Posts tagged with ‘tunisia’

Harlem Shake, North Africa Protest Edition

Internet culture and the memes it generates can be a wonderful thing. The swiftness with which something happening in one part of the world takes hold in another and many points in between constantly amazes.

Take The Harlem Shake, begun in Australia, emulated about everywhere from the Miami Heat in their locker room to a bunch of folk on a plane.

Better though, from Tunisia and Egypt where protesters have appropriated the dance and are using it to demonstrate against conservative Islamists.

Via The New York Times:

Hundreds of protesters danced outside the headquarters of the Muslim Brotherhood in Cairo, and students and ultraconservative Islamists known as Salafists clashed in Sidi Bouzid, the Tunisian town where the wave of uprisings in the Arab world began with a very different gesture of defiance.

The clashes in Tunisia came one day after conservative Salafists had tried and failed to stop the recording of a “Harlem Shake” video at a language school in the capital, Tunis.

The rally by about 400 activist dancers in Cairo on Thursday night, outside the offices of President Mohamed Morsi’s Muslim Brotherhood, was streamed live to the Web by activists and caught on video by the news site Egyptian El Badil.

The protest in Egypt followed the arrest last week in Cairo of four pharmaceutical students. They were charged with violating the country’s decency laws by dancing in their underwear to emulate the Australian “Harlem Shake” video that sparked the craze and has been viewed more than 18 million times in the past four weeks.

The version I’ve embedded here is from a small gathering in Tunisia with some dancers wearing thobes and fake beards to imitate their country’s conservatives. It starts with a few seconds of Gangnam Style before moving into the Harlem Shake which I find an impressively deft comment on how quickly our global culture moves from meme to meme and appropriates them as our own.

For other examples from larger demonstrations, visit The New York Times — Michael

News Kids Can Use?
Publishers of a popular Tunisian children’s magazine called Qaws Quzah (“Rainbow”) will be prosecuted for including instructions on how to make a Molotov Cocktail in a recent issue.
The Ministry for Women and Family Affairs said the article “encouraged violent and terrorist thoughts.”
Via the BBC: 

The publication carried a picture of a burning glass bottle to illustrate the history and uses of petrol bombs.
The piece appeared in the magazine’s so-called Knowledge Corner.
"It is an improvised weapon that is often used in riots and acts of sabotage because it is easy to make and use," the article explained.
The ministry for family affairs said the magazine was endangering children’s lives by encouraging the use petrol bombs “in acts of vandalism or terrorism”.

Image: The “Knowledge Corner” of Qaws Quzah with an article about the history and making of Molotov Cocktails, via the Daily Mail.

News Kids Can Use?

Publishers of a popular Tunisian children’s magazine called Qaws Quzah (“Rainbow”) will be prosecuted for including instructions on how to make a Molotov Cocktail in a recent issue.

The Ministry for Women and Family Affairs said the article “encouraged violent and terrorist thoughts.”

Via the BBC

The publication carried a picture of a burning glass bottle to illustrate the history and uses of petrol bombs.

The piece appeared in the magazine’s so-called Knowledge Corner.

"It is an improvised weapon that is often used in riots and acts of sabotage because it is easy to make and use," the article explained.

The ministry for family affairs said the magazine was endangering children’s lives by encouraging the use petrol bombs “in acts of vandalism or terrorism”.

Image: The “Knowledge Corner” of Qaws Quzah with an article about the history and making of Molotov Cocktails, via the Daily Mail.

Google, Le Monde Team Up to Train Tunisian Journalists →

Google’s announced via their European Public Policy Blog that they’ve teamed up with France’s Le Monde to train Tunisian journalists:

In a single, magnificent moment, journalists in Tunisia liberated themselves from the shackles of censorship. They no longer were forced to regurgitate government propaganda and finally could write what they wanted. Instead, they were confronted with the challenges of freedom.

We are teaming up with the prestigious French newspaper Le Monde to help tackle this crucial challenge. Six Tunisian journalists are coming to Paris to work for three months in the Le Monde newsroom. The journalists will help cover daily news and the upcoming French Presidential election. Our hope is that they then will return home with new skills that will serve to construct a new, free but responsible professional press in Tunisia…

…At Google, we are aware of the need to work with publishers to smooth the transition not only from oppression to freedom, but from analogue to digital distribution. We are sponsoring a series of digital journalism prizes with Institut de Sciences Politiques, the International Press Institute in Vienna and the Global Editors Network in Paris. We also are the proud backer of Reporters Without Borders’ annual Netizen of the Year award.

The internet helped to speed up things. But the revolution would have taken place without it.

Hossam al-Hamalawy, an Egyptian blogger at 3arabawy

Memeburn reports that 200 bloggers from the Middle East and North Africa are gathering in Tunis to discuss the role online activism and social media has in political change.

According to event organiser and administrator of Tunisian site Nawaat, Malek Khadroui, the bloggers will focus on the role of cyberactivists in a period of political transition.

“It is an exceptional meeting. There have been three Arab revolutions and the majority of the invited bloggers have been involved in these revolutions, which will allow them to meet and develop solidarity networks,” he said.

We will reflect together on new challenges facing movements in countries like Syria, Bahrain, Yemen,” Khadraoui added, underlining the symbolism of holding the meeting in Tunisia, the birthplace of the Arab Spring.

One topic which the bloggers will focus on is their continuing role in political life. This is particularly relevant to seven of the Tunisian bloggers who are candidates in the upcoming constituent assembly elections.

The focus on technology in the international media may also misrepresent the character of liberation movements — hiding, for example, the important role played by women in the Arab Spring…

…While social media undoubtedly shaped the unfolding of liberation struggles in the Middle East and North Africa, to say that these were Facebook or Twitter revolutions is misleading. The focus on technical aspects of the Arab Spring marginalizes and minimizes the role of traditional organizing and downplays the risks and commitments made by ordinary people who put themselves, embodied and in real time, on the line for freedom.

The most troubling aspect of the myopic focus on “Liberation Technology” is the suggestion that if you add internet, you can produce instant revolution.

— Virginia Eubanks, author, Digital Dead End: Fighting for Social Justice in the Information Age. No Tech-fix for Justice.

While the prominence of women in the revolutions has been moving, there is a psychology behind celebrating and glorifying women’s political activity when it is part of a popular push. In these times women are almost tokenised by men as the ultimate downtrodden victims, the sign that things are desperate, that even members of the fairer sex are leaving their hearths and taking to the streets. The perception isn’t that women are fighting for their own rights, but merely that they are underwriting the revolution by bringing their matronly dignity to the crowd like some mascot.

Three Big Pigs. The Story of Arab Democracy Revolts Told Angry Birds-Style.

(Source: thenextweb.com)

It's Hard to Report When Your Subject is Anonymous →

Despite high profile activity such as Distributed Denial of Service attacks against Amazon, PayPal, MasterCard, and Visa, the digital activist group Anonymous is notoriously difficult to report on.

Unlike traditional groups, there’s no clear leader or spokesperson. 

Instead, Anonymous organizes like the Web it uses as its platform: as a series of weak and strong links, with a variety of hubs representing the group’s activities. 

For example, over the past two months, Anonymous has claimed responsibility for digital attacks in support of pro-democracy movements against governmental agencies and resources in Egypt and Tunisia, and against Zimbabwe for its censorship of WikiLeaks documents.

Most recently, Anonymous exposed internal emails from the security firm HBGary Federal that demonstrate how it was about embark on a disinformation campaign against pro-union organizers in the United States.

Still, news organizations can’t quite put their finger on who they are, and why they do what they do.

Writes Gillian Terzis in The Altantic:

For the most part, the mainstream media remains befuddled by Anonymous, not knowing quite what to make of the group’s mélange of illegal activity, political motivations and sardonic sense of humor. Moreover, as the group does not visibly toil on any ideological coalface, media outlets have been tempted to portray Anonymous as a group of lonesome hackers with nebulous but shadowy intent. Mass rallies — like the ones in Wisconsin — make for an easy, linear media narrative. But electronic subterfuge and virtual activism are often depicted as a bloodless sport — the least compelling kind.

Or, as Chris Landers wrote a few years back:

Anonymous is a group, in the sense that a flock of birds is a group. How do you know they’re a group? Because they’re travelling in the same direction. At any given moment, more birds could join, leave, peel off in another direction entirely.

Via Al Jazeera:

Youtube, Facebook and Twitter have become the new weapons of mass mobilisation; geeks have taken on dictators; bloggers are dissidents; and social networks have become rallying forces for social justice…

…Joining Marwan Bishara to discuss these issues are: Carl Bernstein, a Pulitzer Prize-winning investigative journalist; Amy Goodman, the host and executive producer of Democracy Now!; Professor Emily Bell, the director of digital journalism at Columbia University; Evgeny Morozov, the author of The Net Delusion: The Dark Side of Internet Freedom; Professor Clay Shirky, the author of Cognitive Surplus: Creativity and Generosity in a Connected Age.

On Monday’s edition of NPR’s All Things Considered, host Robert Siegal interviewed Andy Carvin, NPR’s Senior Strategist for Social Media.

Carvin has virtually become a one man news wire with his Twitter curation of MENA protests in Egypt, Tunisia and Libya among other hotspots. In this brief interview, Carvin explains his processes, how he tries to verify trusted sources and a little bit about what the medium and platform is doing for journalism.

Typically what happens is I start in a country and just think about who are the people that I already know. So, for example, during the Egyptian and the Tunisian uprisings, I had a lot of contacts in each country, at least half a dozen or so that I felt comfortable re-tweeting. And then as time goes by, you get a sense of who they trust as well. Who are they talking to? Who are they re-tweeting?

Libya has been a lot more complex because there aren’t many people there who are on Twitter, rumors of it being shut down altogether. And so, it’s been tough. I had to essentially start from scratch in order to find some sources there. But fortunately, there do seem to be some, including one young man who’s been sending out a live video stream. He’s reporting what he’s hearing from friends around the country. And it’s been absolutely riveting.

Run Time: 4:43. Transcript.

But Facebook, which celebrates its seventh birthday Friday and has more than a half-billion users worldwide, is not eagerly embracing its role as the insurrectionists’ instrument of choice. Its strategy contrasts with rivals Google and Twitter, which actively helped opposition leaders communicate after the Egyptian government shut down Internet access.

The Silicon Valley giant, whether it likes it or not, has been thrust like never before into a sensitive global political moment that pits the company’s need for an open Internet against concerns that autocratic regimes could limit use of the site or shut it down altogether.

Egypt Crackdown on Al Jazeera Gives Upper Hand to Scrappy News Network

The news that the Egypt has revoked Al Jazeera’s license to broadcast has rippled across the world, further demonstrating the desperation of a government under siege.

The Doha, Qatar-based network, which operates semi-autonomously from its funders, the Qatari royal family, has emerged as perhaps the strongest voice in the uprising, save that ofthe Egyptian people. The government’s move today to censor Al Jazeera is nothing if not a recognition of their position of strength, and the government’s inability outflank or outmaneuver journalists.

The story of how a satellite cable network became a feared opponent of an oppressive regime says a lot about our times, but it was by no means an accident.

Via GigaOm:

[P]art of the puzzle is obviously that Al-Jazeera has its base of operation in the region. But the fact that so many people seek out Al-Jazeera’s English-language online feed also has to do with the unique history of the network. Al Jazeera intended to make significant inroads in the U.S. news market when it launched in late 2006. It hired a number of high-profile reporters and anchors, including David Frost and the former U.S. Marine Josh Rushing.

However, the news network couldn’t gain a foothold in the U.S. cable market. Comcast, Time Warner and Cablevision all declined to carry the channel.

Hurt feelings and pressure from the Bush administration may have been to blame, writes GigaOm’s Janko Roettgers. However, an organization as  scrappy, and well-funded as Al Jazeera would not be held back.

Without access to the majority of TV households, Al-Jazeera turned to the next best thing: the Internet. I did an interview with Russell Merryman in 2007, when he was working as the editor-in-chief of web and new media at Al-Jazeera English. Merryman told me a big part of embracing new media was an attempt to win over the hearts and minds of Americans, and he quoted from a review that called Al-Jazeera “the best cable news channel Americans can’t watch” as an early proof of success for that strategy.

Al-Jazeera embraced YouTube early on for daily news clips, and soon after, opened a 24/7 live feed on Livestation. The network also more recently embraced Creative Commons licenses for some of its raw footage, and Nanabhay said it will make some of Friday’s footage from Cairo available under a Creative Commons license.

In addition to a prevalent anti-American, anti-Israel bias in the network’s news reports—which may not come as a surprise to many—Robert Worth and David Kirkpatrick of The New York Times recently wrote that Al Jazeera has seen its role transform from broadcaster to instigator during the winter of discontent.

Yet Al Jazeera’s opaque loyalties and motives are as closely scrutinized as its reporting. It is accused of tailoring its coverage to support Hezbollah in Lebanon and Hamas in Gaza against their Lebanese and Palestinian rivals. Its reporter in Tunisia became a leading partisan in the uprising there. And critics speculate that the network bowed to the diplomatic interests of the Qatari emir, its patron, by initially playing down the protests in Egypt.

Al Jazeera was at first thought to be dragging its feet to cover the swelling tide of anger that flooded the streets of Egypt’s cities beginning on January 25. However, when it did again train its cameras on the Egyptian protesters, it did so with the typical aplomb. 

Setting aside political leanings, Al Jazeera’s coverage of the contagious rebellion that has swept through the Maghreb, has been aggressive, courageous and compelling, setting a high bar for other media outlets. Furthermore, the decision to release some of its Egypt footage with a Creative Commons license is almost certain to make Al Jazeera the outlet of record for this seminal event. 

How important is it that Egypt has censored Al Jazeera and restricted Internet and SMS access to to stanch the flow of information? It has been variously noted that people who are bored or restless will naturally congregate in the streets, adding bodies to the jittery mass of protestors.

Maybe keeping the lines open is a better option, since what is happening on the streets of Cairo, Alexandria, Suez and elsewhere in Egypt is no secret. 

With streets empty of law enforcement in many Egyptian cities, and with the Army playing the role of passive observers, it seems that the day belongs to Al Jazeera, as much as the Egyptian people, even as a last effort is made to silence both.

Tunisia: Blogger and Former Political Prisoner Appointed Minister →

kimbeamish:

@Slim404

No Twitter revolution would be complete without a former political prisoner and high-profile blogger being selected as a new minister. Sounds like great fodder for a reality TV show I’d actually watch. Has anyone contacted Slim Amamou’s lawyers yet?

(Source: kimbeamish)