Mar 31, 2011

Funeral Crackdown in Iran

What the heck is going on in Iran? The Iranian regime put more constraints on its people and now they even have a problem burying their dead. On Thursday, more than 7 people were arrested while attending a funeral for the father of one of the reformist leaders Mir Hossein Mousavi.

The Green Movement website says that government security forces surrounded Mousavi’s home in Tehran as people were gathered for a funeral. It says that there was a confrontation between mourners and policemen in plain clothes who seized the coffin, forcefully placed it in a ambulance, and took it to a burial ceremony.

Furthermore it says, while a confrontation erupted between mourners and police forces, the police forces in plain clothes attacked mourners, beaten them up and arrested more than seven funeral attendants.

It has been since February 14 that opposition’s leaders Mir Hossein Mousavi and Mehdi Karroubi along with their wives have been put under house arrest, after they called for a rally in support of Egyptian uprising.

Mar 23, 2011

Twitter and users

Last week I tweeted: "I had a bizarre morning, lost keys and forgot my power adapter at the coffee shop, one of the laundry dryer machines did work, had to redo it," a few minutes later, I got this tweet from a user saying: " We can get you a new set of keys!"

There was also another company who tweeted me saying that they sold the best key leashes. These companies advertise their products through twitter, watching for key words and checking who tweets what, isn't that amazing?

Compare these tweets with the tweets that are being sent out from the Middle East, telling of how many people died in anti-government protests while government media denies them. It's quite ironic that on the other side of the world, people use twitter for their liberation from oppressive regimes while on this side of the world, people use twitter to advertise their products.

For one part of the world, twitter has become a powerful source of communication, spreading out their angers, organizing their protests, reporting about regime's brutality, whereas for another part, twitter still is being used as a source of communication, but also as a tool for marketing and celebrities.

For me personally, twitter is a source of getting update news from the Middle East, South Asia, Afghanistan and around the world. I use it as a micro-blogging tool to share links and comments related to those regions.

Mar 21, 2011

Happy Fifth Birthday Twitter!

Today, March 21, 2011 marks the fifth anniversary of the first tweet ever sent. PCWorld has counted five milestones from the past five years, two of them are the most important to me:
1. The role of Twitter in coverage of Iranian elections.
2. Twitter in Tunisia and Egypt which help protesters organizing their protests and finally we unexpectedly saw the demise of authoritarian regimes one after another.

Here is a fascinating video of some important figures telling why twitter is important to them.

Mar 7, 2011

The Middle East Doesn't mean Israel or Palestine anymore

The recent uprisings in Tunisia, Egypt, and seemingly sweeping across the entire Middle East have definitely shocked the world. No one was expecting such cataclysmic movements one after another. However, these uprisings also give a new picture of the Middle East to the world, especially to Western countries - a new picture that encourages people in the West to no longer see the Middle East as Israel or Palestine, but as an original Middle East, a larger area with relatively cohesive and in some part homogeneous people living with the same culture and religion.

Young Middle Easterners have proven that they can change their fate and shape it to their wills. These people no longer tolerate living under tyrannical regimes, and the most important things we have sees in these uprisings are the demands of freedom. In these uprisings, hundreds, maybe thousands of people have been killed so far; nonetheless, as the revolutions in Tunisia and Egypt triumphed in striving for democracy and freedom, they proved that no one can take away people’s freedom, even if you can kill a few of them.

Returning back to the subject, for the past decades, the only thing we have been hearing and reading about the Middle East was the conflict between Israel and Palestine. In many institution of higher education there are branches specifically teaching students about Israel and Palestine conflict. From now on, this could change; scholars would suggest studying a broader perspective of the Middle East.

Mar 3, 2011

Radical Protest at Dickinson College

As more than 200 students continue their sit-in to protest in demanding more transparent policies on sexual violence, the news has already spread out to the media. Yesterday morning I realized there were a few students absent and I wondered where they were. A classmate reminded me that there is a protest going on campus. I thought it was not that serious and it could end soon but surprisingly it is still going on and they occupied the administration building, Old West.

It is the second day of the demonstration and I personally think it is too much; it is not civilized to occupy the administration building of an academic institution and create anxiety. There are some other ways that are more proper in addressing such issues rather than flocking around the offices as mass.

First, Dickinson College is an academic environment for higher education. Sometimes I am envious of American kids that have such a great opportunity for higher education. But I am afraid; I have often found that they are not taking advantage of such opportunities. Some have no idea what they want or what they are doing here. Some feel themselves unleashed from their families and think college is a place to get drunk, party and mess up. There is not a single weekend that goes by without at least one or two incidents. Most of these cases could be involved serious crimes but fortunately on campus security deals and makes things calm down. Last year, there was a movement that some students were asking the DPS not to show up around when they are partying.

It’s ironic that they want more freedom but they are sometimes are not capable of handling it well. This is finally the result when they messed up, they are flooding to protest against administrative policy which can’t do much. Some of them have no idea why they joined the protest. Nevertheless protest has become trendy nowadays.

If there is a rape case or sexual assault, there are some legal institutions that can deal with it, not the administration. It is police’s and court’s job to investigate the rape cases. If the students are very serious and want to bring changes, there are higher authorities in this country than college administration. The administration might be able toss out the perpetrator but that is it, it may not necessarily bring changes. These things should be done profoundly. This is not unique case which happens at Dickinson College, as my understanding is that sexual assault on college campuses is quite pervasive all over the country. So, why not address this issue in a broader way rather than taking a radical action and occupying the building? This creates tension, and it is a radical movement in its nature in such an academic environment.

Dickinson College does not resemble any Middle Eastern countries; there are many civilized ways for the student to address the issues. There is a rule of law in this country and such cases should be followed by law and addressed to legal authorities. In developing countries, protesting is the only way to show anger and dissatisfaction with policies because usually the legal systems are not strong enough or sometimes they are ruled by despotic rulers.

Finally, I think a better way to improve the college campus life is in students feeling a bit responsible for what they are doing on campus. I believe that girls are not only part of this cause, guys are also part of it. If boys and girls get less drunk, do less sexual exposure in parties, less mingling with drunk guys and girls, smoke less weed, we won’t have sexual assault cases on campus. We would have a healthy campus life without any sexual harassment.