Is My Weapon,” by Al Jazeera
Wajiha Jendoubi, a Tunisian actress, whose comedy shows deals with the rise of post-revolutionary extremism. She perceives Tunisia as a “free woman.” She says, “my Tunisia is the woman who speaks out. My Tunisia is the woman who is active; the militant one, the hard-working one.”
Inside the Battle of Algiers: Memoir of a Woman Freedom Fighter: Review and Relevance to Palestine, by Vacy Vlazna
A review of Zohra Drif’s book Inide the Battle of Algiers: Memoir of a Women Freedom Fighter.
Egypt: The Winter They Called “Spring,” by Gehad Quisay
A review of Robert Springhorg’s book Egypt.
Events & Conferences
Women and Liberation Struggles: Palestine and the Global South. Rethinking Revolutionary Histories and Futures, 11-13 December 2017, A.M. Qattan Foundation and the Institute of Women Studies, Birzeit University, Palestine.
Workshop on Perspectives on Social Mobilization: The (Post-) Uprisings Arab Cases – Egypt, 18 December 2017, Asfari Institute for Civil Society and Citizenship, American University of Beirut, Lebanon.
Feminism in Crisis? Gender and the Arab Public Sphere, 19-20 January 2018, American University of Beirut, Lebanon.
Art & Activism: Resilience Techniques in Times of Crisis, 13-15 December 2017, Research Center for Material Culture, the Museum Volkenkunde (National Museum of World Cultures), Leiden, The Netherlands.
Social Movements and Protest: Race, Ethnicity, and Radicalism, 4-5 May 2018, San Diego State University, San Diego, US.
Orientalism, Neo-Orientalism and Post-Orientalism in African, Middle East, Latin American, Asian/Chinese Studies, 17-18 May 2018, Center for Global Studies, Shanghai University, China. (Call for Papers Deadline: 29 February 2018)
*Image credits: Kurdish YPG Fighter. Image by Kurdishstruggle, via Flickr.