arab spring

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Near Real People with Egyptian Photojournalist @hadeermamoud1

To see more of Hadeer’s photography, follow @hadeermahmoud1 on Instagram.

“We have here in Egypt many women in the photojournalism field,” says 24-year-old newspaper photographer Hadeer Mahmoud (@hadeermahmoud1). “The profession became more popular with the revolution, and after it, because of the huge number of websites and newspapers that appeared.”

Hadeer was still a teenager when the Arab Spring swept across the Middle East, changing the lives of millions of people — including hers. As world events unfolded around her, Hadeer left behind her life as a law student and pursued her interest in photography, which gave her access to the lives around her.

“It makes me near real people,” she says. “And I do love to take pictures of people wherever they are — at protests, in the subway and the streets. Photojournalism made me start seeing life from a different point of view, and take care of each and every detail, and when I look back to my photos I find them making history.”

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Young People Are Rising Up Around the World, but Not in America — Here's Why

If complaints were kindling, our generation would have a bonfire going. We will likely see slower economic growth, more unemployment and greater inequality than our parents. For all the social progress, retrograde attitudes remain powerful. The government feels more and more an extension of the free market, rather than a bulwark against it. And global warming, still denied by large swaths of the population, threatens not just economic growth, but also ecological collapse. Our current course could cause the earth to warm by as many as six degrees Celsius, which would create millions of refugees, stir up conflict and dramatically increase the incidence of natural disasters.

Why, then, have we not launched a sustained, revolutionary movement to wrest back control and set us on a better course? The most prominent movement, Occupy Wall Street, produced much in the way of slogans. But compared with the Tea Party or the leftist movements of the ‘40s and '60s, it has done little to change policy.

Here are three reasons we have not seen a revolution, even though it’s sorely needed:

Money has become political power.

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Photographer Joseph Sywenkyj has been awarded the 2014 W Eugene Smith Fund grant for his project Verses from a Nation in Transition. The work will ’portray stories of how families are profoundly and subtly affected by recent events in Ukraine as they adapt to the complex repercussions of the revolution and Russian supported war against their nation. It is through stories of families who have been seriously impacted physically, mentally and economically by the crisis that we will gain insight into and how events in the country are influencing society as a whole.’

Moises Saman was also awarded a Fellowship for his project Discordia: The Arab Spring, and Muriel Hasburn was awarded the Howard Chapnick Grant. Read more on New York Times Lens.

Photos (top to bottom):

A demonstrator stands in front of burning vehicles during violent clashes with police in the center of Kyiv on Hrushevsky Street. Hundreds were wounded in the violence and at least three demonstrators were killed over several days. January 19, 2014. ©Joseph Sywenkyj

Sasha, who is HIV-positive, watches a video on his mobile phone with his child and grandson. Odesa, Ukraine, 2008. ©Joseph Sywenkyj

A makeshift swing hangs inside a mosque that was occupied by Syrian Army soldiers near the civil war’s frontline in Salahaddin, Aleppo. Photo by Moises Saman

I Tried to Get a ‘Simpsons’ Writer to Admit That the US and Fox Orchestrated the Arab Spring 

Conspiracy theories about politics and the US are as big of a cultural staple in the Middle East as hummus and pita.

In Egypt, the news broadcasters served as Mubarak’s puppets until 2011 when independent news sources popped up after the uprising. State-run news still exists in Egypt, and censorship is far from gone. Journalists face imprisonment on charges for anything from defamation to terrorism if the network they’re associated with “disturbs the peace”—basically talks smack about the government. It’s not just journalists; a puppet was accused back in January for “sending coded messages of terrorism” in a Vodafone commercial.

Since Egyptians don’t know who to trust, their imaginations often run wild, conjuring their own ideas and stories about “what’s really happening” to make sense of the chaos that surrounds them. Stories usually involve Zionism, the US, and the Muslim Brotherhood in some diabolical and fantastical plan on the basis of zero logic.

Like how The Simpsons episode, “New Kids on the Blecch,” from 2001 proves US involvement in the Syrian uprising. 

A quick plot refresher: In this episode, Bart, Milhouse, Nelson, and Ralph form a boy band the Party Posse, make a hit song called “Drop Da Bomb,” and in the music video, they drop a bomb on what appears to be an unknown Arab country but the Syrian opposition flag is prominently displayed on the jeep. Since the flag didn’t exist and the Syrian opposition wasn’t a thing in 2001, the conspiracy theorists took to Facebook and claimed that the US has been behind the Arab Spring the whole time. The revolutionaries are either foreign-backed, no-good scum trying to destabilize the region OR they had responded to subliminal messages sent through American pop culture that would only be in syndication in the Arab world years later therefore the collapse of the region couldn’t be traced back to the US government. Pretty fucking clever.

Well, these devious US antics couldn’t possibly get past the people who gave the world beer and algebra. The theory quickly migrated from social media to the actual news on May 5, when Tahrir TV anchor, Rania Badwy, aired the music video segment of the episode. In her analysis she points out that the conspiracy started on Facebook but she ends with, “The episode was created in 2001 before the Syrian opposition even existed… This raises many question marks about the Arab Spring and about when this global conspiracy began.” 

Who knows! Maybe the US actually mapped out the Syria uprising 13 years ago, and the hard evidence is this Simpsons episode. Did the US send subliminal messages to the Arab youth so they’d revolt against their leaders? My Egyptian blood might’ve been jonesing for a good conspiracy, but I needed validation. There was only one way to find out, so I called up Tim Long, the writer of the “New Kids on the Blecch” episode, and tried to get him to admit to me that the US actually orchestrated the Arab Spring.

VICE: I just want you to know that this is a safe space, and you can be honest with me. Did you know that the Free Syrian Army would exist 13 years ago when you wrote the episode?
Tim Long: I’ve been making a lot of jokes about how I totally knew and that was the secret reason I wrote it. I don’t want to make that joke in print, because people take these things very seriously. I will say to you that I did not know that.

So it wasn’t a subliminal message sent to the Arab youth to revolt against their leaders?
It so wasn’t and the whole thing is so headachey, because the thing about being a comedy writer is that you’re a coward and you’re not willing to take stand on anything, much less a conflict that I don’t even begin to understand. It’s hilarious. The ironic thing about this [episode] is that it’s about subliminal messages. The idea is the Bart and his friends are recruited to join a boy band, but it turns out that the guy who recruited them is using it as a recruitment tool for the US Navy. There are all sorts of backward sentences in the song; it’s not a small episode in terms of its scope. Crazy things happened, but we did not take into account that it would somehow fuel the Syrian uprising.

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From astronomers to Star Wars fans, tourists flock to Tunisia’s desert dunes

Deep in Tunisia’s Sahara desert is an otherworldly planet familiar to Star Wars fans: Tatooine, the twin-mooned childhood home of Darth Vader.

Once a pilgrimage site for aficionados of the cult sci-fi film, the dune-swept landscape that provided the backdrop for almost every Star Wars movie, among many others, has been out of reach since the Tunisian uprising, which kickstarted the Arab Spring three years ago. Now, as the North African country inches towards a successful transition to democracy, many hope that will change. Read more

Photograph: Chris Howes/Wild Places Photography/Alamy

cc: starwars