"There was Music in the Cafes at Night and Revolution in the Air"

The juxtaposition between the Free World watching the Grammy Awards last night and the streets of Middle Eastern capitals being thronged with young revolutionaries yearning to join the Free World was nothing if not delicious this weekend.

Gawker‘s got a collection of headlines from around the web documenting this very revolution in the air.  Sure, its political – but with the youth of these countries out in force, you better believe its cultural too…

  • Small protests against the Sunni Muslim monarchy in Bahrain took place in the Persian Gulf country today, with groups of majority Shia men and women clashing with riot police during today’s planned “Day of Rage.” [NYT]
  • Iranian opposition figures Mir Hossein Mousavi and Mehdi Karroubi have been placed under house arrest in Tehran after calling for people to take to the streets in a show of support for the revolution in Egypt. Mahmoud Ahmadinejad has tried to co-opt the momentum of the recent events in Egypt, but won’t allow opposition groups into the streets for fear of putting his own ass on the line. [BBC; AJE]
  • The Algerian government said it will lift the country’s 19-year emergency law “within days” after using that same law to violently crush protests there over the last month. [AJE]
  • Students and other activists have taken to the streets of Yemen’s capital, Sana’a for the fourth straight day to demand the resignation of longtime President Ali Abdullah Saleh. Protesters there yesterday were beaten by dagger- and club-wielding riot police. [AP]
  • Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas’ cabinet, which was never legitimate or fully representative of the Palestinian people in the first place, resigned today. [Ma’an]
  • A small campaign has started in Morocco to get people into the streets on February 20th to protest the rule of King Muhammad VI. [Arabist]

I have long advocated a cultural exchange as a means of bringing the Middle East out of the Dark Ages.  But dropping CDs, DVDs and Tiger Beat Magazine from military planes over these regions was never going to happen.  Ultimately, social media did the trick – it allowed 30 million people of my generation in Egypt to say “enough is enough” to the foul old men who had attempted to close them off to the rest of the world.  I don’t know what the result will be now that the Muslim Brotherhood and Military are attempting to gain control of the situation, but the status quo has been undoubtedly shattered.

No amount of propaganda could possibly trump the effect of the kids seeing how we live, love, eat, share, dance, dress and communicate.  Facebook and Twitter were the battering ram, the doors have now been crushed in.  And once they get a look at Rihanna, we all know there’s no going back.


More Demonstrations Across Middle East (Gawker)

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