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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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9 Politico-Cultural Context of Egypt

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9

Politico-Cultural Context of Egypt

Egypt, a transcontinental Arabic speaking country, has a population of over 99 million people with a population growth rate of 2.38% (CIA, 2019; Cook, 2012). Greeks, Romans, Byzantines, Persian, Arabs and the British ruled Egypt, whose history dates back to 3200 BCE (CIA, 2019). The country gained its full freedom from the British-backed monarchy in 1952, although its freedom came with the challenges of a poor economy, debt, a rapidly growing population and limited resources (CIA, 2019). The legal system of the country is a complex one. It practices a “mixed legal system [,which is] based on Napoleonic civil and penal law, Islamic religious law, and vestiges of colonial-era laws” (CIA, 2019, para. 8). With a steady unemployment rate of 12.2%, more than 27.8% of the population of Egypt is currently living below the poverty line (CIA, 2019). In terms of ethnicity, nearly 90% of Egyptians are Muslims, and the rest of the population represents different sects of Christian minorities in the country (CIA, 2019).

Just like several other countries in the Muslim world, Egypt continues to share similar challenges on its social and political fronts that include, but are not limited to: a long history of dictatorship, lack of freedom of expression and speech, government-controlled mass media, corruption, nepotism and unequal distribution of economic opportunities among the citizens. Among these challenges, the most significant one that needs to be discussed and understood ←135 | 136→is the constitutional framework...

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