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ARABICA - A Daily Shot Of What the Arab World is Saying/Hearing/Sharing

A R A B I C A ارابيكا

By Kristen Gillespie


*Outrage spread (digitally) around the world, as people woke up to the news of the early-morning attack on Pearl Aquare in Manama, the capital of Bahrain. Sleeping protesters awoke to the scent of tear gas and armed riot police forming a human chain to sweep the square clear of thousands of protesters. One amateur video captures the chaos. Despite the heavy-handed tactics, a public funeral, now banned by law, is planned tomorrow for the "martyrs' killed in the protests.


*Jordan's leading daily newspaper, Al Rai, led with a photo of King Abdullah talking with Catherine Ashton, Europe's foreign policy chief. The state-run paper reported that the two leaders "discussed regional events and relations between Jordan and the European Union and ways to enhance them." Such phraseology is stock language in Arab state newspapers, and usually the extent of "coverage".

*To get a sense what Jordanians—and others in the region – are used to reading every day, here is some other typical verbiage from the same edition of Al Rai: "His Majesty King Abdullah II on Sunday received a telephone call from his brother the Custodian of the Two Holy Mosques King Abdullah bin Abdul Aziz, King of the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia, during which they discussed ties between the two countries and ways of enhancing them, in addition to developments in the region. The King and Custodian of the Two Holy Mosques, reinforcing the deep relations between the two countries, expressed their keenness to strengthen and build upon the common interests of the two brotherly peoples."


*In Libya, six people were reportedly killed in the eastern city of Benghazi during clashes between authorities and protesters. Lawyers there also held a demonstration, demanding a constitution.

The day before the protests started Tuesday in Benghazi, The Brother Leader of the Revolution, Col. Muammar Gaddafi, gave a live interview to a Tunisian station in which he weighed in on the Internet and social media. (The translation may not be exact because the Leader's Arabic is choppy, fast and difficult to understand, even for native speakers)

"Everything is published on Cliniclix (NOTE: he appears to be referring to Wikileaks). Facebook, book face, YouTube, TubeWhoever – all these tools they use to make us look like idiots. Someone is sitting somewhere like France, or something like that, getting paid by American, French and Israeli intelligence to send messages to people in Libya, Tunisia and Egypt. Some guy is lying on a bed, watching his kids playing and sending messages to people using this thing, what is it – the Internet. He's sending messages day and night telling people to go out on the street, to go out at night, and burn these places. And he's sitting there in France. In Nice."


From Egypt: @Shokeir says, "What kind of revolution is it when our brothers and sisters are being arrested and Mubarak sits in Sharm al-Sheikh eating Swiss chocolates? Release our prisoners immediately."

Feb. 17, 2011

photo credit: illustir

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Joshimath, The Sinking Indian City Has Also Become A Hotbed Of Government Censorship

The Indian authorities' decision to hide factual reports on the land subsidence in Joshimath only furthers a sense of paranoia.

Photo of people standing next to a cracked road in Joshimath, India

Cracked road in Joshimath

@IndianCongressO via Twitter
Rohan Banerjee*

MUMBAI — Midway through the movie Don’t Look Up (2021), the outspoken PhD candidate Kate Dibiasky (Jennifer Lawrence) is bundled into a car, a bag over her head. The White House, we are told, wants her “off the grid”. She is taken to a warehouse – the sort of place where CIA and FBI agents seem to spend an inordinate amount of time in Hollywood movies – and charged with violating national security secrets.

The Hobson’s choice offered to her is to either face prosecution or suspend “all public media appearances and incendiary language relating to Comet Dibiasky”, an interstellar object on a collision course with earth. Exasperated, she acquiesces to the gag order.

Don’t Look Upis a satirical take on the collective apathy towards climate change; only, the slow burn of fossil fuel is replaced by the more imminent threat of a comet crashing into our planet. As a couple of scientists try to warn humanity about its potential extinction, they discover a media, an administration, and indeed, a society that is not just unwilling to face the truth but would even deny it.

This premise and the caricatured characters border on the farcical, with plot devices designed to produce absurd scenarios that would be inconceivable in the real world we inhabit. After all, would any government dealing with a natural disaster, issue an edict prohibiting researchers and scientists from talking about the event? Surely not. Right?

On January 11, the National Remote Sensing Centre (NRSC), one of the centers of the Indian Space Research Organisation (ISRO), issued a preliminary report on the land subsidence issue occurring in Joshimath, the mountainside city in the Himalayas.

The word ‘subsidence’ entered the public lexicon at the turn of the year as disturbing images of cracked roads and tilted buildings began to emanate from Joshimath.

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