Social Mobilization and Resistance Monthly Media Roundup:
[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 editors of this blog. It is prepared by Nada Ghandour, and published in partnership with Jadaliyya.]
My Daughter, These Are Tears of Struggle, by Bassem Tamimi In this article, Bassam Tamimi, recounts the events that led to the arrest of his daughter, Ahed Tamimi. He also writes how his daughter is part of a new generation of Palestinians, that will lead the resistance against the Israeli occupation, and the old generation should not stand on their way.
A Girl’s Chutzpah: Three Reasons a Palestinian Teenage Girl is Driving Israel Insane, by Gideon Levy Gideon Levy discusses the case of Ahed Tamimi and how she defied the Israeli military apparatus. He ends his analysis by saying: “if only there were many more like her. Maybe girls like her will be able to shake Israelis up. Maybe the intifada of slappings will succeed where all other methods of resistance, violent and non-violent, have failed.”
How Mainstream Media Gets Palestine Wrong, by Mariam Barghouti “The mainstream media focus is always on Palestinian reaction and not on Israeli action and it insinuates that Palestinians are on the offence when in fact they are on the defence. […] Today, as we are supposedly in the "post-colonial" age, settler colonialism is considered a thing of the past. Yet, colonial bias still dominates mainstream portrayal of Palestinians. In the past few decades, Israel has been quite successful in maintaining a grip on the general narrative and ensuring that the bias persists.”
The Thorns that Exist and Resist: Black-Palestine Solidarity in the Twenty-First Century, by Andy Clarno According to the author, over the last three years “movements for black and Palestinian liberation have intensified the bonds of solidarity.” He argues, that “the political imaginary of contemporary black-Palestine solidarity […] is grounded in an analysis of similar yet distinct structures of domination connected through a global network of imperial power. Similarly, the visions for liberation emphasize the importance of conjoined struggles.”
Confronting Israel with Stones and Courage, by Rami Almeghari Almeghari provides a brief history of the first intifada through oral testimonies of people from Gaza. In the face of violent occupation, Palestinians have shown great courage and resourcefulness when resisting their occupier. This first manifests through the act of throwing stones, as well as organising within their communities.
Palestinians Are Winning the Online Battle for Jerusalem, by Yousef Alhelou Since Donald Trump's Jerusalem announcement on December 6, there have been live footage and reporting on social media, mobilised by Palestinians who continue to fight for their own online visibility and make their voices heard. Citizen journalists find innovative ways to distribute material, despite Israeli surveillance, censorship, and punishment of Palestinian social media activity.
“Local Call” Wins Award for Social Change, by +972 Magazine Hebrew-language website Local Call wins the Dror Prize for social change for its persistent coverage of the joint feminist struggle between Arab and Jewish women against gender violence. Notably, in 2017, Local Call (a project of “972-Advancement of Citizen Journalism, Just Vision, and Activestills) has brought to light police harassment, proliferation of weapons, and murder cases in Israeli society, while also being present at demonstrations organized by Arab women in major cities.
Algeria’s Berbers Protest for Tamazight Language Rights, by Jilian Kestler-D’Amours This article reports on the call to promote and preserve the indigenous language from Berber communities in Algeria, after the state rejected a budget amendment to formalize the teaching of the Tamazight language in local schools. The protests come from a tradition of historical struggle as part of the fight for Berber identity rights.
Women Take to Streets to Demand End to South Sudan War, by Al Jazeera On December 9, “hundreds of women covered their mouths with tape as they took to the streets in South Sudan’s capital, Juba, to demand an end to their country’s war and the suffering of its people. Carrying posters and signs that read ‘Bring back our peace now!,’ ‘Save my future, stop the war’ and ‘Enough of the bloodshed,’ women of all ages expressed their anger at a conflict now entering its fifth year.”
In Turkey, Academics Asking for Peace Are Accused of Terrorism, by Judith Butler and Başak Ertür Butler and Ertür describe the dire consequences academics are facing for signing the Academics for Peace petition in January 2016. They analyses how the indictment distorts the intention of the petition to accuse signatories of terrorism, and calls for international solidarity in supporting academics who have been dismissed, as well as to keep an eye on the upcoming proceedings of the trials.
Twitter Suspends More Accounts of Egyptian Activists, by Sherif Azer On December 12, 2017, Twitter shut down the account of prominent Egyptian cyberactivist Wael Abbas (@waelabbas), along with subsequent accounts he set up. Abbas is well known for his work on exposing corruption, human rights violations and challenging social norms online. Just before his account was closed, he criticized Alaa Mubarak, ousted president Hosni Mubarak’s son, on Twitter. The closing of Abbas’ account by Twitter is believed to be in response to a large wave of violation reports by accounts linked to supporters of Mubarak’s regime. Sherif Azer argues that “the closing or suspending of accounts by activists seeking social and political change adds to the repression and suffering they are already experiencing under authoritarian regimes. Social media sites should apply more discerning methods for reporting abuses, rather than automated responses to mass reporting.”
Searching for a Battle: Why Boycotting the Presidential Elections Is a Bad Idea, by Amr Abdel Rahman Amr Abdel Rahman argues that “a decision to engage in the elections may provide democratic groups with an escape from the current paralysis of Egypt’s political sphere, and a chance for politics to move away from the duality of ‘military vs. Islamists.’ Many politically engaged people have frozen in time since the bloody summer of 2013, amid the crackdown on civil society and general dissatisfaction with economic and social policies. The elections could provide an opportunity to revive their organizational structures and discourses, particularly given their inability to protest — or even express a clear desire for an alternative.”
Thousands Protest After Two Brothers Die in Morocco’s “Mines of Death,” by France24 Two brothers died in a tunnel accident, 85 metres (90 yards) below ground, sparking days of mass protests in the impoverished city of Jerada. On December 26, thousands of people protested against economic marginalisation, accusing authorities of "abandoning" them. "The people want an economic alternative," demonstrators chanted, carrying Moroccan flags on their shoulders and insisting that their protests were peaceful.
عهد التميمي.. حلمت بكرة القدم فركلت الاحتلال تم اعتقال الناشطة الفلسطينية الشابة عهد التميمي في الأيام الماضية و محكمة عسكرية إسرائيلية تمددت اعتقاله عشرة أيام بتهم مقاومة جنود الاحتلال. الكاتب محمد النجار يكتب عن حياة و عائلة عهد و احلامها كشابة فلسطينية و نشاطها السياسي ضد الاحتلال الإسرائيلي.
غضب القدس مستمر في الضفة وغزة مراجعة أحداث بعد اليوم الحادي عشر من الإحتجاج الفلسطيني عن اعلان الرئيس الأمريكي بالقدس عصمة لاسرائيل. معلومات عن مواجهات بين الجيش الأسرائيلي و المتظاهرين في مدن الضفة الغربية و اقتحامات القوات الاحتلال و اعتقالات.
المستعربون... السلاح الإسرائيلي في العمق الفلسطيني هذا التقرير يوضح دور المستعربين. هم جنود اسرائلي يتسربون إلى المقاومة الفلسطينية لغرض القتل أو إعتقال المتظاهرين. بهذا الطريقة الاحتلال الاسرائلي يحاول يضعف المقاومة بانتشار الشك مابين الصفوف الفلسطينية.
«اتحادات الطلاب».. العودة لقواعد ما قبل 25 يناير بمناسبة إنتخابات الاتحادات الطلابية في جميع جامعات المصرية الكاتب مصطفى محي يكشف عن الوضع الحالي لاتحاد الطلاب و نشطاء الطلاب تحت تأثير قوانين جديدة و تدخل من الأمن و إدارة الجامعة باسلوب تقييدية
كيف امسكت المرأة الكردية السلاح؟ انتشرت صورة المقاتلات الكرديات في السنوات الماضية في الاعلام و الكاتب يبحث عن كيفية وصول المرأة لهذا الدور. الثقافة السياسة و التاريخ الكردي عناصر مهمة في هذا الواقع المختلف بنسبة الصورة العامة للمرأة في الشرق الأوسط.
استقالة رئيس برلمان إقليم كردستان العراق رئيس برلمان كردستان علان استقالته إحتجاجا على إحتكار السياسي و الفساد و الفشل الحكومي في الأقليم. في بيان الاستقالة دعا الرئيس إلى "تشكيل جبهة واسعة للإنقاذ الوطني".أيضاً إنتقد اعضاء حزب حركة التغير، الحزب التي الرئيس ينتمى إليها، تصرف قوات الامن الكردية نحو المتظاهرين و عتقال 600 شخصا بدون أساس قانوني. بين 250 و 300 من هؤلاء المعتقلين مازالو في السجون.
هذه المشكلات الاجتماعية فجرت تظاهرات كردستان العراق المشاكل الاجتماعية مثل الفقر و البطالة و الفساد في حكومة الأقليم و قلة الخدمات الحكومية أدت لاحتجاج واسع في مدن كردستان العراق. بحسب النشطاء خرج الشعب الكردي إلى الشارع لهذه الأسباب و يطالب بإصلاح سياسياً و إجتماعياً.
A Battle for Existence: How the Combined Forces of Censorship and Security Shaped Egypt’s Music Scene in 2017, by Hessen Hossam The restrictions imposed by the [Egyptian] state on musicians and their art throughout 2017 have been numerous and wider than even in scope and reach […].” Apart from the arrests that followed the concert of the Lebanese indie band Mashrou’ Leila, where members of the audience raised a rainbow flag, other concerts were cancelled (e.g. Egyptian rock band Cairokee, Algerian musician Souad Massi, Moroccan singer and songwriter Oum and Palestinian band 47 Soul), and the Censorship Board rejected certain songs from being released. Nevertheless, artists find ways to overcome these bans and make their music available to the public.
Egyptians Tell Stories of Abuse, Harassment on Stage, by Menna A. Farouk Since 2006, BuSSy (the Egyptian version of Vagina Monologues) has used theatre and storytelling as an avenue for women to share their experiences of abuse and sexual harassment. In 2010 the program was expanded to include both men and women.
Egyptian Director Sticks Tongue Out at Movie Kisses, by Ahmed Fouad Ahmed Amer's satirical movie "Balash Tebosni" (Don't Kiss Me) follows the efforts of a young director in filming the perfect kiss scene and the struggles that ensue. Amer critiques Egyptian cinema but also takes aim at censorship laws regarding kissing and sex scenes in film and television. While he was given permission to shoot the film, it is still unclear whether it will be screened in Egypt at all.
Women’s Theater in Gaza Breaks New Ground, by Rami Almeghari Almeghari profiles the work of women-led Bozour Culture and Arts theater group, through the voices of directors Wissam El-Dirawie, Manal Barakat and Ola Salem Deeb, and some young actors involved. The article draws together the beginnings, difficulties, and successes of Bozour as it operates in Gaza.
Turkish Feminist Artist Takes on Mount Qaf, by Ayla Jean Yackley Turkish artist CANAN’s exhibition at Istanbul’s Arter Gallery, “Behind Mount Qaf,” takes its motifs from Islamic cosmology, Western literature, and traditional fifteenth century aesthetic forms. CANAN combines the surrealist imagery with the politics of her own body to comment on how the mechanisms of power constrict Turkish society, and how arriving at Mount Qaf is the story of self-discovery that allows one to resist and heal.
*Image credits: “Free Ahed Tamimi” ad at a London bus stop. Image by pannotticom, via Flickr.
November 2017 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.
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.”
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.”
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 23,000 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.”
*Image credits: Kurdish YPG Fighter. Image by Kurdishstruggle, via Flickr.
News & Comments Not Another Story of Failed Liberation: Tensions in Bashur and Rojava in the Light of the Referendum, by Huseyin Rasit The author argues that “there are at least two Kurdistans: Bashur with its capitalist modernization, and Rojava and its allies with their democratic confederalism. It is difficult to say how the relation between these two projects will unfold in the long run. Yet we can say for now that the tensions in both of them have become more obvious during the referendum process. If we want the future of Kurdistan to be bright one, we need to discuss these tensions and how to move beyond them instead of focusing solely on the question of independence.”
Rainbow Flag at Gig Sparks Media Storm of Hostility, by Mostafa Mohie During a Cairo concert by the Lebanese band Mashrou’ Leila, the rainbow flag of the LGBT movement was raised. As a consequence, Egyptian authorities arrested seven people, and Egyptian media “went into a spin.” Mostafa Mohie provides an analysis of the Egyptian media coverage of the incident. He writes that “most media coverage was hostile toward those who raised the flag, […] but more notably, writers and publications seemed confused as to what language to use to describe the Lebanese band as well as those holding the flag and the event organizers. The word shawaz, meaning deviant, was perhaps the most widely used.”
Targeting the Ultras: Why Are Security Forces Trying to Erase the Memory of the Stands? by Mai Shams El Din On 16 September, Egyptian security forces arrested one hundred and fifty Ahly Football Club fans (Ultras Ahlawy) in Alexandria. The fans “were arrested for wearing shirts bearing the number seventy-four, a reference to the fans that were killed during the 2012 Port Said stadium violence.” This incident is part of a series of continuous arrests of football fans in Egypt, and it reflects security forces’ fear “over the ways in which they organize, not only to cheer on the teams, but also to mourn fans who have died.”
How Egyptian Activists Are Trying to Curb Polygamy, Rami Galal Social media activists in Egypt have been calling for an additional condition in marriage contracts, “requiring the first wife’s prior consent in the event that her husband seeks a second wife under a polygamy arrangement.” Following this social media campaign, member of parliament Abdel Moneim al-Alimi, submitted a draft law to Egypt’s parliament to amend the law regulating marriage contracts. The campaign has been very controversial and it remains to be seen if the Egyptian parliament will pass this legislation.
Egypt Detains Nubians During a Peaceful, Singing Protest, by Salma Islam On September 3, on “Nubian Assembly Day,” Nubians in the city of Aswan, Egypt, marched peacefully for the right to return in their ancestral land in Egypt. The protesters demanded that the Egyptian government delivers on a relevant article of the constitution, and revokes another decree that allowed the establishment of military zones in parts of Nubia. The protest was repressed by Egyptian security forces, and several Nubian activists were arrested.
Iraq’s Female Booksellers Turn the Page on Gender Roles, by Mustafa Saadoun Books Town, a bookstore in Iraqi city of Baqubeh in Diyala governorate, which is known for sectarian violence and the Islamic State. Tayseen Ameer, the young woman who owns Books Town, is one of several women who opened bookstores in Iraq. Many of them consider the “presence of women in bookselling – a role that has been reserved traditionally for men – a defiance of the traditions and norms that have contributed to the isolation of women.”
Turkey’s “Resistance Media” Refuses to Buckle, by Sibel Hurtas While Turkey’s repression of the media continues, popular news sites, such as Sendika.org, are resilient in the state’s harsh crackdown. After each government order blocking access to their sites, they create a new site. Sendika.org, for example, since 2015 has been revived sixty-one times so far.
The Israeli Algorithm Criminalizing Palestinians for Online Dissent, by Nadim Nashif and Marwa Fatafta Israeli intelligence has developed a predictive policing system – a computer algorithm – that analyzes social media posts to identify Palestinian “suspects.” The algorithm-based program monitors tens of thousands of young Palestinians’ Facebook accounts, and those of relatives, friends, classmates, and co-workers of recent Palestinians killed by Israel to assess their potential risk. The authors argue that “even if such algorithms deter attacks, imprisoning Palestinians based on a probability created by a machine is a clear violation of Palestinians’ rights. The expansion of the Israeli occupation’s oppression of the Palestinian people, now in its fiftieth year, to the cyber sphere is an alarming trend. Every and any Palestinian is now a suspect simply by exercising their freedom of expression online.”
Surveillance of Palestinians and the Fight for Digital Rights, by Nadim Nashif “Surveillance of Palestinians has always been part of Israel’s colonial project, but new technologies have made this surveillance even more intrusive and widespread. Israel particularly uses social media to monitor what individual Palestinians say and do, as well as to gather and analyze information on attitudes among the Palestinian public more broadly.”
Palestinian Campaign to Force UK to Cancel Balfour Celebrations, by Middle East Monitor The Popular Conference for Palestinians Abroad and a number of Palestinian groups are gearing up for a coordinated digital campaign to mark 100 years since the Balfour Declaration was issued by Lord Arthur Balfour, promising the Jews a national home in Palestine. Using the hashtag #Balfour100, social media users will be calling on the UK government to apologize for the Balfour Declaration and the British colonization of Palestine and demanding the cancellation of one of the largest Zionist celebrations of the Declaration, set to take place on 7 November at the Royal Albert Hall in London. The social media activity is part of a broader campaign launched by PCPA two months ago entitled “Balfour: A Colonial Project.”
“It Is Being Done to Intimidate Us:” Israeli Anti-Occupation Groups Face Crackdown, by Peter Beaumont Israeli MPs are considering two initiatives “aiming at shutting down one of the country’s most high-profile anti-occupation groups, Breaking the Silence, which records the testimonies of Israeli soldiers operating in Palestinian territories. […] The moves come amid increasingly harsh rhetoric from Israel’s right wing, which has sought to cast Breaking the Silence and other anti-occupation groups including B’Tselem as ‘traitors.’”
Women March Through Desert for Israeli-Palestinian Peace, by Reuters Thousands of Palestinian and Israeli women have joined together to march through the desert for peace. The march was organized by Women Wage Peace, an organization established after the fifty-day Gaza war of 2014 when more than 2,100 Palestinians, mostly civilians, were killed. Israel put the number of its dead at sixty-seven soldiers and six civilians.
How Can Women “Wage Peace” Without Talking About Occupation? by Orly Noy Orly Noy provides a thorough criticism of the Women’s March organized by Women Wage Peace. While he welcomes a mass movement of women in support of peace, he is critical of what was absent in the activists’ calls for peace, and especially that the word “occupation” was entirely absent from this group that aims to end the conflict.
Palestine’s First Female-Run Cookery School is “A Labour of Love,” by Naima Morelli Bait Al Karama, the first Women’s Centre in the hear of Nablus, combines a culinary social enterprise with art and cultural activities. Through its activities, the centre is trying to preserve the traditions of Palestinian cuisine, challenge gender roles, and resist movement restrictions throughout the West Bank.
In Morocco, Press Freedom Shrinks With Hirak Protests, by Ilhem Rachidi Since the start of the Hirak protests, the repression of journalists has increased dramatically in Morocco. In the absence of clear laws and a just judicial system, journalists often hinder their own opinions in a practice of self-censorship to ensure the continuity of their work and publications.
Why Tunisia Just Passed Controversial Laws on Corruption and Women’s Rights to Marry, by Nadia Marzouki On September 14, President Béji Caïd Essebsi announced he would repeal a 1973 law that prevented Muslim women from marrying non-Muslim men. This announcement came one day after the Tunisian parliament passed another piece of legislation granting amnesty to corrupt civil servants, which triggered a nation-wide wave of protests. While these current “legislative battles” suggest that while the old regime tactics remain active in Tunisia, movements like Manich Msamah, civil society organizations and the “collective public energy of the 2011 revolution is still alive.”
The Socio-Economic Roots of Syria’s Uprising, by Alice Bonfatti In this piece, Alice Bonfatti provides an overview of the various socio-economic factors that contributed to the “inevitable” uprising in Syria in 2011. Among those are: the emergence of a state bourgeoisie, the impoverishment of rural areas, the increasing growth in unemployment, the strengthening of the military and security apparatus, and the repression of freedom.
Art Constructing and Echoing Social Perceptions: Gay Characters in Egyptian Film, by Adham Youssef This survey of films argues a lack of progress in when it comes to filmic depictions of LGBTQI characters. This essay was written in the wake of a media ban on the appearance of homosexuals and homosexual “slogans,” that came amid arrests, prison sentences, anal examinations, public shaming, accusations of mental instability, and general incitement against people based on their perceived sexuality, an attack that started after rainbow flags were raised at a concert on 22 September in Cairo.
Jailed Kurdish Leader Keeps in Touch with Supporters Through Arts, Literature, by Sibel Hurtas For Selahattin Demirtas, leader of Turkey’s main Kurdish political movement, art and literature have become a form of resistance. He has produced paintings, poems and most recently a collection of stories, in resistance against his own incarceration and Turkey’s increasingly authoritarian government despite behind bars on terror-related charges for almost a year.
Palestinian Orchestra Uses “Music As Resistance,” by Nigel Wilson The Palestine Youth Orchestra (PYO) was founded in Birzeit in 2004 and its members live in the occupied Palestinian territories, Israel, Jordan, Egypt, but also Australia, and are aged 14 to 26. However, reading the orchestra’s headquarters at the Edward Said National Conservatory of Music in Birzeit, or joining concerts within or outside the occupied Palestinian territories is always a challenge due to entry and travel permits. Zeina Khoury, PYO manager, says “It’s not easy to make this happen. It’s our message to the world, music if our form of resistance, and making it happen in Palestine.”
“Less-Lethal” Weapons in Jerusalem: “The Purpose of These Bullets Isn’t Corresponding to the Reality,” an opendemocracy interview with Tali Mayer Israeli photojournalist Tali Mayer, 28, was shot by a black-tipped sponge bullet while reporting on a demonstration. This led to her project with the Association for Civil Rights in Israel (ACRI), photographing Palestinians injured by these crowd-control bullets. The ultimate goal of the project is policy change regarding the use of these bullets. In this interview, Mayer speaks about the use of these “non-lethal” weapons by Israeli security forces, their impact on people’s bodies and lives, and the lack of state regulations.
How Art Is Blooming Amid the Gaza Wasteland, by Donald Macintyre In this excerpt from his book Gaza: Preparing for Dawn, Donald Macintyre demonstrates the richness of art and culture in the Palestinian enclave of the Gaza Strip.
News & Comments Freedom in the Middle East: There Are Still Reasons to Be Positive, by Rayan El-Amine The author argues that despite the failure of the Arab uprisings, there has been a return of grass-roots protests in the Middle East, that signifies “the revival of bottom-up politics in the Arab world.” The social mobilizations in the northern Rif region of Morocco is one example of this return of protest politics.
How the World Missed a Week of Palestinian Civil Disobedience, by Edo Konrad The Israeli government’s decision to install metal detectors at the entrance to the Al-Aqsa compound sparked outrage and protests, and eventually led to the deaths of four Palestinians and three Israeli settlers. However, the media’s coverage neglected the nonviolent aspect of the protests.
Al-Aqsa Protests Unite Jerusalemites, by Daoud Kuttab The July protests in Jerusalem over the Israeli restrictions placed on the entry of Al-Aqsa mosque became “the nucleus of a new movement for Jerusalemites.” Several religious organizations, such as the Islamic Supreme Committee, were in the forefront and provided “moral and philosophical leadership.” However, the role of young people and local civil society organizations was crucial. “The five prayers a day became the focus of organized activities, media attention and public support.”
Jerusalem’s African Community Stands with Al-Aqsa, by Aziza Nofal During the July protests in Jerusalem, members of the city’s African community offered protesters water and food. They also welcomed worshippers into their homes during the protests, as the community centre is located near Al-Aqsa. Although the African community in Jerusalem is relatively small in numbers, it is “a central part of the city’s social fabric, which is composed of many different groups that all acknowledge the sanctity of the city.”
Is Morocco Headed Toward Insurrection? by Hisham Aidi Hisham Aidi provides a detailed account of protest history in the Rif region in Morocco, since the founding of the Rif Republic in 1923 by Abdelkrim Al Khattabi, until today’s Hirak movement.
In Morocco, Press Freedom Shrinks with Hirak Protests, by Ilhem Rachidi Since the beginning of the Hirak protest movement in October 2016, eight journalists have been jailed. They were arrested while covering the news in the Rif region. Over the past years the repression of journalists has been escalating. According to the author, “after a rise in press freedom at the end of King Hassan II’s rule (in the late 1990s) and during the first years of Mohammed VI’s reign, the Makhzen (Morocco’s state and administration) has progressively silenced independent newspapers through financial sanctions, boycotts and pressure on journalists.”
Morocco: the Popular Movement in the Rif Suppressed, by Mayssae Ajzannay Ben Moussa Since October 2016, the Al Hoceima region in North East Morocco has been the scene of ongoing popular protests. The peaceful movement calls for: freedom, dignity, and social justice. However, the Moroccan government has not yet met the demands of the people, but rather has been increasing its repression.
“March for Justice” Ends in Istanbul With a Pointed Challenge to Erdogan, by Carlotta Gall On 9 July, the three-week March for Justice from Ankara to Istanbul ended. The march was organized by politicians from Turkey’s opposition party, the Republican People’s Party (also known as C.H.P.) to protest the government repression against its opponents, and calling for justice. There was an emphasis on the peaceful nature of the protest, which was the largest sign of opposition since the failed coup last July.
Battle Over the Nile, by Heba Afify President Abdel Fattah al-Sisi has initiated a “large-scale national campaign to retrieve illegally occupied state land.” One of the targets of this campaign has been Warraq Island, one of dozens of inhabited islands in the Nile. The residents of Warraq Island have been protesting the demolition of their houses on the island.
Egyptian Activists Face Mounting Repression, While “Thieves” Walk Free, by Sarah Freeman-Woolpert Arrests, detention, freezing of assets, and trials for charges related to participation in anti-government protests are some of the tactics used by President Abdel Fattah el-Sisi’s regime to suppress criticism and dissent. Yet, this repression can backfire: it can reduce the regime’s legitimacy and lay the ground for another wave of activism in Egypt.
The Legacy of the Algerian Civil War: Forced Disappearances and the Cost of Amnesty, by Sofian Philip Naceur During the war of the 1990s, thousands of people were murdered or forcibly disappeared in Algeria. Until today, “Algerian authorities consistently neglect the demands of the families of the disappeared, refuse to acknowledge the magnitude of the crimes committed by the state, and instead praise their approach to end the conflict. Unsurprisingly, many of those families oppose the amnesty measures that relegate their quest for justice to the shadows, calling for rallies every year on September 29.” Yet, the government maintains an ambivalent approach toward the families of the disappeared. One the one hand, the protests are dispersed and activities are monitored; but on the other hand authorities refrain from closing down offices and pressing official charged after arrests.
Is There Any Point to Protesting?, by Nathan Heller The author discusses the aim and effectiveness of protesting by looking back at the outcomes of various social movements, such as Occupy Wall Street, the “Arab uprisings” and the Black Lives Matter, and providing a review of four recently published books: Inventing the Future by Nick Srnicek and Alex Williams (2016, Verso), Assembly by Michael Hardt and Antonio Negri (2017, Oxford University Press), Direct Action: Protest and the Reinvention of American Radicalism, by L.A. Kauffman (2017, Verso), and Zeynep Tufeksci’s Twitter and Tear Gas: The Power and Fragility of Networked Protest (2017, Yale University Press).
Art The Palestinian Museum’s Inaugural Exhibition: Jerusalem Lives On 26 August, the Palestinian Museum launched its inaugural exhibition with a highly political project focusing on the living aspects of the city and support its people. According to the curator Reem Fadda, the exhibition is meant to spark discussion of “cultural resistance” to the policies of Israel.
Rights Organizations Rally to Reveal Fate of Syria’s Disappeared, by Florence Massena According to the Syrian Network for Human Rights, more than 75 thousand people have disappeared in Syria since 2011. Amnesty International started a campaign on 30 August, the International Day of the Disappeared, with the aim to push the authorities and armed groups to reveal the status of the disappeared to their families. The human rights group organized a weeklong exhibition at cultural space Station Beirut to remember Syria's missing and disappeared. The exhibition, titled “Tens of Thousands,” shows poems written by detainees and portraits of prisoners by Syrian artist Azza Abou Rebieh.
Beyond Protest Art: A New Wave of Graffiti Is Coloring the Arab World, by Zvi Bar’el In various cities around the Arab world, there have been art initiatives that aim to beautify neighborhoods, give a sense of belonging and overcome social and political divides. The article refers to examples in Beirut (e.g. the Ouzville project), Dubai (e.g. Dubai Walls), and Djerba. However, this type of graffiti seem to contradict protest graffiti that was prominent on the walls of the Middle East during the Arab uprisings.