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Rap and the Arab Spring

Interview with Arab rappers Ibn Thabit and Deeb

Part 1 and Part 2 and Part 3

Full Event, Rap and the Arab Spring

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Our Editors

Rana Nessim

Rana Nessim

Rosemary Bechler, editor

Rosemary Bechler


We would like to thank the Mulberry Trust for their generous support of our work

Tahrir Square: the meme

Tahrir Square is a place, but it is also an idea– a central encampment, held for as long as possible, acting as a hub for dissent. In the wake of the Egyptian Revolution we are witnessing the spread of the tactics and symbols of these protests across the continents memetically, not because of any specific tactical or political efficacy relevant to each individual location, but as a semi-conscious linking of different struggles.

This section will explore the ‘links’ borne out of the Arab Spring and seek to understand the Spring’s global incarnations. Are both east and west facing the same economic forces of the global downturn that precipitate unrest? Is there a symbiotic relationship between the revolutions in the Middle East and North Africa and those in Chile and the Occupy London Stock Exchange?

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Taming Tahrir (Part 2): re-appropriating Al-Midan and co-opting memory

By replacing the cement block with gates, the regime is not only curtailing the infrastructure of protest and dissent, but it is also destroying many of the meanings that Tahrir stood for: freedom, justice, and citizens’ reclamation of public space.

Taming Tahrir (Part One)

Tahrir has witnessed five milestones that have eventually resulted in a mixed reality which paves the way for the sidestepping of the January revolution.

The fight for the square - Tahrir, Sol, Wall Street, Taksim

“The fight for the square is turning people into something new, whatever one thinks of what can happen after…”, a conversation with Annalena di Giovanni.

The Battle for Taksim Square and the Gezi Park Commune

A report from Istanbul on the historic explosion of opposition to Turkey's leader

The diverse revolt of Turkish youth and the production of the political

Some of the banners read “we are not a political party, we are the people”, “we claim religion without AKP, Atatürk without CHP, motherland without MHP, Kurdish rights without BDP, we are the people”.

Western politics beware! The Tahrir meme has a long way still to spread

The Arab Spring really does indicate a sea-change in the relationship of the demos to the rulers: there is a new self-understanding by citizens of ourselves as the source of legitimacy. Governments in the West have yet to understand how precarious this makes their own positions

Interview with Arab rappers Ibn Thabit and Deeb, Part 2

In the second part of the interview, Libyan rapper Ibn Thabit and Egyptian rapper El Deeb tell openDemocracy's Bassam Gergi, Mazen Zoabi and Rosemary Bechler what their next steps are, what brought Egyptians and Libyans together, and how they are learning from one another.

Translating Egypt’s revolution: introducing an anthology of essays

The forthcoming volume, Translating Egypt's Revolution, draws on the interdisciplinary nature of the field of translation studies today as it seeks to describe and explain the myriad ways in which the Egyptian people wrested back control of their public space and public culture in 2011. Come and debate their findings at an event at the University of East London on Thursday night.

Event: Translating Egypt's Revolution

Translating Egypt’s Revolution is the culmination of research and translation work conducted by researchers and students of varying cultural and linguistic backgrounds who continue to witness Egypt's ongoing revolution. They have selectively translated chants, banners, jokes, poems and interviews, as well as presidential speeches and military communiques. Thursday 15 March, 6.30pm, University of East London, Docklands Campus

Translating Egypt's revolution: images from Tahrir

In a series of photos from Tahrir Square, Laura Gribbon previews some of the work she will discuss in the openDemocracy and UEL event, Translating Egypt's Revolution on March 15th in London.

Interview with Arab rappers Ibn Thabit and Deeb, Part 1

Libyan rapper Ibn Thabit and Egyptian rapper El Deeb tell openDemocracy's Bassam Gergi, Mazen Zoabi and Rosemary Bechler what Tahrir Square meant to them, what it is like being the voice of a leaderless revolution, and what they cared about enough to make them poets.

Invitation to London docklands to meet three Arab rappers

Come and hear about hip hop - whose goal is to bring people together outside of violence in the Arab uprisings

Social contract theory for Occupiers: what law, culture and history tell us

No legitimate social contract can be devoid of stewardship, responsibility and duty. Recognising this allows us to assess both the historical significance of the democratic revolutionaries of our time, and the scale of the political challenge posed today by hypocrisy.

Fumbling for change

If politics is “the art of the possible” then 2011 has left us, as artists, with suddenly a much larger canvas and a new palate of colours to choose from. This broadened scope requires of us a new capacity for imagination.

The Long and the Quick of Revolution

This is the Raymond Williams Annual Lecture for 2011, coinciding with the publication of a new 50th anniversary edition of Raymond Williams’ The Long Revolution by Parthian Books, for which Anthony Barnett has written the foreword, also published here this week. In the lecture, he considers the potentially revolutionary events of the past year, starting with a double-democratic crisis in the ruling order, asking why now? and what kind of revolution is under way?

What’s good for the goose and gander is at some point for the Occupiers

When legitimate protesters are showered with contempt by those whose job it is to serve the community, humanity is insulted, but democracy especially. This is an important tipping point.

Why the ‘Arab Spring’ hasn’t reached Sudan

What is it about the nation in Libya and Egypt’s own backyards, which in the face of poorer and worsening conditions, continues to be characterised by a culture of complacency?

What the Arab Spring can learn from sub-Saharan Africa

The Arab Spring has been inspirational in sub-Saharan Africa, home to some of the world’s longest serving leaders. Yet the protagonists of the Arab Spring have more to learn from their sub-Saharan Africa counterparts than the other way round.

Democracy in revolution: the Mediterranean moment

By showing us the possibility of democracy in revolution, they have ignited a revolution in democracy, one that is redefining the meaning of both terms.

A global revolution is under way

It is necessary to find a new system where decisions can only be taken if they have sufficient support from the people to legitimate them. This is why we cannot deny that we have entered into a new era.

Cell phones, camels and the global call for democracy

In the Arab spring, new social media and the established media disseminated the voices of dissent and images of state brutality worldwide. The sheer drama of these unfolding events conveyed to us by correspondents physically embedded among the protestors, vividly conveyed the elation involved in challenging repressive state power.

They called us crazy

Thoughts on the Arab revolution from an Arab nationalist.

PR.ocess or PR.opaganda: a battle for the truth

The multi-billion dollar industry of Public Relations (PR) is divided between those who use it for genuine democratic exchange, and those who use it for commercial propaganda. There are precious few promoters of the former and far too many pushing the latter.

Bersih 2.0: Malaysia's democracy movement is not just a copy of the Arab Spring movements

Malaysia is at the crossroads … again. The government is acting with great insecurity in the face of persistent demands for democratic reform. The history of Malaysia's post-colonial settlement continues to weigh

We have broken the silence: Fresh from Madrid, a member of the Communications team of the 15 May Movement

This interview with Beatriz Pérez took place in the early morning of Thursday 26 May in English with additions from an interview she gave to radio Una linea sobre el mar (thanks to simultaneous translation by Mayte Carrasco). It was checked and finalised by Beatriz on Saturday 28 May.

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