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The Uneven Dimension of Arab iRevolution

26 Dec

Introduction
History of the world will always narrate the ‘Arab uprising’ while discussing the years 2011 and 2012. It is the only one of its kind that was technologically driven. Edmund Burke’s ‘Fourth Estate’ evolved into new forms till it became the ‘voice of the people’ at places where they couldn’t use traditional means of communication. The ‘social media’ and virtual networking did wonders for Tunisians, Egyptians and Libyans. On the other hand, Bahrainis are still longing for political freedom and strangled in sectarian strife. You won’t be able to see many headlines about the unabated misery of Bahraini protesters and the brutal treatment of US backed regime. Bahrain’s King Hamad bin Isa al Khalifa has ruled the third least populated land of Middle East for the past 41 years. If it is an ‘iRevoltuion’ then the social media statistics presented by Mashable media report in 2012 ( http://mashable.com/2012/06/08/arab-world-facebook-twitter/) presents a rugged ‘social media-scape’ in the Arab world.

Facebook 

facebook users in Arab world

facebook population penetration

Note the difference between Bahrain on 6th position (from left) and Egypt on 12th position.

Twitter

twiiter users in Arab worldpenetration of twiiter users in Arab worldCompare Bahrain and Egypt again.

Bahrain Versus Egypt
My post will strictly deal with Bahrain and Egypt as internet laws are more or less the same in both the countries. Moreover, Egypt, Syria and Bahrain have all moved to discourage bloggers and their vocal behaviour against state oppression.

In Egypt, even after Hosni Mubarak was ousted, the native blogger, “Son of Ra” was sentenced to three years in prison for criticizing the military. [1]

The website of Reporters without borders, revealed on June 21, 2012 that 21 suspects were prosecuted on June 2, 2011 for their affiliation with terrorist organizations and for attempting to over throw the Bahraini government, one of them was a missing blogger Abdulemam, who is regarded by fellow Bahrainis as one of his country’s Internet pioneers and is an active member of Bahrain Online, a pro-democracy forum that gets more than 100,000 visitors a day despite being blocked within Bahrain. [2]

The interesting part of the available social media reports and statistics is that Bahrain has an internet usage percentage of 88% (highest in the Arab world) with a population of just 0.7 million. Whereas, Egypt (population 66.6 million) has an internet usage percentage of 21% after United Arab Emirates, Qatar, Iran, Oman, Kuwait, Saudi Arabia, Jordan and Lebanon (countries where the Arab spring never blossomed). The statistics provided above also unveil that penetration of Twitter and Facebook (potential social networking tools used in the Arab spring).

An article published in the Guardian [3] could have appalled any of the online protesters, a journalist named Amber Lyon (involved in the production of CNN’s documentary ‘iRevolution‘) expalined that why CNN international did not air the documentary. The reason according to her was:

“A 13 minute portion in the documentary that covered protests in Bahrain.”

This leaves some never-ending questions for those who are happily advocating the role of ‘social media’ as a leader of the Arab Spring. Apart from that, it has led to an obvious conclusion:

‘The iRevolution if backed by the US could bring change in the Middle East’

References:

[1] H.A William & F.J. Scotton (2012), The World News Prism Challenges of Digital Communication, Wiley – Blackwell Eight edition.

[2] http://en.rsf.org/bahrain-bahraini-blogger-still-missing-a-21-06-2012,42840.html

[3] http://www.guardian.co.uk/world/2012/sep/04/cnn-international-documentary-bahrain-arab-spring-repression

[4] http://shusmo.me/2012/06/07/twitter-active-users-in-arab-world-english

Mashable media report – http://mashable.com/2012/06/08/arab-world-facebook-twitter/

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2 Comments

Posted by on December 26, 2012 in Research Hub

 

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2 responses to “The Uneven Dimension of Arab iRevolution

  1. aiman

    December 27, 2012 at 1:34 am

    do u think arab spring had any lasting effects.i mean what good was it.were people able to achieve what they sought ..like free speech ,freedom from tyranny etc .or the movement just resulted in new leaderships most of who will play at the hands of foreign powers but with a slightly different agenda .was it all futile.considering the turmoil which Egypt still finds itself in

     
    • Fakiha Hassan Rizvi

      December 27, 2012 at 9:32 am

      Aiman this is a lengthy debate and experts usually have varied views over this. In my opinion, the Arab spring couldn’t have been initiated without the support of international stalwarts like the US, which wasn’t happy at Morsi’s win. Therefore, the Egyptian picture is largely being distorted. However, there is no denial of the fact that Muslim Brotherhood isn’t the party which young Arab revolutionaries wanted. The country itself is divided among secularists and Islamists along with a grave economic turmoil. Arab spring blossomed well in countries where dictatorial regimes existed, the oil rich monarchies like Bahrain where Kings are still the masters, have been ignored.

       

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