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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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11 Social Movements in Tunisia

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11

Social Movements in Tunisia

The so-called Jasmine Revolution of Tunisia was started with the self-immolation of a Tunisian street vendor and was aimed at changing the regime of President Ben Ali. The term Jasmine—after the country’s national flower symbol—was used by the mainstream media to refer the Tunisian uprisings of 2010 (Fraleigh, 2018). However, because of its significant presence and the role that social media played during these uprisings, the Tunisian protests are also referred to as the Twitter Revolution by some media researchers and scholars (Breuer, Landman & Farquhar, 2015; Esseghaier, 2012; Fraleigh, 2018). This chapter makes a case that the Jasmine Revolution was not an overnight phenomenon, but the outcome of a decades-old history of political, economic and social unrest in the country that goes all the way back to the Tunisian Bread Riots of 1984, even before Ben Ali assumed the office of president. Put this way, “Tunisia’s history has been dotted with such mini-uprisings, each one breathing new life into a continuous struggle to address socio-economic inequality” (Aboueldahab, 2018, para. 3). This struggle is far from over, even after the highly celebrated Jasmine Revolution of 2010. This chapter highlights some of the recent political unrests in the country and argues that the term “Tunisian Arab Spring” should be seen as a terminology of the past. Moreover, this chapter argues that a coalition of social movements made up of the Tunisian General Labor Union (UGTT), the Lawyers’ Union, and the...

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