Sunday, 16 January 2011

Reporting from #Tunisia

Like all obsessed people I suppose, I can't understand why everyone isn't rivetted by events in Tunisia.

I'm no kinda expert in any element of this story, but I have learned a great deal and propose to share some tidbits with DJ! readers.

This website, Al-Bab, is a great place to start.
Al-Bab aims to introduce non-Arabs to the Arabs and their culture. Western explorers of the 18th and 19th centuries portrayed the Arab world as a strange, exotic and sometimes terrifying place. Al-Bab seeks to portray the Arab world neither as an object of fear nor as a cultural curiosity - fascinating though it may be.

At the moment, blogger Brian Whitaker (at link above) is reporting on unrest in Libya and suggests a 'Tunisia test' for distinguishing major and minor protests.

The #Tunisia hashtag has been running about half and half Arabic and non-Arabic. Lots of commenters are speculating on where else such protests may break out. Libya, Jordan, Egypt are frequently mentioned.

Probably the 'coolest' queen on earth, Queen Rania of Jordan, tweeted thusly yesterday:
Closely watching developments in #Tunisia and praying for stability and calm for its people.

Which drew this much retweeted comment:
@QueenRania I honesty think u should start palace-hunting in Jeddah, coz u and your husband r next. #sidibouzid #Tunisia #Jordan

There are two female journalists I'm now following: Mona Eltahawy and Dima Khatib, both funny and smart. (Dima Khatib writes in about five languages.)

It was Mona Eltahawy yesterday who, in assessing Ghaddafi's whacky appeal to Tunisians (live-tweeted here), said something like: 'To give him his due, Ghaddafi is the only Arab leader nutty enough to even go there.'

Less so today, but popping up occasionally is the spat between people saying this is a 'Twitter revolution' (I was guilty of that yesterday; in my defense, I am only slightly newer to North African politics than I am to Twitter) and others who say that is Western-style BS and totally disrespectful of the real revolutionaries.

Here's the case for 'Twitter' revolution and here's the spectacular smackdown.

More succinctly, our friend Mattt Bastard put it like this:
I don't understand how the people of Tunisia overthrew their government without me signing an e-petition or changing my Twitter avatar.

That's it for now. I gotta get back to Tunisia. And, I guess, wash my hair, put some clothes on. . . .

ADDED: Reuters report. I don't think this sounds like 'street theatre'.


Cliff said...

The impression I have though, is that a dictator lost the support of the army and got overthrown because the military powers that were propping him up let it happen, but that the powers behind him are still in place just letting everyone have the catharsis of seeming change in civil government. Theater for the street. It's hard to get too excited by that.

fern hill said...

That may have been the intent, Cliff, but it's gone way beyond that now.

Right now there are gun battles going on between the army and the presidential security forces.

Cliff said...

Hey I hope I'm wrong and this is the first of many people's revolutions in the Middle East.

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