A R A B I C A ارابيكا
By Kristen Gillespie
*Egypt announced it will dissolve the loathed state-security intelligence services, long accused of torture and other grave human-rights abuses. It is hard to overstate the role these intelligence services have played – and continue to play -- in Arab countries, helping to maintain the regimes' lock on power by instilling fear and paranoia across society. The news was greeted by the Twittersphere with both outright joy and cautious optimism. Blogger Wael Ghonim expressed the latter in a tweet by noting that what rises from the intelligence's ashes must be accountable in the eyes of the law.
*Bahrain declared martial law on Tuesday as soldiers arrived from the UAE and Saudi Arabia to help subdue protests that are spreading across the country. This amatuer video shows the surreal scene of gunfights in the middle of a major avenue in front of Manama's Carrefour retail store. Gunfire pops throughout as a group of young men rush to pick up the wounded youth from a grassy patch in the middle of the road. The camera moves wildly as they yell out for an ambulance, which does not immediately arrive. The palm-lined avenues of prosperous Bahrain have become a war zone.
*A protest in the covered souq of Damascus, Souq Hamidiya, took place on Syria's "day of anger," which organizers hope will spark nationwide demonstrations. Here someone close to the camera calls this the "first protest against the Syrian regime" as protesters put a twist on the usual pro-government slogan usually shouted at officially orchestrated protests (against Israel or other external enemies.) Instead of "God, Syria, Bashar, that's it," demonstrators took out the name of President Bashar al-Assad and shouted "God, Syria, freedom, that's it." Police dispersed the protest and arrested an untold number of people.
*Those commenting below the clips offered their support: "God be with you, freedom is beautiful…from a free Egyptian," and "May God grant you victory… we are praying for you… from your Egyptian brothers."
*Activist Suhair al-Atassi told Al Jazeera that "for the first time there are slogans calling for freedom…these are citizens who want freedom." Another protest is scheduled for Wednesday in front of the Interior Ministry to demand the release of political prisoners.
March 15, 2011
photo credit: illustir