The Protester

The Protester

The Editor. March 8, 2013

Iran: Under Pressure Society Struggles

Arseh Sevom — This week the mother of Neda, the young woman whose death was captured on camera during the demonstrations following the 2009 presidential elections, reminds us of international women’s day. (h/t United4Iran). Ban Ki Moon makes a statement for an end to violence against women and children. Iran’s sociologists report on growing sexual [...]

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Post image for United for Iran Condemns Religious Ruling Against Rapper Najafi

United for Iran has issued a statement on the religious ruling against rapper Shahin Najafi, calling on Iranian authorities to condemn the incitement to murder from clerics and other forces. An excerpt from the statement reads: Thursday, May 17, 2012 Washington, DC – United for Iran condemns the issuing of a death ruling for rapper [...]

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The Editor. February 7, 2012

Egypt — Punishing Pro-Democracy NGOs

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Arseh Sevom — The Egyptian public prosecutor has issued more than 40 indictments against members of international NGOs for participating in banned activities and receiving funding from foreign sources. The Arabist has published a list of names and affiliations. Nineteen of those indicted are American citizens.

The Guardian reports that NGOs attempting to legally register in Egypt face a long wait and confusing bureaucracy:

“You submit your papers, then they keep asking for more and you don’t get anywhere, and in the end you are not registered,” said Sherif Azer, deputy head of the Egyptian Organisation for Human Rights.

NDI [National Democratic Institute] submitted a request in 2005 that did not meet with much interest by the authorities and was asked to resubmit its papers by the ministry of foreign affairs last month, Hughes said. “We were given verbal indications that our programmes were well within Egyptian law,” she said.

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The Editor. January 4, 2012

Arseh Sevom’s 2011 Review

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In Arseh Sevom’s first ever newsletter (online here), we looked back at some of the highlights from the pages of our website. Those included:

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The Editor. December 15, 2011

Protest and Advocacy on Arseh Sevom

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Arseh Sevom — With the announcement from Time Magazine that The Protester is this year’s person of the year, we thought this was a good time to remind our readers of all the great content on Arseh Sevom’s English site related to protests, demonstrations, and acts of advocacy.

The entire Arseh Sevom Zine for Winter 2011 responds to the question: “What’s next? What comes after the unity when the messy business of democracy begins?” A good place to start is with The Letter from the Editor, which sets the stage for the rest of the articles.

The first issue of Arseh Sevom’s Civil Society Zine looks at networking, networks, and change. You might want to check out Linda Herrera’s piece: Two Faces of Revolution: Why Dictators Fear the Internet.

In Creating the Impossible: The Invisible Network of Britain’s Activist Subculture, Avery Oslo discusses the consensus building of eco-activists. Some of it may sound familiar to people who have been following the activities of Occupy Wall Street.

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The Editor. December 15, 2011

The Protester, Time’s 2011 Person of the Year

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Arseh Sevom — In 2009, hundreds of thousands, maybe millions, of Iranians took to the streets to express their desire for more open and democratic governance. Most were wary of revolutionary promises and seeking reform with space to participate in society.

“I stood on the streets with women in chadors who were protesting for my right not to wear a veil,” a 29-year-old school teacher in Tehran told us. “It surprised me.”

That year many people urged Time Magazine to consider the protesters in Iran as the person of the year. They were disappointed by the choice of Ben Bernanke This year Time Magazine focused on The Protester, which professor and activist, Michael Benton calls, “Protest the way the American media establishment wants it — faceless and ambiguous. Note that last month’s time covers in the USA were different from the rest of the world’s — asking Americans to be ‘OK’ with ‘anxiety.’”

Scott Lucas of Enduring America tells Arseh Sevom, “”It is not just The Protester as the Person of the Year. It is the resurrection of belief in protest as a positive, a belief that rights, justice, and a better way of life are not simply to be held and withheld by those who claim to be leaders.”

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The Editor. November 23, 2011

Letter from the Editor

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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.

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Post image for From Monitoring to Building: Questions for South African Peace-Worker Jasmin Nordien

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.”

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The Editor. November 22, 2011

A Rebellion of Civil Society

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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.”

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The Editor. November 22, 2011

How to Organize a Community

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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.”

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The Editor. November 22, 2011

Rock the Casbah

Rock the Casbah

Davi Baker, who blogs for the San Francisco Examiner as the SF Muslim, goes back to the ninth century to speculate on the roots of change in the Arab world. In the work of scholar Patricia Crone, he uncovers political thinkers speculating on the best way to organize society without a caliphate. Consensus, participation, violent overthrow, acquiescence, or anarchy? Baker writes, “Essentially they argued that the Caliph must be agreed upon by the entire community, either unanimously or by consensus, and without this no legitimate Caliph could exist. It was widely accepted that Allah did not impose obligations which were impossible to fulfill, so it was reasoned that there was no obligation to establish a legitimate Caliph.”

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The Editor. November 19, 2011

“One Has to Do All One Can for Human Rights”

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Antonia Bertschinger tells us of her work at the Swiss section of Amnesty International. She tells us how she came to be involved with human rights work. Bertschinger came to the work via her interest in Afghanistan. She studied Persian in university and worked in the Kabul Museum in Switzerland. “I loved working there because it helped me learn so much about Afghanistan. This did some awareness raising for me to learn what it’s like to live in a country where all the rights are violated, especially women’s rights, and which had such a long war, and so many other disasters. She ended up working in the Foreign Ministry in Iran rather than win Afghanistan, however. It was there that she met so many people working to build a better society and for the protection of human rights. Bertschinger asks of her own home in Europe, “How can we ever forget that human rights and the rule of law are the basis of our good life?”

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