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Movements for Change

How Individuals, Social Media and Al Jazeera Are Changing Pakistan, Egypt and Tunisia

Rauf Arif

This book explores social media as an alternative channel of communication and resistance in Pakistan, Tunisia and Egypt, and argues that the term "Arab Spring" limits the scope of acknowledgement for the ongoing online and offline political uprisings in the Muslim World, which started beyond the geographical boundaries of the Middle East. Beginning with an exploration of the pivotal role of Al Jazeera and how it used social media content from protestors to make the uprisings a global conversation, this book takes readers through an overview of creative political protests in each of the three case countries, before delving into an in-depth examination of a specific icon that sparked each revolution in question, and an overview of social movements and the politico-cultural context in each country. In closing, this book offers an understanding on how the new collective memories of nations using social media to protest will affect future generations who are striving to rise against authoritarian regimes, including the Algerian Spring that is ongoing in 2019.

This book can appeal to a wide range of audiences, both inside and outside the academic world. Within academia, courses covering topics such as social media, social movements, comparative politics, Middle Eastern studies and global communication could use this book as a learning tool. In non-academic settings, journalism practitioners could benefit from this book to examine how social media can be an alternate media in the absence of traditional media, and how traditional news media outlets can collaborate with and utilize social media to perform their journalistic duty in oppressive regimes.

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3 The Pivotal Role of Al Jazeera

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3

The Pivotal Role of Al Jazeera

Al Jazeera: A Channel of Revolutions

The Qatar-based television network, Al Jazeera, meaning “The Island” in English, emerged as the most credible non-western media source in the Arabic world in November 1996 (Abdelmoula, 2015; El-Nawawy & Iskandar, 2003; El-Nawawy & Khamis 2009; Hafez, 2007; Lynch, 2006; Pintak, 2006). With over 70 bureaus across the globe, “Al Jazeera Network has more than 3,000 staff members … including more than 400 journalists from more than 60 countries” (“About Us,” n.d.). The channel, which was originally established as Arabic news and current affairs TV, now has multiple operations in several languages, including English. Just like many other Western news media organizations, Al Jazeera was also quick to embrace the Internet as an avenue to reach the global audiences. The network launched its free Arabic website in 2001, followed by Al Jazeera Mubasher in 2005 and Al Jazeera Global English Services in 2006. Al Jazeera Mubasher is known for its unedited political programs and opinions.

According to the organization’s website (www.aljazeera.com), the Al Jazeera network, which is representative of 70 nationalities, consists of: a) Al Jazeera Satellite channel (Arabic); b) Al Jazeera English; c) Al Jazeera Documentary; d) Al Jazeera Sport; e) Al Jazeera Mubasher (Live); f) Al Jazeera Media Training and Development Centre; g) Al Jazeera Centre for Studies; h) Al Jazeera Mobile; i) Al Jazeera.net (Arabic website); and j) Al Jazeera English Online (English website).

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