A R A B I C A ارابيكا
State media coverage in the Arab world shares a number of traits. Whether its urgent, front-page coverage for various leaders sending and receiving cables of condolence and congratulations, or "news' reports that raise more questions then they answer, state media is largely an anachronistic propaganda conglomerate that has used the same techniques since the early 1970s.
*As a master of the form, Syria has for decades sought to build an alternate reality which has the ruling Assad as the head of a happy, Syrian family. As the death toll since mid-March pushes past 1,000 people, the creaky empire of print, radio and television has swung into full gear in an attempt to reprogram the national narrative. Here, the biggest of Syria's three state-run newspapers, Tishreen, features the oft-used long-shot photograph of the leader in a large marble hall flanked by a row of men seated on both sides. It is a photo-op of a meeting President Bashar Assad had with religious leaders in Daraa, currently sealed off with the force of tanks and snipers in the streets: "The discussions addressed the role of religious leaders during the current time in consolidating a positive atmosphere in Daraa province, in which mosque leaders expressed satisfaction. Talks also dealt with ongoing reforms underway in Syria."
*Activists are calling for additional protests to show solidarity with Daraa.
A DRIVING QUESTION
*The Saudi woman who was arrested after posting a video of herself on YouTube driving a car has reportedly renounced her own "I will drive my car" campaign. Manal al-Sharif is still in jail, but reportedly told a group of visiting women's rights activists that she would no longer pursue the issue. She denied she had been pressured by the government.
*Here is another in a series of recent mocking video showing what al-Sharif and pro-driving supporters are up against. A man covers his face and wears sunglasses as the passenger films him driving while mimicking al-Sharif. In his version, Manal al-Sharif is a dithering, silly woman who lacks the judgment required to get behind the wheel of a car.
HOLY NAME, BATMAN
*A recent fatwa in Jordan declares that the name Abduljabber is not considered holy, as it is not one of the 99 names of God. Names such as Abdullah, Abdulrahman and others literally mean "servant of God" while using one of 99 adjectives to describe God. Abdulrahman, for example, means "servant of the merciful God." But "Jaber" is not one of God's 99 names and is now decreed to be not holy. Comments beneath the article include a range of reactions, from "where do I go to change my name?" to "we've landed on the moon and this is being discussed?" and a statement that the religious authority in Jordan is "useless."
May 25, 2011
photo credit: illustir