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Media on Media Roundup (March 14)

[ ["Wikileaks Julien Assange" Photo design by Surian Soosay, Flickr]

This week’s Jadaliyya “Media on Media” roundup looks at several important dyanmics shaping the MENA region’s mediascape. In Palestine, Arabs took to the streets to protest Israeli legislation that aims to silence mosque loudspeakers. Several Syrian activists protested Jaysh al-Islam representing opposition groups and leading Geneva peace talks, given their increased clampdown on free speech in Ghouta. A Syrian teenager who was the victim of online bullying on Facebook sued the company. Accusing it of failing the to delete the defamatory posts, he nevertheless lost the case against the corporate giant. The Intercept carried out an investigation on a U.S. raid in the Yemeni village Ghayil, noting that their findings contradicted the Pentagon’s narrative and that mainstream media coverage focused more on the fallen Navy Seal than the massacre

On the cultural front, the Tanarout arts club in Benghazi, Libya is hoping to reconstruct urban space in the city through artistic initiatives that focus on collective memory rather than the ongoing violence.  

All these stories and more can be found below.  

Media and Politics

Arab Israelis protest mosque loudspeaker bills
Source: The Daily Star (via AFP)
Arabs in northern Israel staged protests against a new legislation aimed at silencing mosque loudspeakers. Though the bills can theoretically be applied to any place of worship in Israel, many of the protests saw them as direct attacks against Muslims.

Leaked recording reveals "propaganda" against Tripoli's anti-Haftar forces
Source: Middle East Eye
An officer under the command of Libyan general Khalifa Haftar was allegedly recorded speaking to a media magnate concerning a propaganda campaign aimed at painting anti-Haftar forces as members of al-Qaeda. The leaked recording was aired on Tripoli-backed Al-Nabaa TV.

Saudi committed to battling digital security threats
Source: The Saudi Gazette
The 2nd International Cyber Security Conference was held in Riyadh to discuss mitigation strategies against digital security threats in the GCC and beyond. The organizers of the conference emphasized cooperation between international and regional officials as key to protecting digital sovereignty.

Media Industries

WikiLeaks adds to Samsung headaches with claims of spying TVs
Source: Bloomberg
Recent documents released by Wikileaks discuss the CIA’s surveillance strategies on users through smart TVs and other technologies, increasing concerns for Samsung. The company, along with other tech companies, has been embroiled in negative headlines for the past few months. 

Amazon studies establishment of logistics centre in Egypt
Source: Daily News Egypt
International e-commerce company Amazon is allegedly looking to set up a logistics centre in Egypt. The former chairperson of the Egyptian-American Business Council stated that Amazon is looking to sign contracts with three Egyptian exporters in several industries.

Saudi Telecommunications Ministry inks memo with IBM
Source: Arab News
The Saudi Ministry of Telecommunications and Information Technology signed a memo with IBM to promote cooperation through educational institutions in several communication and IT programs. The collaboration aims to develop human capital as part of the kingdom’s Vision 2030.

Tech needs women
Source: Thomson Reuters
The article discusses the importance of involving girls and women in tech industries to achieve effective cross-sectoral productivity. The authors, members of the Womanity Foundation, highlight tech training at a young age and self-defense in cyberspace as important arenas through which to achieve systemic change.

Ooredoo Qatar deploys Nokia's 4.5G solution in Doha
Source: Capacity Media
Ooredoo Qatar launched Nokia’s 4.5G Pro technology in its capital city Doha, offering mobile speeds of up to 800Mbps to its customers. The deployment is part of Ooredoo’s ongoing network updates to meet increasing data demands in the country.

Freedom of Journalists/Expression

Jaysh al-Islam is leading peace talks in Geneva, while clamping down on speech in Syria's eastern Ghouta
Source: Global Voices
Syrian opposition group in Ghouta, Jaysh al-Islam, shut down a magazine and five civil society organizations following an article published in “Rising For Freedom” magazine. This piece argues that Jaysh al-Islam’s role as leader in Geneva peace talks is controversial, given their alleged war crimes.

Israel bans entry to supporters of the boycott movement
Source: International Middle East Media Center
Economist Shir Hever explains the recent Israeli law which denies entry to supporters of the BDS campaign, commenting on its similarity to Trump’s “Muslim ban” and highlighting the lack of coverage it received by Israeli mainstream media.

Turkey protesters slam jailing of journalists
Source: Middle East Eye
Journalists and opposition lawmakers in Turkey took to the streets to protest against the government’s detention of reporters, with the crowds shouting slogans like “Journalism is not a crime" and "We will not remain silent.”

Algérie: HRW demande l’abandon des poursuites pour blasphème contre le jeune romancier Anouar Rahmani
Source: Jeune Afrique
Human Rights Watch accuses the Algerian government of pursuing young author for publishing his online novel which was deemed by authorities to be in violation of Law 144 of the Algerian Penal Code. Deemed an offense to the Prophet and a denigration of the precepts of Islam, the author could be sentenced to up to five years in prison. 

Social Media

Facebook wins case against Syrian refugee in Merkel selfie
Source: Your Middle East
Facebook won a case against a Syrian teenager whose selfie with Angela Merkel made him the target of racist trolls, with the court ruling that the social media giant was not obligated to look for and delete defamatory posts.

"Basil al-Araj was a beacon for Palestinian youth"
Source: Al Jazeera
Palestinian youth activist Basil al-Araj was killed by Israeli forces on the morning of 6 March 2017. Many Palestinians took to the streets to protest his death and social media users expressed their outrage on various social media platforms.

Ahmadinejad and Trump on Twitter are a match made in heaven
Source: The Guardian
Writer Saeed Kamali Dehghan comments on the similarities between the perceived anti-establishment position of political figures Ahmadinejad and Trump, analyzing the Twitter strategies both politicians adopt.

Can new mobile app help solve Egypt's environmental problems?
Source: Al Monitor
A new mobile app for e-waste collection, Dr. WEEE, looks to collect household, companies, and schools’ waste to ensure safe disposal and to extract valuable raw materials. The founder of the app counts the lack of e-waste collection vehicles and social perceptions towards recycling as main obstacles.

Fake goods: Dubai and Saudi turn to social media in battle against counterfeit products
Source: Thomson Reuters Zawya
Officials in Saudi and Dubai are fighting against the illegal trade of counterfeit goods online and have shut down several social media accounts. Several GCC countries have launched electronic detections systems to monitor incoming counterfeit goods, especially cosmetics.

Social media and the polluted waters of public discourse
Source: The National
In this opinion piece, writer Ali Khaled comments on the nature of public discourse on social media, noting that platforms like Twitter changed from “unselfconscious” spaces to public shaming arenas.

These failed apps discovered a hidden rule of the Web
Source: Backchannel
Writer Miranda Katz argues that anonymous applications like Secret and Yik Yak eventually fail because online social networks’ chief purpose is to connect people and thus need to have names attached to users.

Media Practices

New evidence contradicts Pentagon’s account of Yemen raid, but General closes the case
Source: The Intercept
The Pentagon found no signs of bad judgement in a January raid in Yemen; however a recent investigation by The Intercept revealed evidence contrary to White House reports. The article notes that media coverage focused on the fallen Navy Seal in the raid rather than the massacre or Yemeni village, Ghayil.

Should Trump have a plan for Yemen?
Source: The Hill
The op-ed piece notes that Arab media outlets’ adoption of localized approaches on the Yemeni crisis failed to explain the issue from a global interest perspective, contributing to an unclear U.S. policy towards Yemen. The writer emphasizes the need for an overhaul of Obama’s foreign policy by the Trump administration.

Reporting from Syria, an American with a point of view and a message
Source: New York Times
Bilal Abdul Karim, a former comedian from New York, became an unlikely reporter on the Syrian war, providing a different perspective on the crisis from rebel-held areas that most foreign journalists have fled. He has covered various aspects of the war, such as civilians wounded in airstrikes.

Journalists for Human Rights supports Syrian media
Source: The Arab Daily News
Journalists for Human Rights (JHR), in support with the UN Democracy Fund, has launched a two-year pilot project that looks to provide Syrian journalists with adequate training as a way to support Syria’s “weak, traumatized” media sector.

Media (R)evolutions: Media use in the Middle East
Source: World Bank Blogs
The World Bank blog comments on a six-nation report by Northwestern University in Qatar which provides an overview of media use in the region. Notable findings including narrowing of digital divides between generations and social classes in the MENA area and a desire for more entertainment media based on local culture and history.

Revealed: the music tastes of UAE, Saudi consumers
Source: Arabian Business
Sony Music published a study on music taste preferences and habits across the Middle East, placing Arab audiences into four categories: Fanatics, Enthusiasts, Casual, and Indifferent. Some of the study’s findings note that jazz is more popular than hip-hop in the UAE and that a significant percentage of Saudi women enjoy electronic music.

دور الإعلام في ثقافة الحوار
المصدر: الأخبار
يناقش الدكتور نبيل دجاني دور الإعلام اللبناني في خلق ثقافة الحوار، موضحاً أنّ الإعلام اللبنان مستباح و مستغل من قبل ممتهنيه والقيمين على أمر الدولة الذين يتعاملون معه كسلعة وليس كرسالة اجتماعية هادفة. يقترح دجاني التخلي عن النظام الطائفي و العشائري كخطوة أولية لحلِّ هذه المسألة.   

من سرداب المخابرات الأمريكية: هاتفك الذكي.. جاسوس في جيبك
المصدر: مدى مصر
نشرت منظمة ويكيليكس مجموعة وثائق تفصّل عدّة أدوات تقنية ورقمية حديثة تستخدمها وكالة الاستخبارات الأمريكية للّتنصت على و التحكم بالأجهزة الإلكترونية عن بعد. تثير هذه المعلومات التساؤلات حول أمن المعلومات والسرية للمواطنين.   

International Women’s Day

International Women's Day: Egyptian cartoonist sheds light on ten discriminatory laws against women
Source: Egypt Independent
Egyptian cartoonist Doaa el-Adl used her art to comment on ten discriminatory laws against women in Egypt, such as those on adultery, underage marriage, domestic violence, and female genital mutilation, among others.

On Women’s Day, thinking beyond American flag hijabs
Source: Ajam Media Collective
The article comments on the iconic image of a hijabi woman wearing a U.S. flag as a veil from the Women’s March in January, noting that such posters reify American exceptionalism. Instead, the author calls for more nuanced work on International Women’s Day, such as that of Iranian-American artist Hushidar Mortezaie, which acknowledges the reality of U.S. war in the Middle East. 

Culture

Music, laughter, coffee... Benghazi tastes freedom amid war
Source: Middle East Eye
The Tanarout arts club in Benghazi, Libya is an artistic space that looks to reconstruct the city and country through cultural initiatives, despite being in close proximity to violence.

Dark-skinned and beautiful: Challenging Saudi Arabia's perception of beauty
Source: The New Arab
Saudi health and beauty blogger Abeer Sinder uses her YouTube channel as a platform to address racial prejudices that dark-skinned women face in the Saudi Arabia and the Arab region more generally. 

French learners in Gaza take matters into their own hands
Source: Electronic Intifada
Mousa Tawfiq examines the dangers French-learners in Palestine face at the hands of jihadist groups opposed to France’s policies in Iraq and Syria, noting that many students must rely on themselves instead.

Why do so few women work (for pay) in Jordan?
Source: PRI
The article explores the reasons why female labor participation in Jordan is low despite the country’s high literacy rates, noting structural reasons as the main obstacle. The author also points to the role of media in reaffirming patriarchal values among new generations.

Nike's new hijab--opportunistic or long-awaited?
Source: Middle East Eye
Nike launched its new “Pro Hijab” line, making it the first large sportswear brand to cater to Muslim female athletes. Whilst many users on social media commended Nike’s move, others were quick to point out lesser-known brands founded by Muslim entrepreneurs who have long catered to this market.

The rise of "modest" fashion
Source: CNN
The article dubs the “modest dress” phenomenon, seen predominantly on Instagram, a global cultural movement that appeals to Muslim and non-Muslim women alike, which is influencing several e-commerce businesses’ aesthetic.

Palestinians urge Radiohead not to entertain Israeli apartheid
Source: Electronic Intifada
Artists, activists, and fans of Radiohead are urging the band to cancel their upcoming concert in Tel Aviv, noting that a performance will only help perpetuate Israel’s crimes against Palestinians. The article notes that the band has thus far ignored these appeals.

Festival du film de Tanger: Cinq courts-métrages qui valent le détour
Source: Telquel
The article gives brief synopses of five short films that premiered at the Tangiers Film Festival in Morocco, which it describes as “breaths of fresh air.”

Other

الشعر العامي في الخليج: طريق الخلاص من القيود
المصدر: رصيف22
تقول الكاتبة منال الزهراني أنّ الشعر العامّي الحديث في البلدان الخليجية وسيلة مهمّة يستخدمها الشباب لتخطّي القيود اجتماعية. تفصّل الكاتبة تاريخ الكلمة "الرحّالة" عبر الصحارى وكيف تغيّر الشعر العربي الحديث على أيدي شعراء الخليج الشباب من خلال استخدامهم لمواقع التواصل الاجتماعي.      

From Jadaliyya Media Roundups

Big Brother’s Book Festival
Source: Jadaliyya Arabian Peninsula Roundup
The article comments on the tenth annual Emirates Airline Festival of Literature, noting that the U.A.E’s support of the event is hypocritical given its increased crackdown on freedom of expression.

انتخابات نقابة الصحفيين.. قارب الغرق أم طوق النجاة؟
المصدر: جدليّة - مختارات من الصحافة العربية  
انتخابات نقابة الصحافيين في مصر تكتسب أهمية كبيرة كأول انتخابات تقع في خضم توتر كبير ما بين الدولة والصحفيين. و تقول المقالة أنّ أزمة الصدام هذا يمكن أن يكون طوق النجاة لبعض المرشحين أو قارب الغرق.   

The "Media On Media Roundup" is an initiative to survey published material in the news and broadcast media that deals with journalism, coverage, or mass communication practices about the region. These roundups are produced and curated in collaboration with the American University of Beirut's Media Studies Program. The items collected here do not reflect the views of Jadaliyya or the editors of the Media Page.

Syrian Population Regression

Population: ~ 22.5 Million

2011:  5,800+ (killed)

2012:  60,000+ (killed) and 500,000+ (external refugees)

2013:  100,000+ (killed), 2,000,000+ (external refugees), and 8 million+ displaced

 

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Syria Map and Stats

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Population: 22,517,750
GDP: $107.4 billion 
Unemployment: 8.3%; Youth Employment (ages 15-24): 19.1%
Internet Users: 4.469 million 
Exchange Rate: ~ 98.00 Syrian pounds per US dollar
GDP Growth Rate: 3.2% 
Military Expenditures: 5.9% of GDP (World Rank: 10)
Health Expenditures: 2.9% of GDP (World Rank: 180)
Population Growth Rate: 0.913% 
Age Structure: 0-14 years: 35.2%; 15-64 years: 61%; 65 years and over: 3.8%
Literacy: 79.6%
Religious Demographics: Sunni Muslim 74%; other Muslim (includes Alawite, Druze) 16%; Christian (various denominations) 10%
Ethnic Demographics: Arab 90.3%, Kurds, Armenians, and other 9.7%