Here’s a Guest Post again, after a long time! This time, Mona Kareem is kind enough to write for DWW, wherein she provides a first hand analysis with an interesting viewpoint on the Arab Spring, and the cultural new wave of social activism it brings. Mona is a renowned Poet, Journalist, and blogger from Kuwait. She is a Contributor for Globalvoicesonline.com, Jadaliyya.com & Migrant-rights.com. You can follow her on Twitter, here!
Arab Spring: It is not Social Media; it is Cyber Activism
In the past decade, blogging might have been a tool to start an online business or a way to bitch and moan about your boss, but that is just the western perspective of it. To us, in the Middle East, blogging was the way for many activists to find their way to connect and present the true face of their realities to the world. Before blogging, being a political activist had a definite dark destiny which is jail, exile, or death, but this image has changed a lot when blogging came out and regimes started blocking blogs and arresting bloggers then getting forced into facing western media and the angry human rights organization.
Wael Abbas, Karim Amer, and Abdul Munim Mahmoud of Egypt, Lina Ben Mhenni and Slim Amamou of Tunisia, Mamfakinch of Morocco, Fouad Farhan of Saudi Arabia, Ali Abdulimam of Bahrain, and the Safat Square trio of Kuwait. All those names were the ones to have dared to talk about the importance of bringing change into their countries. We saw an Egyptian man posting torture videos of the state security police, a woman following up the crimes of the Tunisian tyrant with her camera, a Tunisian man holding a sign against censorship in front of the ministry of information, a young group of men and women revealing corruption in Morocco and demanding reforms, Saudi and Bahraini bloggers getting arrested for speaking out, and Kuwaiti young men using their blog to push people into the streets to demand a change in the law of electoral districts. It was those crazy kids that revealed a lot of the truth, unveiled the crimes and corruption of their regimes, and showed that Arabs, unlike what they believe, deserve a better life of freedom and dignity; they showed courage, strength, and most importantly a solid belief in change and the ability of the people in making a difference.
In various Arab cities, we have seen signs saying “Merci Facebook” or “Every tyrant has a Facebook to topple him” referring to the role of social networks in creating citizens’ media in societies that have been run and ruled by state media. For sure, social networking made us live the uprisings minute by minute, and the youth of the Arab world did a great job using their foreign languages to translate the short news pieces when regimes blocked foreign media from practicing its normal role. Social networks worked at the moment of the uprising, but cyber activism worked in the long run by breaking the silence wall in fearful societies.
The glory of the Arab spring is not limited by its ability of bringing change to the Arab world but in creating a culture of “daring” and speaking out. We have lived decades of silence passed on from a generation to another believing that silence brings security and comfort, therefore, seeing this generation rising up and not compromising their rights of freedom of expression despite toppling their regimes, insisting on not settling for the minimum change created; this only shows us their valuable attempt to create a cultural change for the Arab mentality instead of replacing a tyrant with another; This is a cultural spring in its core, so “Merci cyber activism”!