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September 07 2012

Libya: Salafists Wage War on Sufi Shrines

Libya's Sufi religious sites and heritage are under attack - by the Salafists. The ultra-conservative Islamists have attacked major Sufi shrines and libraries in the north-western town of Zliten, the city of Misrata, and the capital, Tripoli. The attacks, denounced by UNESCO, sparked the anger of Libyans.

According to the UN Press release:

The sites are revered by Sufis, a branch of Islam known for its moderation but considered heretical by some branches of the Islamic faith.

On Facebook, photographer Abdullah Doma shares photographs from a protest in Benghazi against the attacks on Sufi mosques and shrines and the desecration of tombs.

The signs in the photograph below [ar] read:

No to the destruction and demolishing; no to the burning of books; no to extremism; no to Saudi fatwas [religious edicts].

The second sign reads:

No to the Wahabbi doctrines. This is Libya and not Afghanistan

Benghazi protestors angry at the desecration of tombs

Benghazi protestors angry at the desecration of tombs. Photograph shared by Abdullah Doma on his Facebook page

A second photograph [posted below], from the same protest, shows a woman holding a sign which reads:

Leave the dead and living alone!

A woman protestor in Ben Ghazi holding a sign which reads Leave the dead and the living alone!

A woman protestor in Ben Ghazi holding a sign which reads Leave the dead and the living alone! Photograph shared by Abdullah Doma on his Facebook page

On YouTube, Kalam Research shares a series of videos documenting the damage. Among them is this video [video embedding disabled by user], showing the destruction of the Sidi Abdussalam Mosque in Zlient, photographed on August 24, 2012.

The video shows widespread destruction to the mosque, including damage to it's facade, as well as destruction of its pillars and dome from the inside. The mosque is the resting place of a 15th century Sufi scholar and had an historic library attached to it containing priceless books, which were destroyed when the attackers set fire to the library.

Another video, shows the desecration of the Tomb of Sidi Al Makari, on Sha't Street in Tripoli. The footage was also taken on August 24.

A third video details the destruction of Zawiyat Blat, also in Zliten.

And another video features the desecration of Ottoman Qaramanli Graves: Family of Yusuf Pasha Qarmali on Sha't Street in Tripoli

September 05 2012

Mauritania: A Diplomat's Take on the Azawad

Mauritanian writer and diplomat Mohamed Mahmoud Weddady writes a series of posts in his blog entitled: “Papers about Azawad” [ar], about history and people of Azawad region. This post, for instance, focuses on the relationship between the Azawad and Libya.

August 30 2012

Chinese Weapons Flooding Africa

Deborah Brautigam from China in Africa provided more background information about the importation of Chinese Weapons in African countries and explained the incentive of arms sale is from private sector:

As we saw in the notorious Libya case, it appears that Chinese companies with their own balance sheets are “going global” and making arms export decisions and deals.

August 19 2012

Libya: Hijab Fiasco at Power Handover Ceremony

A problem marred Libya's National Transitional Council (NTC) power handover to the newly elected 200-member General National Congress in a ceremony: The master of ceremony was the unveiled female presenter Sarah Elmesallati, who was ordered to leave the stage after an Islamist MP walked out of the ceremony in objection to her presenting the historic ceremony. Netizens go to Facebook to record their objection or support.

According to reports, Islamist MP Salah Baadi of Mistrata objected to Elmesallati presenting the event and yelled at her to cover up. He then walked out of the ceremony in protest. Then, an assistant to NTC Chairman Mustafa Abduljalil asked her to stop presenting. When she refused, Abduljalil himself signaled her to stop, which she did. She was replaced with a male presenter.

Screen shot of the We are all Sarah Elmesallati Facebook page

Screen shot of the We are all Sarah Elmesallati Facebook page

In response, a Facebook page entitled We are all Sarah Elmesallati [ar] was formed. The page is being used to debate the status of women in post-Gaddafi Libya as well as hurl insults at and support for the young female presenter.

Also, on Facebook, this image is making the rounds:

An image showing Abduljalil shaking hands with an unveiled Hilary Clinton

An image showing Abduljalil shaking hands with an unveiled Hilary Clinton

It shows a photograph of Elmesallati and Abduljalil shaking hands with US Secretary of State Hilary Clinton. It reads [ar]:

Presenter Sarah Elmesallati is thrown out of the ceremony because she is a woman who does not wear the Hijab and because she is Libyan. Abduljalil said: “We are a Muslim conservative society and we are people who celebrate our religious teachings and have customs and traditions. Hilary Clinton is a woman who doesn't wear the Hijab and she is also what you call an infidel. When you shook her hand, did you say that it is forbidden for a man to shake the hands of a woman? Is this a religious teaching? Or is it an American tradition?

The image has been shared more than 250 times, and has attracted around 730 comments on the We are all Sarah Elmesallati page on Facebook so far.

On the Libya Blog, Ahmed Al Bukhari, writes [ar]:

ورغم صدمتي من هذا الموقف الذي لم أتخيل حدوثه، ورغم ردة الفعل الحادة التي قام بها النشطاء ، ومنها إنشاء هذه الصفحة لدعم سارة ( كلنا سارة المسلاتي ) إلا أنني لا أحمل لا مصطفى عبد الجليل ولا أعضاء المؤتمر الخطأ ، بل لابدّ أن نتعرف أن المشكلة تكمن في المجتمع ككل ، وأنه لو كان المجتمع لا يسمح بهذا النوع من الإضطهاد ، لما تجرأ أحد على فعل هذه الفعلة

Although I am shocked with the incident because I never expected such a thing would happen, and despite the strong reaction of activists, among them setting up the Facebook page We are All Sarah Elmasallati, I don't hold Mustafa Abduljalil and the NTC the responsibility for what happened. We need to admit that the problem is with society as a whole, and that if this society did not allow for such discrimination, no one would dare commit such actions.

Meanwhile, Libya Now, also on Facebook, writes an open letter to Elmesallati, after she defended herself in an interview. In one part it says:

انا شخصيا لم اتكلم كثيرا في موضوع سارة المسلاتي من قبل وكنت أقول “كان يجب ان يتم نصحها بطريقة اخرى”, لكن بعد ان شاهدت هذا الفيديو تغيرت وجهت نظري تماما.

في هذا الفيديو تقول المتملقة سارة المسلاتي أنها تعرف ان الحجاب شيئ فرضه الله, وقالت ايضا”هدا بيني وبين ربي” وقالت ايضا انه الله أمر العبد بغض بصره ولم يأمره بأن ينصح المرأة ويقوللها البسي حجاب..

I have personally not spoken a lot about Sarah Elmesallati's case before and used to say “She had to be advised in another way.” However, after watching her interview in this video, I have completely changed my mind.

In this video, the conceited Sarah Elmesallati says that she knows that the Hijab is ordained by Allah and she also said “This is something between me and God.” She also said Allah had ordered the believer to lower his gaze but had not ordered him to advice women and ask them to wear the hijab.

The writer continues:

وقالت ايضا اننا نحن دولة دينية متوسطة, وانا شخصيا وضعت خطين تحن كلمة متوسطه, لا يا سارة نحن دولة مسلمة وبنسبة 100٪ وتعبيراتك التي قلتيها على هذه القناة يجب ان تراجعيها وتعيها جيدا قبل ان تقوليها.

She also said we are a moderately religious state and I personally put two lines under the word moderate. No, Sarah! We are a 100 per cent Muslim country and you should review and fully comprehend your expressions, which you have communicated to this channel, before uttering them

August 14 2012

Arab World: Curiosity Rover and the Arab Scientific Decay

Following rover Curiosity's successful landing on Mars, Arabs on Twitter lamented the miserable state of science in the Arab world: little scientific output and very few patents.

Saudi comedian Fahad Albutairi tweeted:

@fahad: الناس راحوا المريخ وحنا للحين نسولف في قضايا أثارت جدلًا في السعودية في العشر سنين الماضية هنا؛ غالبًا لها علاقة بالمرأة.
People went to Mars and we are still discussing subjects that created controversy during the last 10 years her. In general, they are related to women.

One netizen, also from Saudi Arabia, made a gloomy comparison:

@Riyadh_e3lan: يتزامن خبر هبوط مركبة ناسا لسطح المريخ مع دخول الأردن لموسوعة غينيس للأرقام القياسية بصنع (أكبر قرص فلافل) ولاعزاء لباقي العرب.
The news of NASA's rover landing on Mars coincides with Jordan's entry to the Guinness Book of World Records for making “the biggest falafel” and there is no condolence for the rest of Arabs

Blogger Khaled Khallawi tweeted:

@Jst5ald: العرب يتحسرون على عدم بلوغهم الفضاء، فضاء مين ياحلوين؟ مشاكلكم يبغالها كم قرن، نصكم كان يحسب إن مارس شوكولاتة.
The Arabs are lamenting for not reaching for the space, what space cuties? Your problems need some centuries [to be solved]. Half of you thought that Mars was a chocolate

Cartoon by Kuwait-based cartoonist Hashimoto about Arab divisions: Two Arabs arguing: One says, “You're Shia” and the other says, “You're Sunni” and the TV screen reads, “Curiosity lands on Mars”.

Zaki Safar said:

@zaki_safar: يسير العالم إلى الأمام ونحن نسير بعقولنا إلى الوراء، ولاندري أين سينتهي بنا السير في نهاية المطاف! -الوردي
The world moves forward and we move our minds backwards and we don't know where finally it will lead us!

Entrepreneur Jamal Abu-Hulaigah criticized the Arab societies marked by huge consumption:

@JamalAbuH: لا يصنعون حضارة من اعتادوا استهلاك حياة صنعها غيرهم
Those who were used to consume a life made by others don't create a civilization

Medina resident Abu Ru'a Aljahni criticized the modernity shaping the Arab Gulf states:

@JAWSAQ: يرسلون للمريخ مسبار.,.ونحن لا نصنع مسمار..!!!..ونتباهى بناطحات الغبار…وكملوا الباقي…..!!!!
They send a probe to Mars and we don't make a nail and we brag about the skyscrapers of dust… and you complete

Libyan blogger Salah Al-Haddad posted:

أول ما قفز إلى ذهني سؤال وجودي قديم جديد هو : لماذا تقدموا ولماذا تأخرنا ؟ . كيف لدولة كالولايات المتحدة الأمريكية ، لا يتعدى عمرها المائتين وخمسين عاما ، تنجح في تحقيق كل هذه الانجازات الجبارة ، بينما لم ننجح نحن إلا في التكفير وصنع السيارات المفخخة ؟ الجواب ببساطة يكمن في اسم هذه المركبة الفضائية ، التي لا يتعدى وزنها طن واحد
The first thing that came to my mind was an old-and-new existential problem: Why did they make progress and we did go backwards? How a country like the United States of America that doesn't exceed 250 years old succeeds in making all these huge accomplishments? Meanwhile, we succeed only in atonement and making car bombs? The answer rests simply in the name of this space capsule, whose weight does not exceed one tonne

August 08 2012

Libya: Fireworks Mark Tripoli's First Liberation Anniversary

This post is part of our special coverage Libya Uprising 2011.

Libyans are marking the liberation of their country tonight from Muammar Gaddafi's 42-year rule. Netizens speak of celebrations and share their feelings on this occasion.

Tonight, which coincides with the 20th of Ramadan, the Muslim month of fasting, was the day the Libyan capital Tripoli was liberated and Gaddafi's stronghold Bab-Al-Aziziya fell. It is also the day when the National Transitional Council, which has been running the country's affairs for a year, transfers power to the Libyan General National Council, which was elected in July, 2012.

Akram describes the scene in Tripoli. He writes:


@flyingbirdies
: Tripoli liberation anniversary tonight & power transfer NTC to #GNC . People started to celebrate already with fireworks #Libya

Ismael adds:


@ChangeInLibya
: Tripoli celebrates one year since liberation with prayers for Syria, fireworks & a huge demonstration for reconciliation in Martyrs square

On Facebook, he shares more personal thoughts. He writes:

Some things are easy to forget, and individual stories tend to get lost in the bigger picture, especially when it comes to something as important as the liberation of Tripoli.

He adds:

However, as a Libyan that followed every minute of the revolution, and someone with relatives in Tripoli, I think a reminder is needed on a day like this, that if it wasn't for our unity and our perseverance during Libya's toughest hours, we wouldn't be here today to celebrate the 20th of Ramadan in a free Libya, and lessons from other wars and failed revolutions can be seen everywhere around us, so we should always thank god for what we have:

On the 20th of August 2011, the Libyan capital rose up, after months of preparations and arms smuggling into Tripoli. Weapons came all the way from Benghazi, Misrata, Nafusa mountains and even Tunisia, and the locals had enough to defend themselves when the time for zero hour came. What they didn't have, however, was enough to attack and continuously hold off Gaddafi forces that were desperate for any victory that day.

He concludes:

Libyan unity was the reason for victory, and seeing Benghazi and Misrata and the other cities cheer is what kept those inside Tripoli hopeful for the day of their liberation, which came after 6 months of hell.

Today, our elected congress comes to power, and we should remind ourselves of the hurdles that Libya overcame, and the hurdles it still faces. And that we can't tackle any of these hurdles without people willing to work together, understand each other and do something for their country without expecting an immediate reward.

Back on Twitter, Rawia El-Turki says:

@R_ProudLibyan: It's weird to think how different the 20th day of Ramadan was last year compared to this year… time truly does fly.

Nusaybah Khalil hopes:

@FromNusaybah: Today, 8th August 2012, #Libya silences critics of the Libyan revolution (hopefully) for ever. It is the beginning of a new political dawn.

And Jomana Karasheh reminds us:

@JomanaCNN: In little over an hour, history in the new #Libya ,1st peaceful transition of power in decades as #NTC hands over in ceremony to GNC

This post is part of our special coverage Libya Uprising 2011.

August 02 2012

Global: BRICS vs. NATO - Battlefield of Ideas on Interventions

This post is part of our International Relations & Security coverage.

China’s and Russia’s recent decision to veto the United Nations Security Council resolution against Syria -has reignited the debate over the relationship between ‘new' powers like Brazil, Russia, India, China and South Africa - the BRICS - with ‘old' powers like the North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO) in international interventions.

Heads of BRICS states in New Delhi, India for for 4th BRICS Summit March 2012. Photo by Roberto Stuckert Filho/PR. Used with permission.

Heads of BRICS states in New Delhi, India for the 4th BRICS Summit, March 2012. Photo by Roberto Stuckert Filho/PR. Used with permission.

The BRICS conference held last March provides the backdrop for Oliver Stuenkel’s article in The Hindu that foresaw Russia’s and China’s decision to veto the UN Resolution on Syria for a third time:

…There seemed to have been consensus in the case of Libya in February and March 2011. Yet already during the war, the BRICS have rightly argued that North Atlantic Treaty Organisation (NATO) forces exceeded the U.N. mandate given to them. Resolution 1973 was “to protect civilians and civilian populated areas under threat of attack,” yet NATO regarded it as a permission to bring upon regime change. As a consequence, the BRICS are now suspicious of any resolution regarding Syria.

On the other side of the table, the BRICS position has sparked much criticism among the ‘old' powers. Daniel Korski, an adviser to the EU High Representative for Foreign Affairs and Security Policy, wrote that one could expect a gridlocked world in 2012:

And though NATO Allies succeeded in Libya both diplomatically and militarily, China and Russia have managed to block decisive action against Syria, despite its government’s violent crackdown on protesters. Dealing with Iran, an issue of major concern to NATO Allies, also requires the support of China, Russia and India.

Intervene or not intervene?
Both cases in Syria and Libya are controversial. In fact, they demonstrate that ‘old' and ‘new' powers have different approaches on how to deal with conflicts and there are different opinions to back those positions. Alex Thurston, a PhD student in the Religion Department at Northwestern University, Illinois, considers that ‘NATO’s Intervention in Libya Was a Mistake' in his blog sahelblog:

While the civil war would have produced some chaos regardless, I think the chances are strong that without the Western intervention, Colonel Muammar Qadhafi’s side would have defeated the rebels and Qadhafi would have remained in power, an outcome that would have reduced the resulting regional chaos.

World War II heritage
Countries with a historical tradition of intervening in regional affairs blame ‘new' powers for not acting in the name of human rights. ‘New' powers argue that intervention does more harm than good. All countries generally act in their own self-interest though. In fact, while China and other countries boost their economies through their economic ties, last year, US expenditure in defense exceeded $700 billion, the highest since the Second World War according to Time. Brazilian journalist Pepe Escobar calls the insistence of the ‘West” to intervene in Syria, “The ‘hell cost' of the NATO's Holy War” [Pt]:

E, enquanto o “ocidente” flerta com a Guerra Santa, as empresas estatais chinesas compram mercadorias feito doidas, por todo o Oriente Médio, Norte da Áfria e América do Sul – além de ampliar seus estoques de terras raras nas reservas estratégicas…..

And while the “West” flirts with the ‘Holy War', the Chinese state owned companies crazily buy goods from the entire Middle East, North of Africa and South America - in addition to expanding its stock of rare natural resources within strategic reserves ….

The role of NATO in the current world order - in which the bi-polar world divided between the US and former Soviet Union has been replaced by a multipolar international system - changes things according to Hans Christof von Sponeck, the former UN Assistant Secretary General:

(NATO's) mandate, grounded in the 1949 North Atlantic Treaty, originally dealt with the defense of its member states. At the end of the Cold War, in 1989, its mandate appeared to have been fulfilled. Nevertheless, the NATO members wanted to maintain this Western alliance. This launched the search for a new role for NATO.

ISN logoThis post and its translations to Spanish, Arabic and French were commissioned by the International Security Network (ISN) as part of a partnership to seek out citizen voices on international relations and security issues worldwide. This post was first published on the ISN blog, see similar stories here.
Reposted bySigalon Sigalon

June 12 2012

The Gaddafi archives – in pictures

The Gaddafi Archives: Libya Before the Arab Spring is part of the London festival of photography



Muammar Gaddafi's photo archive gives an insight into the 'Jamahiriya'

Libyan dictator always had an eye for the camera, whether it was posing with world leaders or harking back to his Bedouin roots

Muammar Gaddafi ruled Libya for 42 years before he was overthrown last summer and killed by rebels in October. So it will take some time before his countrymen are able to escape his giant shadow. Even as a young man – he was 27 in 1969 when he and his fellow officers overthrew the western-backed King Idris – Gaddafi had an eye for the camera and for posterity.

Archives seized after the revolution contain a rich photographic record of his poses, achievements and friends, though his hugs of welcome for fellow Arab leaders from Yasser Arafat to Egypt's President Gamal Abdel-Nasser, his hero and inspiration, often masked stormy private relationships.

Gaddafi's penchant for elaborate military uniforms and powerful allies is combined in a shot of him standing hand-in-hand with the ageing Soviet leader Leonid Brezhnev in 1981, at the start of a decade which saw Libyan backing for the IRA and other terrorists, retaliatory US air attacks on Libya as well as the notorious Lockerbie bombing. Years of sanctions followed until Gaddafi finally came in from the cold and shed his pariah status for a brief honeymoon before the Arab spring erupted.

Images found by Human Rights Watch in state intelligence buildings and Gaddafi family residences make up a unique archive of the years when the Jamahiriya or "state of the masses" was run according to the precepts of the "Brother Leader's'' Green Book, and was effectively closed to the west.

Gaddafi often harked back to his Bedouin roots – receiving visitors in a tent pitched inside his Bab al-Aziziyah compound in Tripoli before the Nato-backed revolution ended his control of the capital.

In one undated picture he lies sprawled happily and barefoot on the sand, foreshadowing the unmarked desert grave he was buried in last October after being killed by rebel fighters on the outskirts of his home town Sirte.His rotting corpse was left on display in a meat store for three days in a grotesque parody of a conventional lying-in-state for a mourned national leader.

Hatred and vengeance were the products of decades of the repression that was an important part of Gaddafi's Libya. One grim shot in this exhibition shows bodies dangling from makeshift gallows in a Benghazi sports stadium – the result of one of his periodic "revolutionary" show trials of the dissidents he hunted down without mercy at home and abroad.

The Gaddafi Archives: Libya Before the Arab Spring London Festival of Photography


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May 01 2012

May Day Marked Around the Arab World

May Day, or Labour Day, or International Workers' Day is recognised as a public holiday in many Arab countries, and demonstrations and rallies are held by unions and political parties to pay tribute to the role of workers and to call for workers' rights.

The National Transitional Council of Libya has declared [ar] International Workers' Day to be a national public holiday starting this year. Hamid tweeted from Tripoli:

@2011feb17: #Libya's first #MayDay (Worker's Day) holiday since 42 years ago! HAPPY HOLIDAY EVERYONE Yup #Libya has changed ;)

Demonstration on Avenue Habib Bourguiba, Tunis. Image by Amine Ghrabi on Flickr (CC BY-NC 2.0).

Bahraini activist Maryam Alkhawaja remembered the migrant workers of the Gulf:

@MARYAMALKHAWAJA: On labor day we pay tribute to all the migrant workers who r treated like modern day slaves in #gulf countries

Demonstration in Barbar, Bahrain. Image by Twitter user @bahrainiac14.

Demonstrations were held all over Bahrain demanding the reinstatement of the hundreds of workers who were fired last year for taking part in protests. Many of the demonstrations were attacked by riot police with tear gas. Journalist Mazen Mahdi reported from Manama's souq (market):

@MazenMahdi: Despite tear-gasing #Manama souq labor day protest still on-going #Bahrain

Demonstration in Khouribga, Morocco. Image by Twitter user @__Hisham.

Imad Bazzi tweeted about the hacking of the Lebanese Ministry of Labour's website:

@TrellaLB: special delivery for the Ministry of Labor in #Lebanon on Labor day, a total makeover :D loooool http://www.labor.gov.lb/ thanks to #RYV

The website was changed to say the following:

We are RYV, short for Raise Your Voice, and we are simply a group of people who could not bare sitting in silence, watching all the crimes and injustice going on in Lebanon. We will not be silenced and brainwashed by your media. We will not stop until the Lebanese people mobilize, demand their rights, and earn them. We will not stop until the standards of living are raised to where they should be in Lebanon. We will not stop until this government's self-made problems are solved, like the power shortage, water shortage, rise in gas prices and rise in food product prices. We are RYV, expect us to break the silence, whether in the streets or on the Internet.
Silence is a crime

Demonstration in Cairo. Image by Hossam el-Hamalawy on Flickr (CC BY-NC-SA 2.0).

February 17 2012

Libya: Celebrations Mark Revolution's First Anniversary

This post is part of our special coverage Libya Uprising 2011.

Celebrations are continuing in Libya, which marks the first anniversary of a revolution that ousted Muammar Gaddafi, who ruled the country for 42 years. Netizens share scenes of the celebration and their feelings on micro-blogging site Twitter.

Libyan Hamza Malek notes:

@IbnOmar2005: Real talk: thank you to all the non-libyans out there who supported the libyan fight for freedom. You were a part of this, too. #Libya

and adds in disbelief:

@IbnOmar2005: Today marks the anniversary of the very first protests in #Benghazi #Libya that eventually toppled #Gaddafi. I still cant believe it

Libyan Affairs thanks Shabab Libya (The Youth of Libya) for spreading information about the revolution, particularly in its early days.


@LibyanAffairs
: @ShababLibya thankyou for good work during early days of #Feb17! You were an incredible source of information for us in the inside #Libya

Feb17Libya reminds us:

@Feb17Libya: When Gaddafi called us rats, we showed him real men - #Libya #Feb17

And CNN's reporter Jomana Karadsheh adds:

@JomanaCNN: Can't begin to describe the scene in #Tripoli .never seen the city like this.Fireworks, dancing on the streets..amazing night! #Libya

Libyan describes another scene from Tripoli:

@Tripolitanian: People throwing chocolates from their roof tops, what an atmosphere! #Tripoli #Libya #Feb17

Ali Tweel shares this video on YouTube of wishing lanterns flying over Tripoli's Martyr Square:

You can hear the commotion in the background, including the honking of car horns.

Also, Libyan Akram shares this photograph on flickr of fireworks lighting the skies of Tripoli in celebration.

Meanwhile, NPR's senior strategist Andy Carvin, who played an instrumental role in amplifying the voices of Libyan netizens during the revolution, is in Benghazi, taking in the celebrations in person.

He tweets:

@acarvin: And there goes some celebratory gunfire in the distance. The sound of the cars doing donuts almost drowned it out. #benghazi

This post is part of our special coverage Libya Uprising 2011.

February 06 2012

Africa: Highs and Lows of the 2012 African Cup of Nations

Beyond their ethnic, political and regional divides, people unite together around their national football team. We saw the First Lady of Gabon dancing like an excited schoolgirl every time one of the eleven players of the ‘Azingo Nationale' scored a goal and became “the Panthers” for their country.

The people of Equatorial Guinea were ecstatic with the qualification of their national team, languishing in the midst of one of the most ferocious dictatorships. According to Human Rights Watch, journalists who have visited the country to report on the human rights situation have been detained, interrogated, censored and deported.

In the fervour surrounding the 2012 African Cup of Nations, there are two key points that attract attention. The first is the absence of some of the higher achieving teams in African football.

Michael Dodje's blog explains [fr] the unusual goings-on in this year's Cup of Nations:

Imagine a Euro competition without Germany, Spain, Holland and England. Impossible you say, even though Ukraine or Poland would not have to participate in the qualifying rounds as host nations. And yet, this is what happened in Gabon and Equatorial Guinea. Indeed, for the first time in ages we will not see Egypt, Cameroon, Algeria, Nigeria or even South Africa in this championship. How did this happen?

Remembering that the five teams mentioned above have won 15 out of 27 previous Cup of Nations tournaments. Nicholas Mc Anally on le229.com responded [fr]:

…If these teams do not qualify then there will be others to replace them. It's a breath of fresh air seeing teams like Botswana, Niger and Equatorial Guinea making their debuts in the Cup of Nations.

Another novelty in this year's Cup is the way that the thorny issue of bonuses has been resolved. A post on the blog plat du pied explained [fr] what happened on the 15 November, 2011:

After the cancellations of the matches against China, Gabon, Salvador and Mexico, Cameroon has again cancelled a friendly match at the last minute for the fifth time since the start of the season.  The players went on strike, once again, in protest against the federation over their bonuses for the match.

On the same blog, a statement issued by the Cameroon players, known as the ‘Indomitable Lions', said:

Due to the absence of attendance bonuses, the players have decided not to travel to Algiers and to not play any part in the match against Algeria scheduled for the 15 November.

Different solutions to the problem have been found by building on past negative experiences. A post [fr] on the blog marocfootball.info, concerning the Moroccan national team, the ‘Atlas Lions' stated that:

The President of the highest court in Moroccan football announced that a deal has been made with the Atlas Lions in that they accept that they will not receive any form of attendance bonus if they fail to reach the quarter finals of the 2012 African Cup of Nations.

Côte d'Ivoire, not long out of a prolonged and disastrous civil war, will pay their national team the ‘Elephants' a bonus of 5 billion CFA francs (1 million US dollars) if they win the final. The blog afrik11.com states [fr]:

The 23 players in the side receive 5 million CFA francs (10,000 USD) in attendance bonuses. This amount will be paid if the team is eliminated in the first round. In the quarterfinals, the bonus of each player will rise to 8 million, rising further to 10 million in the semifinals and then to 20 million in the final (40,000 USD). The coach, Zahoui François will also enjoy his share of the pie, receiving double the bonuses of his players.

afrik11.com also comments [fr] on the bonuses paid to the Mali national team, the ‘Eagles of Mali' at the beginning of January:

Earlier this week the Malian football team received their bonuses for qualifying for the 2012 African Cup of Nations. Two hundred million CFA francs (40,000 USD) were given in cash to the players and coaching staff before the national team left Lomé (Togo) for the final stage in their preparations for the competition.

The Equatorial Guinea team in training by @FlorianK_Sport

The Equatorial Guinea team in training by @FlorianK_Sport

Equatorial Guinea, co-hosts of the event, is a country unable to build a stadium capable of hosting a match due to the frequent rains. Yet abidjan.net posted a blog surrounding their first victory [fr] in the competition:

Teodorin Obiang, the Minister for Agriculture presented a cheque for 500 million CFA francs (760,000 euros) to Francisco Pascual Eyegue Obama Asué, the Minister for Sport, in the absence of the national team in Mbini (mainland Mali). He added a cheque for 20 million CFA francs (30,400 euros), 10 million that had been promised for each goal scored ; the team only won the match 1-0 but he explained that the goal disallowed by the referee deserved to be credited with a bonus.

This blog points out that the actions of Teodorin, tipped to succeed his father as president, are under scrutiny by the Americans.

The generosity of petrodollars being used for the bonuses for the Equatorial Guinea football team makes the Republic of Guinea look like a poor relation. In Conakry, the first problem was in trying to find the money to pay for the bonuses. As reported by lejourguinee.com, the country set up a National Committee for Support, led by General Mathurin Bangoura, Minister for Housing and Urban Development with the aim of raising funds for the bonuses. Notably, the first contributions came from the Indian community settled in the country.

The least well-spent money during the tournament, without doubt, has to be the bonuses awarded to the ‘Teranga Lions', the Senegalese national team, who had entered the competition as strong favourites and fell at the first hurdle. Yet, at the beginning of the competition the blog can.starafrica.com stated [fr] that:

There are some concerns surrounding the bonuses given to the Senegalese side.  On Wednesday the Sports Ministry gave the squad bonuses amounting to 140, 650,000 francs in full for their qualification for the 2012 African Cup of Nations.

January 25 2012

Africa: 2012 Cup of Nations Kicks Off!

[All links to external content are in French]

The Africa Cup of Nations began in Bata, Equatorial Guinea this Saturday January 21, 2012, kicking off three weeks of fierce competition. The Cup of Nations, the most important international football competition in Africa, is taking place in Gabon and Equatorial Guinea between January 21 and 12 February.

Supporters in Africa and around the world have been enjoying the build-up to the two opening matches; dancing, light and sound were all part of the spectacle:

GaGuie the Mascot! With GAGUIE : GA as in Gabon, GUI as in Guinea and E as in Equatorial! Image from fr.cafonline.com with permission

GaGuie the Mascot! With GAGUIE : GA as in Gabon, GUI as in Guinea and E as in Equatorial! Image from fr.cafonline.com with permission

Here is a round up of the first three days of the tournament.

Matchday One

Libya took on Equatorial Guinea in the curtain raiser on 21 January, and it was co-hosts Equatorial Guinea, making their tournament debut, who took a surprise 1-0 win.

With just six minutes remaining, Balboa, the Equatorial Guinea number 11 finally opened the scoring after a one-on-one with the Libyan goalkeeper. The score stayed 1-0 until the final whistle, to the delight of the Equatorial Guinea fans who had packed the stadium.

The Senegalese fluffed their entry to the competition with a 2-1 defeat inflicted by Zambia on the same day. Senegal fans took to the web to place the blame on coach of the national team.

Touy wrote on Seneweb News [fr]:

le souci avec un entraîneur local c'est que même s'il se rend compte que le capitaine par exemple Niang n'est pas au niveau il aura la crainte la peur ou la pudeur de le faire sortir au détriment de la victoire bien sur!!

The problem with having a local coach is that even if he realises that the captain, let's say Niang, is not good enough he'll either be afraid or too modest to take him off, to the detriment of getting the win of course!

Amara Traoré [fr] on RFI sheds some light on the subject for us:

Tout le monde savait avant même le début de la CAN que les zambiens sont très vifs et utiliseraient cette vivacité pour gérer les sénégalais beaucoup plus costauds. Alors lui l’entraîneur et son staff devraient trouver un bon système pour les contenir avant de les attaquer.Donc je trouve kil n'a pas fais son boulot qui était de voir les choses venir et de jouer avec des joueurs rapides mais surtout de ne pas trop bourrer cette attaque ou personne ne se retrouve .

Everyone knew, even before the Cup of Nations began, that the Zambians are very energetic and would use that energy to combat the much bigger and stronger Sengalese. So the coach and his staff should find a system to contain thembefore going on the attack. He hasn't done his job which is to anticipate and play fast players but above all not to throw men forward who then can't find each other.

Matchday Two

The second matchday saw the entry of one of the competition favourites: the ‘Elephants' of Côte d'Ivoire. A magnificent strike by Didier Drogba in the 39th minute secured the victory for Côte d'Ivoire over Sudan. The win for the Elephants wasn't enough for every Ivorian fan on the net however. Many felt that they could have done better.

Phox Hermann [fr] said:

la vérité est bonne à dire heinnn. ELEPHANT ke moi jai vu là c N'IMPORTE KOI

Good to tell the truth, riiight. That was no ELEPHANT that I saw

Bi Tia Vincent Toh [fr] added:

la conservation d'un unique but nous a donné des sueurs froides.
Que Mr Gervino soit un peu plus réaliste devant les buts,
Que Mr Yaya Touré regagne sa place au milieu et joue effectivement comme à city
Que la defense cesse d etre trop permeable,

keeping hold of a one goal lead brought us out in a cold sweat.
If only Mr Gervino [sic] was more realistic in front of goal,
If only Mr Yaya Touré could get his place back in the middle and play as well as he does at city
If only the defence stopped leaking,

Angola also played their first game and overpowered Burkina Faso with a 2-1 victory.

Matchday Three

Gabon, the second co-host team of the 2012 Cup of Nations showed their strength with a 2-0 win over Niger, the opening Group C match of the tournament played in a fantastic atmosphere in the Stade de l'Amitié in Libreville.

Rodrigue Magaya [fr] commented on Aubameyang's goal on Facebook:

que dire?!!!merci aux gars, il fallait ça pour la beauté du spetacle et naturelement monter a tt nos adversaires que nous sommes la!!bien en place et on a pas peur!!!vive la can, et vive encore plus nos pantheres;que Dieu benisse le gabon!!!!!!

what can I say?!!!thanks to the lads, we needed that for the beauty of the contest and naturally to show all our opponents that we're here!!right on the spot and with no fear!!long live the cup of nations, and may our panthers live even longer;God bless Gabon!!!!!!

The 2012 Cup of Nations can be followed on TV5 MondeCanal+ Afrique and on Twitter and Google+ via the hashtags #CAN2012 (in French) et #ACN2012 (in English).

January 19 2012

MENA: Amnesty International's Forecast for 2012

“Repression and state violence is likely to continue to plague the Middle East and North Africa in 2012,” forecasts Amnesty International in an 80-page report. It documents the extreme violence deployed by MENA regimes when resisting the unprecedented calls for fundamental reform heard in the region in 2011, as well as the amazing resilience of the protest movements. The report adds, “The refusal of ordinary people across the region to be deterred from their struggle for dignity and justice is what gives us hope for 2012.”

January 09 2012

Libya 2011: A Seminal Year Through Citizen Media

This post is part of our special coverage Libya Uprising 2011.

In January 2011, while Egypt was going through the throes of the Arab Spring, Highlander was one of the rare netizens on the Libyan blogosphere to subtly speculate if the ‘West’ would allow former Egyptian President Hosni Mubarak to be toppled by what was increasingly looking like a no going back popular revolution.

She blogged:

“Leave Mubarak alone as he is keeping us safe we don't really care about anybody or anything else :P”

It was as far as one could get into, in a Libya under Muammar Gaddafi's strong rule.

By February, Libya was engulfed in it’s own uprising. The feeling before Tripoli was crushed was that anything was possible; so some bloggers ventured into bolder territory either reporting directly about what was happening, for example the battle for survival going on in Benghazi and how all cities had begun to rise with the sense of urgency so well expressed by PH:

• Libyanna ( mobile company ) sent a message to all the citizens of Benghazi telling them to go home; as it is their job to defend Benghazi.
• Weapons and soldiers arrived from Bieda and its surrounding area.
• The 64th battalion and Abdulfath Younis's ( عبدالفتاح يونس) special forces battalion attacking the main revolutionary guard garrison in Benghazi ( الفضيل بوعمر). Fighting is ongoing.
• General Population of Benghazi arming up with everything in their grasp.
• People chanting Muammer here we come for you, death is coming.
• Crowds are larger than ever seen ( they were nearly 100,000 ) three days ago.
• Helicopter shot down by the people of Benghazi.

And the more ‘Morse' code like missive by Khaijateri about Gaddafi’s infamous and terrifying Zenga Zenga speech, where we were all called rats - and addicts:

We watched, we snacked. We had mixed feelings: disbelief, horror, amazement, among other feelings, but mostly just disgust.

March was immortalised by the burning the Green Book, which contains Gaddafi's governing philosophy, as Anglo-Libyan said:

For the first time in my life I agree with the burning of a book, the idiotic green book of Gaddafi the murderer, the brave people of the city of Misrata stand as one and send a message to gaddafi, until when this mad dictator is going to claim that these brave people are drunks and drug addicts![sic]

The Internet was cut in March and our voices were silenced except for those who had Thuraya phones or VSAT connections. This meant that we relied on smuggled videos broadcast on Arab satellite TVs. City after city was muzzled and Libyans outside the country or those in the liberated East took it upon themselves to amplify our voices while the rest of Libya was waiting for the no fly zone.

Whiteafrican , in Manchester, UK, said:

i am so proud of the Libyan men, they have proven to the world that they are indeed lions of the dessert, the men of benghazi, bayda, derna, tobrok, breyga, ras lanuf, ajdabeeya, the men of zawia, zintan and misrata.

standing in only their sandals and in many cases, there fists in front of tanks, missiles, RPG's and the latest in weapons, so that Libya will be free is courageous and this courage has not been seen in a long time.[sic]

Meanwhile Ruwida Ashour pleaded in Benghazi:

i cant write more words & what has happened & happening now in Libya is unbelievable ………………please support Libyans with any thing you could do even with just a smile , profile picture or any thing ………we still have money but we need moral support .[sic]

This is also the month when Eman Al Obaidi escaped her rapists and a worldwide petition was started to bring attention to her plight. It was the month of the late Hannu’s last post too.

The Libyan blogosphere will miss Hannu very much as her humour and honesty were a role model.

In April, while the NATO bombing campaign was continuing, Libyans were being traumatised by the alleged mass rape stories which were coming out and many like Soad were trying to share their desperation with the world:

Young girls and women, who were virgins, were subjected to brutal gang rape and torture; many of the incidents were filmed on mobile phones and were circulated to increase the humiliation of these victims and their families. Many victims were infected with HIV and some got pregnant; it is a huge problem and needs to be tackled head-on, no beating around the bush.

As spring turned to summer, we had the siege of Misrata and the ongoing fighting in the Western Mountains. We had the back and front battles for the coastal oil towns of Brega, Ajdabia and Ras Lanuf; and we had the fear that Libya will be partitioned and the increasing numbers of internally and externally displaced Libyan families. This is so hauntingly evoked by Noureddin when he is packing to leave in May [ar]:

وبدأت أعدّ للرحيل.
أفرز أوراقي: وثائق قانونية وتاريخية، وأسرية تعود لثلاثة أجيال وأكثر.. ومقتنيات لبعضها قيمته المادية ولبعضها الأخر قيمته المعنوية.. بعضٌ من الذاكرة.. بعضٌ مني سأودعه عند عزيز وسأصطحب من البعض الأخر ما أمكن… وسأترك ورائي ما أتركه وديعةً عند ربي… وزرت الأهل والأصحاب مودعا.
I’m packing and preparing to leave. Sorting out my papers, legal, historical and family documents that go back three generations and more. I’m scrutinising my worldly belongings, some of material value but others of sentimental value as they hold dear memories. I leave some with friends and try to take with me whatever I can. The rest I will leave in the care of God just as I will leave family and friends and say goodbye.

Lebeeya’s post in June aptly entitled Freedom, embodied our dreams in a war that had been dragging on for months.

Meanwhile, in July, pro–Gaddafi electronic teams are also not silent and since this is a war all is fair and their bloggers on SOS Libya were telling a story that made me feel on another planet. Here is a sample post:

NATO is not bombing the rebels in the East. NATO is working for the rebels.People don’t dare complain about the rebels. They are scared for their lives and their family lives. We have met many people who have escaped these place with their lives, but most don’t want their names out because they have family left there and if they show their face or publicly speak about the rebel atrocities then the members of their families that are left will be killed. We know this from first hand, one of our group had this exact problem and could not be filmed, his father called him and said the rebels saw him on TV and if he spoke out one more time against them they would kill his brother one by one and then begin with his other family members.[…]
we have never heard of oppression by Ghadafi, the people have great respect and love for him. They all wear green and wear photos of him around their necks, believe me the Western news is so far from the truth they are on another planet.
We have never seen anybody beaten, harassed, in prison, in fact we have been days and never even seen a policeman.[sic]

With the fighting continuing, Brega changed hands every 24 hrs and the death of the rebel General Abdulfattah Younis, the hope for an end to the war was fading and this is what blogger Hana S tried to explain:

Last Saturday I dreamt that Libya was finally liberated. In the dream, it was a Friday and a Friday that preceded the beginning of Ramadan. Get it? Ramadan this year is either this coming weekend or the beginning of next week. And this Friday is the last one before the holy month!

I woke up excited and full of hope. It felt great in the dream. How would it be like in real life!?

As the days of July dragged on, Tripoli was getting more and more restless and people were all thinking that the final showdown was going to be brutal. Fears were running high about what will exactly happen thoughts of genocide such like the ones expressed by Displaced Libyan were not too far:

It was going to be literally the ‘wild west’ with everyone with a grudge and their brother participating in a mess that would take years and hundreds of thousands of lives, refugees and billions of losses. Basically the image in my head was a bloodbath from which I could not see any exit.

All the patience and suffering in Tripoli culminated in August during the long awaited second uprising and operation Mermaid Dawn. After all the agonizing moments, the lighting liberation of Tripoli was short of miraculous and with Internet restored Violet sighed with relief :

it is beautiful to see how much change there has been in the Libyan psyche, the wall of fear has been broken. Freedom is priceless.

Libyans were euphoric at the liberation of their capital Tripoli even though Gaddafi had fled. The celebration continued for weeks despite the war still raging on other fronts. Meanwhile, for the first time in months, media was covering the majority of Libyan territories, help associations were coming in and the rest of the country was catching up with their Eastern brothers and by September, blogs were shifting to reporting more on life returning to normal. On the Edge was just pleased to find Pizza again:

Fast food is making it's appearance again around town in Tripoli. Moe and I went to a little mall on Friday. We hadn't gone there since before Ramadan. We found a coffee cafe open that had been closed. They had cheese cake, pastries , the best Italian coffee , and best of all for me , PIZZA'S! OMG !!! Fully loaded with all sorts of yummy stuff.

In October, many of the resisting cities started falling and the highlight of that month for Libya and the world was the death of Gaddafi. The most evocative post illustrating this was NassimLibya who said [ar]:

صباحك بلا حصون بلا خطوط حمراء
.بلا جنون بلا نبى الصحراء
الله أكبر الله أكبر الله أكبر

A morning without walls, without red lines
without craziness and without desert prophets,
God is great, God is great, God is great.

With Gaddafi and his son Mutassim dead, Sirte fell and the liberation of all the Libyan territory was declared three days later on 23 October.

In November, the Libyans had another stroke of luck with the capture of Saif Al Islam Gaddafi alive.

Again Lebeeya's post about this event summarized what most of the people felt.

Saif's capture is equivalent to removing the last disease in the country. I hope the handful of Gaddafi loyalists in the country snap out of their bubble and join hands with everyone else for a better Libya. Inshallah (By the will of God) the fitna stops after this.
My thoughts on Saif's cut fingers: although Reuters confirms that he lost his fingers from a previous injury a month ago. I hope that's just a cover story for what really happened! The thuwar (rebels) found him and chopped his fingers off slowly and painfully!

By now all Libya was one country once again, the phone lines between East and West were restored, the banking system and other systems were reunited, the interim government had moved mostly to Tripoli. Thus Libyans ended what had been a tumultuous year by celebrating on 24 December the historical Independence Day. Happymoi could not help reminding the readers that

It is a day that has been suppressed by the former regime for so long. It just feels good to say happy independence day Libya!

It is a suitable conclusion to an unusual year: 2011 …. awaiting Libyans was a long arduous road to rebuild the country and to build democracy at the same time. Mistakes are expected but 2012 was sure to prove interesting with all these challenges.

This post is part of our special coverage Libya Uprising 2011.

January 06 2012

Global Voices Most Read Posts in 2011

This post is part of our special coverage Global Voices in 2011.

Our top 20 list of most read posts on Global Voices for 2011 includes four from Japan, three from Egypt, and two from the Philippines. But only one story is about a giant crocodile!

It's been an incredible year for the reach and recognition of citizen media around the world, and that means Global Voices is no longer as lonely a media voice when it comes to reporting tweets and blog posts. Still, where mainstream media interest wanes, we're the ones who strive to continue documenting what local bloggers everywhere need the world to know.

Self Defence Forces arrive at the scene of the tsunami in Japan. Image by cosmobot, copyright Demotix (13/03/11).

Self Defence Forces arrive at the scene of the tsunami in Japan. Image by cosmobot, copyright Demotix (13/03/11).

Some of our proudest moments of 2011 will never be reflected on a top 20 list like the one below. This year we exceeded 500 active volunteer authors and translators of countless languages and countries, and we've published more than 2,600 long posts and 6,300 short ones in English alone.

Inevitably, many of the stories that don't get as wide a readership as they deserve are from countries that tend to be overlooked in international media. Unique coverage from across Africa, the Caucasus, Macedonia, the Russian language Internet, Latin America and indigenous rights are among some of the highlights. See the 2011 regional reviews by our editors and authors for a glance of what you may have missed.

Our Middle East and North Africa team deserves special mention this year. Throughout protests, blackouts, threats, they have managed to pull though and keep writing. The bloody images still proliferate, but our authors seek out constructive voices and angles for dialogue. So often, they've shared local humor and context that is difficult to appreciate from abroad without a guide.

Perhaps for the first time ever, China doesn't figure on our top 20 list of the year. These are particularly chilling times to blog about controversial subjects - something Global Voices authors in many other countries unfortunately also experience. This makes the stories that do come from anywhere free speech is frowned on even more precious.

Most read posts on Global Voices in 2011

  1. Egypt: Night Falls, After Day of Rage
  2. Japan: We're Losing to Apple, and Here's Why
  3. Mapping the Thailand Flooding Disaster (and also this one)
  4. Syria: ‘Gay Girl in Damascus' Seized (and this one)
  5. Philippines: Debate on Divorce Bill
  6. Japan: Tweeting from Fukushima
  7. Philippines: Lolong, World’s Largest Crocodile
  8. India: Aishwarya Rai's Baby and Media Madness
  9. Egypt: Feminist Publishes Nude Photograph to “Express her Freedom”
  10. Japan: On Catastrophes and Miracles, a Personal Account
  11. Serbia: Reactions to the Story of Serbian Mercenaries in Libya
  12. Largest Earthquake in Recorded History in Japan
  13. Myanmar's New Flag and New Name
  14. Mexico: Fear, Uncertainty and Doubt Over Anonymous' #OpCartel
  15. Argentine Songwriter Facundo Cabral Murdered in Guatemala
  16. Africa, France: Who is Nafissatou Diallo? Victim or Conspirator?
  17. Japan: Fear in Fukushima
  18. Libya: Is Khamis Gaddafi Really Dead?
  19. Egypt: The KFC Revolution
  20. Spain: Thousands of People Take the Streets

Our most visited special coverage pages were:

  1. Egypt Revolution 2011
  2. Japan Earthquake 2011
  3. Bahrain Protests 2011
  4. Libya Uprising 2011
  5. Tunisia Revolution 2011

In 2011 the world has learned more about the transformative power of online citizen media. We believe the best way to support these emerging voices on a global scale is to listen. Thanks for reading Global Voices! And please consider supporting our work with a donation.

This post is part of our special coverage Global Voices in 2011.

January 04 2012

New Qatar Envoy Appointed in Libya

Qatar has appointed a new envoy to Libya. Sultan Al Qassemi, a commentator from the UAE, sheds more light on Qatari-Libyan relations since the beginning of the Libyan uprising in February under the subtitles: The Marriage, The Honeymoon and The Divorce.

Arab World: A Year In Pictures - Our Authors' Selection

Since Mohamed Bouazizi, a young Tunisian fruit vendor set himself on fire in the small city of Sidi Bouzid on December 2010, a wave of unprecedented popular protests is sweeping the Arab world. The region has seen unprecedented events that no one could ever imagine witnessing in a lifetime.

Three Arab dictators have been toppled, some others forced to engage in reforms, while in other places the confrontation is proving to be painful and bloody.

In any case, 2011 is likely to remain engraved in the history of the Arab world as the year when people started raising against their oppressive regimes.

As we bid farewell to 2011 and look ahead to 2012, we asked our authors to share with you pictures that in their eyes have marked the past year in their respective countries. The following selection represents their choices.

Tunisia

Photo by Talel Nacer, used with permission

On January, 14, 2011 thousands of protesters gathered near the Interior Ministry building in Tunis calling for the fall of the regime of dictator Zeine El Abidine Ben Ali. Later on the same day, Ben Ali fled to Saudi Arabia.

Afef Abroughi

Syria

Author unkown

A powerful message from “the occupied city of Kafar Nabel”, Syria.

Leila Nachawati

Lebanon

Photo by KrikOrion, used with permission

Even though Lebanon has not witnessed a revolution in 2011, the Land of the Cedars was highly affected by the developpements and turmoil in the area. But for Lebanese it's the high cost of living that is haunting them the most. Following each wage increase by the government and even before the plan is approved by parliament, prices soar tremendously.

Thalia Rahme

Palestine

Photo by Jillian C. York, used under a CC license (CC BY-NC-SA 2.0)

Palestine: “Marching United Towards Freedom”

Jillian C. York

Yemen

Copyright Shohdi Al-Sofi, used with permission

The peaceful massive marches of Yemen which never stopped throughout the year are a testimony of Yemenis' steadfast and resilience and prove ultimately, like the billboard reads, that “victory is to the people”.

Noon Arabia

Bahrain

Picture posted on Twitter by @almakna

The above photograph, shared by @almakna on Twitter, shows the number of areas reportedly tear gassed by the Bahrain authorities in one night. On that particular day, I myself choked on the tear gas, spending the night and the following day sick and closely followed tweets and complaints by Twitter users from across the country.

Amira Al Hussaini

Picture posted on Twitter by @SanabisVoice

This photograph, from the Sanabis Voice, shows empty teargas canisters, collected from a small area, in one day. Such photographs are found in abundance online, shared by netizens on social networking sites, and tell a story that has been recurring for 11 months - a story not much of the world cares about.

Amira Al Hussaini

Egypt

Picture by rouelshimi, used under CC license (CC BY-NC-SA 2.0)

January 25, the first wave of protesters go to Tahrir square. It's the dawn of the revolution.

Tarek Amr

Morocco

Copyright Amine Hachimoto. Used with permission.

The little girl looking up at this Moroccan Superman pausing in front of the parliament seems to be wondering if he can fly. Maybe he's an ultra-nationalist trying to make a point? Or maybe he's a supporter of the pro-reforms group February 20? It doesn't really matter. Because behind this amazing photo by Amine Hachimoto lies a new reality in Morocco: 2011 is the year when the street has become the theater of nonviolent political expression. Something that is likely to continue in the years to come.

Hisham Almiraat

January 02 2012

The World is Talking… We Translate

Every time a year comes to an end, evaluations of it are made. Sometimes we tend to be very objective and other times, subjectivities float to the surface. Most of the time, these assessments, recollections and lists of the ‘best of the year' do not satisfy everybody.

Some members of the team of translators at Global Voices in Spanish [es], who during the past twelve months have worked behind the scenes to translate the best of what Global Voices Online publishes in English on a daily basis, decided to briefly express what we liked the most or what impacted us the most of what we have translated or seen posted. And as we say colloquially, let's put the ‘floro‘ (palaver) aside and get to the point:

Elisa López tells us about the post she enjoyed translating the most, and adds a note of personal information:

I really enjoyed translating Estados Unidos: ¿La NASA ha descubierto un planeta habitable? [es] (Has NASA Discovered a Life-Friendly Planet? [en])

I found the topic appealing. My husband and I are always discussing science-related events, and we had been discussing that particular topic a couple of days ago. And when I started working on the translation, I found the article well-written: clear, concise, and showing different points of view. Interesting information and good writing, a great combination!

Natán Calzolari shares his feelings and sentiments about Global Voices' involvement with world events:

While I was translating it I found myself really moved by how the whole world was helping the Egyptians to put their word out there. Needless to say, Global Voices did an incredible job amplifying their voices, and it was really exciting to be a part of it.

Isabel Guerra shows her amazement about a fact she wasn't aware of:

I enjoyed translating this one Filipinas: Debate sobre proyecto de Ley de Divorcio [es] (Phillipines: Debate on Divorce Bill [en]) because I wasn't aware that there was still a country that does not allow divorce!

Meanwhile, Elizabeth Rivera tells about her sadness while translating a post from Libya:

For me, Libia: De duelo por la muerte de Mohammed Nabbous [es] (Libya: Mourning Mohammed Nabbous [es]) was a very special and sad post to translate. Since Libya's revolution started, I followed ‘Mo's' reports and even watched his live feed. I just couldn't believe it when the news broke on Twitter that he had died. I knew, right away, I wanted to translate the post related to his death as soon as it was published as a tribute to a man I consider a hero and an inspiring citizen journalist. The post did him justice. It was sensitive, complete and very well phrased. Needless to say, I shed some tears while writing it and felt very connected - by heart - to the Libyan people and their struggle.

Although she didn't translated the post, Catalina Restrepo comments she was impressed with the situation women face in many countries:

It's no translated for me but was wonderful when I saw this article in Spanish: Arabia Saudita: Condenada a 10 latigazos por conducir un automóvil [es] (Saudi Arabia: Outrage Over 10 Lashes for Female Driver [en])

Generally Women here [Colombia] are not worried about their role in the society but about the fashion or beauty. When I read this story, I discover again that it's necessary for women [around the world] reflect on the importance of being a woman in honor of others who do not have the same “freedoms”.

Gabriela García Calderón shares her sentiment about the first news of what later would be known as the Arab Spring:

Even though it is actually a post published on late 2010, I think the most important post I've translated is Túnez: El intento de suicidio de un desempleado provoca disturbios [es] (Tunisia: Unemployed Man's Suicide Attempt Sparks Riots [en]).

This post tells us the plight of 26-year old Mohamed Bouazizi, who set himself on fire out of desperation for not being able to earn a living for himself and his family.

This at first isolated and individual action was the spark of was later known as the Arab Spring, a series of events that set the standard for the whole year. As usual, Global Voices was there to inform its reader about important events, almost while they are still happening.

Adriana Gutierrez tells us about her chosen post, also related to the Arab Spring:

It's kind of hard to pick just one memorable post for me (every single entry is special, one way or another), but I enjoyed translating this one: Egipto: Graffiti - Por una revolución colorida y un recuerdo inmortal [es] (Egypt: Graffiti - For a Colorful Revolution and an Undying Memory [en]).

I found very moving and creative the way egyptians took a very “simple” and ordinary thing as a street wall and converted it in a canvas to express their thoughts about revolution and to pay tribute to the martyrs, claming the street as theirs.

Indira Cornelio was also impressed by the circumstances some women have to live with:

I enjoyed translating this one Global: Bloggers debaten opiniones contra el nicab [es] (Global: Bloggers Take Issue With Anti-Niqab Punditry [en]) because it really got me thinking about the importance of tolerance as sometimes I find hard to understand how women in other countries live, and the laws or practices they have.

And said:

As a fan of hyperlinks, I like texts that starting off with just two or three lines can take you to new and various texts that may, sometimes, represent a lot of reading. It's just like opening a little wormhole on the generated mental image and taking to another dimension, just to come back to take off once again. That's why, I love posts just as CEE: More on Václav Havel and His Legacy, due to their concentrated richness.

With this small and humble sample we, the Global Voices Spanish team, wish to encourage authors all over the world to write their articles and to go on doing so. We want them to know that their texts not only inform, but also generate sentiments, discoveries and awareness in all the readers.

Thank you, and happy 2012.

December 28 2011

Libya: Celebrating Xmas now that Gaddafi is Gone

Libyan blogger Highlander, at From the Rock, shares some observations on Christmas in Libya, now that Gaddafi is gone.

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