Posts tagged Arab Spring

From thenewrepublic:

What They Bring to Battle by Sebastiano Tomada Piccolomini

Late last year, during a particularly bad day of fighting between the Free Syrian Army and the Assad regime, a band of rebels took refuge in the basement of an abandoned factory building in Aleppo. They had just lost two men and were in desperate need of more supplies and more fighters. As we all waited for the shelling to stop, I discovered a small hole in one of the factory walls. With that opening providing our only light, I photographed many of the rebels, each with the single item they claimed was the most crucial in their struggle against the government.

See the rest of this photo essay here

Both inspiring, and haunting, at the same time.

The mixture of scholarly thought and hip-hop styles may sound like more of a collision than a blend, but the links between the two are very real. Hip-hop and academia are both deeply concerned with the generational battle, with the back-and-forth between the old guard and the avant-garde. Academia speaks to a community using its own specific vocabulary and voice, developing its own jargon, as does hip-hop, and both love the reflexivity of discussing their own discussions. Both cultures piece together their own original efforts with visible and audible inspiration from their predecessors and contemporaries. Academics quote. Rappers sample. Both collaborate.
Check out my piece in the LA Review of Books this morning talking about Arab diaspora rappers like Omar Offendum and The Narcicyst and the academic elements of the work they do. (via thepoliticalnotebook)

More Arab Spring hip hop!

From thepoliticalnotebook:

The Revolution Continues. Mubarak may be gone, but for Egyptians who fought for actual change, the revolution is nowhere near done. With the country having fallen into the control of Field Marshal Tantawi and the Supreme Council of the Armed Forces, much of the tactics and policies of the Mubarak era have seen no improvement and Egyptians remain denied their freedoms. Here are a selection of revolutionary songs made since Mubarak’s ouster that speak to the theme of a fight not yet fully won.

This is genuinely one of my favorite songs of all time, revolutionary or no. Essam’s lyrics don’t mention the Supreme Council of the Armed Forces, but they promote a revolutionary spirit and a hearty dose of Egyptian popular nationalism that clearly implies that the Egyptian activists remain up for the important fight. Essam has proven himself a genuine talent, not just an authentic revolutionary voice, over the past year. Check out his album Manshorat, which is available for free download and is well worth a close listen. (“When you say the word “freedom,” you must raise up your hand”)

  • Arabian Knightz (ft. Isam Bachiri and Shadia Mansour): Sisters

The Arabian Knightz are probably Egypt’s most popular rap crew, made up of Rush, E Money and Sphinx. They’ve been around since 2006, making them early voices on the budding and still young Egyptian rap scene. They rap in a mix of both Arabic and English, and gained some international recognition for their “Rebel” song, released during Egypt’s eighteen day uprising against Mubarak. “Sisters” is a tribute to the female activists in Egypt, released following the infamous instance of the female activist who was chased down, stripped and beaten by police on the street. (“But you are the star to the crescent/The heart and the essence of what we are”)

Another Egyptian rapper of growing repute, hailing from Mansoura. MC Amin pulls no punches on this song, which is fairly in-your-face and defiantly vulgar in the face of corrupt power. He very clearly attacks SCAF and the leader Field Marshal Tantawi. (“We said no to the Field Marshal, and said yes to change/ With only one demand from Tahrir Square”)

The Narcicyst isn’t Egyptian. He’s Iraqi in origin, living in Canada and rapping as part of a growing population of Arab diaspora artists. “Fly Over Egypt,” is therefore a solidarity song, a celebratory song, acknowledging the continued fight. It isn’t necessarily a songjust for Egypt; it’s messages apply to an entire region fighting for change. (“More Power to the People/Point out your brothers evils/Give your sister a hand, although she doesn’t need you…”)

Revolution Records is Egypt’s first underground rap label, and like the Arabian Knightz, has been around since 2006. “Kazeboon,” which means liars, is a direct challenge to the rule of SCAF and Field Marshal Tantawi. (Which one of us is the prisoner now?/No one is protecting the revolution… [but] the revolution is stronger than you/You sold it to serve your interest… and sold yourselves.”)

Hip Hop and the Arab Uprisings | openDemocracy

A fascinating roundup of hip hop artists from around the “Arab Spring” countries. This is a great way to learn more about the story of the year through its interaction with pop culture—as well as a great way to learn about how pop culture (and, in some way, globalization) is reshaping modern Arab societies.

The story has embedded videos by MC Swat (Libya), Lowkey (Palestine), and Kazeboon (Egypt). There also links to many others, including more famous (in the West) figures like El Général (Tunisia).

But it’s also a reminder of a time when hip hop in America was also about “issues”—not just about money, hype, and sex. Here’s hoping for an NWA comeback tour.

From reuters:

This Reuters graphic shows there have been 6,519 men, 190 women and 465 children killed in violence in Syria as of Feb. 5, 2012. The most fatalities in a single day since April of last year happened on Feb. 4, 2012 with 400 deaths reported.
The latest on Syria | Follow Reuters on Tumblr
[Graphic: REUTERS | Sources: UNITAR-UNOSAT, Syria Violence Document Center, syrianshuhada.com, syriamap.wordpress.com, news reports]

From reuters:

This Reuters graphic shows there have been 6,519 men, 190 women and 465 children killed in violence in Syria as of Feb. 5, 2012. The most fatalities in a single day since April of last year happened on Feb. 4, 2012 with 400 deaths reported.

The latest on Syria | Follow Reuters on Tumblr

[Graphic: REUTERS | Sources: UNITAR-UNOSAT, Syria Violence Document Center, syrianshuhada.com, syriamap.wordpress.com, news reports]

From newsflick:

Historic: Egypt’s first democratically elected representatives for 60 years have gathered for the first session of the new parliament. The Muslim Brotherhood’s Freedom and Justice party captured almost half the seats in recent elections. Outside the parliament building there were protests over the military’s continuing grip on power. Here is an interactive graphic which gives you a visual representation of Egypt’s new People’s Assembly, the lower house of parliament. (Pic)

From newsflick:

Historic: Egypt’s first democratically elected representatives for 60 years have gathered for the first session of the new parliament. The Muslim Brotherhood’s Freedom and Justice party captured almost half the seats in recent elections. Outside the parliament building there were protests over the military’s continuing grip on power. Here is an interactive graphic which gives you a visual representation of Egypt’s new People’s Assembly, the lower house of parliament. (Pic)

How do you fix a problem like Libya?

In the past, I’ve given my POL 102 classes (and also my upper-division democratization seminars) an assignment that asked them to draw up a new constitution for Oz. I handed out a packet of a post-transition (after the Wizard is deposed) Oz, a description of the country’s current political situation (mostly based on Gregory Maguire’s Wicked), and asked them to write a brief outline for a new constitutional system looking at three basic components:

  1. An executive system: They could choose between presidential, parliamentary, and semi-presidential.
  2. An electoral system: They could choose between simple plurality (“first-past-the-post”), majoritarian (the French runoff system), proportional representation, mixed-member system, and preferential voting system (this year, I decided to toss in the uniquely Chilean binomial system). If they choose presidential or semi-presidential, they would have to choose two electoral systems (one for the executive, one for the legislature).
  3. State structure: They could chose between unitary, federal, or devolved state.

These are group projects of 4-5 students, who write a two-page paper and give a short in-class presentation “pitching” their constitutional framework. Essentially, I ask them to become “constitutional engineers” for a day.

This year, thanks to the Arab Spring, we can use real world cases. So today my students are presenting sketches of the kind of constitutional system they think is best for a new democratic Libya. I’m very intrigued to see what they come up with.

If you don’t think political scientists really do this kins of “hands-on” activity, here’s a short article from The Christian Science Monitor interviewing UNC’s Andrew Reynolds about his advice for post-transition constitutions for the Arab Spring countries. The issue isn’t just academic for Reynolds (one of the discipline’s premier constitutional engineers): He’s currently in Libya for this very purpose, having only recently left Tunisia.

Another guide to the upcoming Tunisian elections.
Via thepoliticalnotebook:

Morning Reading. Project on Middle East Democracy’s brief on the upcoming Tunisian election. This October 23rd, Tunisia will hold its first post-revolution competitive elections to vote for a national constitutional assembly. Read POMED’s brief on the electoral process, the process of transition to democratic rule, the set up of the national constitutional council and the political parties at play.

Another guide to the upcoming Tunisian elections.

Via thepoliticalnotebook:

Morning Reading. Project on Middle East Democracy’s brief on the upcoming Tunisian election. This October 23rd, Tunisia will hold its first post-revolution competitive elections to vote for a national constitutional assembly. Read POMED’s brief on the electoral process, the process of transition to democratic rule, the set up of the national constitutional council and the political parties at play.

The determination and bravery of Syrian demonstrators has confounded outside observers and surprised many Syrians themselves. In January, at the dawn of the Arab spring, few thought Syria a likely participant. Yet time and again over the past five months Syrian protesters have stuck their chests into the paths of bullets, trying to face down brutal thugs.
What makes unarmed protesters defy snipers and tanks for months? Courageous Syrian demonstrators have a wide range of motivations. (via theeconomist)