Resistance Studies Network

Supporting critical studies on resistance, organised by scholars at Gothenburg, Sussex & UMass Universities

Category: Civil Disobedience (page 1 of 14)

Turkey: Civil Disobedience? Or Political Resistance?

From: SDE
The movement initiated by the BDP (Peace and Democracy Party) and the DTK (Congress of Democratic Society) in the Southeast Anatolia is defined as civil disobedience by the pioneers of the movement and it continues under this stamp. Undoubtedly the people living in the region have problems and there is no doubt that they are at a position to express them. At such a point, the discussable dimension of the issue is the meaning of this action and its relationship with the solution of the demands. To ask in a simpler tone, before its contribution, is this civil disobedience movement?

In order to answer this question we should firstly refer to the meaning of the civil disobedience. In fact, civil, civil society, interest group, political party and all the concepts like this has a meaning and a definition in the western political culture where they were born. In other words, we can’t pad them as we wish. If we do something under the title of such a concept we have to take its meaning there into consideration and do the minimum requirements of these concepts. The civil resistance is not exempt from this condition.

The concept of civil disobedience has been on stage since the mid 19th century. In short, civil disobedience is a civil action taken when it is convinced that there remains no political or judicial way of expressing the demand of public against authoritarian bodies. As clearly understood from this short definition, it is the state of protesting a legal regulation on behalf of legitimate demands by a public sect which doesn’t find a legal regulation to be legitimate. Despite of the appearance of representatives at a position of being the leaders of public this movement is a public movement in all aspects.

More importantly the civil disobedience begins where the political struggle ends. In other words, it is the job of taking the risk of an action considered as crime since it is illegal at a point where the hope of political struggle for social demands disappears. The most consistent dimensions of it are belief in the legitimacy of the demands, the warranty of depersonalization by attributing to the society and not resorting to violence.

Then, under the lights of this description is the movement that we are talking about is a civil disobedience?

As clearly known, it has been put forward that the Kurdish civil action has been done for four main demands which has never been accomplished. These are, failure in education in mother tongue, the discharge of the political prisoners, stopping the civil and military operations and pulling down the election thresholds below 10 percent.

As clearly known the civil disobedience is claimed to be done for four main reasons which have not been resolved. These are: the failures in initiating education in mother tongue, in releasing the political prisoners, in sustaining the civil and military operations and in dropping the election thresholds blow ten percent. Undoubtedly these are problem to be resolved and the demands for their solution are the very basic right of a sect of the society.

However, the solution ways within the frame of the constitution have not been followed adequately. In other words, the so called civil disobedience does not carry the requirement of reaching the end of all political ways. Regardless of what the citizens attending the movement claim we can clearly say that the organizations pioneering this movement do not carry this requirements. We don’t need to too much back, if this movement took place a few years ago it would be more appropriate to be named as civil disobedience than today, because civil disobedience is a multidimensional risky and marginal way which is taken when all political hopes. Whereas, the Kurdish Issue summarized above in a few points has never been so close to the solution since the Republican era as it is today. The state expresses that serious mistakes have been committed and these should be made up for. It also tries to purge a structure which is the main actor of all the mistakes mentioned above. It tries to annihilate a militaristic structure which converted the issue into gangrene in a pro-security system at a pathological level and involved in terrorism at this point. A significant public opinion has come about in civil society regarding the requirement of the solution of aforementioned issue and many civil society institutions declared that they are supportive to the endeavors for the solution. Research institutions such as Institute of Strategic Thinking (SDE) and Politics, Economy and Society Researches Association (SETAV) have published reports that would enlighten the community in this respect as a logistic support to inform the political decision makers in this direction.

In such an environment the public opinion directs the attentions to those who consider themselves to represent the Kurds. However, the things done are surprising. It is an obvious observation that an ordinary observer can see that these they haven’t done any contribution to the process. In short, since the Kurdish politicians could not do politics at the position of policy making all the political ways have been wasted thus the turn of civil disobedience has not come yet. A deputy throw stones to the security forces with children poured down to the streets by illegal organizations instead of doing politics. Of course, the problematic consequence of this action is that it undermines the discourses of civil disobedience.

One of the main stalemates of the Kurdish politicians is that they cannot develop a policy out of the concerns of the illegal Kurdistan Workers Party (PKK) and its leader Ocalan, whereas politics requires clarity, the ability to think alternatives and the ability to prefer the most profitable choice among many different choices. The establishment of many things in political arena in accordance with Ocalan closes the way for the affirmative politics. Then almost all claims are deprived of frankness or clarity and proof.

What is more, the relationship between the PKK and its leader Ocalan with the political structure considered to have sit at the very center of the case has been discussed. There may not be an organic relation but the process is full of cooperation instances. It is clear that that the pro-security system felt insecurity and even committing its illegal action via this party. This situation can be explained with the idea that everyone founds its calculations on his interests but the process show a deeper relation impression.

In the mean time, the representatives of the civil disobedience who demand the “cease of civil and military operations” didn’t contribute anything to the initiation process which tries to purge the pro-Ergenekon militia structure which is at the very center of the respective operation. They adopted similar attitude with the Republican People Party (CHP) and Nationalist Progress Party (MHP) which have benefited from these clandestine structures and try to take the case from the judicial bodies via deputyship and etc.

What is more, dropping the election threshold is not a main problem of civil society platform. As this claim is not sensible just at the wake of the elections it also concerns the political representatives seriously because, acceptance of a party considering itself as the particular representative of a large landscape and dense population that it would not be able to pass the 10 percent threshold and the reason for falling below in the former elections is not the threshold itself. It was because of the inconsistence of the representatives and unconvincing for the population that they tried to lead.

It seems that those who consider themselves to be the representatives or organizations of Kurdish citizens do not remain at a point that will contribute to the solution. Although it can be said that the main cause of this is their conditioning themselves to illegal structuring and thus could not get to the solution area it can also be said that a part of them are in favor of deadlocking. That is, they may have thought that in case of solution they will lose their functions. A great majority of our prudent citizens who doesn’t want even to remain among the marginal 10 percent political group observes the case closely. In these circumstances these citizens see the movement named as civil disobedience as such instead they perceive it as political disobedience which has not been accomplished.

Special Report: Inside the Egyptian revolution

(Reuters) - In early 2005, Cairo-based computer engineer Saad Bahaar was trawling the internet when he came across a trio of Egyptian expatriates who advocated the use of non-violent techniques to overthrow strongman Hosni Mubarak. Bahaar, then 32 and interested in politics and how Egypt might change, was intrigued by the idea. He contacted the group, lighting one of the fuses that would end in freedom in Tahrir Square six years later.

A protester stands in front of a burning barricade during a demonstration in Cairo January 28, 2011.

A protester stands in front of a burning barricade during a demonstration in Cairo January 28, 2011.

The three men he approached — Hisham Morsy, a physician, Wael Adel, a civil engineer by training, and Adel’s cousin Ahmed, a chemist — had all left Egypt for jobs in London.

Inspired by the way Serbian group Otpor had brought down Slobodan Milosevic through non-violent protests in 2000, the trio studied previous struggles. One of their favorite thinkers was Gene Sharp, a Boston-based academic who was heavily influenced by Mahatma Gandhi. The group had set up a webpage in 2004 to propagate civil disobedience ideas in Arabic.

At first, the three young Egyptians’ activities were purely theoretical. But in November 2005, Wael Adel came to Cairo to give a three-day training session on civil disobedience. In the audience were about 30 members of Kefaya, an anti-Mubarak protest group whose name means “enough” in Arabic. Kefaya had gained prominence during the September 2005 presidential elections which Mubarak won by a landslide. During these protests, they had been attacked by thugs and some women members had been stripped naked. Bahaar joined Adel on the course and his career as an underground trainer in non-violent activism was born.

Adel taught activists how to function within a decentralized network. Doing so would make it harder for the security services to snuff them out by arresting leaders. They were also instructed on how to maintain a disciplined non-violent approach in the face of police brutality, and how to win over bystanders.

“The third party, the bystander sitting on the fence, will join when he realizes that security forces’ use of violence is unwarranted,” Bahaar said in one of a series of interviews with Reuters. “Security will harass you to provoke an angry violent response to justify a repressive crackdown in the name of law and order. But you must avoid this trap.”

The process took time. As Wael Adel put it during an interview in a rundown Cairo cafe in March, there was a process of “trial and error” before Egypt’s non-violent warriors were strong enough to begin to take on a dictator.

Kefaya, for example, did run some more campaigns – including one for judicial independence in 2006. But it failed to stir mass protests or expand beyond the middle class elite. There was also internal disagreement between its younger activists and older politicians. By 2007, it had lost its momentum and many had quit.


In the meantime, the trio of thinkers had morphed into an organization called the Academy of Change — based in London and ultimately moving to Qatar. The Academy became a window for Egypt’s activists into civil disobedience movements outside the Arab world. To disseminate the new methods of resistance, it wrote books about nonviolent activism with a focus on the Arab world: “Civil Disobedience,” “Nonviolent War the 3rd Choice” and “AOC MindQuake” that were published in 2007.

A year later the Academy published “Shields to Protect Against Fear”, a manual on techniques to protect one’s body against attacks by security services during a protest. “The idea of non-violent protest is not martyrdom,” Adel said. “We knew to get ordinary Egyptians, and Arabs, to face their governments and security, they have to have tools to protect themselves. This boosts the morale and enthusiasm to go to the street.”

The ideas espoused by the Academy spread through Egypt. The calls for change reached industrial areas where large groups of workers have long suffered low wages and bad work conditions. Mounting economic hardship mobilized workers in the Nile Delta city of Mahalla El Kobra, home to the country’s biggest textile factory. The workers had been in contact with Kefaya activists and other independent labor activists. The groundwork for a sustained mass mobilization was being prepared.

The first real victory sprung from Mahalla in December 2006 when over 20,000 textile workers staged a six-day strike over unpaid bonuses. The protesters — peaceful but stubborn — confused police forces accustomed to clashing with disorganized crowds. The government offered concessions to avoid losses from a halt to production.

Then came a setback. In April 2008, workers in Mahalla went out on strike again, over rising prices. An online call by Kefaya’s former activists to support the Mahalla strike on fizzled out. Meanwhile, in Mahalla, the protest turned violent. Activists claim plain-clothes police destroyed public and police property and then blamed it on the protesters. Bloody clashes between police and Mahalla citizens lasted three days. Police fired live rounds and teargas, while enraged crowds threw rocks. At least three people were killed, hundreds were wounded and scores arrested.

More discipline was needed. Bahaar began to widen his efforts, traveling to disparate locations farther away from the capital to extend grassroots awareness of peaceful civil disobedience.
Meanwhile, ex-Kefaya activists formed the April 6 Facebook group, using the internet to gather supporters. The group adopted the Otpor clenched-fist logo and some members travelled to Serbia for civil disobedience training.


February 2010. Mohamed ElBaradei was back in Cairo. The former head of the International Atomic Energy Association and Nobel peace prize winner had inspired some of Egypt’s younger generation that change was possible. Several of them had created a Facebook page backing ElBaradei as the country’s next president. But how were they to achieve their goal given Mubarak’s repressive regime? They turned to the Academy for help.

The Academy directed them to its online training manuals, which the Facebook activists tried for a while. But despite their internet savvy, many felt that relying entirely on online training was too theoretical. Couldn’t the Academy give them practical training?

Enter Bahaar.

Those who had signed up to the Facebook page were divided into groups of 100. Bahaar trained eight of the groups in different parts of the country using, among other tools, PowerPoint presentations that explained how you maximize the power of a protest movement. Every protester had a family, and around the family was a wider community, Bahaar explained. If a protester was arrested or beaten by the police, his or her family might be radicalized. Similarly, if a policeman engaged in brutality, his family and social network might not be supportive. By maintaining disciplined non-violent activity, the regime’s power could be progressively weakened.

Why wasn’t Bahaar himself arrested? He says this was partly because he was working underground but also, he thinks, because the security services didn’t judge his non-violent approach a threat.

Others were not so lucky. Khaled Said, 28, was beaten to death by police in Alexandria, Egypt’s second-largest city, in June 2010. His family said he had posted a video showing police officers sharing the spoils of a drugs bust. Said’s body was barely recognizable and the act of brutality galvanized further protests — in particular, the anti-torture Facebook page “We are Khaled Said,” created by Google executive Wael Ghonim and underground activist AbdelRahman Mansour.

The page played a pivotal role in spreading non-violent strategies such as “flash mob” silent protests, where groups of people suddenly gather in a public place and do something unusual in unison for a short time before dispersing. Instructions for a nationwide “flash mob” were posted on the page. Participants were told to dress in black and arrive at specific locations in small groups to skirt the ban on large public gatherings. They formed single files along main roads with their backs turned to the street. After a certain hour they marched away.

“The Khaled Said page drew countless willing supporters, many apolitical, because its focus was ending human rights violations and that is an issue that affects all citizens. The page set gradual, easy-to-handle tasks. People felt safe and joined,” said Ahmed Saleh, one of the organizers working with the ElBaradei youth campaign and Khaled Said page.

Like Mahalla’s 2006 strike, the flash mob was a new type of protest unfamiliar to security forces. Its cadres were organized, civil, and well diffused across Egypt — and seemingly leaderless. The police didn’t know how to react. Participants were trained in non-violent techniques — both online, by the “Khaled Said” page founders, and on the ground, by Bahaar.


In late 2010, the Khaled Said page decided to call for something more ambitious — a nationwide march to demand the dissolution of parliament, the disbanding of the state security agency, seen by Egyptians as the state’s main arm of torture, and the resignation of the interior minister.

The date chosen for mass action was January 25, Egypt’s national police day. Mansour — who was conscripted into the army on January 17 — posted the call for the nationwide march on December 28. Protesters were urged to march to Cairo’s Tahrir Square and other public spaces across the country. The page was not yet calling for Mubarak to go. It was Tunisia’s popular uprising, which reached its climax on January 14 with the ousting of President Zein El Abedine Ben Ali, which turned Egypt’s protests into an uprising.

The protest drew people of all ages and backgrounds. By 8 p.m. a unified, single chant inspired by Tunisia rang around Tahrir (Arabic for “freedom”) Square: “The people demand the fall of the regime.” By then, many understood at least a few of the tactics of non-violent disobedience. “You don’t need to train every single protester, only a small group of activists well connected with people in their local areas. Ideas spread like a virus,” says Bahaar.

Protesters conversed with riot police sent to cordon off the Square. The aim was simple: win over those in uniform. Women gave out food and biscuits to hungry conscripts and officers.
Young people quickly regrouped after being dispersed. Some climbed security personnel carriers to drag down officers firing teargas and water cannons, raising the crowd’s resolve to push security back and gain more ground. A pattern of whistling and rhythmic banging of stones on metal fences in Tahrir spontaneously developed when they needed to rally reinforcements to hold the fort. Protesters would also whistle to signal their success in forcing security to pull back.

Encouraged by the mass protests, the Khaled Said page posted a second online call for Friday, January 28, naming the event a “revolution” to overthrow the regime.

April 6 activists and youth from the Muslim Brotherhood formed the crucial front lines of protesters who broke security cordons and later faced attacks from pro-Mubarak loyalists. The youth of the Muslim Brotherhood, Egypt’s most organized opposition force whose members are accustomed to working within disciplined ranks, played a critical role in organizing activists into security teams to guard Tahrir Square’s multiple entrances. They searched those who came into the square for weapons or fluids that could be turned into Molotov cocktails. They wanted neither infiltrators nor supporters to turn to violence.

To help demonstrators hold true to non-violent resistance, the Academy posted online an eight-minute film covering similar ground to its 2008 manual. This explained how people could protect their chests and backs with makeshift shields made of plastic and thick cardboard, and how to mitigate the effect of teargas by covering their faces with handkerchiefs doused in vinegar, lemons or onions.

For the most part, people were having fun. They also took pride in their ownership of the square. Music was put on. Volunteers and protesters swept it, collected garbage and built outhouses.

“Non-violent action is not just about non-violence, but also about joy and happiness,” Adel said. “The festive atmosphere was a key element to drawing the high numbers that Egypt had rarely seen. People felt safe so they came out. They saw in Tahrir what Egypt could possibly be in the future and they wanted to be part of this new Egypt.”

The protests were not entirely peaceful. In particular, scuffles broke out after a group of thugs thought to have been organized by Mubarak’s henchmen charged through the square on horses and camels on February 2, beating and whipping protestors in what came to be known as the “Battle of the Camel”. Many demonstrators fought back, throwing stones at Mubarak loyalists to keep them from entering the square. But there was no wholesale riot and discipline returned.

“The key to a successful non-violent revolt is its ability to constantly reinvent and correct itself,” Adel says. “If violence or conflict breaks out, quickly resolve it while finding ways to avoid it.” Trained cadres shouted “peaceful, peaceful!” to restrain their hotter-headed colleagues. Soon after, the army, which had not been involved in the clashes, said it would not fire on unarmed civilians.

Nine days later Mubarak was gone.

COP: A Living Movement: Toward a World of Peace, Solidarity, and Justice

Joint Conference of PJSA and the Gandhi King Conference

Hosted by the Christian Brothers University, Memphis, TN ~ October 21-23, 2011

The Peace and Justice Studies Association and The Gandhi-King Conference

Jointly present a dynamic conference experience:

“A Living Movement: Toward a World of Peace, Solidarity, and Justice”

The Peace & Justice Studies Association (PJSA) and the Gandhi-King Conference (GKC) are pleased to announce our first-ever jointly sponsored annual conference. The PJSA and the GKC are partnering this year to promote dynamic exchange among individuals and organizations working for a more just and peaceful world. This partnership promises a unique conference experience that combines the best of scholarly and grassroots perspectives on the pressing justice issues in our communities and around the globe.

We invite submissions for the 2011 Annual Conference, to be held on the campus of Christian Brothers University, in Memphis, Tennessee, from Friday October 21 through Sunday October 23, 2011. We welcome proposals from a wide range of disciplines, professions, and perspectives that address issues related to the broad themes of solidarity, community, advocacy, education, and activism as they are brought to bear in the pursuit of peace and justice.

Our goal is to create a stimulating environment where scholars, activists, educators, practitioners, artists, and students can build community and explore interconnections. We invite participants to engage in various modes of exploration, including papers and presentations, hands-on practitioner workshops, and a youth summit. We aim to foster an experience in which attendees will have multiple opportunities to meet and dialogue in both formal and informal settings, against the unique historical backdrop of Memphis, TN.

The deadline for proposal submissions is April 15, 2011. Abstracts are limited to 150 words, and must be submitted electronically through the PJSA website.

For more information, contact: or

COP: Nonviolent Civil Resistance

Call for Papers (Please forward and distribute widely)

Research in Social Movements, Conflicts and Change volume 34

Research in Social Movements, Conflicts and Change, a peer-reviewed volume published by Emerald Group Publishing, encourages submissions for Volume 34 of the series. This volume will have a thematic focus on nonviolent civil resistance and will be guest edited by Lester Kurtz (George Mason University) and Sharon Erickson Nepstad (University of New Mexico). We encourage submissions on the following topics: variations of nonviolent strategies, the effects of repression on nonviolent movements, reasons for the recent rise of nonviolent revolutions, factors shaping the outcome of nonviolent struggles, and the international diffusion of nonviolent methods.

Research in Social Movements, Conflicts and Change (RSMCC) is a fully peer-reviewed series of original research that has been published annually for over 30 years. We continue to publish the work of many of the leading scholars in social movements, social change, and peace and conflict studies. Although RSMCC enjoys a wide library subscription base for the book versions, all volumes are now published both in book form and are also available online to subscribing libraries through Emerald Insight. This ensures wider distribution and easier online access to your scholarship while maintaining the esteemed book series at the same time.

RSMCC boasts quick turn-around times, generally communicating peer reviewed-informed decisions within 10-12 weeks of receipt of submissions.

Submission guidelines

To be considered for inclusion in Volume 34, papers should arrive by October 1, 2011.

Send submissions as a WORD document attached to an email to BOTH Lester Kurtz and Sharon Erickson Nepstad, guest RSMCC editors for Volume 34, at lkurtz (at) gmu (dot) edu and nepstad (at) unm (dot) edu. Remove all self-references (in text and in bibliography) save for on the title page, which should include full contact information for all authors.

  • Include the paper’s title and the abstract on the first page of the text itself.
  • For initial submissions, any standard social science in-text citation and bibliographic system is acceptable.

For more information, please visit the RSMCC homepage.

Please forward and distribute widely.

Burjanadze: ‘We are Ready for Peaceful Revolution’


Nino Burjanadze

Nino Burjanadze

Nino Burjanadze, former parliamentary speaker and leader of opposition Democratic Movement-United Georgia party, told an indoor rally of People’s Assembly on March 15, that a peaceful revolution was needed and the Assembly was ready for that.

“We need a large number of people for one reason – to force these authorities to go peacefully, without blood. Yes, this country today, unfortunately, needs a revolution and if no other way is left, we are ready for it [revolution], of course, through peaceful means,” Burjanadze said.

“We are not going to raise our hands even against those compatriots, who committed crime, but if someone dares to raise a hand against us, they will receive a fierce response,” she said and called on police and army to “serve the country and people and not the authorities.”

“We are not alone in this struggle and the entire world will stand beside us in the struggle for justice like it stood beside the Egyptian and Tunisian peoples,” she said.

Burjanadze was speaking at an indoor rally in Tbilisi at the basketball arena packed with activists from People’s Assembly.

The People’s Assembly is a movement launched last year by opposition-minded, public figures, probably the most prominent of them Nona Gaprindashvili, who was women’s world chess champion from 1962 to 1978.

Nino Burjanadze has long been a strongest backer of the movement among politicians and the movement became largely associated with Burjanadze’s political platform.

During a rally outside the Parliament in November 2010, the People’s Assembly announced about start of setting up “resistance committees” throughout the country “to prepare for civil disobedience campaign.”

it was announced at the rally on March 15 that such committees had been established in recent months in “almost each and every town and village” in the country and the People’s Assembly was ready to act.

Nona Gaprindashvili, the chairperson of People’s Assembly, announced at the rally that the movement was starting “a round-the-clock working regime”, getting ready for “a decisive, final stage of struggle.”

She said that this “final stage” would start after Bright Week – a week following the Orthodox Easter, which this year is marked on April 24.

Gaprindashvili said, that by that time, beginning of May, the People’s Assembly “will announce a concrete action plan and the entire Georgia should be ready for this day.”

“We will fight to the end unless we set Georgia free from this criminal regime,” she said.

The People’s Assembly also announced about the readiness “to cooperate with “everyone who genuinely aspires setting Georgia free from this regime and who will not make a deal with the authorities.”

Most of the opposition parties have distanced themselves from the People’s Movement, not least because of the movement’s association with Nino Burjanadze.

SSU professor: Egypt revolt not spontaneous


Cynthia Boaz

Cynthia Boaz

Observers worldwide were captivated in February as millions of Egyptians overthrew President Hosni Mubarek, who has been in power since 1981. Many also described it as spontaneous.

It wasn’t, said Cynthia Boaz, a political scientist at Sonoma State University.

She met with some of the students who became its leaders in 2008, at a workshop co-organized by the Washington-based nonprofit where she is a paid consultant, the International Center on Nonviolent Conflict.

They discussed the lessons and methods of nonviolent mass civil resistance, and the skills it requires.

Boaz remains in contact with them and said that what is now known as the January 25 Movement, while sparked by a similar revolt in Tunisia, was anything but impromptu.

“I didn’t know they were planning … to start on Jan. 25,” she said, “but I knew the movement had planned for a major action. It’s an organized, planned, disciplined movement.”

Despite the scattered violence that continues, the revolution was overwhelmingly peaceful, waged not with weapons but with voices and placards and mass gatherings.

Boaz, 40, is an expert in nonviolent struggle who consults with educators, activists and students from countries ranging from Spain to Iran. She said toppling repressive regimes is a milestone in the capacity of organized civil resistance movements.

“What happened in Egypt represents a systemwide demand for a new alternative,” she said. “It’s not just about removing the old system from power.

“It was important to get something new for Egyptians, and that really is about democracy.”

Some of the effects are already evident in the largely peaceful protests happening across the Middle East in countries from Bahrain to Yemen.

“It isn’t like these movements have emerged overnight. They’ve just been waiting for an opportunity,” Boaz said.

Libya is an exception because “it’s not organized, there’s not a coherent, unified message,” she said. “It’s not disciplined, and it’s not non-violent.”

Egyptian activists worked for years to identify and neutralize the sources of power in the nation of 83 million. Their effort extended to having coffee with members of the Army.

“It’s a very nuanced divide and conquer strategy,” Boaz said. “You genuinely build real relationships with people, and you begin to help them question the legitimacy of the ruler and the system they’re upholding.”


With the events in the Middle East, Cynthia Boaz is in demand. Before flying to Chile Friday to meet with Latin American diplomats, she talked with The Press Democrat about Egypt’s revolution.

Q: What took place in Egypt has variously been termed a revolt, an uprising, a revolution. Which would you use?

A: Revolution. When power shifted from the regime to the people, that’s what made it a “revolution.”

Q: The revolution is often described as a spontaneous event ignited by the events in Tunisia. To what degree was it organized and why does it matter?

A: This question represents a common and unfortunate misconception about nonviolent action, which is that when you see it, it’s ad-hoc, it’s spontaneous; people just decide to show up in the city square and protest.

But that takes away credit from the activists. When nonviolence succeeds … it’s planned, organized and disciplined.

Q: But doesn’t the suddenness of these events, and how they took place almost simultaneously in these countries, signify a degree of spontaneity?

A: The disaffection and frustration that people feel is long term, so in many of these cases there will be a spark that ignites a population to action.

But that doesn’t mean it’s spontaneous. It means that there may be a movement waiting for a strategic moment in time.

Q: Is it significant that the Egyptian revolution was largely nonviolent?

A: What’s won through violence has to be sustained through violence, so the only truly legitimate way to create democracy is through a bottom-up, nonviolent process.

Also, the long-term consequences of a nonviolent victory in Egypt are that it really increases the credibility of nonviolence.

Young people who are natural bases of recruitment by terrorist organizations are now seeing another option for pushing their grievances — nonviolence.

Q: Regarding legitimacy, what about the American Revolution?

A: Mass non-violent action is relatively new, since the beginning of the 20th Century. It was really perfected by Ghandi …and (the Egyptians) were also looking at Eastern Europe and what happened there in Serbia and Ukraine.

Q: Of the students you know, are any members of the Muslim Brotherhood, which is expected to play a role in Egypt’s next election?

A: No. In fact, they are very clear that the movement’s goals and objectives are secular.

See the debate following the publication of this text and the corrections made by Cynthia Boaz at the bottom of this article

Unless The Women of Egypt Rise There Was No Revolution

From: Illume

By Adisa Banjoko. Adisa has entertained many with his work on Hip Hop culture, eastern philosophy, martial arts, Islamic culture, African American and youth social issues.

American Muslims must demand that the safety, freedom and education of the women in those nations is a top priority

Revolution: A fundamental change in the way of thinking about, or visualizing something

Over the recent weeks, many people around the world have been shocked and inspired by the non-violent revolution in Egypt. I’m sure it drove neo-conservatives mad having to admit that the face of the new generation of Islam got rid of their corrupt regime without making violence the focus. But indeed thats what happened.

With cautious eyes the world now watches to see what the endgame for Tunisia, Libya, Bahrain and other countries might be. The simple truth is, these brutal dictators physically, economically and culturally abused their citizens for many decades. A change had to come eventually.

I hope the people of these nations get the leadership they envisioned for themselves. My desire for them is that it blends the most effective democratic practices with the most compassionate and logical Islamic elements. But ultimately those countries belong to the people and whatever they believe is best for them, I pray they can bring into actuality.

At the same time though, the most serious issue for me has become this: As new regimes in Egypt and other nations evolve, American Muslims must demand that the safety, freedom and education of the women in those nations is a top priority. For me personally, the new level of safety, freedom and education for the women of emerging regimes will be the litmus test that will determine my support for them.

Sadly, in many Muslim nations physical abuse, human trafficking, rape, honor killings, and overall neglect of women is far too common. I am not trying to bash my Muslim brothers. But I cannot stay silent about it any longer. As men of God, we should be ashamed that things have gotten this bad for so many generations of women who love God.

Don’t get me wrong, I know America is a sexist nation. I can acknowledge elements of sexism within myself I still need to workout. I recognize many Christians, Jews, Hindus and people of other religious paths also are abusive and neglectful of woman. Muslims do not have a patent on sexism. But if the Muslim men are to truly say they had a revolution, we must see the women of Islam in positions of power. We should know their names, read their stories and know their opinions on everything from family, to politics and technology. We should want to see Muslim women in leadership positions helping to make the new governments of Islam resonate with their ideas and intellect as much as any man standing next to them.

Love and support of women is a Prophetic tradition. When The Prophet was leading prayer, if he heard a baby crying he would shorten the prayer so as not to distress the mothers in the midst of prayer. He was known to have said “A woman acts for the people”. Yet we don’t give them the space to act on our behalf. Prophet Muhammad taught that a Muslim was someone with whom the people are safe. Sadly so many women of this deen are unsafe from Muslim hands in America and overseas. This must change immediately.

In Dr. Ivan Van Sertima Golden Age of the Moor its noted that ”In Andalus women moved freely in public and engaged in various gatherings. The practice of purdah (requirement that women cover their faces in public etc.) was almost completely ignored. Moorish Andalus was unique among Islamic nations. It could easily be argued that women enjoyed more societal freedoms in al-Andalus than in any other part of the Islamic world.” Another section explains how women ”appeared freely in public and took their share in all the intellectual, literary, and even scientific movements of the day. Women held schools in some of the principal towns. There were women poets, historians and philosophers, as well as women surgeons and doctors.”

How many advancements in medicine, technology and science have not been brought into existence because our sisters were cut off from knowledge by us? No historian worth half of their salt will argue against the fact that Prophet Muhammad gave the women of Islam rights that Western women did not see for several hundred years. But we should not have to look back to the time of The Prophet or the Moorish Empire to see an armada of free, highly educated, accomplished women living full lives. The Prophet Muhammad said that if a man walks with an oppressor, knowing he is an oppressor that he has gon forth from Islam. I cannot walk with brothers who brutalize and threaten women. As a husband and father I cannot allow it. Let the ummah of 2011 and beyond seek to outdo the Moorish standards of honoring our sisters.

If we do not help our Muslim sisters rise, I will never say there was a revolution. I will just say some other people took over. I fear that if the men of Islam fail to make the safety freedom and education an immediate priority around the world, we may have missed our greatest moment of redemption. Not redemption from America or any of its allies, but from God.

Music of The Revolution: How Songs of Protest Have Rallied Demonstrators


Look up the original site and get several of the movies.

Music almost always plays a pivotal role in protest movements, with songs and chants unifying dissidents in their rallying cries. Unlike movements of decades past, however, protest music made popular during the recent revolution in Tunisia, Egypt, and beyond spread virally with the help YouTube and Facebook.


Twenty-one-year-old Hamada Ben Amor, known as El Général—an underground rapper living in the town of Sfax south of Tunis—uploaded a song he had written called “Rais Le Bled” (“President, Your Country”) to Facebook on November 7. The rap called out then-president Zine El Abidine Ben Ali for the problems faced by average Tunisians trying to make a living, including food scarcity, a lack of freedom of speech, and unemployment with lyrics like: “Mr. President, your people are dying/People are eating rubbish/Look at what is happening/Miseries everywhere Mr. President/I talk with no fear/Although I know I will only get troubles/I see injustice everywhere.”

The Voice of Tunisia

The rap was picked up by local TV station Tunivision and Al-Jazeera and resonated with many Tunisians who quickly began sharing the song. Soon enough, the government blocked the musician’s Facebook page and cut off his mobile phone. Despite the attempt to make his music disappear, El Général’s song quickly became the anthem of the Jasmine Revolution.

El Général then recorded another song of protest call “Tounes Bladna” (“Tunisia Our Country”) on December 22. By that point, Ali’s regime had had enough with the musician. El Général was arrested by state security on January 6, taken to the Ministry of Interior, and interrogated for three days.

He tells The Guardian, “They kept asking me which political party I worked for. ‘Don’t you know it’s forbidden to sing songs like that?’ they said. But I just answered, ‘Why? I’m only telling the truth.’ I was in there for three days, but it felt like three years.” The public was outraged and began demanding his release. The pressure mounted on the government worked and he was soon released from detention.

Since Ben Ali left office on January 14, El Général’s tunes have continued to serve as a rallying cry for other demonstrators in the Middle East, and his work has proven to be popular among demonstrators in Bahrain.


Egyptian poet Ahmed Fouad Negm (“Uncle Ahmed”), a popular voice for the poor who has spent 18 of his 81 years in Egyptian prisons, wrote “The Donkey and the Foal,” a commentary about then-president Hosni Mubarak and his son Gamal. Musician Ramy Essam, who had taken to playing in Tahrir Square during the protest, set the poem to music and sang the song as Negm stood beside him.

Essam then penned the song “Leave,” inspired by the slogans and chants being shouted around Tahrir Square:

“We are all united as one,

And what we ask for,

Is just one thing: Leave! Leave! (x3)

Down, down Husni Mubarak! (x4)

The people demand: Bring down the regime! (x4)

He is going away. We are not going anywhere! (x4)

We are all united as one,

And what we ask for,

Is just one thing: Leave! Leave! Leave! (x4)”

The Truth Behind the Egyptian Revolution

Amir and Adel Eid from the Egyptian rock band Cairo-Kee gathered up other artists to record “Sout Al Horeya” (“The Voice of Freedom”), which quickly became another anthem for the revolution. The video for the song was shot entirely inside Tahrir Square during the revolution using a basic digital SLR camera.

“I went down to the streets vowing not to return, and wrote with my blood on every street.

Our voices reached those who could not hear them

And we broke through all barriers

Our weapon was our dreams

And tomorrow is looking as bright as it seems….”

Sout Al Horeya


Traditional songs have also played an important role in demonstrations. Libyans in the liberated eastern parts of the country forged bonds by singing the old national anthem while waving the tricolor flag from before Gaddafi came to power in 1969 as “a symbol of the reinvention of the Libyans.”

In this video, the massive crowd in Beghanzi sings the old anthem to share their pride in being liberated.


The Narcicyst, an Iraqi-born rapper living in Toronto, joined with other musicians from the Arabic rap diaspora in North America, such as Omar Offendum, Amir Sulaiman, and Canadian R&B singer Ayah, to record a track called “#Jan25 Egypt,” based off the popular hashtag used during the demonstrations in Egypt. In an Al Jazeera English interview, Omar said that it’s a “song of solidarity with the Egyptian people and [a way] to open it up [what’s happening in Egypt] to an audience in the United States.” The song starts:

“I heard ’em say

The revolution won’t be televised

Aljazeera proved ’em wrong

Twitter has him paralyzed

80 million strong

And ain’t no longer gonna be terrorized

Organized – Mobilized – Vocalized

On the side of TRUTH

Um il-Dunya’s living proof

That its a matter of time

before the chicken is home to roost”

Omar Offendum


Check out Mideast Tunes, a hub launched by Mideast Youth for the region’s underground and alternative music scenes. You can browse music by country or genre. The site has highlighted a number of other protest songs coming out of the region for its listeners (1, 2).

Abdulla Darrat, co-founder of the (Khalas) site run by a Libyan exiles (now found at, put together a “mixtape” featuring hip-hop artists from the region. The mix, called “Mish B3eed,” or “Not Far,” features songs describing the conditions in Egypt, Libya, Tunisia, and Algeria. It can be downloaded here.

Durrat says, “[These musicians and emcees] very successfully put into words a lot of the sentiments that young people in the area are carrying with them, and they’re voicing really the struggle of…everyday people.”

Are any popular protest songs missing? Share them in the comments below!

Next Resistance Seminar: 2 and 3 March, Gothenburg University

Resistance Studies Seminars
March 2 with Angie Zelter and Nätverket Ofog – Peace Activists.

War starts here – let´s stop it here!

I Norrbotten finns Europas största krigsövningsområde NEAT, North European Aerospace Testrange. På detta 24000km2 stora område tränar NATO, USA och många andra på krig i form av t.ex. bombfällning. NEAT används också för att utveckla förarlösa bombplan och annat krigsmateriel. Förberedelserna för krig pågår för fullt här och nu. Krig börjar här. Och det är skrämmande tyst om det.

Tillsammans med Angie Zelter, känd fredsaktivist från Storbritannien och mottagare av Right Livelihood Award och Nobels alternativa fredsprise 2001. Angie Zelter och det antimilitaristiska nätverket Ofog kommer för att prata om Sveriges del i det globala krigsmaskineriet med fokus på vad som pågår i Norrbotten. Angie Zelter kommer ge exempel från aktioner hon har deltagit i och vi kommer även att prata om det internationella aktionsläger mot NEAT som vi arrangerar 22-29 juli i sommar och vad annat vi kan göra för att stoppa denna förödande utveckling.

! Seminar is in English and Swedish. March 2 . Wednesday 15:15-17.00 at the Annedalseminariet at Room 419 !


March 3 with The Journal Dissident – Från kritiken av den politiska ekonomin till motstånd.

Ungdomsarbetslösheten är en viktig faktor för att kunna förklara de stora upproren i Tunisien, Egypten och Libyen. Samtidigt pågår det runtom i Europa protester mot förändringar i utbildningssystemet och i Grekland fortsätter strejkerna och kravallerna mot regeringens åtstramningspolitik. Vi tycks se en mängd resningar mot det faktum att en växande del av världsbefolkningen upplever sig vara överflödig och oanställbar.

I tredje bandet av Kapitalet utvecklar Marx ansatser till en överbefolkningsteori. Kapitalismens utveckling av produktivkrafterna gör att färre och färre arbetare blir nödvändiga för produktionen, vilket skapar en strukturell överbefolkning i förhållande till ekonomin. I väst märks detta främst genom en alltmer prekär och osäker arbetsmarknad, men globalt sett är denna tendens en brutal verklighet i världens kåkstäder. Kapitalismen skapar en sorts utsida till sin egen produktionsprocess, en överbefolkning som ofta är beredd att jobba under de mest vidriga villkor för att överleva. Men detta är bara ena sidan av myntet, det andra är att motsättningen mellan arbete och kapital har omstrukturerats. Vi ser alltmer kamper på gatorna: alltifrån rödskjortornas intåg i Bangkok 2010, demonstrationerna i Wisconsin till kampen på Tahirtorget i Egypten. Vad betyder det för klasskampen att en allt större del av arbetarklassen gjorts
onödig för kapitalet? Vilka arenor för kamp finns det då?

I det här föredraget diskuterar vi Marx’ kritik av den politiska ekonomin som en överbefolkningsteori, men också som en teori för motstånd och revolt. Studiet av kapitalismen var nämligen för Marx först och främst studiet av den verkliga rörelse som avskaffar de nuvarande tillstånden.

! First part of a stand-alone seminar series in three parts with focus on workplace struggles.

Seminar is in Swedish. March 3 . Thursday 15:15-17.00 at the Annedalseminariet at Room 419 !

How to Plan and Execute an Act of Electronic Civil Disobedience

From Infoshop News

In the midst of hacktivists using ECDs (similar to distributed denial of service attacks) to defend Wikileaks, it’s worth having a document that describes how such attacks are planned and executed. Such a zine has recently been released that is written in laypersons terms so expertise in computing or networking is certainly not needed to understand it. If you have the ability to browse the web and edit a Microsoft Word document, you’ve probably got what it takes to understand the ideas it presents.

The zine goes through everything from anonymously scoping out your target to distributing your ECD tools and call-out. It includes a guide on doing research and making online postings anonymously, legal risks you may encounter and analysis of the effectiveness of ECDs as opposed to other large protest tactics. It reviews three popular tools (the Greek ECD Tool, the Low Orbit Ion Cannon, and Slow Loris) and provides step-by-step instructions for configuring and packaging them. It also includes a short section on the history of the use of ECDs by social movements.

Download the zine for printing and online reading at:

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