Constitutional Reformists & Saudi Arabia

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Most Arabs would agree that Saudi Arabia needed change without thinking the issues and drastic measurements that needed to be partaken. Before 2011, constitution reformist in Saudi Arabia have receive extreme punishments from the regime. A major penalty occurred in February 2007, during the release of a petition signed by many activists. The ten leading members of the movement were arrested. Many of them were important figures to the Sahwa’s intifada in the 1990s. This caused them to establish the first completely  independent Human Rights non-governmental organization (NGO) known as (SCPRA).

SCPRA was able reach out to others through the internet which was considered a huge mistake. The internet gave constitutional reformists the ability to connect with a wide range of other people, many who ranged in age and obtain different ideas. Through Facebook, many of the constitutional reformists reached out to the youth which cause them to become more active in their political thought. Many of the youth were ready to challenge the authority of others such as sheikhs, or Arab leaders.

Not only that, but this interconnectivity help sent the young Saudis abroad to impose believes and advocate for King Abdallah. Throughout this recruitment many young constitutional reformist emerged. Their ideas and actions actually contributed to the boot of Mubarak by publishing a provocative communique arguing that the only way Saudi Arabia can avoid revolution is by constitution reform. It can be assumed that the conversation of constitution reform influenced the Egyptians to desire a new form of government resulting in the protests after the realization of the need to dismiss Hosni Mubarak as an sort of authority.

The SCPRA led to forms of documentations such as the ” Towards a State of Right Institutions” petition which demanded an elected parliament with real powers and an appointment to a prime minister rather than a king. This petition was signed by many big names that made Saudi Arabia hopeful of changed. Eventually constitution reformists process in creating forms that demand change is the regime made a difference. More jobs were created and more funding for housing was provided.

However, not everything was rainbows and flowers. The police forces were more strict to those who protest about further call to action about reforming the regime. Communication outlets were destroyed such  websites including Facebook.This just comes show some of the situations constitutional reformists had to face in their attempt to make a change in Saudi Arabia.

Ultimately, was I have learned is that many difficult situations emerged  in order to reform Saudi Arabia and realized that SCPRA became an initial point to these events. From what I have read, I can conclude that some effective measurements of hope of change are the establishment of documentations that state what kind of change one is hoping for. I feel that if other areas of the Middle East took this approach they would be more successful. Yet again, this only sounds easier said than done and would determine on the extent of their system’s corruption.

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Constitutional Reformists & Saudi Arabia

Instigators of Change

Arab Bloggers Meet to Discuss Free Speech, Reject ‘Journalist’ Label

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The First Arab Bloggers Meeting in Beirut, covered by Jessica Dheere, illuminated many important truths in regards to bloggers and their work. “Morocco has 30,000 bloggers; Facebook is blocked in Tunisia; photojournalists help Egyptian bloggers by passing along outtakes,” etc, etc. It’s compelling that despite the tapestry of problems that Arab countries continue to face, bloggers living under these repressive regimes continue to fight for free speech and human rights. Blogs have continuously been a space to discuss these issues, and though the blogosphere is limitless, there is sense of unanimity between these bloggers.

The blogosphere is not a safe space, it’s a space that can land you in prison, or worse. Bloggers express how they are already prisoners because they live under these repressive regimes, but despite these difficulties, they continue to instigate for change. In a sense these bloggers act as journalists, by covering all aspects of repressiveness in Arab countries, and yet they refuse to be called journalists. I agree with their rejection of the “journalists” label because as opposed to actual journalists who simply report, bloggers are immersed and active. Bloggers are essentially societal and political activists, they are the ultimate “instigators of change.” In short, in the readings and in class, there is a constant reiteration of how important of a role bloggers play, which I completely agree. As Jessica Dheere concluded, the more they write and blog, the more their acts are “speaking truth to power.”

 

Mapping the Arabic blogosphere: politics and dissent online

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The above map illustrates a network map of the Arabic blogosphere with each dot representing a blog. The article, “Mapping the Arabic blogosphere: politics and dissent online,” illustrated the idea of a “networked public sphere,” which was proposed by Yochai Benkler. In short, Benkler’s “network public sphere,” refers to an online space which has gone from being dominated by the government/elite, to being a space that has a sense of freedom in which where “members of society can cooperate, exchange political opinions and observations, and collaborate as watchdogs over powerful social institutions.”

Instigators of Change