VOICE OF THE
REVOLUTION ISSUE 1 APRIL 2016
EDITORS LETTER Let me introduce myself: My name is Mohamad Elaasar and I am the new Editor. Beginning with this month’s issue. — Voice of the Revolution — The Arab Spring was by far the most influential revolutionary events that started in Tunisia December 18, 2010, it was a series of protests throughout the Arab countries and with the help of Social Media the people were able to take down their corrupt leaders. We start off with an article about the Arab Spring and how it all began, later focusing on Egypt and learning about the art that took place. We travel to the home of the Pharaohs, where one of our reporters Marwan Shaheen interviews a young activist who took part in the demonstration. We ask him why he took part in such an event and how that may have changed his life. During the Arab spring artwork was highly noticeable, graffiti was everywhere; especially around locations were the protests were held. We look through an exhibition displayed in the Arab American National Museum called Creative dissent: Arts of the Arab World Uprising, which holds a variety of artwork, that capture the moments of the Arab Spring. The story of the month is certainly a one to read. For those who don’t know the Arab spring was boosted because of social media, we look at how Social Media in general was used to help the people of the Arab Spring and what was happening in the virtual world of the revolution. The perfect cocktail to start the new season. -Mohamad Elaasar, Editor
A protest is a form of action that can occur with small or large groups of people, the reason protests take place is if there’s an objection or disapproval to what someone has said or has already done. Like a coin, one side holds protest while the other is power, overtime if there is dominant power there will always be a resistance to it. The Deprivation Theory; first described by Robert Merton “ Social movements arise among people who feel deprived. According to this approach, when people compare themselves to others, they may feel that they are at a disadvantage. They join social movements with the hope of ending their grievances. ” (Social change over time, no date)
Protests allow the public to express how they feel. Whether the population disagree as a whole to the way a countries policy are set, hence protest to bring attention to their cause, whether it be achieved through violence or peace. During the protests everyone’s out, taking part for a chance to make a difference in society, it’s also times where artwork can be recognised. Throughout times of protest, art; which tends to go unnoticed in society becomes more noticeable; artists are able to express themselves through their work, creating something that holds a meaning that others can relate to. As there’s a relationship between the artist and the community as well as a message that is passed on. “Art activists do not want to merely criticize the art system or the general political and social conditions under which this system functions. Rather, they want to change these conditions by means of art—not so much inside the art system but outside it, in reality itself.” (On Art Activism, 2014)
All around the world there are several different types of protests, some peaceful and some violent. An example of a peaceful protest would be a ‘Sit in’ this is remaining in one place and refusing to leave.“Any protest that isn’t violent is a waste of time, because if it starts to look like it might be successful at shifting the balance of power those holding the power will order violence against it.” (What is a violent protest?, 2015)
But on the other hand even a non-violent one can make a difference as Erica Chenoweth said
“ Visibility of civil resistance action allows them to attract more active and diverse participation from these ambivalent people and once they become involved it’s almost guaranteed that the movement will then have links.” (The success of nonviolent civil resistance, 2013)
In December 18, 2010 the Arab spring started, it was a series of protest that took place in the Middle East all following the same idea; “ The fall of the regime.” After a young Tunisian set himself on fire at a frustrated protest against police interference. Following mass protests in the country, the Tunisian president resigned, this caused a domino effect. This resignation sparked the start of the Arab revolution, as the people started to realise that as a collective, the corrupt leaders could be overturned. President Dwight D. Eisenhower’s theory was
“Eisenhower’s answer to a question about the spread of
communism in 1954 would later be developed by others into the domino theory. The theory was simple: if a country fell under the influence of communism, then neighbouring countries would also, and communism would spread throughout a region.” (The Arab spring and the democratic domino theory 2012(
The Arab spring was powerful, millions of people took part, in which the outcomes where broadcasted around the world, both on media and via social networking sites such as Facebook and Twitter, this allowed information to pass on from one person to the next. For example if a person is recording the protest then uploads it online his friends and family will see and they will share it, passing on the message so their friends and family also know about, thus creating a chain, allowing thousands of people to know what’s happening. It was social media platforms such as Facebook and Twitter that allowed the protesting in the countries to escalate quickly.
With millions of people recording and posting online, it was quickly noticed, not only did it bring several people to take part but also it expanded around the world.“ We in Al Jazeera were banned from Tunisia for years,and the government did not allow any Al Jazeera reporter to be there. But we found that these people in the street, all of them are our reporters, feeding our newsroom with pictures, with videos and with news. ” (The historic moment in the Arab world, 2011)
The Egyptian uprising of 2011 was one of the most striking and one with a great deal of influence, with the younger generation of people rising up to face this huge threat. Again it was the help of social media that made this possible. “ Social media was crucial for the campaign, it helped decentralise movement arise, it made people realise that they were not alone and made it impossible for the regime to stop it.”
Social media was crucial for the campaign, it helped decentralise movement arise, it made people realise that they were not alone and made it impossible for the regime to stop it. ”
(Let’s design social media that drives real change, 2016)
Social media and the Internet, as Tom Friedman pointed out, “Are very good at breaking things.”
(What Black Lives Matter Can Learn from the Arab Spring, 2016)
The date of action ‘25th January’ was set on Facebook and received over 90,000 likes within a few weeks. The fear of speaking turned to strength then to power, the people of Egypt became so empowered that they were asking for their rights, the complete opposite before it started. It was never the same after that day. Street art was also a major form of passing on information, it was within the protesting that graffiti or street performances changed people’s views. It helped people as the artwork made sense to them as it was done by the same people being effected. They understood the meaning and it made them even stronger.
Artwork was dotted all over Egypt, most around Cairo’s Tahrir Square which turned into a symbol as it contained a message within the art that stood out to the people. “ A well-placed street piece will reveal the meaning of its material context, making the invisible visible again, a city re-imaged and re-imagined. ” (Heywood, 2012)
(Tank vs Biker, 2011)
Artwork by Ganzeer was widely noticed in Egypt, one of his famous is called ‘Tank vs Biker’. The artwork can be found under a bridge in downtown Cairo. The graffiti shows a full sized tank, aiming down on a young man riding a bicycle who’s balancing a tray of Egyptian bread over his head. The tray of bread represents the city. In Arabic the word for bread also means ‘life’. The artwork showed that the army rule was against the life of the Egyptian people.
Another artist that had her say during the revolution was Bahia Shehab. She did a series called ‘A thousand times No’ she began spraying the Arabic word for ‘No’ in the streets Saying no to dictators, no to military rule and no to violence. Other messages she stencilled around Tahrir Square were, no to blinding heroes, no to unveiling women by force, no to burning books and no to barrier walls. Each and every statement that was stencilled was made in response to a real-life incident. (A thousand times No, 2011)
After 18 days of mass protest Hosni Mubarak was forced to resign after three decades in power. The people rejoiced as it was a day where they were finally free from dictatorship. Life after was very different. People were able to talk freely as it broke the barrier of fear, the relationship and respect for one another became stronger. Before the regime there was no confidence, people didnâ€™t want to get into trouble. They felt that they lived in separate societies even though they live in the same area. The revolution destroyed those barriers between the people and brought them closer together. After the revolution, Tahrir square became known as the space of liberation, it became a symbol for hope during the revolution; it represented the people that by coming together they can fight for whatâ€™s right. To conclude, after the 25th Egypt faced a dramatic change, this was due to the constant protesting and the strong belief that the people had, this broke down the barriers. With every single man, woman and child were in the streets the revolution gave them the opportunity to express their feelings. Social media was packed, with everyone linked and connected; it was the key to take down the dictatorship of the regime. Ordinary people with mobiles frequently uploading whatever happens for others and the world to see changed the views of social media forever.
BIBLIOGRAPHY Social Change over time (no date) Sociology 101: Intro to sociology, 13 (11) On Art Activism (2014) Available at: http://www.e-flux.com/journal/ on-art-activism/ (Accessed: 01/03/2016) What is a violent protest? (2015) Available at: http://forums.civfanatics. com/showthread.php?t=550927 (Accessed: 01/03/2016) The success of nonviolent civil resistance (2013) Available at: http:// tedxtalks.ted.com/video/The-success-of-nonviolent-civil (Accessed: 02/03/2016) The historic moment in the Arab world (2011) Available at: https:// www.ted.com/talks/wadah_khanfar_a_historic_moment_in_the_arab_ world?language=en (Accessed: 03/04/2016) Letâ€™s design social media that drives real change (2016) Available at: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=HiwJ0hNl1Fw (Accessed: 03/04/2016) What Black Lives Matter Can Learn from the Arab Spring (2016) Available at: http://fortune.com/2016/02/22/arab-spring-black-lives-matteractivism/= (Accessed: 03/04/2016) Heywood, I (2012) The handbook of Visual Culture. Edited by Barry Sandywell. London: Berg Publishers.http://faculty.georgetown.edu/irvinem/articles/Irvine-WorkontheStreet-1.pdf Tank vs Biker (2011) [Graffiti]. Available at: http://www.ganzeer.com/ post/60959877453/project-tank-vs-bread-biker-more-date (Accessed: 01/04/16) Shehab, B. (2011) A thousand times No [Stencils]. Available at: http:// channel.louisiana.dk/video/bahia-shehab-art-tool-change (Accessed: 05/04/16)
THE PEOPLE WANT THE DOWNFALL OF THE REGIME
THE NEWS LIED At the start of the revolution there was no intention of violence, the peoples aim was to go and spread the message by setting up peaceful demonstrations. Unfortunately the police saw this as a threat and began to disrupt the protests. By doing so, it changed what was a peaceful demonstration to a more violent one. After the attack by the police the people fought back by destroying police stations, the numbers of demonstrators quickly increased, they were able to destroy the police stations by burning them down.The same time this was happening, all state-run news channels were spreading false news about what was occurring. Mainly focusing on aspects to give the revolution a negative name, such as: how the protesters were ‘hooligans’, that they came from abroad and wanted to destroy the country and that they should not be followed. Consequently a lot of people believed that the streets were a dangerous place to be. To prevent an increase number of people protesting in the streets, the police force released prisoners to disrupt the atmosphere of the protests. The prisoners were instructed to vandalise the surrounding area in which the demonstrators where protesting and to cause harm. To ensure the task was carried out, they were bribed.
Rather than saying the truth, news channels said that it was the protesters that destroyed the prisons and released the prisoners. Making it seem as if they were the ones causing the problems. The false news constantly blamed the protesters but the people watching already knew that they were wrong. Thanks to videos uploaded onto social media it showed evidence of the police realising the prisoners themselves. The dishonesties that the media was scattering was non-stop, while protesters were getting shot by snipers. Staterun news channels covered the news elsewhere. To avoid its viewers from getting scared and concerned, quiet locations way from the protests was always on TV. Trying to influence the people that what they have been told about the revolution is all false and that nothing’s wrong with Egypt. After Hosni Mubarak stepped down the government lost control over its news channels. Hosni Mubarak was the source and once he fell, the news channels were finally able report what’s right. Telling the public about what’s actually happening and not the lies that they were forced to say.
â€œ The dishonesties that the
media was scattering was non-stop, while protesters weregettingshot bysnipers. State-run news channels coveredthenewselsewhere. â€?
INTERVIEW WITH... We have an interview with a youth activist who took part in the demonstration which brought down Hosni Mubarak. Ahmad Abdulrahman, 17, tells us how it was like during the revolution.
Why did you decide to take part in the protest? I took part in the protest because I wanted change, I was fed up of everything and once the revolution started I had to be there, it was my time to go and stand up for what’s right. When we setup at Tahrir Square we had a statement with a set of demands, they were to remove Hosni Mubarak, dissolving the parliament and cabinet and formation of a national coalition government.
How did it feel after Hosni Mubarak’s announcement that he was going to step down? It was a very powerful moment, I was proud to be an Egyptian. We celebrated as if we have won the world cup, we waved our flags back and forth, and we lit up fireworks. We were so happy, everybody was cheering and we knew that Egypt is going to change. Mubarak was in power for 30 years… It’s too much.
How long did you stay in Tahrir Square for and why didn’t you just go home and then come back the next day? I stayed in Tahrir Square for 7 days, until I got badly injured. I stayed there because I felt that I needed to be with the people around me. Thousands of people, we were all sleeping over at Tahrir square day after day. The square was a place of hope, a place where change can happen and by staying put and not going home I felt part of this big protest. Going home and coming back is very different than staying on the streets with the people. Because if lots of people leave the square there’s less pressure on the government.
Do you feel that the revolution of 2011 made a difference to you? For the first time we felt free,I personally felt that my country is very different from before. I felt freedom, I felt respected. I felt that the police now respects the people. I now feel safe in my country.
Ahmad Abdulrahman, 17
ARTS UPRISING The Creative Dissent: Arts of the Arab world uprising was a 4 month long exhibition that was displayed at the Arab American National Museum from November 8th 2013 till February 9th of 2014. The exhibition captured artwork that took place in the Arab spring. The exhibition explores the artistic expressions to capture the anger, delight, frustration and hope of the revolutions that accrued. The variety of artwork are very different such as graffiti, blog postings, cartoons, music and even photography. The exhibition shows how artists are able to express themselves through their work, creating something that holds a meaning that others can relate to.
The exhibition had 4 sections: Photographic Truth Claims: Which contained photographs and videos documented by the demonstrators throughout the uprising. Sounding Walls: This section held artists work that was on walls. Street art was a major form of passing on information, it was within the protesting that graffiti changed people’s views. Humour and Subversion: During the recent uprisings, another form of artwork included cartoons and short comic strips. It was another way to spread a message but in a funnier way. Performing Dissent: This section of the exhibition had visual imagery, songs and performances that were about both political and social issues during the Arab uprisings. It allowed the people to enjoy their time during such an event.
One of the artwork exhibited at the museum was called ‘A Thousand times No’, by Bahia Shehab. A young artist from London created this inspired by her work.
This was my way of communicating to the people about these issues that are happening in Egypt. I love her work and I felt empowered to do this. ”
THE ONLINE REVOLUTION OF THE NEW GENERATION
Social media is a key element in today’s society, it’s how we, as individuals stay connected with one another. We are able to communicate with people who can be on the other side of the globe instantly and receive a reply as soon as they see it, or not. During the Arab spring, social media was the only way the people were able to communicate. Social media acted as an ‘accelerating agent’ that helped the protesters online. Using Facebook to schedule,Twitter to coordinate and Youtube to tell the world, the people were able to spread the information quickly, allowing several people to know at once. Social media was used to alert the community about what’s happening or what is about to happen. With hundreds of thousands of people constantly checking for updates, the internet usage rapidly increased during the time of the revolution. It allowed the people to plan and setup and then achieve those plans in the streets. With everyone contributing, the Arab Spring may also be referred as The Twitter Revolution or The Facebook revolution, all because of the use of modern technology. It allowed the public to interact all at once.
In the attempt to prevent activist from communicating online, on January 25th the Egyptian government shut down the internet. It started off with Twitter to go down first, a day later Facebook, Gmail and YouTube followed the same fate. What the Egyptian government thought, by shutting down the internet it will prevent the people to setup plans as there method of spreading information was closed. Instead, everyone was annoyed and demanded it to be reopened causing more people to go to the streets. Google came to the rescue with a service called Voice - To - Tweet that allowed the people of Egypt to leave voicemails that then turned into tweets. Other internet services also helped, some such as streaming audio clips which were able to be heard from anywhere around the world. A study shows that there were more than gigabytes of YouTube content, 3 million tweets, and thousands of blog posts. Social media carried millions of stories from each person’s point of view of the revolution, and how it had affected them individually. Some were tweeting from the front lines, others were taking photographs and many were recording videos, each sharing their experiences with the main purpose to get as many people to realise what was happening. This became the regions first telecommunication revolution. The internet and smart phones were the people’s weapons to stopping the regime.