Middle Eastern Social Movements Essay

1816 words - 7 pages

In recent Middle Eastern social movements Internet-based communication has crucially aided both the potential for mass mobilization and the success of movements. 21st century media technologies (such as Facebook, Twitter, blogging, YouTube, etc.) operate as a semi-public sphere in which people can share dissident attitudes, announce the location of political protests, and coordinate mobilization. Internet-based communication therefore plays a dually important role; it acts as an alternative outlet for individual expression, but it also serves as mobilizing tool to broadcast anti-regime demonstrations, programs, and organizations. However, 21st century media is not entirely unique in its ability to aid political protest. Since 1900, Middle Eastern social movements/political leaders have used evolving communication technologies in order to promote policies. Although this paper will briefly touch on the role of communication technology in the Arab Spring, it will mainly focus (both currently and historically) on Iranian social movements.
The Arab Spring illustrated the value of Internet-based communication in bringing about social change. Political protests leading up to the Egyptian Revolution of 2011 featured a strong use of modern communication technology including cell phones, social media and other Internet-based media. Although people argue whether these technologies were responsible for revolutionary change, the point of this paper is not to attempt to prove the cause of revolution but simply describe how new communication technology aided organization. In this context, logic shows that new communication technology did in fact aid social mobilization in Egypt. Facebook groups such as ‘We Are All Khaled Said” illustrated regime brutality, constructed a universal rallying symbol, and urged fellow Egyptians to protest. Cell phones (text/calling) also helped protesters to coordinate demonstrations and relay the events of the protests to the international community. Additionally through the camera function, people were able to use cell phones to capture poignant and individual protest footage, which could be leveraged to rally future support. In Tunisia, Internet-based communication also substantially aided the revolution’s success. After Mohamed Bouazizi’s self-immolation sparked Tunisian protests, the eventual revolution was supported by the use of modern media technology. The main technologies that helped mobilize protests were Twitter and Facebook. An interview with Rim Nour, a technologically savvy Tunisian who took part in the revolution, indicated that Twitter and Facebook were instrumental at raising support for the movement, disseminating videos of regime brutality, and organizing protests. Protests in Libya and Yemen have also successfully employed modern communication technology. These empirical examples modern communication technology certainly aided mobilization during the Arab Spring and expedited the speed at which social change...

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