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Since their country's 2011 revolution, cynical Tunisians say a laundry list of ills have plagued them: an incompetent president who refuses to wear ties; a self-interested Constituent Assembly that is charged with creating a new constitution; high inflation and a rapidly devaluing currency; and a deeply uncertain security situation. But Al Jazeera has recently reported about yet another dismal national problem: a "remarkable" increase in drug consumption and addiction.

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Ideas

The Russian Art Of Protesting Through Silence

English Professor Jacob Edmond takes a look at the creative ways that Russian journalists, writers and artists are turning forced silence into powerful statements.

A woman protests against Russian rapes in Ukraine with her silent taped mouth during a flashmob in New York.

Jacob Edmond

-Analysis-

“It is impossible to stop a speeding train by throwing oneself onto the tracks,” wrote Russian poet Dmitry Kuzmin back in March. He was commenting on Olga Gordienko, a young teacher who, before she was arrested, stood for several minutes on a Moscow street with a sign that read:

At least don’t lie to yourself. War is death. Enough of this bloody fight for peace!

While acknowledging the teacher’s bravery, Kuzmin warned protestors to take care. Change would not come through such isolated acts, however admirable.

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What would you do if your country launched a war of aggression, causing tens of thousands of deaths and displacing millions? What if the price of protest or even posting objections on social media was arrest and imprisonment?

What if you knew that over the past decades many of your country’s most outspoken journalists had been killed for refusing to the toe the government line? What if even mentioning the word “war” online, in print, or on the street was illegal?

Would you speak out, or keep quiet and bide your time?

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