Arseh Sevom — Reports from the Islamic Republic of Iran about internet speeds, work to create a parallel cyber Iran, and the growing success of filtering systems paint a picture of desperate efforts to exert control over the population. Iran is not alone in its efforts. North Korea has their own “intranet” called Kwang Myong (“light” or “hope, fair, just, open”). The North Korean version duplicates external content it deems acceptable. Iran’s new closed intranet is expected to do the same, in a cyber version of what the state already does in traditional media by cherry-picking content from international sources and editing or translating it in ways that often distort the original meaning.
For the past 32 years there has been a complex relationship between the Iranian cinema industry and the Islamic republic. The ideologues of the Islamic revolution of 1979 sought justice and independence, dismissing the Shah as the figurehead of the status quo and opposing the West. The dawn of 1979 revolution started out with the mass persecution of actors, actresses, singers, musicians, dancers and other Iranian media figures. They were accused of having acted as accomplices of the former regime in propagating Western values – hence ‘westoxification’.
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.
Hooman Askary reports on his discussion with the former minister of women’s affairs in pre-revolution Iran, Mahnaz Afkhami. She links the century long struggle of Iranian women for equal protection under the law to the demonstrations that emerged in 2009 after the flawed presidential elections in Iran. Afkhami states, “The green movement in Iran is [...]
Amal Hamidallah-van Hees (A Letter to an Iranian Woman from Her Arab Friend) is the director of Bridging the Gulf Foundation for human security in the Gulf region. Van Hees has a long history of working in the field of democracy, agency and participation, peace and security, human development, economic justice, gender and human rights [...]