Global Voices

Wednesday, July 31, 2013

#FreeSafy – Bahrain Arrests Blogger in Dawn Raid

Bahraini blogger Mohammed Hassan was arrested from his home in an early morning raid today [July 31]. According to reports, police raided his Sitra home and arrested him, confiscating his telephone and computer in the process. Reports also claim they had an arrest warrant.

The arrest of Mohammed, known as Safy, and who is a Global Voices Online author who has covered Bahrain, drew criticism from netizens. UAE commentator Sultan Al Qassemi tweets:

In a follow up comment, he says the arrest of bloggers was a sign of the times in the region:

And activist Alaa Al Shehabi replies:

This sentiment of an impending crackdown on netizens is a recurring theme this morning. Mohammed Al Maskati, who was previously arrested at the beginning of protests in Bahrain in March 2011, asks:

Like many, Maskati does not believe there needs to be a reason for people to be arrested in restive Bahrain:

Jalal Al Jazeeri salutes Safy for his stance:

Mohammed Al Daaysi says:

And Salma can't find a reason why a blogger like Safy would be arrested:

In April, Safy announced the closure of his blog:

All good things come to an end.

Though my message might have not ended I think my points were delivered, I think it is time now to put a period, close this notebook and start a new one

He has also stopped tweeting since then.

Thousands of people have been arrested since protests calling for political and economic reforms started in Bahrain on February 14, 2011. The witch hunt continues.

via Global Voices » Feature

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Friday, July 19, 2013

Saudi Activist Denied the Right to Leave Saudi Arabia

Saudi activist and journalist Iman AlQahtani was denied the right to leave Saudi Arabia. She announced that in a tweet late last night, after being prevented from traveling to Turkey.

Al-Qahtani is an outspoken human rights activist and journalist. She has drawn the state's attention after expressing her strong support for Abdullah al-Hamid, Mohammad al-Qahtani and their organization The Association for Civil and Political Rights, during their trial for “breaking allegiance to the ruler and his successor” and “trying to impede the country’s developments”. Earlier this year, they had been sentenced to 11 and 10 years in prison respectively.

On Twitter, she announced [ar]:

I was traveling from Dammam Airport to Istanbul and I was forbidden to travel. I have been informed of my travel ban, then asked to wait at the passport office.

Iman Al Qahtani. Source: @ImaQh

Iman Al Qahtani. Source: @ImaQh

She has previously been subjected to harassment by security forces for her online activities and reporting on human rights. After her live-tweeting of the trials of the two activists, a judge had ordered her arrest for “providing false information to the court” but the arrest was later canceled.

On Twitter, netizens discussed Al Qahtani's travel ban under the hashtag #منع_ايمان_القحطاني_من_السفر which translates to Iman Al Qahtani banned from traveling.

Ms Reem comments [ar]:

Arrests, travel bans, oppression, corruption, unemployment, poverty and misery. Where is my country heading to?

Dr Mohamed explains that travel bans are common in Saudi Arabia:

While Fawaz Ahmed reasons that such bans are no longer useful:

The Saudi regime continues to be authoritarian but this policy of oppression and muzzling voices does not work at a time when people continue to speak up and demand their rights

via Global Voices » Feature

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Monday, July 15, 2013

Caribbean: We Are Trayvon Martin

“Not guilty”. With those two words, a firestorm of discussion broke out among Caribbean netizens over the acquittal of George Zimmerman in Trayvon Martin‘s death. Facebook, as usual, had some of the earliest reactions, with people changing their profile pictures to images of the late teenager, and sharing posts and news links about justice and race relations in the United States.

Code Red published a post that dealt with regional reactions to the verdict and wondered whether there was an inherent contradiction “between the ability of Caribbean people at home to stand in solidarity with those protesting the devaluing of black lives…and their unwillingness to lend their bodies, voices and time (hell, even facebook statuses) to causes in the very places they live?”:

Today a friend said to me, ‘you post about all kinds of injustice in the Caribbean and nobody responds and now today everybody’s facebook page is filled with outrage at the Zimmerman verdict.’

There is a connection between the fact that Caribbean people know more about and ‘care’ more about that happens in the US which is taken to be the whole world, the racism that provoked and excused Trayvon Martin’s murder and the fact that witness, Rachel Jeantel was vilified for being fat, black, workingclass, multilingual and from the Caribbean.

At the root is a globalised white supremacy and an understanding of black people as not human…This is not about denying that the Zimmerman verdict is an affront to our collective humanity wherever we are and no matter where we are from. Neither is it an attempt to police the politics of Caribbean people or to suggest that their expressions of rage and sadness are invalid.

The blogger simply wanted “Caribbean people’s outrage at this injustice to be less cable-TV induced”:

I want mainstream anger at the deaths of I’Akobi Maloney, Brenda Belle, Kay-Ann Lamont, the Linden martyrs, the 70+ Tivoli residents, the 7750+ Haiti cholera victims. And when I don’t get that I try to understand why we don’t even know some of these stories, why some of them don’t even make regional news. In seeking to untangle the Caribbean’s response to the murder, the trial and the verdict, the dominance of US media is a key part of the story. I wonder to what extent these public expressions of outrage are more about being part of an outernational media event, than anything else. I’m crossing my fingers that they also contain the possibility of resistance, of doing the everyday work of insisting on the inherent value of all lives.

Barbadian bloggers had a strong reaction to the news. Diaspora blogger J-did, a Barbadian living in Canada, said he could have predicted the trial's outcome:

Despite being a news junkie I just couldn't bring myself to follow most of the coverage for the Trayvon Martin trial.

Something deep inside me told me that George Zimmerman would be found not guilty. Didn't matter what the evidence said…something told me that he'd get off scotch free.

To think that a black kid innocently walking home, not rabble rousing, not looking for trouble, with a pack of skittles and a can of pop that he had just bought from the store can be shot down in the streets and no justice is done just doesn't sit well with me.

I'm numb. I don't advocate any violence against Mr Zimmerman as I've seen some people online doing, the law is the law. But I think of the ramifications of this verdict. For one I think folks can cease and desist with the post-racial mumbo jumbo that they developed to convince us that things had changed once Obama was elected and we no longer see race.

For two, is it now open season on black young men?Think about it, so many folk get sent to jail for years on more trivial charges but you kill an innocent black kid and you get to walk? Wow. Still trying to wrap my head around it.

Barbados Underground's “Requiem for Trayvon Martin” put it this way:

A black child walking to his father’s home in a gated community of Florida is gunned down with malice and forethought yet an all-white jury finds a murdering Hispanic-Jew not guilty by reason of self defense. This is not the America of the Jim Crow era. It is not the America of the slavery period. It is not the American of the Reconstruction epoch. It is Barack Obama’s America of 2013.

It took a public outcry to even get the racist government of the State of Florida to even charge the assailant in the first place, in what to most observers seemed a clear cut case for the arrest and charging of Zimmerman, police and District Attorney had to be brought under heavy public pressure for charges to be lodged in the first place.

To say that the Florida prosecutors were inept is an understatement. Racism could be another explanation for the prosecutors treating Martin as the aggressor and Zimmerman as the aggrieved party in their weak defense. Seems everybody wants to pretend that Martin was approach[ed] for reasons other than that he was Black. Few want to say that had roles be reversed those same prosecutors, judge and jury would have found ways to bring a guilty verdict.

Trini Like Salt, a Trinidadian living in Boston, wrote on his Tumblr:

You know who isn’t shocked or surprised – at all – about the Zimmerman verdict?

Black people.

Still don’t know what we did to make y’all hate us so much.

In a follow-up post, he quipped:

Don’t fret, America…

I know talking about white privilege and what it allows folks to do makes you all pouty, so tomorrow we’ll all go back to talking about the things that really matter to you. Sharknado, for instance.

After some consideration, he also posted an update that dealt with “why the outrage over the Zimmerman verdict will change exactly nothing”:

- the gun culture would have to change – and America loves its guns more than anything else – so THAT ain’t changing

- the legal system would have to change – but white folks control said system, and it disproportionately benefits them – so THAT ain’t changing

- America’s attitude towards black people – and especially black males – would have to change…and THAT ain’t changing anytime soon

- white folks – yes, even you – would have to acknowledge that they enjoy certain privileges that darker-skinned people – especially really darker-skinned people – don’t…and then actively give up those privileges. Ha.

In another update, he examined the issue of racism and white privilege:

I should state that in the 16 years I have lived in the US, I have not been the recipient of blatant racism that much. So it takes instances like the Zimmerman trial to remind me that racism is institutional – and therefore much more serious and insidious.

This is something that I honestly think most white people don’t think about, at all. Why should they? The institutions work in their favor. They built and maintain the institutions within which racism is alive and well. But black people think about this stuff, constantly. We have to.

We have to because we know we are hated and feared by the system – although for the life of me I have never been able to understand why. The historical precedent would indicate the converse – black people have actual reason to distrust and fear white people. But white folks distrust and fear us – so much so that they’ve built entire institutions designed to assuage their own fears.

He continued:

What is it about black men that drive men of lighter-skinned races to immediately assume that we are immediate threats, by virtue of the fact that we are dark-skinned, wearing a hoodie? What is it about us that makes such men think that following us, provoking us, and shooting us, is okay? What is it about us that makes half the country think it’s justified to think and act in this way?

I have never understood the underlying attitudes towards people who look like me, that let white people believe that it’s justified to write off people who look like me – to the extent that there are two separate systems of justice. One for you folks, where everyone gets a fair shake and eventual justice…and one for us, where none of that happens.

In his final post, he examined “the reasons black people are dying like this” by linking to two relevant articles:

These are the reasons that most of white America turn their back on – because we don’t want to acknowledge that we might each be racist. And so more of us will be prejudged, and incarcerated, and will die. That cannot continue.

You should read both [articles], if you are at all serious about wanting to change something. Because most of us are not Trayvon Martin. Most of us are George Zimmerman.

It is only from understanding the underlying cause of something can we really change it. Everything else – all the anger and outrage and wringing of hands – is just punchless indignation and window dressing.

via Global Voices » Feature

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Wednesday, July 03, 2013

Egyptians Overthrow Morsi and Muslim Brotherhood Rule

Mohamed Morsi, the Muslim Brotherhood senior member, is no longer the president of Egypt. Morsi's one-year reign was cut short, after massive protests across Egypt calling for him to resign started on June 30.

Head of the Egyptian Armed Forces General Abdel Fattah Al Sisi said in an announcement broadcast live minutes ago that the Chief Justice of the Constitutional Court will be the new interim president and that a technocrat national government will be formed.

Al Sisi also announced that the Egyptian constitution has been suspended and that preparations will be made for both presidential and parliamentary elections.

Many are happy to see the end of the Muslim Brotherhood's days at the helm of Egyptian politics. Rasha Abdulla states:

Al Sisi announcing the end of Morsi's rule. Screen grab from CNN International

Al Sisi announcing the end of Morsi's rule. Screen grab from CNN International


Egyptian Hossam Eid exclaims [ar]:

مافيش اخوان تاني

@EidH: There will be no [Muslim] Brotherhood again

And on the suspension of the constitution, blogger Eman AbdElRahman sarcastically says:

الى مزبلة التاريخ ياأعظم دستور في العاااااالم

@LastoAdri: To the garbage of history, the greatest constitution of the world

Reporting from Tahrir Square, the epicentre of the Egyptian revolution in downtown Cairo, reports:

@Beltrew: I have never seen anything like this before: Beladi beladi beladi song filters through roar of crowd & explosion of fireworks #Egypt

On the flip side of the coin, the announcement angered the pro-Morsi. Mosa'ab Elshamy reports:

@mosaabrizing: So much anger at MB sit-in. Hearing distant gunshots.

Arabs too closely followed the unfolding events in Egypt.

Yemeni Abdulkader Alguneid tweets:

@alguneid: #Egypt Army is sacking Morsi, right now

Bahraini Salma exclaims:

جميلة يا #مصر

@salmasays: Egypt is beautiful

Mansoor Al-Jamri, also from Bahrain, notes:

المصريون يصححون المسار وينهون حالة الاختطاف التي تعرض لها الربيع العربي. تحي مصر.

@MANSOOR_ALJAMRi: Egyptians correct the path and end the hijacking of the Arab Spring. Long live Egypt!

And Moroccan Ahmed had a different view:

مصر في طريقها لتصبح باكستان.. إنتخابات ونقلاب .. إنتخابات وإنقلاب … إنتخابات انقلاب.. والنتيجة: كفر بالديموقراطية وتطرف ديني وسياسي

@blafrancia: Egypt is on its way to become Pakistan. Election and coup. Election and coup. Election and coup. The result is a total disbelief in democracy and religious and political extremism

via Global Voices » Feature

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Monday, July 01, 2013

Egyptians Want to Overthrow the Regime

Egyptians are marking the first anniversary of Mohamed Morsi's presidency with huge rallies across Egypt today [June 30], calling for him to leave office. Anti-Morsi campaign Tamarrod, whose name translates to rebel, says it has so far gathered more than 22 million signatures from citizens, which call for early presidential elections.

According to Egyptian blogger Nermeen Edrees:

@NermeenEdrees: People are taking up from where they left off on Feb 2011 #Egypt

Wael Khalil clarifies [ar]:

الشعب يريد اسقاط النظام… بجد

@wael: The people want to overthrow the regime… seriously

On January 25, 2011, Egyptians protested against the 32-year rule of Hosni Mubarak. Eighteen days later, Mubarak resigned. During the interim period, Egypt was ruled by the Supreme Council for Armed Forces [SCAF]. Following elections, Morsi, a Muslim Brotherhood candidate, filled Mubarak's shoes, becoming president on June 30, 2012. Today, Egyptians take to the streets again calling for Morsi to step down and for an end to the Muslim Brotherhood rule of Egypt.

Egyptian protesters gather at Tahrir Square. Photograph shared by @LamiaHassan on Twitter

Egyptian protesters gather at Tahrir Square. Photograph shared by @LamiaHassan on Twitter

Journalist Mohamed Abdelfattah reports:

@mfatta7: There seems to be demonstrations in villages and alleyways where people never protested before. #Egypt

Protesters have started gathering at Tahrir Square, the epi-centre of the Egyptian revolution in downtown Cairo, since yesterday. In Cairo alone, several marches are being organised today, heading to both Tahrir Square and to the Presidential Palace. Also, pro-Morsi marches and rallies have been held over the previous two days and continue today. A fear many harbour is a clash between pro and anti-Morsi demonstrators, violence and bloodshed.

Tents put up at Tahrir Square last night in preparation for today's [June 30] anti-Morsi protests in Egypt. Photograph shared by @JanoCharbel on Twitter

Tents put up at Tahrir Square last night in preparation for today's [June 30] anti-Morsi protests in Egypt. Photograph shared by @JanoCharbel on Twitter

Egyptian blogger Zeinobia shares another concern:

The US department of State issued a travel warning for Egypt.I believe it is normal thing especially after the murder of the US citizen Andrew Pochter in Alexandria’s clashes yesterday. The US marines have already been put on alert in Southern Europe so what happened in Benghazi won’t happen again in Cairo

You must know that there are calls by Ultra Radical Pro-Nationalists/Military/Nasserists for protesters not only to protest but to storm the US embassy. Those calls results of the anti-American sentiments growing among the Non-Islamists because they believe that the Obama administration is biased to the MB. US ambassador Anne Paterson is so much hated and many Egyptians consider her the American version of Lord Cromer.

I believe the MB would love to protesters storm the US embassy this happen so their political opponents as well the Egyptian army lose all the cards with Washington.

Morsi's first year in office has been a bad one for Egyptians, with fuel and electricity shortages, among many woes. Jasmine Elnadeem explains:

@Selnadeem: Most of people say that their cars have no fuel, they couldn't go work and decided to join the protest in #Tahrir. #Egypt #30_june

Egyptian activist and blogger Alaa Abd El Fattah shares the following note on Facebook [ar]:

حيث ان امي هزقتني على حالة الاكتئاب و اديتني درس في ازاي لما الشعب ينزل يشيل حكامه تبقى هي دي التفصيلة الوحيدة المهمة و كل خطط و مؤامرات الانتهازيين ولا تسوى أو تفرق، قررنا تفعيل خاصية التفاؤل. بكره احلى رغم كل شيئ.

و مساهمة مني في توحيد الصف الثوري هقول نقاط الاتفاق:

* يسقط كل اللي بيعذب و بيقتل و بيهين كرامة الناس

* يسقط كل اللي بيسرق قوت الناس و يدمر مساكنهم و صحتهم و بيئتهم

* يسقط كل اللي بيحرم الناس من فرجتهم او حلمهم او طموحهم، سواء بالقهر او بالافقار او بالوصاية الأخلاقية

* يسقط كل اللي بيتصالح او يتعاون مع الصهاينة

* يسقط كل اللي قراره تابع لأمريكا او غيرها

* يسقط كل اللي له سلطة من غير تفويض من الناس و كل اللي بيمارس سلطته بما يخالف تفويض الناس

* يسقط كل اللي ساهم في ان اللي عمل ايا مما سبق يفلت من المحاسبة

Since my mother ridiculed me for the state of depression I was in and gave me a lesson in how, when the people take to the streets to uproot their rulers, then this should be the only important interest and that all the plans and conspiracies being made by opportunists do not matter, I have decided to switch to optimism. Tomorrow will be better no matter what.

To unify the columns of revolutionaries, I would like us to agree on the following:

* To overthrow all those who torture and kill people, and humiliate them

* To overthrow all those who steal from people, destroy their homes, health and environment

* To overthrow all those who deny people their happiness, dreams and aspirations, whether through oppression, poverty or moral guardianship

* To overthrow all those who reconcile or cooperate with Zionists

* To overthrow all those whose decisions are based on American approval

* To overthrow all those who have authority without the approval of the people, and all those who rule against the approval of the people

* To overthrow all those who have helped any of those who have committed any of the crimes above from accountability

Many are keen to join the protests:

Donia Iskandar tweets [ar]:

كله ياخد دش ، يشرب الشاي أو القهوة ، يفطر ، يعد مع أهله شوية يصلي و يتكل علي الله و ينزل توكلنا علي الله ضد #مرسي و الإخوان

@Donia_Iskandar: Everyone take a shower, drink tea or coffee, sit with your family for a while, pray, and come down to the street to protest against Morsi and the Muslim Brotherhood

Others are giving protesters tips on how to remain secure online. Lobna Darwish tweets:

أقفل التحديث الذاتي في برنامج الإيميل على تليفونك على الشبكات المفتوحة حالوين القصر وما تدخلش أي كلمات سر على الشبكة, ولا https مش كفاية.

@lobna: Switch off auto-update from your emails on your mobile phones when using open networks around the Palace and don't enter any passwords even if you are using https

She adds:

ما تبعتش على شبكة الإنترنت المفتوحة حوالين القصر أي معلومات مش هتبقى مبسوط لو أمن الدولة والجيش ومرسي ووالدتك عرفوها.

@lobna: Do not send any information on the internet which you don't want the state security, the army, Morsi or your mother to know about when you are around the palace

And Bassem Sabry warns protesters not to eat or drink anything offered by strangers, after protesters in Alexandria reportedly got poisoned from drinking contaminated water handed out at a protest:

محدش يأخد مياة أو لكل من أي مصدر غريب. فيه تقارير عن حالات تسمم بين المتظاهرين من زجاجات مياة وزعوها غرباء.

@Bassem_Sabry: Nobody should take food and water from strangers. There are reports of poisoning among protesters after drinking water bottles distributed by strangers

Morsi supporters carrying sticks and shields in Cairo today. Photograph shared by Kareem Fahim on Twitter.

Morsi supporters carrying sticks and shields in Cairo today. Photograph shared by Kareem Fahim (@kfahim) on Twitter.

The day has just started and may not be incident free.

Journalist Evan Hill reports:

@evanchill: Big column of maybe 150 men jogging through rally with sticks and helmets, maybe half of them with matching metal sheet shields

His report matches this photograph shared by Kareem Fahim on Twitter, which shows Morsi supporters, carrying sticks and shields, and wearing helmets.

Stay tuned for more coverage from Egypt as the day's events unfold.

via Global Voices » Feature

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