How do you define a protest? In the past three weeks I think the word itself has found new manifestations in Jordan. Each one catered to an audience and each one catered to a need. Some chose to go out in to the streets and shout, some chose to light a candle at a vigil, some helped pack donations, some launched an “aid market” to raise money, some held an “aid concert” to raise money, some started a boycott campaign. In a short time span, those manifestations have continued to interest me and I continue to wonder, what’s next?
Tonight, local radio station, Spin Jordan 94.1, is airing a radio-documentary called Gaza Dying, on the Gaza crisis and the reactions of various artists. It’ll be live at 6pm and it will lean towards the emerging pop-culture of Palestinian resistance, which is will hopefully play an important role in years to come, taking a lesson right out of the Zionist playbook and the art of remembrance.
Speaking of, another local artist made short documentaries that are all on YouTube now, and will probably be sent to important political figures including Obama.
[And just a quick digression from the larger message here, but it has been truly amazing the extent to which the Internet and technology has been used to form these events, spread the message and mobilize people. From Facebook, to the email forwards, to blogs, to websites, to WatWet and Ikbis, to SMS messages, etc.]
Photo Credit: 7iber
Now I can only speak for myself, but to me these are all forms of protest. We have a classical definition of the word, and in this region it’s usually accompanied with some flag-burning images, but in truth, there are different methods of protest. Some are more effective than others, and some are more helpful than others. But the term and the way it’s defined is, from my point of view, akin to the way Muslims define Jihad. In the west it has been labeled strictly in a militant definition. In truth, Islam preaches various forms of jihad, with the inner-jihad – the battle with one’s own demons – ranking high. And even that word, “jihad”, has been thrown around lately over here as Jordanian Muslims begin to realize that whatever form of protest they choose, that is their form of jihad.
At protests, aid concerts, vigils, aid markets, and even donation campaigns, there is a mix of demographics – a mix of people. Different origins, including Palestinian, Jordanian, Armenian, Carcassian, American, British and even Belgian.
From west Amman to east Amman, to outside Amman. From rich to not-so rich. From young to old. At street protests I’ve seen families with their kids wandering between the riot police.
The messages have been in Arabic and in English, no matter where the “protest” was being held, which makes me think about the idea of branding that message even more.
All of this is incredibly grassroots. You can’t put your finger on a single entity and say: they’re the ones leading this. It is not based on a movement led by the socialists or the Islamists or the associations and unions. It is a social movement. People, like water on concrete, searching for every crack and crevice, every niche they fit in to, every platform they can get their hands on, to demonstrate their support.
And everyone seems to find their thing; everyone seems to eventually find their voice, and the perfect microphone to amplify it.
There is a collusion of ideas and the loner the crisis lasted the more those ideas came to fruition.
Suffice to say, it has been interesting to see all those manifestations move on a grassroots level. No one is really leading them, and most have yielded a great deal of success in their own unique way. We may not agree with all the outlets, but they are nevertheless, an outlet – at least for one group of people.
All together, they created some form of revival – a new-found spirit for an old cause. And I’m wondering if no ceasefire had been declared, and the crisis had continued to worsen, what other forms of protests would have emerged.
What’s even more interesting, is that all of this, has been ironically fueled directly by Israel.