Academic journal article Insight Turkey

Democratic Uprisings in the New Middle East: Youth, Technology, Human Rights and Foreign Policy

Academic journal article Insight Turkey

Democratic Uprisings in the New Middle East: Youth, Technology, Human Rights and Foreign Policy

Article excerpt

Democratic Uprisings in the New Middle East: Youth, Technology, Human Rights and Foreign Policy By Mahmood Monshipouri Boulder: Paradigm Publishers, 2014, 233 pages, $29.95, ISBN: 9781612051352

Since 2011, various countries in the Middle East and North Africa (MENA) have collapsed, and widespread confusion still remains as a result of citizens' uprisings, robust political activism, civil disobedience and social networking. The reasons behind these revolts is one of the hottest debate topics in academia, even today. Scientists wonder whether these revolts' reasons were new technology devices (especially Facebook and Twitter) or democracy, freedom, dignity, human rights and justice. Why have these revolts occurred, and what exactly have the people demanded? Despite the fact that many books, articles, and academic essays have been written in order to answer these questions, an entire work focusing on the role of youth and new media technologies is a welcome addition to the debate. Mahmood Monshipouri's Democratic Uprisings in the New Middle East: Youth, Technology, Human Rights and Foreign Policy fills the gap by providing a substantial analysis of the "extraordinary events of the 2011 Arab revolts and beyond. The role of the youth, new media technologies, rising demand for open politics, open society and human rights" (p. viii).

Monshipouri begins the work with the wry statement that if one does not know about what was happening in the region between 2011 and 2014, he/she can understand approximately everything about the events between these years. Monshipouri claims that social media and new internet technologies have played a significant role in the developments in the region in contrast to previous revolutionary movements. Social media was used mostly by the younger generation in order to express their wishes and desires for having a more humane life standards in future. Monshipouri stresses that satellite stations such as Al Jazeera are controlled by government and its political narrative; so, according to him, social media confers "new meaning and legitimacy upon notions of power, participation, transparency and accountability" (p. 9).

Throughout the book, Monshipouri frequently mentions the issue of unemployment in the region. According to Monshipouri, the main reason for the revolts is socio-economic; people have demanded jobs first; then popular democracy, freedom, dignity, justice, and human rights. In chapter one, he asserts that educated, but unemployed young people sparked the revolts, and illustrates this point by providing both unemployment rates and educational achievements' rate, country by country in the second chapter. Also in his first chapter, Monshipouri briefly mentions that young people used social media influentially in order to state their expectations, especially about employment, and they arranged protests and upheavals on Facebook. Many people decided to attend these protests and came together in the streets; social media provided a platform for the grassroots support that made the Arab Spring successful(!?)

In the second chapter, demographic factors are taken consideration, also. Monshipouri argues that the protests were part of a peaceful democratic process, and that the protestors were not terrorist, military or Jacobin. He mentions the "youth bulge" in the region and adds that many of the protestors were genuine young people who had suffered a lot from unemployment, low economic standards and a very poor education system. Even for many who had received a quality education, employment was not available, which further pushed them to revolt. This chapter compares traditional revolutionary weapons with online media; Monshipouri concludes by claiming that social media is more reliable and more transparent than traditional media, which was censored at the time and gave false news.

In the third chapter, Monshipouri acknowledges that social media has empowered young people in the region with a greater sense of choice, and has given them an opportunity for a new self-identification; thus democracy can work here. …

Search by... Author
Show... All Results Primary Sources Peer-reviewed

Oops!

An unknown error has occurred. Please click the button below to reload the page. If the problem persists, please try again in a little while.