Mauritania Cartoon: The Race To Freedom

25 04 2011
Race_to_freedom

Title: Race to Freedom — Turtle has: “February 25″ which was when the youth first started protesting. This cartoon appeared a while ago.





No To Corruption-No To Unemployment

25 04 2011
Notocorruption

This was one of the rallying demands of the February 25 youth protests today in #Mauritania. Photo courtesy of @mauritaniedem1





Mauritania’s Bouazizi Died Today

23 01 2011

Yacoub Ould Dahoud, A Mauritanian Folk Hero

 

Yacoub Ould dahoud, the Mauritanian businessman who burned himself on January 17, 2011 in front of the presidential palace in Nouakchott, Mauritania died today.  The 41-year old wast motivated by a desire to depose Mauritania’s President, General Aziz and to democratize his country.

His body was supposed to be flown back today from Morocco where his family took him to receive better medical care. It is not clear yet whether the delay is politically motivated – Aziz’s strongest regional ally – as reports indicate that the Moroccan authorities are insisting on conducting an autopsy to determine the causes of his death.

Many Mauritanians this blogger spoke to tonight are convinced that the delay is an act of active collusion designed to help General Aziz win time to manage a public relations fiasco that could potentially lead Mauritanians to take to the streets. This is in the wake of initial protest in the capital city of Nouakchott and other cities against the skyrocketing prices of essential goods.

His death is fueling anger in Mauritania despite an age-old societal aversion towards suicide. Mauritania’s Taqadoumy news website collected reactions of Mauritanians made on Facebook and other source. They reflect a growing outrage fueled by a perceived smear campaign kicked off  by General Aziz’s earlier declarations describing Dahoud’s action as “desperate because of [General Aziz's] war on corruption as [Dahoud] hails from a wealthy family.”

Dahoud was not a poor man, nor was he unemployed like his Tunisian counterpart. His Facebook profile accessed today by this blogger shows Dahoud followed very closely the events unfolding in Tunisia culminating with Ben Ali’s ousting by his people. He came from a prominent family and many Mauritanians I spoke with agree that he was driven by the same motivation as Tunisia’s Bouazizi: making a statement about tyranny and the lack of freedom in their socieities. Not so much a question of Dollars and cents.

Influenced & Inspired By Bouazizi

Yacoub posted on his Facebook wall a link to a manifesto (also posted it on Google Docs) in Arabic and French in the wee hours of January 17, 2011 explaining his demands. Proceeded with slogans posted earlier in French calling for General Aziz’s ouster (Aziz Dégage.) His list of demands included a call to end of Mauritania’s military meddling in politics, and for the regime of (coup master) Mohamed Ould Abdelaziz to be deposed. Dahoud also denounced tribalism as well as slavery on his Facebook wall. His manifesto also included jabs at France’s meddling in Mauritanian affairs under Nicholas Sarkozy who many Mauritanians blame for the success of General Aziz’s power grab in 2008 by providing the necessary political cover internationally allowing him to conduct fraudulent elections in 2009 to legitimize his coup d’etat.

Contrary to initial reports from Reuters claiming Dahoud committed this act to protest tribal grievances, his was a genuine political act of pre-planned and meditated dissent, in fact his suicide note states clearly that he sought peaceful constitutional reform and a functioning democracy.

Dahoud's Manifesto

His manifesto opens with:

Extremism and terrorist groups are a result of 50 years of poverty and the loss of hope that rulers’ oppression will end.

Then he further clarifies:

Enough corruption, enough oppression. Mauritania belongs to the people, not to the Generals and their entourage.

To get the corrupt army band from power, enough with corruption, enough oppression. We suffered fifty years of corruption and oppression. Do we and the future generations not deserve one month of steadfastness to dash out of oppression, intellectual, material and physical oppression [?]

Dahoud then listst his demands:

- The release of human rights activists in prison [Biram Ould Dah] who are fighting against slavery

- Eliminating all taxes and tariffs on rice, wheat, cooking oil, sugar, milk and monitoring their obscene price hikes

- Replacing taxes and tariffs on basic goods through more taxation on cigarettes, luxury cars and tariffs on European ships that are pillaging our maritime wealth, as well as taxing telecom companies or Mauritania’s income from gold mining stolen by the Army commanders’ band.

- A constitutional amendment to be submitted to parliament in an emergency session containing the following points:

a- No current or ex member of the military shall be eligible to be elected President of the Republic

b- An independent electoral committee that will organize and supervise elections without intervention from the Interior Ministry- the source of all ills undermining freedoms in our country.

c- Imposing that the choice of the prime minister be the prerogative of the parliamentary block holding the majority in parliament

d- The nomination ministers of: justice, interior, finance, education shall be contingent upon parliament’s approval

e- The nomination of judges and the attorney general shall be contingent upon parliament’s approval

f- The nomination of the members of the constitutional council [the highest court of the land] shall be contingent upon parliament’s approval

g- Calling via a presidential decree for legislative and presidential decree within six months from the decree’s issuance

h- calling parliament in an emergency session to ratify: the constitutional amendments, an amnesty law for the General [Mohamed Ould Abdelaziz], members of the High Council [military junta ruling body] and the ministers in his government before and after the 2009 elections

If you do not accept this offer, then you should face the people’s wrath and be forced out as Ben Ali was.

I take this occasion to beg the people of France to force its rulers to accept the Mauritanian people’s right to self-determination.

Our lives are a small price to pay for Mauritania so that our sons can live in a country with social justice, liberty and democracy.

Yacoub Dahoud

A simple citizen demanding legitimate rights.

Hasn’t the time come for the Mauritanian people to chose freely and seriously who will preside over its destiny, and manage its resources that can easily service its needs instead of alms of hostile foreign governments?

 





تضامنوا مع المدونة طل الملوحي

13 09 2010

Free 19-year old Syrian Blogger Tal Al-Molohe

وقفة إحتجاجية أمام السفارة السورية بالقاهرة للمطالبة بالإفراج الفوري عن طل الملوحي

طل الملوحي مدونة سورية عمرها أقل من 19 عاما إعتقلت منذ 11 شهراً من قبل أجهزة الأمن السورية وحتى الآن هي قيد الإحتجاز والتحقيق في المعتقلات السورية في مكان غير معلوم ولايدري عنها أحداً .. أقصى نشاطات طل الملوحي تنحصر في كتابة قصائد شعرية في حب فلسطين
آن الأوان لكشف إنتهاكات حقوق الإنسان البشعة في سوريا وتسليط الأضواء عليها .. وحيث أن أشقائنا أحرار سوريا في الداخل يستحيل عليهم في ظل النظام القمعي العنيف القايام بأي أنشطة تعمل على الكشف على مصير طل .. قرر النشطاء الأحرار المصريون بكافة ميولهم السياسية تجاوز الحدود الجغرافية والتضامن الإنساني مع قضية حقوق الإنسان في سوريا والمطالبة بالكشف عن مصير طل والإفراج الفوري عنها من خلال وقفة إحتجاجية سلمية يوم الأحد 19 سبتمبر 2010 أمام السفارة السورية في القاهرة في 18 شارع عبد الرحيم صبري بالدقي من الساعة الثالثة ظهراً ولمدة ساعتين حتى الخامسة عصراً
قضية الحريات قضية إنسانية تخص كل حر شريف تتساقط معها الحدود الجغرافية .. وأحرار مصر دائما هو أول من يناصرون حرية الإنسان وحقوقه في داخل البلاد وخارجها
الوقفة الإحتجاجية السلمية .. حق دستوري كفله لك القانون .. للتعبير عن مطالبك امام سفارة الدولة المعنية





A Dead Posh Mauritanian Jihadi

30 07 2010

A Lost Generation? (Via Alakhbar)

Unfortunately, the limited conversation ongoing in the West about AQIM is still uninformed by the realities of that group’s penetration in Mauritania; the analysis that is currently available focuses on the geopolitical and kinetic aspects of confronting the group. Little is said or shared about the alarming rise of Mauritanian youth being radicalized, indoctrinated and ultimately converted into militant Jihadis. For instance, no one has commented yet on the identity of the Mauritanian AQIM fighter who was killed during last week’s Franco-Mauritanian raid in Mali.

Abdelkader Ould Ahmednah, identified by the Mauritanian authorities as the Mauritanian of the group, challenges many assumptions about the spread of Jihadi ideology in Mauritanian society.

- Abdelkader Ould Ahmednah is one of three siblings who were recruited by AQIM. Two of his siblings are under arrest right now for alleged involvement in the killing of American citizen Christopher Leggett. in fact, they were the ones who identified him to Mauritanian security officials who brought photos of the dead gunmen to them in order to glean some fresh intel about AQIM fighters.

-Abdelkader Ould Ahmednah was arrested in 2006, and was sitting in prison until he was released in the amnesty declared by former President Sidi Ould Cheikh Abdallahi in 2007. obviously, that was short-sighted decision: no one seems to have thought of the consequences of allowing such a hardened radical back into the nature.

-Judging by the failure of the so-called de-radicalization effort setup in late 2009 by General Aziz in partnership with Mauritania’s Muslim Brotherhood and Salafi spiritual leader, the problem at hand is not merely that we are dealing with some misguided youth who incidentally picked up the wrong brand of Islam.

More importantly than the above points:

-Abdelkader Ould Ahmednah is the son of a very wealthy businessman who hails from the Smasside tribe. This is former President Maaouyia Ould Taya’s tribe. The Smasside came to ABSOLUTELY dominate the Mauritanian economy under Taya’s rule in the 90’s through family-based cartels that were given a monopoly over fisheries, export and import, and representation of foreign commercial institution. As such, Ould Ahmednah had a guarenteed path to become, like many of his young tribesmen, a wealthy prosperous businessman. He chose otherwise.

You see where I am going? Ould Ahmednah and his siblings, are part of the country’s privileged elite. They were not driven into violent Jihadism by poverty. If anything, they were seduced by this ideology because Mauritania’s crumbling educational system fed them a belief that Islam is the core of their societies and that they are citizens of the Islamic Republic of Mauritania.

Yet, they cannot reconcile that ideal with the realities of a society crumbling before their eyes. The next simplistic leap of faith for them is that if society is straying, then it must be that it needs to return to its core values as those have been abandoned somewhere between the glorious mythical past of the Islamic Ummah they were taught, and modern day Mauritania.

As a Mauritanian by birth, I am haunted by my society’s inability to reconcile itself with its own past and identity. I feel that as long as Mauritania’s national narrative emphasizes Islam-a vague Islam at that- as the center of our national identity, we will be creating more Ould Ahmednahs. All it would take for someone (as the Muslim Brotherhood is doing right now) is to claim the mantle of Islam to disguise any ideological message to recruit a generation adrift and in search for bearings.

This is not at all a dismissal of Mauritania’s failed governance and in that respect, I am NOT optimistic. The responsibility rests squarely on the shoulders of Mauritania’s elites who spend their time squabbling over political power without ever feeling the need to redefine their society and face its demons, ancient, and modern.

More later when I have more time to write..





Ammar404 Scared

24 05 2010

Here is the story of the Day Against Censorship in Tunisia told by tunisians. For those who still don’t know who is this Ammar guy… It’s an imaginary person tunisians invented as a metaphor for the invisible censor blocking their access to many website.. 404 is the error you get on your screen if you try to access “illegal” content in tunisia.

At least in other countries you get a message informing you that the website you are trying to access has been filtered, no such courtesy in Ben Ali’s Tunisia. By the way, this video produced by tunisian activist is on vimeo because youtube, dailymotion among others are blocked.

It is also worthwhile to consider this success within the regional context; as Egypt had its April 6 strike pushed mainly by online activists, Tunisia had its #manif22mai protest movement. The lesson to draw is that online activism is a force to reckon with in ways many classical political groups have failed to cease upon. In other words, it would be premature to discount online dissent as the stuff of posh kids with a fast Internet connection.

One can only wonder why some so-called western “liberals” would write for years such incongruous nonsense about a dictatorship that is afraid of young citizens wearing white t-shirts and peacefully demanding their freedom of speech.
Go figure ..

Ps. lesson to meditate: the activists followed all the legal procedures to lawfully request a permit to organize a vigil. it was denied.





Online Activism Meets Real World Activism: A Day Against Censorship

23 05 2010

@Slim404 Amamou

Tunisian activists geared up to organize a peaceful demonstration against censorship as part of the May 22 worldwide event announced to be the day against Tunisia’s “Ammar 404”: an imaginary person tunisians have created to symbolize their country’s world class filtering of the internet, and a pun on error 404 users get when they try to access censored content online.

manif22mai.wordpress.org

On May 21 in Tunis, bloggers @Slim404 Amamou, Yassine Ayari, and Lina Ben Mhenni filed duly filled forms to request a permit to demonstrate on May 22 as part of the protest. Unfortunately, or predictably, Slim and Yassine were detained by the police on sight for several hours and ultimately renounced their attempt as it was made clear to them that they will not be issued a permit and that their attempt is “forbidden.” They were interrogated, threatened as Slim relates in this video.

the Police demanded that Slim record a video asking people not to show up for the planned demonstration. Apparently, Slim had to negotiate the terms of this “friendly public service announcement.” Afterwards, he had to sign a document saying that he “understood that his call for a demonstration is wrong” and then he was driven out by the police to record that “friendly reminder to stay home” aimed to dissuade people from demonstrating.

On the following day, Aljazeera reported that the Tunisian police made a show of force in front of the Technology and Communication Ministry, the entity behind Tunisia’s state-built great firewall.

World media coverage for these events was scant, covered, Aljazeera hosted an hour long show opening a space for Tunisians to react to this new wave of protest. The show highlighted the Tunisian paradox: it was the first Arab country to introduce the internet, and as such became the pack leader in censorship.

The protest was not limited to Tunisia as tunisians took to the street to protest in several world capitals in front of their country’s embassies and consulates in Bonn, New York, Paris

While the world is busy debating the future of the Middle East and North Africa in light of pressing geopolitical conflicts, tunisians took matters into their hand using an impressive array of social media tools and techniques, they managed to translate online activism to real world actions in a peaceful and respectful way.  Not withstanding some grandiose pronouncements, world powers commitment to securing these freedoms for Arabs has so far been just hot air despite all the prattle about public diplomacy to “win minds and hearts” in the Arab World.

This post is dedicated to the memory of Tunisian dissident and internet activist Zouhair Yahyahoui.








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