Saudi Arabia: A Generational Divide

This weeks readings were very informative on the variety of groups and happenings in Saudi Arabia. The reading was very well organized with its content and structured in the way it presented its informative. The piece was very relevant to today’s happenings and contains a great amount of details on the regime. I really enjoyed reading the piece and liked how it had focus on human rights.

The scholarly piece also talks about the rest of Kashgari, and those who were for and against his believes and actions. Towards the end of the piece, it mentions that the majority of supporters were the younger generation, even though they disagreed with his conclusion. The younger generation had intellectually understood what Kashgari wanted to do as far as freedom and liberation. The togetherness was evident in the amount of signatures that came together for Kashgari. It is mentioned that over two thousand six hundred were conducted, which included both male and female. the coming together of this generation is an example of ways in which media and a collective group effort has came together to make a difference. I found this piece of information to be very important because it does take a collective effort in order to make a change, and some of the most long-lasting campaigns must have require to have a strong foundation with a group of individuals who will go on to fight and preserve the legacy and change they stand for.

The piece also continues to mention that there is a strong divide between the younger generation and the older generation. This too was exemplified through the group of individuals who were for and against Kashgari. The divide of the generations can show a lot about the dissonance in the particular generation’s believes. The idea that there is a difference in thought between each generation can show the progression of the evolution of the thinking with the younger kids growing up. It shows that the way in which kids interact with society has changed, and the way parents raise their kids has changed, as well as the idea’s the new generation has adopted and agreed on.

I believe that wit the collectiveness of the people, the fight for the better in these countries will continue to happen, and with time there will continue to be a great deal of progression in each and every aspect the people continue to fight for.

Saudi Arabia: A Generational Divide

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.

Constitutional Reformists & Saudi Arabia

Political Reform in Arab Spring

How much action does one group need to take in order to get political reform in their home country? This was one of several questions going through my mind while I read this article. The author did an excellent job explaining the history, government structure, dominating religions and the overall status quo of the political atmosphere in Saudi Arabia. It helped me brush up on the type of government that was established and a brief description on who was running it. But anyways the main focus was about young activists from all different areas of society: young, old, poor, working-class, you name it was in favor for dramatic political reform. Similar to the young people in Egypt, they wanted equal rights for all. But on the other hand, the major difference between the overall protests against these regimes is the reaction from the regimes themselves. As I read more about the article the Saudi Arabian regime made a significant difference in economic reform instead. With money gained from U.S. aid, donations and other outside channels, they used that money to establish the creation of more jobs and subsidized housing. At first I thought this was amazing that the younger, poor citizens are gaining some economic benefits for at least the short-term. But as I kept reading it looked more and more this was a temporary fixed to the long-term problems. It turns out the regimes economic reform had ulterior motives, it was a means to help stomp out the protests for political reform by targeting in their minds the backbone of the revolution: the young and poor. So in turn their efforts was semi-successful and it was only a momentary distraction than an actual obstacle. So their struggles reminded me of what I learned from a different class discussing how long it takes for those long-term problems to be solved. I believe these individuals may not get the political reform they want by tomorrow or in a month or so. But with enough hard work and determination, they will get the equal rights they truly deserve.

Political Reform in Arab Spring

Sexual Harassment in Egypt: Social Taboo or Legitimate illegal act?

How far does one go to make a difference of making a social taboo to talk about into an open conversation? This was one of several questions that went through my mind while reading different articles about the rise of sexual harassment towards women in Egypt. From looking through a set of graphics about the subject matter it was a larger deal then what I presumed. At first I thought these cases of sexual harassment these women are dealing with from cat calls from strangers to men openly asking to have sex with them. But as I read more of these articles, it was more than just that. Some cases was mentioned some of these women were actually groped and other inappropriate physical contact that is only a few steps away for situations like this escalating to a full on rape attempt. That was shocking at first, but the first two articles discussed an app that could help inform, promote and communicate with others. The app that was mentioned called Harrassmap, from the reading it mentions one of the primary functions was to list helpful tips and resources for these women who have been sexual harassed. Furthermore it’s trying to established “safe zones”, general safe havens that help deter that kind of behavior and if needed stop the altercation altogether. The other article that talked about this program in more detail talked about the long term benefits, from on an individual level to a national scale. I liked when it listed some of the secondary features of the program. It uses data collecting to inform and displayed listed or potential offenders in a specific area. This program really reminds of an American website called Megan’s Law, which uses data collecting to display and inform the general public of registered sex offenders living near any said area.

So overall I found these articles made me feel more hopeful about all these issues happening in the Middle East in general from past readings. For once I think that this one digital campaign idea/concept is gaining progress and actually making a dramatic difference in people’s lives.

Sexual Harassment in Egypt: Social Taboo or Legitimate illegal act?

Bassel Khartabil: Imprisoned Unjustly or Not?

How far would you go to do the right thing, even if it meant going to prison for it? That was one of many questions I asked myself if I was in same position as him. As I read a couple articles about this guy and was truly amazed once I learned more about him. Through reading these articles I learned some basic information. I learned he was born and raised in Syria, was an only child, gained an interest in computers and coding from his uncle. Furthermore I learned is he got a bachelors and a master’s degree. But I was truly surprised once I found about one of his major accomplishments to that region of the world. He helped bring more open-source programs and access to an area of the world where the internet is heavily censored and monitored. As well as help a popular open-source site he was working at called Creative Commons to translate the text and other information into Arabic. This in turn make this site more accessible and spanned countries instead of certain regions of one country. But when I was reading more about his history I learned more about the tragic turn about his eventual arrest and detainment. I felt some empathy for this individual, he went to great lengths to make peoples live better, but did it regardless if he was praised or unfortunately in this case imprisoned for it. That is very admirable of him and few people in this world have the convictions to do something right regardless of the number of obstacles in his way. So I was happy to learn he found someone to share his life with during his imprisonment and got married. But I also found out his troubles were not over, I learned shortly after he was moved to an undisclosed location for another special court hearing and no has heard from him since. So in conclusion this is another real life application of how far activists will go for social change, even if they have to pay the ultimate price for that change.

Bassel Khartabil: Imprisoned Unjustly or Not?

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

Intellectuals from the Uprising of the Arabs & the #YOUSTINK protest

Intellectuals from the Uprising of the Arabs 

According to Paul Amar, the Arabs’ uprising which includes Algeria, Egypt,  Syria, Iran, Marocco , Libya, Bahrain, Tunsia and Yemen, led to a generation of social movements and public intellectuals that documented many of the Arab crises and their backstory. Some of these individuals tend to form this piece of history as a models of sovereignty. These paradigms include absolutism and oligarchy, and Ecocentric topics like the theories of the Middle East. Individuals from the uprising generation is constructing their own a201192693113511734_20.jpgrray of researched based on the past and current events within the Middle East and some of North America. These models become framework for hopes of a more fair and organized system that might serve as resources to moments that a country might never want to go mack to.

#YOUSTINK

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#YOUSTINK  is a antigovernment protest in Beirut,Lebanon that raised awareness of the dangers of the misplacement of garbage in Lebanon. Protesters and residents of Lebanon are concerned of the health problems that can be caused because of this essential garbage issue. The organizers of the #YOUSTINK campaign implemented to demonstrate a peaceful protest down the streets of Beirut, until riot police responded in violent actions such as firing tear gas, rubber bullets and spraying protestors with water cannons. As the days of protesting continued, the violence took an increase as riot police began to beat protestors with batons. Such violence demonstrated the corruption of the system that called for protesters to encourage others to revolt against it. 439868_img650x420_img650x420_crop.jpg

Yet after long days of violence and protest, the system hasn’t implemented an organized process on how to deal with the inefficiency of the garbage management in Lebanon. Due to the numerous people that were injured the days of the protests, protesters postponed any further demonstration.

Intellectuals from the Uprising of the Arabs & the #YOUSTINK protest

Dahieh: owned by public or private hands?

Who has the most influence in a changing landscape after a major civil war? Is it the general public or the private sector that ultimately controls and influences the rules and policies? With the case of Beirut, after a large civil war that ended during the 1990’s. The power shift has been put into the hands of the private sector. More specifically over issues like land ownership and who has access to it. From the articles I read about public use of certain parks and neighborhoods were very strictly regulated by owners. For example, a popular park called Hursh Beirut, was closed off out of fear of certain undesirable activities. Actions like kissing, running on the grass, having a picnic, etc. As I read on in the article it became more and more clear to me that public space in this city is being closely controlled by the high ranking members of localized government and the private sector.

At first when I realized large chunks of land are being closed off and reorganized, my first big question is why? Further reading into text I discovered that is one of the biggest motivators to make this happen is purely profit reasons. I learned that with some of the blocked off areas of property was being reorganized as fancy, premiere plots of real estate for the private sector. They went through all the stops, security guards posted around these neighborhoods around the clock, restricting access to these open spaces, etc. This and other incidents after like the assassination of their Prime Minster has left the city more divided and monitored than ever.

Overall after reading this article the conclusions I came are some of the following: that citizens access to public space and public life as a whole in this city is slowly being crushed to death. As well as that it’s more of a heavily controlled security state rather than a city freely accessed by all.

Dahieh: owned by public or private hands?

After Tahir Film Festival

Another event I went to learn more background information about the Tahir revolution in Egypt was by attending a local film festival, which collect a set of short films that visually displays, discusses and raises overall awareness of what really happened in Tahir and after the president resigned.

The first set of short films laid the general foundation of the conference’s overall message in my opinion of to remember their actions and continue to move towards change to make it last for the long term. Anyways the first few short films had a collection of clips of protesters during the beginning and the highpoints of the protests in the Tahir Square. An illustration of this was a rough timeline on the different levels of opposition the protesters were dealing with over the span of the first 24 hours. From screaming insults to rocks being thrown at them to even some individuals throwing Molotov cocktails from the rooftops. Those series of clips made the whole event real to me more than any article about the subject could. On the hand, one of the other reoccurring themes these short films had was once in a while there would be a short clip of the day to day activities of people in Cairo. An example of this was a short video of two men handing and throwing large containers of coke bottles in the back of a local supermarket. These mundane activities were a breath air in the numerous acts and portrayals of violence.

Another aspect I observed towards the second half of the short film line-up was the use of artistic expression in the subject matter. An illustration of this expression came in the form of a set of b-roll, exterior shots of decaying neighborhoods or buildings. With that being displaying and audio clips gathered from a project called “Speak2Tweet” played in the background. Individuals were able to leave voicemails as a means to talk and protest these issues due to the shut-down of localized connections to the Internet.

Lastly my overall impressions of this film festival was this, I think it was a wonderful and successful idea to bring different designers, film makers and activists to document about these issues in a visual format. But after seeing all of the short films, some of the creators got caught up too much in the artistic expression aspect of their projects and may have lost sight of the overall message it tries to deliver in the first place.

After Tahir Film Festival

Feminest protesters in Egypt: Activist or Criminal

Were there more than one group protesting their issues alongside everyone else in Egypt? From reading more articles about different activist groups, I realized another group of activists were protesting for social change as well as other issues like needing a democratic leader in power or addressing the police corruption. Those issues took center stage and got most of the global attention. But as mentioned before these women and many others fought for issues just as important during the time of the social revolution happening in Egypt. These feminist activists groups were trying to address and make dramatic social change within their home country with issues like sexual assault, sexual harassment and being label as a criminal without cause.

During the course of reading these articles I noticed that these feminist groups did not get equal attention by the global media as the other issues being addressed during that time. But with closer examination of the article and from information gained from previous discussions of the overall history of the Middle East. I recall the general status quo in most countries in that region that women have severe limits of how they dress, how they interact with the world and their basic rights warped into something unrecognizable. So I am not surprised their issues were not given the equal amount of attention as the other issues. Lastly the only other and in my opinion the most severe factor that has hindered their progress is how some of the controlling governments is labeling them. Once again using the recent social revolution in Egypt as my grounding example for my argument. As I read I observed the different labels that the controlling government were calling these activists and supporters. They were called some of the following: criminals, prostitutes, animals, beasts and terrorists. If you can dehumanize a group of people, it is harder for the general public to relate to them and or rally more individuals to their side. These harmful labels also destroy any legitimate integrity they have and lose their overall credibility.

So in conclusion, in my opinion this small faction of activists are being attacked more than just on a physical level. Some of them are being attacked mentally through harassment and their reputation destroyed in turn. In the end they are taking the charge in a society were women are second class citizens, and in turn fighting to be in equal footing (human rights wise) with the men.

Feminest protesters in Egypt: Activist or Criminal