ISSUE #86 CONTENTS:
- Short Film Contest - Nov. 15 Deadline, $20,000 in Prizes
- On the Ground in Tunisia during Historic Time
- WANTED for Exploits on Camera
- Quiz: Where are Algerians Protesting?
- Explore how a character - real or imagined - acts in a “defining moment” and how their set of values drives their choice.
- It is 2020, and a wave of uprisings has washed over the Middle East: imagine a scene from the new open societies.
- Depict how individuals experience the impact of repression in their personal lives.
- Tell the story of someone who imagines a better future and pursues a project to help achieve that future.
- Explore how people who were passive for many years have suddenly taken responsibility and risked their safety to achieve a better future for their societies.
- Forward this newsletter to friends & encourage them to subscribe.
- Join 11,000 others in demanding Nokia stop aiding Iran's crackdown.
An English expression says “a picture is worth a thousand words.” Now a new contest is making a short film worth two thousand dollars. The contest is called “Eye to Heart” and it is open to young Middle Easterners who can write a short video script or make a short video - even with just their mobile phone camera.
Films (up to 5 minutes) or screenplays (up to 2,000 words) should focus on one of the following topics:
Don’t miss out on the amazing opportunity to submit your short film or screenplay. The deadline is soon: November 15. See "Eye To Heart 2011" for more details and submit your entry!
Tunisia kicked off the “Arab Spring” in December, and last month saw its first genuine election in decades. AIC has been on the ground during the country’s historic democratic transition helping to contribute to the rebirth of civil society.
Last month, AIC’s Nasser Weddady attended the 3rd Annual Arab Bloggers Conference in Tunis, joining 100 bloggers from across the region to share techniques and lessons learned from grassroots uprisings throughout the region. Weddady, who attended last year’s conference in Beirut, noted that many alums played key roles in uprisings in Tunisia, Syria, Egypt, Bahrain, and beyond. Attendees discussed citizen media, censorship, online safety, and the role of bloggers in post-revolutionary societies.
While in Tunis, Weddady was featured on popular satellite station Nesma TV, in an 11-minute profile (see below) focused on his own journey as a human rights activist, including the role he played in the Tunisian uprising and AIC’s work in the region. AIC is currently running a series of workshops for social entrepreneurs in Tunisia, training young activists in strategic planning, networking, and grassroots advocacy. The goal is to help young people work in their local communities to address civic challenges with positive solutions and gain life-long skills for effective civic engagement.
Banah Ghadbian, who won first place in this year’s the Dream Deferred Essay Contest, is a first-year student at Spelman College in Atlanta. Raised in Arkansas to Syrian parents exiled from their homeland for over 40 years, Banah created YouTube video as part of her contest entry. That video quickly went viral, attracting over 27,000 viewers. The CRIME Report spoke to the young activist - who was only 16 when she made her entry - about her inspiration.
As someone who has never actually been to Syria, what motivated you to make this video?
When people ask me where I am from, I say I am Syrian - even though I have never been there. Here in America, I fit in but don’t feel as if I belong. When I visit the Middle East I feel like I belong but don’t fit in. So when the first protests began in Syria, my family was in tears. We felt as if we were embracing home again, that our life goals were about to be realized. There was a huge snow storm in Arkansas, and I was cooped up in the house constantly watching what was going on in Syria via TV and the net. February 4 was a planned “Day of Outrage” in Syria, and I got in touch via email with a Syrian activist who told me about her experiences on the ground. Partly in support of her, I made the video.
How did the video take off and help develop the Syrian activist network you have today?
Prior to making the video, I didn’t really know activists over there. But after I posted the video, within a few days, there were already two hundred views. It kept growing from there. In addition to making the video, I started joining Facebook groups and attending Syrian activist conferences. I didn’t realize Syrians in Syria were watching the video until this past summer when I was in Istanbul for a conference and people recognized me as the “girl from the video.”
What did you do with your prize money from the Dream Deferred Essay Contest?
I used my prize to attend the recent Syrian Youth Activist Network Conference in Chicago. For the past 48 years, most people in Syria didn’t have the chance to engage in genuine politics because of the dictatorship and official state of emergency. So this conference was about training a new generation in civic awareness and activism. As Americans, we can’t be on the ground over there and many of us will not return to Syria, but we must engage the Syrian-American community and help it embrace its identity. If our fellow Syrians over in Syria are sacrificing their lives for this cause, we should be able to give up some of our time to help them.
ANSWER: Soccer stadiums. In a country that has not seen the recent political turmoil of its neighbors, Algerian football fans have taken to singing songs with lyrics expressing their discontent with the current regime. Soccer matches offer a chance for mass protest with relative anonymity, a technique also recently adopted by Iranian protestors. One popular chant translates to: “[Algerian President Abdulaziz] Bouteflika wants another term, and [former interior minister] Zerhouni is doing everything to make it happen, including staging bomb attacks and blaming Al Qaeda.” So far no red cards appear to have been issued to those protesting in the stands.