Egyptian Insurgency Short Film Festival

The Egyptian Insurgency Short Film Festival was the first film festival I had ever attended and I really enjoyed it. I liked how each of the films varied from each other because it made the festival interesting to watch. I also appreciated how the festival started with a 30 second clip from Kallenberger in which workers are depicted and then the festival concluded with a 30 second clips of workers. I think this method of matching clips created good bookends which tied all the films together.

One of the shorts that stood out to me the most was The Camel Battle by Omar Robert Hamilton. This film stood out to me because I thought it was disturbing to see people throwing bricks at one another. The short film was explaining the step down of Mubarak. It was interesting because it was shot amongst the chaos of the rioters in the streets which put us, the audience, in their perspective. I noticed that in the short there was almost no women, and that most of the people protesting were young men. After The Camel Battle short there was a short about Gandhi called Ghandi in Egypt by Linda Herrera. I thought this was a good contrast to The Camel Battle because The Camel Battle depicted unrest and riot while Gandhi depicts peace.

Another short that I really enjoyed was Women and Youth of the Arab Revolutions because it didn’t depict just young men which dominated many of the other short films. The short film takes into perspective the opinions of the women and their views on the protests within the square. The first woman interviewed in the short also wanted rights like the men but it was interesting too see that she didn’t like the fact that she didn’t personally participate in protesting with the other people in the square. In a way it shows the gender differences. Overall, I enjoyed all the shorts from the Film Festival and thought it was well put together.

Egyptian Insurgency Short Film Festival

Beirut’s Space Disputes

Since the closing of Beirut’s biggest landfill there has been an immense trash crisis. Trash is being piled on each other, blocking streets and increasing the dangers of Cholera and other potential illnesses that come from the improper treatment of garbage.

Protestors are not only going into the streets, clashing with police, but also have turned to (as the youstink movement website states) “head(ing) early .. at 4:00am. to Prime Minister Tammam Salam’s house to awaken him from a deep sleep, demanding him to call for urgent government meetings to resolve the garbage crisis.”

The campaign revolving around these issues is titled #YouStink. What I found interesting was the photoessay article stated that this movement and the ineffectiveness of the government to take action and resolve this issue is almost symbolic of the governments inability to deal with other issues as well.

Another issue involving geographical space and the inability of the government to sufficiently provide its people with valid resources and problem solving capabilities, is the issue involving public and private spaces. Abir Saksouk-Sasso discusses this in Making Space for Communal Sovereignty: The Story of Beirut’s Dalieh. Saksouk-Sasso begins by discussing the unwarranted closing of the city’s only large park. His argument continues by describing that the World Health Organization advises that there by open green areas up to forty square meters per person and that in Beirut, the numbers are shockingly low at one square meter per person. He explains that privatization of public zones has become common and that “Beirut has undergone diverse forms of controlling public spaces”. This further proves that the government is not only unable to properly deal with trash but also insufficient in providing its people with public spaces for the them.

This also makes me curious about the recent protests in Beirut with the #YouStink Movement. Many protests are done in public places and squares. For example the protests and organization efforts during the Ukrainian Revolution and the Egyptian Revolution were done in public places, where people could meet in large numbers, discuss and take action. How does Beirut’s lack of this resource affects its ability to mobilize and protest effectively for the safe of the garbage crisis.


Beirut’s Space Disputes

Protesting Government Corruption: #YouStink

The social movement in Beirut, mobilizing behind the hashtag #YouStink, began in the Summer of 2015, and calls for reform of Lebanon’s state infrastructure and an ousting of their current political leaders whom protestors argue are more concerned with capitalist corruption than the well-being of their own people. Following the privatization of Lebanon’s garbage collection services and the shut down of the country’s largest waste landfill, trash quickly began to collect on the streets of Beirut, leading protestors to organize in a call for government reform and the rights to a cleaner living environment.

The main source of government corruption in relation to #YouStink is the relationship between the Lebanese government and the waste management company Sukleen. Sukleen has been dumping garbage in public spaces, and the Lebanese government’s completely apathetic response to this crisis has left the citizens of Beirut open to the exposure of disease caused by the multitude of waste being left to decompose in the open. It has been suggested that Sukleen has been allocated state funds in order to act as the country’s leading waste management system, yet they have been apathetic and willing to exploit the garbage crisis in order to obtain a contract extension with the government.



Although the protests in support of #YouStink have aimed to be peaceful, violence has broken out as the government has sent out riot police with water cannons and rubber bullets as a response. Although #YouStink seems to resemble the activism and beginnings that we saw with the rise of the Arab Spring, its supporters seem adamant to distance themselves from being called revolutionaries.


Protesting Government Corruption: #YouStink

Beirut Smells Like Butt

The You Stink movement protests the governing of Prime Minister Tammam Salam, who has lead Beirut into a trash crisis of emergency levels. With the closing of Beirut’s only landfill, trash piles up in the streets while politicians are locked in a frozen debate about a new trash solution.

You Stink’s peaceful protests were undercut by other aggressive revolutionists, who conformed with You Stink protestors and turned violent as riot police came to meet them in the streets of Beirut.

One of the captions from the photo journalist article reads:

“Lebanese activists clash with policemen as they try to cross to the government palace during a protest in downtown Beirut on August 23, 2015. Lebanese Prime Minister Tammam Salam hinted Sunday he might resign after violent protests against government corruption and political dysfunction, triggered by a month-long trash crisis in Beirut. Salam also pledged that security forces that used violence against demonstrators would be held accountable.”

One contradiction in Salam’s actions is that his pledge to hold police accountable may not have any political worth if he were to resign. His pledge to hold police accountable for any unwarranted violence appears to be a promising sign of change in favor of the citizen; after all, this crisis is happening now, four years after the Tahrir Square protests that saw the actions of the police go unchecked. But if Salam is not in power, how can the people of Beirut trust that his pledge will stand?

Hopefully in class on Monday we catch up a little more with You Stink and Beirut; I’m interested to see what has unfolded since last August.

Beirut Smells Like Butt

Consensus instead of violence

Uprising in the Middle East has generated high controversies. They created models to fight against the social polarization of the political-economic contexts. Basically what they wanted was the down of the regime and in a way I can understand this because being young, trying to go into the “real world” working and becoming independent and at the same time facing what they see as absolutism and oligarchy. The only option they have is to go out on the streets and join each other as a group based on the trends and beliefs they share, to try and change their countries.

To this you can add the “#YouStink” campaign which activists participated complaining to the Lebanese government and accusing them of infecting the country with too much garbage. Activism happens everywhere and in Spain a year ago a crisis like this also happened and the garbage men stopped collecting all the garbage on the streets and these accumulated all over the cities of Spain. Activists ran out to the streets to complain however it never got as degrading as it did in Beirut in 2015. This is very shocking as people are not allowed to complain and speak their minds. It’s a two way thing but if the population would manifest in a peaceful way and the authorities would allow this then everyone will at least be free to say what they wish and at least feel like someone hears them. The way that it’s done in these countries just infuriates the citizens even more. Getting shot sprayed with a powerful water jet or even being beaten up by the police is not acceptable in any way what so ever. Reaching an agreement with the population where they don’t start a fire with anything and the police act more peacefully then maybe some solutions will be taken into consideration.

Consensus instead of violence

A Review on R-Shief

At the beginning of the quarter I attended the R-Shief conference ran by Professor Laila Sakr at UCSB’s Social Sciences and Media Studies building. The conference was very informative, inspiring and eye opening all at the same time.

I found understanding the beginning of the talk a bit intimidating, as it was a process for me to conceptualize the technical terms and processes used to explain the website and software building procedures. Another part that I found a bit intimidating was the fact that the website is all in arabic, meaning I, or other people who don’t speak arabic will not have access to viewing the site’s information. However, this simple fact is very respectable, as it is about a team standing their ground, keeping true to the language and origin of the site, and not conforming to any main stream form of translation, only to make it more widely accessible. A restriction such as this may even inspire someone to learn the language, and work to preserve or inspire a community who may want to focus on keeping the language alive for a longer time.

As the talk unfolded, I found the work these intellectual and passionate individuals were doing very inspiring. Since they have been working on creating a website from scratch and using it to gain digital information which could help for further research, and data collection. Hearing the group speak and explain their work and what their website does made it seem possible to create a database online platform of your own, of course with the proper training, knowledge, experience, and outlook.

As I was feeling inspired and astonished to be seeing the behind the scenes of website and database collecting process, a couple of the audience found the new information they were finding to be intimidating and a bit dangerous, if the information were ever to get into the hands of someone who would use it for the wrong reasons.

During the talk R-Shief presented how they collect data on who tweeted or said certain things about certain events, specifically the Egyptian Revolution, and
store it for research and prediction purposes. The idea that someone is watching and collecting information on what you are posting seemed to be frightening to some people. Although, I do agree that the fact the public has access to my information can be scary, I am completely aware that what is posted online is public and made widely available to a large number of companies, and people, spynot only R-Shief. However, it becomes worry some when you may be punished for something you posted online if the information and your public post gets into the wrong hands or is seen by the wrong set of eyes.

As long as access to this information is used only to do research and not for punishment of any sort, I don’t see the harm in being spied on by an online data source. It is important to always keep in mind the risks that come with posting certain things and to review your privacy settings if you want your information to remain private, otherwise there is a virtual world which has access to every click you make, and anything you tweet or post, as it is important to use a collection of postings to make predictions, research and worldwide improvements.

A Review on R-Shief

Beirut Garbage Crisis

There are plenty of things we as americans take for granted and don’t realize the hard work and dedication that goes into planning and creating a safe and healthy environment. We look over the small things, like the privilege of being able to take our garbage out and know it will be taken care of, not worrying about where it will be stored or that we will ever have to see it again in our lifetime. However, it is not always as easy as taking your trash to the dump or taking it out to your apartment complex dumpster in other countries.

After reviewing the photojournalist’s picture collection of the trash crisis protests of August 2015 in Beirut, Lebanon I was really shocked with how the entire situation was handled. I simply do not understand how the government can afford to pay for police enforcement to be present during protests, but does not take the time to spend that money on cleaning up the trash piled up in the city. Although, the government might not be completely responsible for the dumping of trash in the city, as it may be careless citizens who have no other place to put their trash in, I strongly feel it is the government’s responsibility to be authoritative and do what they can to prevent the dumping of trash in public city areas, and to make specified and proper dumping areas available for the community.

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Nairobi, Kenya (July 2015)

While in Kenya this past summer there was a situation where we drove down to the city and saw trash piled up at a round about in the city center of Nairobi. The situation was very disappointing and I could not help but to feel upset and frustrated with the people who were dumping the trash and creating this mess. After reading through this article and researching more on then crisis, I came to find that there isn’t necessarily something wrong with the dumpers, or a specific someone to blame, but a communal problem among the people, the law enforcement and government organization on the disposal of trash. It takes a collective effort among the three branches of the city mentioned above, to be able to stop such an unsanitary and disastrous habit, and to stop creating circumstances that lead citizens to dump trash into public city areas.

A difference that I see from the two major cities in these two countries, Nairobi and Beirut, is that the city of Beirut has community members that definitely care and are willing to protest until justice and improvement has been notable in the city. Not that the Kenyan community is not willing to do that, or are at all careless about the hazardous situation, but in my time there I was not able to witness any protests or hear any commentary by the locals about the garbage crisis. On the contrary, I witnessed my American hosts explaining to her local employee the importance of keeping her own home space clean, and how dumping trash is unsanitary and dangerous for the children around. Although these two cities are different, and the situations and reasoning for the garbage crisis differs, there is definitely a need of improvement, not only in the community members in some cases, but in the way government makes disposable garbage areas available for the city.

Beirut Garbage Crisis