Arab Spring Weekly Update
|March 6, 2012|
Bahrain’s Ambassador to the U.S., Houda Nonoo, provoked anger among activists after commending the the peaceful coexistence of Muslims, Christians, Jews, Hindus and Baha`i in the Gulf Kingdom. Regarding last year’s events, the ambassador said: “Bahrain’s government is committed to reform, and to implementing progressive policies that will help achieve reconciliation for all Bahrainis”. At least 60 people have been reported killed since the uprising began last February, and many more have been jailed. Most of the demonstrators come from the Shia Muslim majority, while the Al Khalifa royal family, who make up about half of the nation’s governing cabinet, adhere to Sunni Islam. Among those jailed is prominent human rights activist Abdulhadi Al-Khawaja, who was sentenced to life in prison after participating in protests last year, and whose health is deteriorating due to a weeks-long hunger strike.
While Hollywood celebrated its most prestigious annual event “The Oscars” on Sunday February 26, 2012, Egyptian online activists gave out awards to their own “stars”. Under the Twitter hashtag “EgyOscars” they voted for political figures and their performance. Activists expressed their frustration over the “hijacking of their uprising by the military council” by giving the Best Short Film to “The Egyptian Revolution.” The Egyptian Oscar for the best play went to Hosni Mubarak, and the award for Best Actor in a leading role went to the SCAF Military Council.
On February 25, 2012, the Iraqi “Day Of Rage” brought 1,500 protesters to Baghdad’s Tahrir Square, however they were quickly dispersed by security forces. In 2011, demonstrations were held in almost 60 cities. Facebook groups, such as The Great Iraqi Revolution, have gained thousands of members and offer images of protests from the past year.
UN officials estimate that more than 7,500 people have been killed during the 11-month uprising in Syria. After China and Russia blocked a UN resolution demanding Bashar al-Assad to step down on February 4, 2012, the U.S. and France began drafting a new Security Council resolution. "This resolution will concentrate on humanitarian access to the cities, but it will indicate that the government is the cause of the crisis”, said one diplomat. Online activists in Syria continue to film atrocities across the country and post them on the Internet. The scenes of brutality are seen throughout the world.
On February 25, 2012, U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton called on Tunisians “to demand that their new leaders stay on the path of liberalization and openness”. During a discussion with young Tunisians in a town hall, Clinton stressed the importance of protecting democracy and civil rights. In response to a question about the compatibility of political Islam and democracy, Clinton replied, “Tunisia has a chance to answer that question affirmatively and to demonstrate that there is no contradiction."
Abd-Rabbu Mansour Hadi was officially inaugurated as Yemen’s new president. "All of Yemen's proud citizens are behind him," said former President Saleh, when handing over power to his successor. The ascension of Abd-RabbuMansour Hadi, the only candidate in an uncontested election, marks the end to Saleh’s 33-year rule. However, many Yemeni online activists doubt that Hadi, who served under Saleh for 17 years, will bring immediate democratic reforms.