Middle East Research and Information Project: Critical Coverage of the Middle East Since 1971

Activism

Justice for Rasmea Odeh

Nadine Naber 06.19.2014

This past winter, I was privileged to participate in several events in Chicago organized by Rasmea Yousef Odeh, associate director of the Arab American Action Network and leader of that group’s Arab Women’s Committee. The events brought together anywhere from 60-100 disenfranchised women, all recent immigrants, from nearly every Arabic-speaking country. The attendees were there to learn English, share meals and stories, and discuss personal struggles, in everything from marriage and parenting to navigating the US educational and medical industries and the US immigration system. The women also talked about fending off racism.

Turkey’s Woman in the Red Dress

On June 1, the day after the brutal police attack to disperse the occupation of Gezi Park, thousands more protesters descended upon Taksim Square in central Istanbul. By the end of the week, demonstrators filled the plaza completely, with those in the park itself behind barricades should the police mount another raid. The atmosphere reminded many of a carnival, with people sharing food and dancing to music as they chanted slogans in the shade of the towering trees. It was an anxious occasion all the same — two protester tents were designated as infirmaries. Everyone wore masks or scarves around their necks to ward off tear gas and many carried first aid items for the volunteer health personnel.

Generation Y in Gezi Park

Generation Y has figured large in the global pattern of protest beginning at the tail end of the 2000s. In marches against the fraudulent presidential election in Iran, against austerity in southern Europe, against autocracy in places from Morocco to Bahrain, and against greed and corruption in the United States, people born between 1980 and the late 1990s, aged 15-30, have been a driving force. Generation Y, also known as the millennials or the We Generation, is more than 2 billion people, roughly a third of the world’s total population.

“This Is Our Square”

In June 2013 popular anger, excitement and apprehension rippled through Cairo. Lines at gas stations snaked into major roadways, paralyzing traffic. Artists occupied the Ministry of Culture to oppose a new minister from the Muslim Brothers’ Freedom and Justice Party who had fired respected cultural leaders. Artists, including the Cairo Opera ballet troupe, performed in solidarity in front of the Ministry, in a pointed retort to a member of the salafi Nour Party who said that ballet “provoke[ed] people to immorality.” Determined to oust then-president Muhammad Mursi, citizens signed the Tamarrud (Rebellion) petition calling for early presidential elections and planned to attend anti-Mursi demonstrations on June 30.

In Search of the Building Blocks of Opposition in Turkey

Joseph Logan 06.10.2013

In early May, Turkey’s Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdoğan — flush with a decade of electoral triumphs and a track record of economic growth dwarfing that of the European Union he once vowed to join — had the luxury of being magnanimous.

With Friends Like These

In June 2010, amidst escalating controversy over the construction of a mosque and Islamic community center near the former site of the World Trade Center, two Egyptians found themselves on the receiving end of xenophobic abuse as a crowd accosted them with calls to “go home.” Unbeknownst to the angry mob, the two Arabic-speaking men, Joseph Nasralla Abdelmasih and Karam El Masry, had come all the way from California to join the protest against what was dubbed the “Ground Zero mosque.” In fact, Abdelmasih and El Masry, who were eventually escorted away for their own safety by police officers, were involved with “The Way,” a Christian satellite television program established in 2010 that broadcasts in English and Arabic.

Copts Denounce Islamophobia

Chris Toensing 09.12.2012

In the wake of the lethal rocket attack on State Department personnel in Benghazi, and salafi protesters’ assault upon the US Embassy in Cairo, Egyptian blogger Zeinobia draws attention to “the protest that everyone ignored.” (Thanks to Zeinobia for the images below.)

Mosireen

Ted Swedenburg 01.12.2012

Yesterday’s piece by Ursula Lindsey, entitled “Art in Egypt's Revolutionary Square.” is a very astute and measured account of the art that has emerged in Egypt, in the wake of, and inspired by, the momentous events in Tahrir over the last year. It is a very mixed picture, but one of the projects that Lindsey cites with approval is the collective Mosireen. Here’s what she has to say about them:

Hip-Hop of the Revolution (The Sharif Don’t Like It)

Ted Swedenburg 01.5.2012

In Rock the Casbah: Rage and Rebellion Across the Islamic World, journalist Robin Wright describes and analyzes what she considers an important new trend in the Muslim world: the rejection of “Muslim extremists.” She views the Arab uprisings that began in Tunisia in December 2010 and quickly spread elsewhere as a dramatic confirmation of the significance of this new political and cultural tendency.

From the Editor (Winter 2011)

A question nagged at Occupy Wall Street and its myriad imitators, the most exciting social movement to emanate from the United States in more than a decade, for much of the fall. “What are your demands?” journalists persisted in asking. “What do you want?”

The Israeli-Palestinian Conflict and the Arab Awakening

Joel Beinin 08.1.2011

The March 15 Youth Movement, whose name comes from demonstrations held in the West Bank and Gaza Strip that day to demand unity between Fatah and Hamas, is the most direct Palestinian expression of the “Arab awakening” of 2010-2011. The next day, March 16, Fatah’s leader, Palestinian Authority (PA) President Mahmoud ‘Abbas, announced his willingness to travel to Gaza to conduct unity talks with Hamas. A reconciliation agreement was signed in Cairo on May 4.

Contesting Past and Present in Silwan

Joel Beinin 09.20.2010

On September 1, Elad — a Hebrew acronym for “To the City of David” — convened its eleventh annual archaeological conference at the “City of David National Park” in the Wadi Hilwa neighborhood of Silwan. Silwan, home to about 45,000 people, is one of 28 Palestinian villages incorporated into East Jerusalem and annexed by Israel after the June 1967 war. It lies in a valley situated a short walk beyond the Dung Gate of Jerusalem’s Old City. Elad, a militant, religious, settler organization, claims that Silwan is the biblical City of David mentioned in the second book of Samuel and that the Pool of Shiloah (Siloam) located there watered King Solomon’s garden.

The Snake with a Thousand Heads

In the summer of 2007, a lively and non-violent movement sprang up in the southern provinces of Yemen to protest the south’s marginalization by the north. The movement was sparked by demonstrations held that spring by forcibly retired members of the army, soon to be accompanied by retired state officials and unemployed youth. The deeper roots of the uprising lie in grievances dating to the 1994 civil war that consolidated the north’s grip over the state and, southerners would say, the resources of the country. [1] Southerners soon took to calling their protests al-Harak, a coordinated campaign against a northern “occupation.”

BDS in the USA, 2001-2010

On April 26, 2010, the student senate at the University of California-Berkeley upheld, by one vote, an executive veto on SB 118 — the student body resolution endorsing divestment of university funds from General Electric and United Technologies, two companies that profit from the Israeli occupation of East Jerusalem, the West Bank and the Gaza Strip. Proponents of the resolution needed 14 votes to override the veto and, as 16 senators had spoken in favor of doing so, it appeared a simple task.

Bouteflika’s Triumph and Algeria’s Tragedy

Jacob Mundy 04.10.2009

Shoes and pants soaked with rain, I tagged along with a journalist from the popular Arabic daily Echorouk—his paper my umbrella—while he visited polling stations in the Belcourt neighborhood of Algiers on the day of local elections in November 2007. At the first site, disgruntled party officials quickly ejected us. We did not have the right papers, they said, and the police who looked on bored were inclined to agree. At the second station, we kept our distance. Watching for half an hour, we could count the voters who entered on two hands. Next to us stood four youths, escaping the rain under a shop awning. They laughed at us when we asked if they were going to vote. Down the road we saw an older gentleman on his way back from voting.

Want to Fight Terrorism? Think Globally, Act Locally

Militant Islam is under global scrutiny for clues to conditions that foster its rise, and to strategies for reversing that growth. But the key is not in Islamic doctrine, US foreign policy or formal ties to various nations, as many analysts have asserted. It lies at the community level, with clan and local leaders.

Contrary to popular misconceptions, jihadists remain a minority in Muslim countries. Yet armed militants and suicide bombers continue to wreak havoc worldwide and militant recruitment shows no sign of abating. The reason is found where most recruitment occurs: ungoverned areas of failing or repressive states where public resources are stolen, wasted or otherwise not used for productive social ends.

Iran’s “Security Outlook”

Farideh Farhi 07.9.2007

Widespread apprehension attended the June 2005 election of Mahmoud Ahmadinejad to the presidency of the Islamic Republic of Iran, at least among those Iranians who had approved of the country’s direction under the reformist clerics led by President Mohammad Khatami. Their worries had little to do with Ahmadinejad’s signature campaign issue, the flagging Iranian economy, and much to do with potential reversal of the political and cultural opening under Khatami, now that hardline conservatives controlled every branch of the government.

Strikes in Egypt Spread from Center of Gravity

The longest and strongest wave of worker protest since the end of World War II is rolling through Egypt. In March, the liberal daily al-Masri al-Yawm estimated that no fewer than 222 sit-in strikes, work stoppages, hunger strikes and demonstrations had occurred during 2006. In the first five months of 2007, the paper has reported a new labor action nearly every day. The citizen group Egyptian Workers and Trade Union Watch documented 56 incidents during the month of April, and another 15 during the first week of May alone. [1]

The Peace Movement Plans for the Future

Mark Levine 07.15.2003

As the Bush administration struggles with occupying Iraq, the anti-war movement is in the midst of intense self-evaluation. For all of the movement’s success in raising doubts about and opposition to the March 2003 invasion, as of July George W. Bush’s war is still popular among Americans. The war caused thousands of Iraqi civilian deaths, and Iraqis may be dying for years to come due to widespread use of cluster bombs and depleted uranium munitions. While some local Kurdish and Shi‘i leaders have cautiously decided to work with the occupation regime, the inability of US forces to restore law, order or public services, along with the imperial style of US viceroy L. Paul Bremer, have led to increasing opposition to the occupation among ordinary Iraqis. Yet sentiment among Americans, amidst concerns over post-war casualties and the missing weapons of mass destruction, still supports (albeit cautiously) the invasion and occupation of Iraq.

Cancel