You can download Arseh Sevom’s Civil Society Zine as a pdf by clicking here for Issue 1: The Networking Issue and here for Issue 2: What Comes Next? Excerpt from Issue 2′s letter from the editor: The term “Arab Spring” has always felt ominous to me rather than optimistic. After all, we all know what [...]
In the second issue of Arseh Sevom’s Civil Society Magazine, called David and Goliath, we asked contributors to tell us what comes after all the unity, after the giant is slain, after the monster is gone? What comes next? It was clearly a difficult question; one without a simple answer. The story of David and Goliath is a story of the (perceived) weak against the powerful, of prevailing against the odds, of bravery and leadership. However modern day Goliaths aren’t so easy to dispel with one little pebble.
While we may not have definitively answered the question, “What comes next,” the articles in this Zine share ideas about human rights, the Arab Anger, Islamicization, leadership, and women’s rights. These all make important contributions to our search for ways forward, while engaging a variety of voices from a range of experiences and locations.
The term “Arab Spring” has always felt ominous to me. After all, we all know what happened after the short-lived Prague Spring of 1968, which was brutally squashed. As I write this, we read that more than 32 people have been killed in clashes in Cairo’s Tahir Square. Thousands have been arrested. Amnesty is reporting that people in Egypt who dare to express themselves are being arrested and tried in military courts.
Arseh Sevom spoke with South African activist Jasmin Nordien about her experiences working in civil society organizations. In this post, we focus on her experiences throughout the 1980s, when she worked with the Network of Independent Monitors reporting on state violence and supporting individuals and grassroots organizations. Jasmin shares some of the lessons she learned about the importance of creating networked organizations, the differences between leadership and management, and the need for clarity of purpose. Jasmin tells us, “The one thing I learned after working at NIM was that I no longer wanted to monitor. I wanted to build the kind of society that my children and grandchildren would group up in.”
In this interview, Arturo Desimone talks to Tunisian student activist Ghassen Athmni. They discuss the democratic future of Tunisia, non-violence, Islamism, and the (then) coming elections. Athmni states, “This is not a revolution born out of pacifist ideology like the ones you associate pacifism with. There is no moral value of non-violence or ending the evil of all wars. The “bloodless” or “non-violent” character of our revolution is more embedded in the North African and Carthaginian cultures. North Africans do not see viability in violence as a road to power, we always prefer to circumvent violence, we walk around it whenever we can to find a better, more silent way.”
In this text given as a speech at The twenty second international conference of the Iranian Women’s Studies Foundation (IWSF), Amal Hamidallah-van Hees addresses the fears and hopes of Arab and Islamic women watching the changes in their region. “We are watching with our eyes wide open,” she writes, noting that many lessons were learned by the revolution in Iran. She urges women to engage with politics and Islam. “We will claim our space, even the religious one.”
In this piece, activist Lissnup gives some pointers on building a neighborhood organization. A good issue, the author tells us, will “be a real improvement in people’s lives; be non-divisive, and develop a sense of power for the group.”