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July 10 2014

02mydafsoup-01

February 26 2014

January 31 2014

AB14: “We Must Stop Thinking That Technology Will Solve All of Our Problems”

This article originally appeared on El Diario, in Spanish. Translation by Ellery Roberts Biddle.

Empty seats for those who were absent from #AB14. Photo by Hisham Almiraat via Flickr (CC BY-NC-SA 2.0)

Empty seats for those who were absent from #AB14. Photo by Hisham Almiraat via Flickr (CC BY-NC-SA 2.0)

“Those who live in western societies do not understand the importance of being able to criticize the actions of their government. This is a right we do not have in our countries.”

It was with this that Walid Al-Saqaf, founder of Portal Yemen, began a panel on censorship and digital surveillance at the Arab Bloggers Meeting #AB14 that took place from the 20-23 of January in Amman.

Banner calling for the release of Alaa Abd El Fattah and Bassel Safadi, former participants at the Arab Bloggers Meeting.

Banner calling for the release of Alaa Abd El Fattah and Bassel Safadi, former participants at the Arab Bloggers Meeting.

The political context for this event has changed dramatically since the last meeting in September of 2011, when bloggers and activists from every Arab country came together in Tunis, meeting under a banner that read: “Welcome to a Free Tunis.” Since this time, censorship and repression have continued. The ardent, palpable feeling of hope at the last meeting, fueled by uprisings against dictatorships in the region, has given way to difficult transitions in some cases and armed conflict in others, all struggles that we see plainly in the online realm.

“We must stop thinking that technology will solve all of our problems,” Al-Saqaf pleaded. “Censorship is here to stay, regardless of the tools, so we must stop being obsessed with them and begin to think in the long term.”

The meeting focused on the strategic pursuit of protection against censorship and surveillance, and the preservation of common bonds in a milieu that feels more and more fragmented each day. An on-site photo project featured a message from each of the participants.

“We watch the government, not the other way around,” message from Moroccan blogger Zineb Belmkaddem during the Arab Bloggers Meeting in Amman. Photo by Amer Sweidan, used with permission.

“We watch the government, not the other way around,” message from Moroccan blogger Zineb Belmkaddem during the Arab Bloggers Meeting in Amman. Photo by Amer Sweidan, used with permission.

This year, the absence of two participants from past meetings was especially palpable: Egyptian blogger Alaa Abd El Fattah and Syrian web developer Bassel Safadi. The meeting was dedicated to them, journalists and activists detained in the region. A statementcalling for freedom for Razan Zaitouneh, co-founder of Syria’s Center for Violations Documentation, a group that documents human rights abuses, who was kidnapped in December in Damascus.

As a community, we have a responsibility to stand in solidarity with activists promoting freedom and exposing human rights violations in service of our shared humanity. We at AB14 demand that the UN and all countries involved in the Geneva II Middle East Peace Conference establish verifiable mechanisms to protect and secure the release of opinion detainees and kidnappees in Syria.

These were not the only people absent. A Syrian member of the Enab Baladi project, a local independent media project created at the start of the March 2011 uprising, was sent back to Turkey after several hours of interrogation at the Amman airport. Two Iraqi participants were denied entry visas altogether. Restrictions for citizen travel between countries in the region remains a constant (at the last meeting, Palestinian participants were not able to get into Tunisia) a reality that contradicts the illusion of regional unity.

“I have no words, only shame, to describe how Arab regimes treat citizens in other Arab countries, while a person with a Western passport can move freely without a visa through practically the entire region,” wrote Abir Kopty. She added: “We will keep fighting until we are separated neither by borders nor by authoritarian regimes.”

January 28 2014

Saudi Arabia Jails Palestinian Poet for ‘Atheism and Long Hair’

Saudi Artist Ahmed Mater shared this photograph on Twitter in support of Fayadh

Saudi Artist Ahmed Mater shared this photograph on Twitter in support of Fayadh

Palestinian poet Ashraf Fayadh is in a Saudi prison, allegedly for spreading atheism – and having long hair. The poet, raised in Saudi Arabia, was arrested five months ago, when a reader submitted a complaint against him saying that his poems contain atheist ideas. The accusations were not proven and he was released, only to be arrested again on the 1 January 2014.

Fayadh's case is making the rounds in media and on social networks, with condemnations coming from Arab writers from across the region. Some of his friends wrote online that the real reason behind his arrest might be due to the video he filmed five months ago of Abha's religious police lashing a young man in public.

Currently, the poet is still in jail with no evidence to the accusation or details of a coming trial. The following reactions clarify his case and express condemnations from Saudi writers, artists, and others standing in solidarity.

#أشرف_فياض التحرش بالذات الإلهية وتطويل الشَعر…فقط عندما تتوقف هذه التهم المضحكة/المبكية يمكننا أن نبدأ الحديث عن الحقوق والحريات ووو

@reem_tayeb: Ashraf Fayadh is accused of ‘harrasing the Godly self and letting his hair grow long.. when these laughable-sad accusations stop, we can start talking about rights and freedoms.

#أشرف_فياض اعتقاله ليس الا اعلان اننا وصلنا الى ما وصلت اليه اوروبا في العصور المظلمة !!

@MohammdaLahamdl: Ashraf Fayadh's arrest is an announcement that we have reached what Europe faced in the Dark Ages.

هل تعتقد أن إيمانك حقيقي وأنت تعتقد أن الله كائن قابل للتحرش به ؟! #أشرف_فياض

@WhiteTulip01: Do you think your faith is real when you think God can be harassed!!

أشرف_فياض معتقل بتهمة الالحاد!!وهل الكفر تهمة!! وهل الايمان إجبار!! هذا اذا افترضنا صحة التهمة أصلا

@MusabUK: Ashraf Fayadh is detained for atheism. Is atheism a charge? Is faith enforceable? That's if we assume the charge is true.

إن وجود #أشرف_فياض في السجن، مع المجرمين، والقتلة، لأنه شاعرٌ فحسب، لا يعنى سوى أن العدالة مسألة ترفيّة لدينا، سلطة وشعبا

@b_khlil: The fact that Ashraf Fayadh is now detained with criminals and killers just because he is a poet, tells us that justice is only a privilege to us, both as people and the regime.

15 تهمة ملفقة للشاعر والفنان #أشرف_فياض تبدأ بالإلحاد وتنتهي بإطالة الشعر، لماذا ؟ لأنه قبل 5 أشهر صور هيئة أبها وهي تجلد شاب أمام الناس

@turkiaz: The poet and artist Ashraf Fayadh is imprisoned for 15 charges, including atheism and long hair. Why? Because he filmed the religious police as they were lashing a young man in public.

#أشرف_فياض الى اعلامنا ، هل ننتظر ، القليل من المهنية ستفي بالغرض. قضية اشرف فياض علي وشك ان تكون في صفحات كل المحطات العالمية قريبا

@AhmedMater: To our media: should we wait? Some professionalism would do. Ashraf Fayadh's case is going to be on the front pages of international media soon.

تحولت التحقيقات مع الشاعر أشرف فياض بعد عجز المحقق أن يثبت شيئا من الاتهامات إلى أسئلة حول لماذا تدخن ؟ ولماذا شعرك طويل قليلاً ؟

@mohkheder: When the interrogator couldn't prove any accusations against Ashraf Fayadh, he started asking him why he smokes and why his hair is long

January 19 2014

Saudi Arabia Jails Palestinian Poet for “Atheism and Long Hair”!

Saudi Artist Ahmed Mater shared this photograph on Twitter in support of Fayadh

Saudi Artist Ahmed Mater shared this photograph on Twitter in support of Fayadh

Palestinian poet Ashraf Fayadh is in a Saudi prison, allegedly for spreading atheism – and having long hair. The poet, raised in Saudi Arabia, was arrested five months ago, when a reader submitted a complaint against him saying that his poems contain atheist ideas. The accusations were not proved and he was released only to be arrested again on the 1st of January 2014. The case of Fayadh is making the rounds in media and on social networks, with condemnations coming from Arab writers from across the region. Some of his friends wrote online that the real reason behind his arrest might be due to the video he filmed 5 months ago of Abha's religious police lashing a young man in public. Currently, the poet is still in jail with no evidence to the accusation or details of a coming trial. The following reactions clarify his case and express condemnations from Saudi writers, artists, and others standing in solidarity.

#أشرف_فياض التحرش بالذات الإلهية وتطويل الشَعر…فقط عندما تتوقف هذه التهم المضحكة/المبكية يمكننا أن نبدأ الحديث عن الحقوق والحريات ووو

@reem_tayeb: Ashraf Fayadh is accused of ‘harrasing the Godly self and letting his hair grow long.. when these laughable-sad accusations stop, we can start talking about rights and freedoms.

#أشرف_فياض اعتقاله ليس الا اعلان اننا وصلنا الى ما وصلت اليه اوروبا في العصور المظلمة !!

@MohammdaLahamdl: Ashraf Fayadh's arrest is an announcement that we have reached what Europe faced in the dark ages.

هل تعتقد أن إيمانك حقيقي وأنت تعتقد أن الله كائن قابل للتحرش به ؟! #أشرف_فياض

@WhiteTulip01: Do you think your faith is real when you think God can be harassed!!

أشرف_فياض معتقل بتهمة الالحاد!!وهل الكفر تهمة!! وهل الايمان إجبار!! هذا اذا افترضنا صحة التهمة أصلا

@MusabUK: Ashraf Fayadh is detained for atheism. Is atheism a charge? Is faith enforceable? That's if we assume the charge is true.

إن وجود #أشرف_فياض في السجن، مع المجرمين، والقتلة، لأنه شاعرٌ فحسب، لا يعنى سوى أن العدالة مسألة ترفيّة لدينا، سلطة وشعبا

@b_khlil: The fact that Ashraf Fayadh is now detained with criminals and killers just because he is a poet, tells us that justice is only a privilege to us, both as people and the regime.

15 تهمة ملفقة للشاعر والفنان #أشرف_فياض تبدأ بالإلحاد وتنتهي بإطالة الشعر، لماذا ؟ لأنه قبل 5 أشهر صور هيئة أبها وهي تجلد شاب أمام الناس

@turkiaz: The poet and artist Ashraf Fayadh is imprisoned for 15 charges, including atheism and long hair. Why? Because he filmed the religious police as they were lashing a young man in public.

#أشرف_فياض الى اعلامنا ، هل ننتظر ، القليل من المهنية ستفي بالغرض. قضية اشرف فياض علي وشك ان تكون في صفحات كل المحطات العالمية قريبا

@AhmedMater: To our media: should we wait? Some professionalism would do. Ashraf Fayadh's case is going to be on the front pages of international media soon.

تحولت التحقيقات مع الشاعر أشرف فياض بعد عجز المحقق أن يثبت شيئا من الاتهامات إلى أسئلة حول لماذا تدخن ؟ ولماذا شعرك طويل قليلاً ؟

@mohkheder: When the interrogator couldn't prove any accusations against Ashraf Fayadh, he started asking him why he smokes and why his hair is long

January 12 2014

Ariel Sharon, la fin d'un criminel de guerre

Le général Ariel Sharon s'est donc éteint le samedi 11 janvier 2014, après de longues années de coma. Son parcours est jonché de cadavres et il n'est pas inutile de rappeler quelques-uns de ses exploits.

- Nouvelles d'Orient / Israël, Palestine, Armée, Conflits, Droit international, Personnalités

January 09 2014

How Should Middle Eastern Women Dress in Public?

How should Middle Eastern women dress? The way they want

How should Middle Eastern women dress? The way they want

This question, posed by a University of Michigan study, is drawing laughs – and criticism online. Most reactions came after this report on the Huffington Post.

The survey, conducted in seven “Muslim majority countries”, details what people think is an acceptable dress code for women in public in their countries. According to the poll, the majority of people in those countries, “do not think a woman should fully cover her face.” In Saudi Arabia, for example, 63 per cent of those polled said a woman should wear the veil which covers the face, but reveals the eyes – a common dress code for women in the conservative kingdom. Respondents from Lebanon and Turkey preferred women not to cover their faces – or hair.

On the Washington Post blog, Max Fisher notes:

Veiling is such a sensitive issue in much of the Middle East because, in many ways, it's about much more than just clothing. It's about religious vs. secular identity, about the degree to which women are or are not afforded equality and about embracing or rejecting social norms that are seen as distinctly Islamic.

On Twitter, the reactions are more fierce.

Palestinian Lena Jarrar asks:

M Ibrahim adds:

Hend, from Libya, takes several jabs at the poll. She tweets:

And Egyptian Mohamed El Dahshan joins the fray, saying:

And Siddhartha Chatterje wonders:

December 16 2013

Cold, Rain and Flooding for Gaza this Winter

Around 10,000 Palestinians in northern Gaza were displaced from their homes after four days of torrential rain. Their problem is compounded by the fact that the strip's only electricity power station had been shut for 50 days, thanks to a shortage in fuel in the besieged enclave.

The Gaza Strip is home to 1.8 million Palestinians, who have had to endure up to 14 hours a day, without electricity, for the past seven weeks. Following the flooding, triggered by the Alexa storm which just hit the region, the United Nations declared northern Gaza “a disaster zone” and Qatar stepped in to pay for fuel for the power station.

Omar Ghraieb, from Gaza, notes:

He adds:

And Palestinian Nour Odeh exclaims:

Footage shared online shows a horrible humanitarian situation.

This video, by Jehad Saftawi, shared by the Institute for Middle East Understanding (IMEU) starts with a bare-footed Palestinian child running in icy conditions (Videos used under CC BY License):

The commentary provided with the video, which shows families in unheated shelters, reads:

Residents of Gaza City's An Nafaq neighborhood are seeking shelter wherever they can find it, including at the Abdel Rahman bin Auwf school shown in this footage from today. Some of the scenes, which includes a child shivering in an unheated concrete classroom, are made even more disturbing by the fact that they are not the exception in today's Gaza, but the rule. Like much of the 25-mile-long strip, An Nafaq has been devastated by flooding made worse by a suffocating Israeli siege. UN spokesperson Chris Gunness minced no words when he called today for an end to that siege: “Any normal community would struggle to recover from this disaster,” said Gunness. “But a community that has been subjected to one of the longest blockades in human history, whose public health system has been destroyed and where the risk of disease was already rife, must be freed from these man made constraints….”

This second video, also filmed by Saftawi for the IMEU, shows submerged areas in the Palestinian enclave, and sheds light on some of the suffering Gaza's inhabitants have to endure in this worsening humanitarian situation:

December 12 2013

Israel/Palestine: “We Want Peace”

What happens when a Palestinian is “discovered” on a train in Israel? They send him back home with the message, “Go to your people and tell them that we want peace.” Read Hamze Awawde's inspiring account here.

December 11 2013

No Electricity in Gaza

From Gaza, Palestine, Mohammed Al-Agha tweets:

He continues [ar]:

It seems that the person responsible for providing electricity is on leave. We will soon complete 24 hours without electricity. The government is concerned with the welfare of its employees

December 10 2013

Bienvenue à Hébronland

Semaine de Pesach, la Pâque juive. 27-28 mars 2013. A Hébron, c'est l'époque des geais et des amandes. Les amandes, présentées en montagnes vertes sur les chariots du souk, font briller les yeux de tous les Palestiniens qui passent devant et repartent les poches gonflées de cette friandise au cœur rempli d'eau amère. Les geais, eux, volent entre les oliviers de Tel Rumeida, les bandes luminescentes de leurs ailes semblant brièvement refléter le ciel avant qu'ils n'aillent se poser plus loin. Au delà (...) - Visions cartographiques / Israël, Palestine, Territoires occupés, Conflit israélo-arabe, Judaïsme, Cisjordanie, Hébron

November 19 2013

Salaam Palestine

Le week-end dernier s'est déroulé à Clermont-Ferrand le festival « Rendez-vous, carnet de voyage ». Le livre Salaam Palestine. Carnet de voyage en terre d'humanité a obtenu presque tous les prix : le grand prix Michelin, le prix du Club de la Presse et le second prix Coup de coeur Médecins sans frontières (MSF). Cette œuvre à trois voix (un écrivain, un dessinateur, un photographe) cherche à montrer la Palestine ordinaire, faite de gens ordinaires, mais vivant sous occupation. Une Palestine pour laquelle (...) - Nouvelles d'Orient / Israël, Palestine, Proche-Orient, Territoires occupés, Conflit israélo-arabe, Bande dessinée

November 16 2013

François Hollande en Israël et Palestine, « équilibre » entre l'occupant et l'occupé

« A Jérusalem, François Hollande se prépare à un nouvel exercice d'équilibrisme ». A la veille du voyage du président de la République en Israël et en Palestine (du 17 au 19 novembre), aucune phrase ne pourrait mieux résumer la politique française sur le conflit israélo-palestinien. Mais (...)

- Nouvelles d'Orient / France, Israël, Palestine, Union européenne, Relations internationales, Palestine (Gaza), Diplomatie

November 09 2013

In Response to Danny Ayalon: The REAL Truth about Palestine

In a video released in July 2011, Israeli Deputy Minister of Foreign Affairs Danny Ayalon offered his version of the “Israel Palestinian Conflict: The Truth About the West Bank”. In the video he explained the meaning of terms such as Palestine, the West Bank and the Occupied Territories based on the official Israeli narrative that denies the existence of Palestine. In response, on November 6, 2013, two Palestinian young women react to Ayalon with historic facts and sources, from Herodote and Aristotle to Ariel Sharon´s birth certificate that identifies him as born in Palestine.

November 08 2013

Désinformation à répétition

Dans nos archives, des exemples d'événements inventés ou exagérés... Janissaires et faux charnier Chute du régime roumain, 1989. [A la veille de Noël, alors que tombe la dictature de Nicolae Ceausescu, les téléspectateurs découvrent les images d'un charnier à Timisoara où, disait-on, gisaient quatre (...) / États-Unis (affaires extérieures), Irak, Israël, Kosovo, Palestine, Roumanie, Armée, Audiovisuel, Communication, Conflit, Désinformation, Guerre du Golfe 1990-1991, Information, Médias, Presse, Serbie, Koweït, Palestine (Gaza), Guerre du Kosovo 1999, Infoguerre - 2013/10

November 06 2013

Forensics reveal Arafat was killed with polonium, widow says

Forensics reveal Arafat was killed with polonium, widow says
http://english.al-akhbar.com/content/forensics-reveal-arafat-was-killed-polonium-widow-says

http://english.al-akhbar.com/sites/default/files/imagecache/4cols/leading_images/426196-01-08.jpg

A September 28, 1998 file photo shows Palestinian leader #Yasser_Arafat addressing the 53rd session of the United Nations General Assembly in New York. (Photo: AFP - Timothy A. Clary)

Palestinian leader Yasser Arafat was poisoned to death in 2004 with radioactive polonium, his widow Suha said on Wednesday after receiving the results of Swiss forensic tests on her husband’s corpse. “We are revealing a real crime, a political assassination,” she told Reuters in Paris. (...)

#Israel #Palestine #Top_News

November 05 2013

Palestinian Pick-Up Lines

Humor, especially dark humor, is a culturally acquired taste – especially in a war zone. The hashtag #PalestinianPickUpLines has recently been trending on Twitter, garnering tens of additions in the past few days.

These proposals, sometimes warm and funny, other times angry and political, reflect the reality of life in Palestine and the Palestinian diaspora.

British-born Firas Nabil, who identifies himself as “Palestinian at heart,” offers several romanticisms, including:

Jordanian Sara Amro contributes:

Mufeed Okal of Nablus, Palestine, puts forth an impassioned plea:

And Israeli journalist and pro-Palestinian activist Mairav Zonszein quips:

Blogger Woman Unveiled writes that this humorous trend provides a sense of relief from the hardships of daily life.

“I am the type of person who believes that the way to move forward on the Palestinian-Israeli conflict is to focus on the current issues without letting past events hold back progress… As Palestinians continue to face hardships and an infringement on their most basic human rights, one trend on Twitter sheds light on how humor can help ease some of this pain… The pick-up lines definitely garner laughs in a way that also brings to light the different ways Israel’s actions, often illegal under international law, disrupt the daily lives of Palestinians.”

It is a weakness of Twitter themes that despite being salient at the moment, it is difficult to trace their origins and development. Likewise, little information is available about this trend, which reflects others before it, like the March emergence of the same tag, and previous ones like the July 2011 hashtag #SiegePickUpLines.

Egyptian blogger Mosa'ab Elshamy, along with his friend identified on Twitter as WelshInGaza (no longer available) declares himself responsible for #SiegePickUpLines. He explains that the two conceived the idea after a conversation about humor in the face of life in Gaza.

“Arabs usually face their misery with humor. It was a question which arose from pure curiosity and was fascinating when others (many Palestinians included) joined in the collective ridiculing of the illegal Gaza siege and the daily hardship people face in the, ahem, strip. As tweets flew, more people seemed not to limit the jokes on the siege, power cuts, tunnels and, ahem, rockets but other situations like the flotilla, UN resolutions, two-state solution and US politicians.

Elshamy includes among his favorite tweets:

“Baby, you must be from PalestFINE.”
“I’d never leave you (even if I could).”
“We may not have human rights, but baby, we have human needs…”
“Dating me is like being Israel, you’ll never have to apologize for anything, girl.”
“Baby are you a drone? ‘Cause you’ve been buzzing in my head alllll day.”
“They say opposites attract. Will you be the Hamas to my Fateh”
“Baby, let’s get together and make a one state solution.”

Yasmeen El Khoudary, who blogs at Gaza, Out of the Blue (and who is also a Global Voices Online author), adds:

“As a Palestinian from Gaza who believes in the power of sarcastic humor, I loved this. Its the -humane- short jokes and statements that really shed light on the truth, more than any misleading and -often biased- news story.”

If you know more about the history of these two trends, or ones like them, please comment and share.

In the meantime, it seems that in hard times we reach out to each other using humor to commiserate and connect. If you enjoyed reading about #PalestinianPickUpLines and #SiegePickUpLines, #HumorHeals and #ShutdownPickUpLines, from the recent U.S. government shutdown, may also appeal. What others have you come across that make you laugh or appreciate your current situation more? We want to hear from you.

Thumbnail Credit:
- Rusty Stewart on Flickr (Creative Commons License)

Hat tip:
- Jennine Abdul at The Lowercase Arab blog

October 31 2013

« Ici c'est Israël ! » : Hébron, comme l'Algérie coloniale

Les manuels d'histoire religieuse nous enseignent que le sanctuaire d'Abraham, dit également Tombeaux des Patriarches, à Hébron, en Cisjordanie, est considéré comme un lieu saint par les trois grands monothéismes, ce qui entraîne les tensions que l'on imagine entre l'islam et le judaïsme. Force est de reconnaître cependant que, des trois groupes de fidèles de ces religions, seuls les fondamentalistes juifs s'expriment en termes d'exclusion. Et d'abomination. Le 25 février 1994, il avait été le lieu d'un (...) - Lettres de... / Israël, Palestine, Proche-Orient, Territoires occupés, Colonialisme, Conflit israélo-arabe, Islam, Judaïsme, Religion, sionisme

« Ici c'est Israël ! » : Hébron, comme l'Algérie coloniale

Les manuels d'histoire religieuse nous enseignent que le sanctuaire d'Abraham, dit également Tombeaux des Patriarches, à Hébron, en Cisjordanie, est considéré comme un lieu saint par les trois grands monothéismes, ce qui entraîne les tensions que l'on imagine entre l'islam et le judaïsme. Force est de reconnaître cependant que, des trois groupes de fidèles de ces religions, seuls les fondamentalistes juifs s'expriment en termes d'exclusion. Et d'abomination. Le 25 février 1994, il avait été le lieu d'un (...) - Lettres de... / Israël, Palestine, Proche-Orient, Territoires occupés, Colonialisme, Conflit israélo-arabe, Islam, Judaïsme, Religion, sionisme

October 30 2013

Quand Paris se couche…

Depuis longtemps, la chasse aux Bédouins est ouverte, non seulement en Palestine occupée, mais aussi en Israël, où des dizaines de milliers d'entre eux sont arrachés à leurs terres . Vendredi 20 septembre, en Cisjordanie, un convoi humanitaire se dirige vers le village bédouin de Makhoul, détruit par (...) / Europe, France, Israël, Palestine, Femmes, Minorité nationale, Violence, Palestine (Cisjordanie), Diplomatie - 2013/11
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