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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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Part II Pakistan


Part II


With a population of 208 million people, Pakistan is the world’s second largest Muslim-majority country. Located in Southern Asia, Pakistan borders the Arabian Sea, “between India on the east and Iran and Afghanistan on the west and China in the north” (CIA, 2019, para. 3). The country’s literacy rate is 57.9%, with 29.5% of the population living below the poverty line (CIA, 2019).

Since the country witnessed online political activism long before the so-called Arab Spring of 2010–11, this case should be taken into context while studying political uprisings in the Muslim world. In November 2007, when President Musharraf imposed a state of emergency in the country and blocked the entire broadcast media, “[o]nline media were used as an organizing tool during the Lawyer’s Movement and protests against President Musharraf in 2007 and 2008. Information about demonstrations was disseminated through email lists, SMS, and YouTube” (Ricchiardi, 2012, p. 15). The more than 10-year rule of Musharraf, the military dictator who had toppled former Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif’s government in a bloodless military coup, could not withstand online and offline (street) political protests that erupted in response to President Musharraf’s decision to sack Chief Justice Iftikhar Chaudhry (Arif, 2010; Lieven, 2011; Rashid, 2008). The independent-minded chief justice was removed from office after he refused to support President Musharraf’s re-election (Hashim, 2012). Furthermore, ←65 | 66→Chaudhry had “irked the government by pressing it to provide information on the whereabouts of 400...

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