The Names of the Revolution


Posted by Matthew Barber on Saturday, December 14th, 2013

From the inception of the Syrian uprising, each Friday has been given a special title by activists involved in protests. Fridays were important in the beginning because more protests would occur on that day than any other day of the week. Protests would often take place immediately following communal prayers in mosques where large groups of people would have already congregated together, something impossible in Syria outside of institutionalized contexts like the mosque or a place of education.

Each Friday bore a name such as “The Day of Rage” or “The Day of Defiance” and such titles were picked up and circulated by both the Arab and Western media. The practice of naming the Fridays was started by the “Syrian Revolution 2011” Facebook page, run by Fida’ ad-Din Tariif as-Sayyid ‘Isa, a Syrian activist in Sweden.

Some months into the uprising in 2011, people complained and proposed that the process of naming the Fridays should be democratic rather than performed by a small group of website administrators. A new system emerged whereby a number of options for the next Friday’s name would be posted on the Revolution Facebook page, and visitors were able to vote for the title of their choosing. Each week, multiple thousands vote on these names.

The names have reflected themes that concern the uprising during the particular week that a name is assigned. Back when the uprising was still characterized by protests rather than skirmishes, activists would incorporate the current Friday’s name into the slogans and banners used in demonstrations.

At the beginning, names began as simple, one-word titles such as “The Day of Honor” that were general in scope. Then the names began to express specific ideas, like “The Day of Loyalty to the Kurdish Uprising,” or positions that could be endorsed, like “The Day of No to Peacekeeping Forces in The Land of Sham.” Eventually, names grew unwieldy in length and included statements, i.e. “The Day of Full Preparation for Full Mobilization; Russia is the Enemy of the Syrian People” or “The Day of Allah Is Great: He Supported his Worshipers, Made his Soldiers Mighty, and Defeated the Factions Alone” (an excerpt from a prayer recited on Eid). Some titles employed cleverness: “Revolution University – Martyrdom Engineering.”

We recently collected all of the names given to the Fridays since the beginning of the uprising and list them below with translations. December 9 marked the 1000th day of the revolution; all of the Friday names listed below except the final one (Dec. 13) constitute the first 1000 days of the revolution.

Read more at Syria Comment

Where Does Facebook Stop and the NSA Begin?

Illustration: Dale Stephanos

“That social norm is just something that has evolved over time” is how Mark Zuckerberg justified hijacking your privacy in 2010, after Facebook imperiously reset everyone’s default settings to “public.” “People have really gotten comfortable sharing more information and different kinds.” Riiight. Little did we know that by that time, Facebook (along with Google, Microsoft, etc.) was already collaborating with the National Security Agency’s PRISM program that swept up personal data on vast numbers of internet users.

In light of what we know now, Zuckerberg’s high-hat act has a bit of a creepy feel, like that guy who told you he was a documentary photographer, but turned out to be a Peeping Tom. But perhaps we shouldn’t be surprised: At the core of Facebook’s business model is the notion that our personal information is not, well, ours. And much like the NSA, no matter how often it’s told to stop using data in ways we didn’t authorize, it just won’t quit. Not long after Zuckerberg’s “evolving norm” dodge, Facebook had to promise the feds it would stop doing things like putting your picture in ads targeted at your “friends”; that promise lasted only until this past summer, when it suddenly “clarified” its right to do with your (and your kids’) photos whatever it sees fit. And just this week, Facebook analytics chief Ken Rudin told the Wall Street Journal that the company is experimenting with new ways to suck up your data, such as “how long a user’s cursor hovers over a certain part of its website, or whether a user’s newsfeed is visible at a given moment on the screen of his or her mobile phone.”

There will be a lot of talk in coming months about the government surveillance golem assembled in the shadows of the internet. Good. But what about the pervasive claim the private sector has staked to our digital lives, from where we (and our phones) spend the night to how often we text our spouse or swipe our Visa at the liquor store? It’s not a stretch to say that there’s a corporate spy operation equal to the NSA—indeed, sometimes it’s hard to tell the difference.

Read more at Mother Jones