The Blog — Sustaining Protest Movements
The "slut walk" started in Ontario, Canada in response to a police officer's off color comment regarding an assault victim's clothing. He said that rape victims should stop dressing so provocatively if they wanted to avoid becoming victims. A near-movement against this attitude of blaming the victims for sexual assault has evolved since then, and taken nearly every continent by storm. It's a good example of how a meme-worthy message can turn what was once a boring, common tactic (a march, a protest, a demonstration) into a campaign with legs (no pun intended). So far, Slut Walk has made it into over 60 cities. Some examples:
From the Ramy Essam Facebook page Music of The Revolution: How Songs of Protest Have Rallied Demonstrators
Music almost always plays a pivotal role in protest movements, with songs and chants unifying dissidents in their rallying cries. Unlike movements of decades past, however, protest music made popular during the recent revolution in Tunisia, Egypt, and beyond spread virally with the help YouTube and Facebook. Abdulla Darrat, co-founder of the EnoughGaddafi.com site in Libya, has said, “[These musicians and emcees] very successfully put into words a lot of the sentiments that young people in the area are carrying with them, and they're voicing really the struggle of...everyday people.” Here's a roundup of some of the music coming out of the MENA region, including music from El Général, Ramy Essam, and Cairo-Kee.
At the New York Times this weekend, Ben Zimmer noted the playful wordplay taken up by Egyptians during their Tahrir square sit in: "playing with language is often one of the few ways to challenge an oppressive political system." It was also a way to give an identity to their revolution. This is something that's harder to come by for 21st century movements, considering that they're often more decentralized and horizontal. What do the protest signs from Tahrir square tell us about how Egyptians defined their revolution?
Where is the international media? Tunisians wondered aloud in the early days of their December demonstrations. Many, it seemed, were off celebrating the new year.
Fortunately, neither Tunisians nor the rest of the world had to wait until major networks picked up the scent of revolution to follow the news. That was because people on the ground were spreading the word via Twitter, Facebook and blogs, and these messages were then being retweeted by international onlookers with big audiences. Citizens using social media and mobile phones actually ended up not only setting the agenda for the mainstream media, but providing networks like Al Jazeera and France 24 with their content by feeding them videos taken on cell phones and Tweets from the ground tagged with the hashtag #Sidibouzid. If we've uncovered one unequivocal addition that the internet brings to the table with regard to social movements and revolutions, it's its ability to better let protesters get their own stories out.
From Flickr user Ramy Raoof The Dictators’ Backlash to Uprisings in the Middle East and North Africa
Protest has reverberated through the Arab world since Mohamed Bouazizi's self immolation on December 17th, but are copycat protests always a good thing? Not if authorities are more prepared than demonstrators.
All eyes right now are on Egypt, but the energy of demonstrators there has spread to neighboring Sudan, where multiple demonstrations took place at universities in the capital of Khartoum on Sunday, January 30. Inspired by the uprisings in Tunisia and Egypt, organizers used Facebook, texts, and e-mail to call for Sudanese citizens to take to the streets and demand the resignation of President Omar al-Bashir.
Unfortunately, Sudanese activists appear to have organized in haste, without having a strong plan of action in place. This lack of coordination resulted in what appears to be widely unsuccessful protests. Riot police were ready to confront demonstrators and there were numerous reports of mass arrests and attacks, with one student dying from injuries sustained in the clashes.
We've rounded up some of the best sources for following the events in Egypt.
It's the weekend! And a possible revolution steams forward in Egypt. The stakes are incredibly high - a point underlined by the news that activists targeted for their involvement in the failed 2009 uprising in Iran were hung yesterday - so it makes sense that international onlookers are looking for any way that they might be able to help. Here are some things that you can do if you're not in Egypt but you want to do something.
Massive anti-government demonstrations took place all across Egypt yesterday, with many on the ground turning to social networking tools to share instructions and news about police actions, their personal safety, and location information. Access to sites like Twitter and Facebook have been sporadically blocked inside Egypt and tech-savvy protesters are turning to proxies to access the platforms. Keep checking back here for the latest updates.
Tunisia's revolution began one month ago, after a 26 year old unemployed university grad lost his only source of income when police confiscated his fruit and vegetable cart and set himself on fire. This tragedy was the last straw for those that poured onto the streets and stayed there until the authoritarian president, Zine El Abidine Ben Ali, left the country in a helicopter.
So was it the first Twitter (Facebook, social media, internet) revolution? Or does it mark the last time anyone will ask this question? Here's a roundup of the best commentary that's surfaced over the past week.