Wednesday, November 14, 2012

On the new leader of the Syrian exile opposition

Yaman sent me this:  "Interesting things about Facebook and al-Khatib:

1) I think this post has to be seen in light of the fact that it was written in February 2008, just months after Syrian authorities banned Facebook in Syria (November 2007; the ban was lifted in 2011). Syrian security justified the ban as necessary for security, specifically to prevent alleged spying by Israel (and communications between Syrians and Israelis whether intentional or inadvertent). So in a way, his post might be seen as an endorsement of the blocking of that website in Syria.

2) Point 1 is supported by the fact that in the same post he lauds Iran for banning Facebook.

وهناك بعض الدول تنبهت لخطورة هذا الموقع ، مثل إيران التى قررت منع الطلاب الايرانيين من استخدام الموقع بحجة قيام حركات معارضة من خلاله ، وعن ذلك تقول فتاة ايرانية تستخدم موقع فيس بوك عبر خادم (بروكسي – أن) الموقع ذو أهمية كبيرة لانه ‘في مثل تلك الشبكات يمكنك التعبير عما يساورك بالطريقة التي تحبها … في حين أنه في كل مرة تخرج فيها من بيتك إلى الشارع يتحتم عليك تقديم نفسك بالطريقة التي تمنع الاخرين من التعرض لك و مضايقتك’. لكن الاكيد هو أن أجهزة المخابرات الايرانية توصلت إلي حقيقة الامر وعرفت أنه قد يشكل طريقاً سهلا للاعداء لجمع ما يردون من معلومات.

So he endorses the banning of Facebook as a way of suppressing opposition movements, in addition to foreign spies -- too ironic given the centrality of Facebook to the Syrian uprising.

3) This post is so preoccupied with sex. He describes Facebook and the Internet almost as if it is exclusively or primarily a tool for sleaze. The benefits of Facebook are described as making it easier to find "pretty girls" (jameelaat) and young women (fatayaat); of releasing sexual tension through anonymous chats; etc. The security threat is partly that now these secrets would spill out of bedrooms and onto the Internet, as a tool for Israeli intelligence. So he weaves a strange narrative about the relationship between national security, sexual morality, and Facebook. And n
otice how he assumes a male reader of his article, and male usership of Facebook, as if women both have nothing to do on Facebook but flaunt themselves, and are never also interested in using Facebook for romance (simultaneously under- and over-sexualizing them, reducing their facebook presence to sexual objects and also depriving them of sexual agency).

All in all, not very impressive, and a sign that if the regime falls and he becomes a leader, more revolution and protest will be deserved."