Latest stories from Quick Reads + Tunisia
The first edition of the World Forum for Democracy is currently taking place in Strasbourg, France (5-11 october, 2012). The theme of the forum is “Bridging the map: democracy between old models and new realities”. You can follow the discussions under the Twitter hashtag #CoE_WFD. Director of International Freedom of Expression at the Electronic Frontier Foundation and Global Voices author Jillian C. York was a panelist at the debate about “Media resposability and potential to foster democracy”, and acclaimed A Tunisian Girl blogger and activist Lina Ben Mhenni was awarded the “Alsatian Prize for Democratic Commitment” [fr].
Tunisian blogger Lina Ben Mhenni argues that belonging to any religion or culture is a “product of chance.” She says:
And when, together with bloggers from my country, we attempted to participate in one manner or another in the awakening of our people and the uprising against the dictatorship, it was-very far even-from my mind that we would find ourselves confronted with this difficult duality: civil society/ religious state!
As the French ministry of foreign affairs decided to temporary shut down 20 embassies [fr] after the publication of Muhammad Cartoons by French weekly Charlie Hebdo, Linda Doufari in Nawaat takes a nuanced defense [fr] of the magazine. Doufari argues that although the decision is on par with the low level quality of journalism that the weekly has proven so far, it is necessary for the weekly to publish the cartoon in order to prove that it still is somewhat relevant, a difficult task for any media these days.
Had humanity obsessed itself with the potential pitfalls of every fight for emancipation and always analyze the events under the prism of one segment of society, we all will still be living under the old regime of monarchy.
Faysal Riad argues that the revolution in France took almost a century [fr] to reach its current democratic format. It is premature to assert that the arab spring has lost its way.
On Tunisian blogging portal Nawaat, Christopher Barrie writes:
It is surely not unreasonable to argue that the 2011 revolution which followed this period of unrest could well have happened in the absence of new media. … It is therefore clear that the existence of Twitter was not a decisive element in the outbreak of the mass demonstrations of 2010-11.
Frederick Gore Djo Bi wrote [fr] on africavox.com about the rise of racism against black Africans in Tunisia. In his post, Bi quotes a testimony of Fabien Siei, an Ivorian engineering student living in Tunisia since 2007 [fr]:
Not a day goes by without a black African suffering from racial abuse. The most often-used insult is “Guira Guira,” which, according to some means in a local dialect “big monkey”. For many Tunisians, we black Africans are savages.
Tunisian blogger Nawel Abdullah posts an interview [ar] she conducted with the founder of The Australian Society for the Palestinian-Iraqi Refugee Emergency Yousef Alreemawi, who speaks to her about the plight of Palestinian refugees living in Iraq and efforts to resettle some of them in Australia.
Local open governance activists in Tunisia have launched the first open data website showing the municipal budget [ar, fr] of the city of Sayada for the current fiscal year. The Tunisian open governance community [ar, fr] has had some success in increasing the government's transparency; they have already convinced the Tunisian presidency to reveal its budget.
The first African Film Festival will take place in Athens, Greece, from February 23 to 29, 2012, with the collaboration of various African countries’ embassies and consulates. Twenty one films from Angola, South Africa, Morocco, Tunisia, Nigeria, Egypt and Ethiopia will be screened. The event is hosted by the Greek Film Archive [el].
Jolanare is weary of where the Tunisian revolution is heading to in terms of women's rights [fr]. She writes: ”A young man verbally attacked me because I was wearing red lipstick. He shouted at me : “these are the so-called women of the democracy.” I replied that it is thanks to the democracy he makes fun of that he can open his big mouth.”
“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.”
Tunisian blogger kefteji blogs about the “evolution of Tunisian propaganda,” charting the coverage of Tunisian French daily La Presse from December 17, 2010, until the fall of former president Zine El Abidine Ben Ali on January 14, 2011.
OpenDemocracy shares its list of the Best of Arab blogs here. Check out their list, which includes blogs from Egypt, Syria, Tunisia and Morocco, by clicking the link above.
Two young “faith-trotters” Anne-Laure and Frederic launched ”faithbook” [fr], a project that will take them across the world to meet similar pro-peace initiatives. They look to start a dialogue between people of faith who believe in peaceful coexistence through initiatives in various domains such as sports, education, culture and environment. They will shortly travel to Algeria after a trip in Tunisia.
Writing about the 2011 African Media Leaders Forum (AMLF) held on November 10-11 in Tunis, EVINA in the africapress.over-blog.com provides possible reasons [fr] for the increase in the number of participants: 55 people attended the first edition that took place in Dakar (Senegal) in November 2008, and 250 participants gathered in Yaounde, Cameroon in 2010.
Algerian blog Algérie-Politique published a round-up of Algerian journalists’ comments [fr and ar] on the October 23 Tunisian constituent election. Many were very impressed and inspired by this “example of democracy”.
The Independent Tunisian electoral commission has set up a crowdmap to monitor the voting process in Tunisia, in French and Arabic. Citizens are encouraged to report irregularities they may witness during the October 23 constituent elections. The crowdmap is also accessible from the official homepage of the electoral commission.
Tunisian residents in France will vote ahead of their compatriots, from Thursday, October 20, until Saturday, October 22, whereas polls in Tunisia open on Sunday 23 October. There are an estimated 600,000 Tunisians living in France. Les cahiers de la liberté (Notebooks of Freedom,) [fr, ar] has published a guide to the many candidates and parties competing for the diaspora vote, as well as videos, debates, and even an online application to sort various political standpoints and corresponding candidates via a list of questions.
Moroccan blogger Hisham Almiraat shares a video with a message to the February 20 Movement. Watch how bloggers from around the world tell them – Mamfakinch, which means don't give up the fight, in the Moroccan dialect. The video was shot during the Third Arab Bloggers meeting, which ended in Tunisia recently.
A number of Tunisian bloggers will be running in their country's parliamentary elections, announced Tunisian blogging portal Nawaat [Fr].
Reporters without borders emphasize the importance of the appeal hearing due to start [fr] on July 4th, in a Tunis appeal court, against a court order to block porn sites. “Like many Tunisian netizens, Reporters Without Borders are worried that this decision marks the return of the censorship practices during the Ben Ali era and fear that the porn site filtering (which has yet to be clearly defined) could pave the way for censorship of other kinds of content.”
Global Voices authors Tarek Amr and Lina Ben Mhenni, as well as the administrator of Tunisian group blog Nawaat, Malek Khadraoui, will be speaking in Athens on May 7, 2011 about the Arab revolutions and online censorship, in an event [el] organized by Greek political zines re-public and konteiner. Nawaat is the winner of press freedom awards from Index on Censorship and Reporters without Borders. Lina's blog A Tunisian Girl was named “Best blog” by the BOBs in 2011.