Arab Spring and the Roles of Social Media with It

ARAB SPRING AND THE ROLES OF SOCIAL MEDIA WITH IT 5

ArabSpring and the Roles of Social Media with It

To safeguard the interest of people so that they can feel secure andbe loyal to the ruling government the government must exercise itspower accordingly where they must rule the citizens in a democraticway. It is important for the government officials who usually directthe president on matters concerning the constitution and strategiesto improve the lively hood of individuals to be morally upright basedon the fact that if they are individuals who do not consider theright and democracy of the citizen’s uprisings may occur.Democratic uprisings cause a lot of challenges to the rulinggovernment based on the fact that the government stands still whereall the effort is concentrated on making sure that the revolutionsand mass demonstrations are controlled. In the Arab countries whereindividuals know their right and they do not like dictatorialgovernment democratic uprising started in 2011 where they roseindependently. The movements started in Tunisia and later they wereexperienced in Egypt, Libya, Syria and Yemen among other countries.This paper will discuss Arab spring and the role of the social mediaas the recruitment channel in those uprisings.

Timeline (start)

The Arab spring standard in December 18th in 2010 and itstarted as a revolutionary wave that involved demonstrations andprotests among the citizens. This can be termed as a civil war whereit started in Tunisia when a 26 years old man Mohamed Bouazizi anentrepreneur was selling fruits and vegetables in the town in SidiBouzid. Just like any other civilian one has to work for the dailybread and thus Bouazizi being a bread winner for his mother and othersix siblings had to sell the fruits and vegetables unfortunately, thelocal and small scale entrepreneurs do not have the permit for theselling of goods. Based on that the government obtains revenue fromthose permits Bouazizi did not have the permit and was slapped by thepolicewoman (Fahim, 2011, pg1). This was a humiliation that made himto march in front of the government offices where he set himselfablaze.

The desperation act caused a lot of humiliation to other citizens andthe civilians acted upon it and the protests started immediately inSidi Bouzid and due to use of social media people captured theprotests using their cell-phone and cameras and they were latershared in the internet. Within few days the protests was experiencedacross the country and they were popping up in every corner ofTunisia calling for the ruling government to step down based on thefact that there was no democracy in Tunisia (Hempel, 2012, pg2). Theriots and protests caused a lot of disturbance and the publicinfrastructure such as hospitals, roads and schools were destroyed sothat president Zine El Abidine Ben Ali and the entire regime couldset down. When the protest become worse, as the time went on thepresident later fled. This uprising that started in Tunisia laterspread to the Middle East and it is the one known as the Arab Spring.After the protest the young Tunisian was named as a martyr, afterthat question started immerging asking where the Arab countries standfor democracy.

In March 2011 Syria started the protest after a student putanti-government graffiti and this lead to wide spread demonstration.The protesters were concerned with government reforms, ouster oftheir president and demand for political parties, equal right andpolitical freedom such as freedom of speech, movement and assemblyamong others (Lynch and Aday, 2014, pg29). When the matters were outof hand under the standing orders the government appealed foremergency law that was put in place in 1963 suspended, whereconstitutional rights were suspended. This resulted to securityagencies opening fire to the protesters and this resulted to a civilwar in Syria. The largest demonstrations occurred in Friday afternoonsince it is a prayer day and following the mass unrest it spark evenin other regions where dictatorial government was the order of theday. In 2012 four regimes had been overthrown starting with Tunisia,Egypt and Libyan, Syria under the leadership of Al-Assad who causedSyria civil war which caused thousands of death due to military siege(O’Donnell, 2011, pg1).

Causes of ArabSpring in Syria

Authoritarianism

Many Arab countries were ruled through dictatorship which caused alot of unrest in the Arab countries. Dictatorship in the 21stcentury cannot be allowed and this made the Arabs to conductdemonstrations so that they can end the dictatorship of leaders likeBashar Hafez-Al-Assad who had started a crackdown of social media andmilitary sieges on the protesters. This led to a civil war in Syria,the opposition leaders in Syria, US, Europe and Arab League startedto call Al-Assad to resign among other authoritarian leaders wereMuammar Gaddafi, president Hosni Mubarak and Ben Ali among others(Szlanko, 2014, pg1). The dictatorship regimes did not have anypositive contribution to the economy but they kept on rooting thepublic tax based on the fact that they were conserved with theirwealth. For instance, the Arab countries are associated with oilproduction and thus through the leadership of dictators the countrieswere experiencing high unemployment rate and inflation among othersocial factors that could be solved based on the fact that Arabcountries have rich oil fields where they can obtain a lot of revenue(Abudayeh, 2013, pg73).

Human rightsviolation

Bashr Hafez-Al-Assad during the Syrian civil war violated human rightwhen he sent military siege to the protesters where mass killing wasconducted and raping of Syrians (Porretto, n.d., pg20). Human rightis a fundamental aspect of human being based on the fact thatindividuals believe in the rule of law and thus their right should beprotected. For instance, in Tunisia Mohamed Bouazizi was humiliatedin front of the public when he was slapped by a police woman becausehe did not have a permit to conduct his business (Métayer andClainche, 2012, pg325). This is violation of human right based on thefact that there are established rules that should deal with such kindof issues. In Egypt the social media was a major concern in theregime of Mubarak where individuals were arrested and othersprosecuted for their active use of social media which later causedunrest. The use of social media is a human right based on that one isgranted freedom of expression and thus Mubarak regime did not allowthe use of social media.

Unemployment

Before Al-Assad was the president his father was the president whohad ruled Syrians for 30 years and later died when in the office.Though elections were conducted Al-Assad was a dictator and the onlypeople who could be employed were those who were not opposing theruling regime. Unemployment rate in the Arab countries was a majorconcern since it caused economic insecurity and destabilization(Nielsen, 2011, pg15). On the other hand the Arab countries are knownfor the rich oil fields and Small and Medium Sized enterprises thatwere suppose to stabilize the economy but due to poor governorshipthe countries did not make any improvements. During the uprising 24%of young people were unemployed due to inflation and other internalfactors. Lack of the elections from the Arab countries causedunemployment’s based on the fact that status quo was maintained fora longer time and thus no decisions that could be made to improve theeconomy (Brownlee, Reynolds and Masoud, 2015, pg15).

Income gap

In most Arab countries average per capital was major causes that leadto the uprising especially in Syria. In the rein of PresidentAl-Assad the income gap caused the original uprising based on thatmost of Syrians lived for $2 per day or less and the average incomein Syria is $6 which indicates that the economy was in ruin duringthe reign of President Al-Assad. This is an indication that theSyrians had to protest so that the end of the bad regime could end(Hassan, et,al, 2012pg30).

Literature review

According to laurel, Jeffrey et,al 2012 the revolutions that wereexperienced in Arab countries was due to authoritarian regimes thatlead to the uprising based on the fact that the Arabs were uncertainhow the regime could end. This is because of injustices that wereconducted to the civilians and their right was held on the hands offew greedy and corrupt leaders, for instance President Al-Assadsuspended the constitutional law where fire could be opened for theprotesters. Due to the violation of right the Syrians shared ideas onhow to liberated from such political corruptions. The civilians wereconcerned with the democratization that raised awareness to thepolicymakers what they were going through, their expectations, shapehow the Arab countries diplomatic policies could be approached andthe steps that could be taken to foster change in the Arab countries.So that their weak voice could be heard by the authoritariangovernment they had to protest and revolt so that the corrupt regimesthat were not concerned with the interest of the ordinary citizenscould end. The Muslims come into conclusion that every Fridayafternoon which was dedicated to be a prayer day was going to be theday that would revive the Arab countries such as Tunisia, Egypt andin Syria (Omidyar, 2014, pg20). The day was protest day where rootingoccurred and asked for resignation of the corrupt leaders such asAl-Assad.

Democracy is a strategy that is used by the government so thattransparency and accountability can be attained based on that it isconsidered as a battle of ideas worldwide (Howard, et,al, 2011,pg22). No country that has immerged to challenge democratic countriessince the system allows political ideas that create high trust amongthe politicians and institutions that are established to solve thevarious issues that immerge and thus directions are given in theconstitutions or according to the rule of law. The leadership of Arabcountries resist democracy based on the fact that they value power,wealth and greed a lot and this is the reason they are resistant tothe democracy. The citizens support democracy due to violation ofhuman right, unemployment and high income gap between the rich andthe poor. In the Arab world there is need to ascertain thatdemocratic government is the one that is ruling for peace andstability to be achieved (Olmert, 2011, pg211). For instance, in theArab countries there is need to consider the following factors sothat democracy can prevail

A strong middleclass

Democracy work well in the countries where there is a strong middleclass individual. This is because the developed countries areconsidered as democratic since the official threshold per capitalshould be allowed $7.8 to $9.0 billion GDP (Watenpaugh, 2003, pg257).Middle class individuals are concerned with accountability and theyask a lot of questions concerning their government and they arealways concerned with the economic trends and independence since manyof the middle class individuals are entrepreneurs. The Arab countriesthat are rich after the selling of oil and their natural resourcesare not democratic since extraction and marketing of the resourcesare conducted by the government of the day and thus the middle classis not independent. Syria, Egypt, Yemen and Tunisia are among thecountries that were affected by protests and revolutions based onthat there was no strong middle class individuals who could keep thegovernment accountable for the resources and revenue collected (John,2016, pg53). Tunisia is the only country among the country listedabove had a strong middle class but the revolution was as a result oflack of human rights.

Educatedpopulation

Democratic choice requires individuals who are educated so that theycan be aware of their rights and knowledge about the neighboringcountries on how they are governed, their state of wealth and theright of the citizens. There is a link between literacy and democracyand this is the reason Europe among other countries are democraticbecause each and every individual knows his or her right and thusthey can keep the government on toes concerning their revenue amongother. The first 6 countries that were affected by the 2011revolutions have literacy rate that is below 90 percent and thus animplication that they are not doing well in education and thus tosensitive the citizens on their right can take a lot of time. Bahrainis mostly affected based on the fact that the rate of literacy isabove 90 percent an indication that there is no running that takesplace in Bahrain.

Strong civilsociety

The authoritarian regime in Syria under the leadership of Al-Assaddid not allow civil society and they were cracked down just like howsocial media was cracked down to ensure that no one could inciteother civilians (Giersdorf, 2013, pg1345). The civil society plays amajor role in ascertaining that individuals are aware of theirrights. In Egypt, Tunisia and Libya among other countries civilsociety was not allowed until the mass protest and revolutions wereexperienced (Shaery-Eisenlohr, 2011, pg127). This was because theauthoritarian regimes could not allow establishment of the strongcivil society since they could make the citizens aware of theirright. The authoritarian rule that was mastermind by rulers likeMubarak and Muammar Gaddafi could not allow individuals to expresstheir ideas through the use of social media or protest. A strongcivil society plays a major role in ensuring those individuals areaware of their rights and how the government should share the revenueamong its citizens (Asan and Mcwilliams, 2014, pg250).

Protection ofminorities and individuals

Democracy is a system that is concerned with the right ofindividuals. The dictator Al-Assad did not have the interest of theminorities and this is the reason he violated the constitution andsuspended the right of individual where they could be killed in thename of solving the mass protest. In the Arab countries theauthoritarian regimes were not concerned with the right ofindividuals and thus it was concerned with the few individuals whowere loyal to the regimes and minorities were not given a chance toconduct businesses or own property an implication that the right ofthe minorities could be violated (Powers and O`loughlin, 2015, pg17).

The role ofsocial media in Arab spring as a recruitment channel

Social media is tool that contributed greatly in spreading ofinformation concerning freedom and democracy of the Arabs. The mediaplayed an integral role in making sure that all the Arabs indifferent countries participated directly or indirectly and thus itshaped the political debates which spread even to other parts of thecountry (Lowery, 2016, pg102).

Mobilization

When a student put anti-government graffiti in social media and wastortured by the government protest started based on that thecivilians were fighting for the freedom of press. Social media wasused to mobilize the people in the entire countries and also receivedsupport from other countries where the Arabs are located (Lever,2013, pg23). The messages that were viral encouraged the Arabs tocontinue pushing for their right and freedom based on that they hadsuffered for a long period. After analysis was conducted it was notedthat over 3 million tweets encouraged the protesters to keep onpushing for the freedom and democracy and this shaped the politicalfate for the Arab countries. The conversations that were viral in thesocial media were concerned with revolution and major events thatwill be held so that freedom and democracy can be achieved (Brown,Guskin and Mitchell, 2012, pg28). On the other hand, the media alsoaired inspiring stories in other international borders on how theyacquired their freedom and thus it encouraged the revolution andprotesters to keep on fighting for their right. When the Syriangovernment was aware of this social media crackdown was started andafter the crackdown the civilians took on street where the militarywas used tanks and snipers to cruel the protest (Khondker, 2015,pg804).

After a long period of demonstration and mass protest in Syriapresident Bashar Hafez-Al-Assad did not resign rather he went aheadto humiliate the Syrians and from the research conducted it was surethat social media was tool that cascade the Arab spring based on thatthe rate of tweets in Syria and in the world was high. For example,before the uprising the people who used the social media such astweeter before the civil war started was not high as compared to whenthe civil war started. For instance, 1,760,883 tweets were retrieveddaily where people could communicate where the mass demonstrationwould start and the place where the military were not controlling(Greene, Sheridan, and Cunningham, 2012, pg29). This is an indicationthat social media was a tool of mobilization and the channel led tomany people to participate in the political uprising. The videosfeaturing the protest and the political commentary were online and itwas accessed by millions of people. For instance, it was noted thatthe first 23 videos that were first taken in Syria were viewed byalmost 5.5 million individual an indication that online platformplayed a great role in mobilizing the Syrians and other Arabs indifferent countries to fight for their right. The evidence suggeststhat social media informed and cascaded messages relating to freedomand democracy of the Arabs both in North Africa and Middle East. Thesocial media helped to raise the expectations and the success of thepolitical uprising (Ayaz, 2015, pg2). Based on that the Arabs shareda common goal concerning democracy where they build an extensivenetwork that was socially used to organize and plan for the politicalactions. For example, in each and every Friday mass protest wasconducted where they would condemn the ruling regime for variousproblems like unemployment, inflation and political corruption amongother factors that caused instability in their economy (Kelvin, n.d,pg302).

Democratic conversations were mostly the order of the day and thedigital conversations were used to ascertain that each and every Arabwas part and parcel of the revolution (Scartozzi, 2015, pg327). Cellphones were mostly used during the revolution where messages weresent, pictures and voice messages to encourage the participants tokeep on fight for their right. For instance, in Tunisia just a smallportion of people use social media and they are less than 20 percent.On the other hand, each and every citizen has access to cell phonesan indication that messages were sent so that the people get freedomand democracy and since it is not obtained in a silver plate they hadto fight for it till at the end. When the government tried to shutdown the social media it incited more public activism for example inSyria (Al-Jenaibi, 2014, pg240). In Syria the middle classindividuals used social media and the crackdown made them to move tostreet when they could not follow the unrest in the social media.This resulted to a major protest that rooted the public institutionsso that their voice could be heard and it was followed by the publicdemanding and writing grievances to the Al-Assad regime to changetheir mind and allow people to access internet. The grievancesindicated that people have suffered for a long period and thusdictatorship has no place in 21st century so they used thesocial media to indentify the goals they had established, buildsolidarity and ensure that demonstrations were organized and plannedaccordingly (Ahy, 2014, pg99).

Real time updates

Social media is a tool that plays an important role in making surethat communication is faster and this is the reason the Arabs usedthe social media since it is a faster method of communication. Anychange that was made was indicated in social media such as twitterand Facebook among others and thus real time update was provided sothat Syria could liberate and fight for their right (Khondker, 2015,pg804). For instance, every Friday of the week, the Muslims have theresponsibility of going to pray in the mosques and thus after theprayers the social media was used before and after the prayers tokeep the Arabs aware of the protest and mass demonstration so thatthey could be liberated from dictatorship and poor governance(Jamali, 2015, pg30). Twitter and Facebook were used by many peoplesince they have capacity of transferring information very fast. Someof the information that was passed from one individual to the nextsome was misinformed and thus the government kept on tracking theadministrators and they cracked them down thought it later resultedto mass demonstration so that they could access the internet(Rabindranath and Kapil, 2014, pg124).

In Tunisia after Mohamed Bouazizi set himself on fire the pictureswent viral due to the use of social media where they were uploaded inthe YouTube, Facebook and on Twitter and it spread in every corner ofthe world. The social media kept on updating individuals on whatcaused Bouazizi to set himself on fire and how the government wasusing various injustices to subject pain to the civilians. During theuprising in Tunisia and Egypt the mass demonstration that wasconducted every day involved the use of social media where they wouldcommunicate where they are going to meet and start the peacefuldemonstration and the roads that are going to be blocked and thegovernment offices that they were going to storm in. This was madepossible through the use of social media since it provided real timeupdates to the civilians (Markham, 2014, pg102).

Relationshipbuilding

Just like how social media creates a favorable working environment inbusinesses among the business and the customer, it also created agood relationship among the civilians since messages and updates weretagged many people especially Facebook where more people are taggedstarting from friends of friends and thus a good relationship wascreated so that they could liberate the Arab countries. For instance,due to high number of Smartphone users in Syria videos showing howthe demonstration was taking place was always in viral where millionsfollowed the protest (John, 2015, pg02). Twitter had many followersand the administrators of those social media could accept many peoplein different groups so that they could share information and plan onhow and what should be done so that they can liberate Syria (Lam,2012, pg21). The civilians had good relationship so that they couldfight and liberate their countries especially in Syria, Tunisia andEgypt where the use of social media was used to awake the peopleabout their plight and the negative side of the ruling regimes(Tapscott, 2011, pg16). Democracy and freedom for the Syrians wassupposed to be on the hands of the people. They encouraged agovernment for the people and by the people where they could electtheir leaders.

Conclusion

Social media plays an important role in mobilizing people on what todo based on the fact that freedom of speech has been granted to all.Social movements such as activisms groups are encouraged so that thegovernment can be kept on toes to offer the required services to thecivilians. Democracy and freedom is a major concern to individualsand thus dictatorial governments do not have place in the 21stcentury. People should elect their representatives since the voice ofthe people is the voice of God and since people have spoken theirwish should be respected. Human right violation is an issue that isoutdated and thus the right of individuals should be respectedaccordingly.

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