USIP's Media, Conflict & Peacebuilding Roundup


United States Institute of Peace


Center of Innovation: Media, Conflict and Peacebuilding

Weekly News Roundup, September 20 - 26, 2012

Media and Journalism

Internet and Social Media

What's New from PeaceMedia

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Media and Journalism

Syrian TV Journalist Shot Dead While Reporting on Explosions in Damascus
A corespondent for Iran's Press TV was shot dead on Wednesday while reporting from the scene of devastating twin explosions in the Syrian capital, Damascus. Maya Nasser, a 33-year-old Syrian national, was killed after being hit by "insurgent" sniper fire, Press TV said. Nasser, reportedly a Christian, was one of the few correspondents based in Damascus to have reported on Syria's brutal war in English.
See the full article (Guardian, Luke Harding and Saeed Kamali Dehghan, 9/26/12)
Click to read about USIP's upcoming event "Groundtruth: New Media, Technology and the Syria Crisis" on October 2 at 8:45am.
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Pakistan Bounty on Anti-Islam Filmmaker: Government Distances Self from Minister's Offer (AP, 9/24/12)
The Pakistani government on Monday distanced itself from an offer by one of its Cabinet ministers to pay $100,000 for anyone who kills the maker of an anti-Islam film. The offer by Railways Minister Ghulam Ahmad Bilour has drawn criticism in Pakistan even though anger against the film runs high in this predominantly Muslim country. Bilour appealed to al-Qaida and Taliban militants to contribute to "a noble cause" of eliminating the filmmaker.
See the full article (AP, Rebecca Santana, 9/24/12)
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Pakistani Radio Show Uses Mothers and Mullahs to Undercut Taliban
State-run radio spent years issuing dry updates on the prime minister's schedule while the Taliban broadcast hit lists and fiery recruitment calls from dozens of FM stations, some hidden in the back of a donkey cart. Alarmed at the success of hardline propaganda, veteran Pakistani journalist Imtiaz Gul decided to try something different: a mix of reports and live debates designed to get people thinking critically about militancy.
See the full article (Reuters, Katharine Houreld, 9/23/12)
Click to read about USIP's upcoming event "Youth Bulge, Public Policy, and Prospects for Peace in Pakistan" on October 10 at 9:00am.
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FSA Media Centre Televises Syria's Revolution
Many of the grainy YouTube videos of battles being fought in the city of Aleppo come through this room. Rebel commanders often sit behind the desk against the far wall -- the flag of the Syrian revolution hung behind it -- to record video messages and announcements. While many Syrians have chosen to take up arms to fight back against the forces of President Bashar al-Assad, the people here are making use of the skills gained in their careers prior to the revolution.
See the full article (Al Jazeera, Richard Hall, 9/22/12)
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Afghanistan Bans Pakistani Newspapers
Afghanistan banned all Pakistani newspapers from entering the country on Friday in an attempt to block the Taliban from influencing public opinion via the press. The order, issued by the Ministry of Interior, adds to the mounting tension between the neighboring countries. It focuses specifically on blocking entry of the papers at Torkham, a busy border crossing, and directed border police to gather up Pakistani newspapers in the three eastern provinces of Nangarhar, Kunar and Nuristan.
See the full article (AP, Amir Shah, 9/21/12)
Click to read "Lessons from Afghanistan's History for the Current Transition and Beyond," a USIP On the Issues by William Byrd.
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Resources for Freelance Journalists in Conflict Zones
Conflict zones are dangerous, Syria particularly. One thing I have noticed in two years of working with freelance reporters is that, with the state of the media industry what it is, a number of young journalists are forging ahead into conflict zones with little more than a camera and a sense of adventure. That's deeply admirable, but it also risks allowing another degree of danger into an endeavor that already has plenty.
See the full article (Atlantic, Max Fisher, 9/21/12)
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Complaint Against Egyptian TV Host Who Aired 'Innocence of Muslims' Raises Free Speech Issue
Khaled Abdullah seems an unlikely person to find himself facing accusations of religious crimes. The top-billed host on al-Nas, a TV channel popular with Salafists, he is one of the country's best-known Islamist personalities-and one of its most controversial too, famous for delivering inflammatory rhetoric with a finger-pointing flare. It's Abdullah who is usually the one leveling charges of offending the faith.
See the full article (Daily Beast, Mike Giglio, 9/21/12)
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More Than a Dozen Killed as Protests of Anti-Muslim Film Turn Deadly in Pakistan
Protests over an anti-Muslim film turned violent Friday across Pakistan, with police firing tear gas and live ammunition at thousands of demonstrators who threw rocks and set fire to buildings. At least 17 people were killed and dozens were injured. Muslims also marched in at least a half-dozen other countries, with some burning American flags and effigies of U.S. President Barack Obama.
See the full article (AP, 9/20/12)
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Internet and Social Media

Project Cleanup for Peace Shows the Other Side of Pakistan
Just a day after the violent protests, it took Faran Rafi a single tweet to collect thousands of young men for "Project Cleanup for Peace." Rafi, a student at the Lahore University of Management Science, came up with the idea in order to let the world know about the "other Pakistan." The response from Pakistan's civil society, intelligentsia, and media to the violent protests is not the only indication that voices are now being raised against extremist elements in the country.
See the full article (RFE/RL, Daud Khattak, 9/26/12)
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Obama Defends Free Speech After Asking YouTube to 'Review' Anti-Islam Movie
As riots across the Mideast targeted U.S. embassies and consulates, the White House quietly asked YouTube to "review" whether an anti-Islam film allegedly fueling the chaos violated any terms of use. Now, in front of the United Nations, President Obama insisted that the only answer to offensive speech is "more speech." Obama's United Nations speech was another indicator that his administration's approach to this month's anti-American violence is under revision.
See the full article (Wired, Spencer Ackerman, 9/25/12)
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Web Repression Around the World: It's Becoming More Sophisticated
Attacks on Internet freedom are on the rise, and the tools employed by repressive governments are becoming increasingly sophisticated. Of the countries surveyed, more than a quarter used cadres of paid pro-government bloggers to try to discredit the opposition, spread false information, or prop up the official state line. Freedom House says the tactic was in the past "largely limited to Russia and China," but has now extended to Belarus, Ukraine, Iran, and beyond.
See the full article (Atlantic, Richard Solash, 9/24/12)
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Vietnam Convicts 3 Bloggers for Anti-Government Posts
Vietnamese court issued jail sentences ranging from four to 12 years on Monday to three bloggers who wrote about human rights abuses, corruption and foreign policy, intensifying a crackdown on citizens' use of the Internet to criticize the government. The cases are particularly high-profile examples of the Communist government's attempts to stifle challenges to its authority on the Internet, which has emerged as a major avenue for dissent in the country of 87 million people.
See the full article (AP, Matthew Pennington, 9/23/12)
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Iran Set to Block Access to Google
Iran was set to block access to Google and Gmail in reaction to the anti-Islam film that has triggered protests across the Muslim world. Abdolsamad Khoramabadi, an Iranian official with the state-run body in charge of online censorship and computer crimes, claimed the decision was taken after Iranians pressed the authorities to filter the sites because of links to the film. Many Iranian have taken to social networking websites such as Facebook and Twitter to react to the announcement.
See the full article (Guardian, Saeed Kamali Dehghan, 9/23/12)
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Digital Diplomacy: Virtual Relations
Minutes after last week's violent attacks on America's missions in the Middle East, the country's embassy in Cairo was already on Twitter. It tweeted an emergency number for American citizens. It criticised Egypt's Muslim Brotherhood for supporting the protests on their Arabic feed. And it thanked fellow tweeters for their condolences on the murder of the American ambassador to Libya. Welcome to the new world of e-diplomacy, also called, more pretentiously, "21st-century-statecraft".
See the full article (Economist, 9/22/12)
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Syrian Blogger Burned to Death
A citizen journalist who used the nom de plume Abu Hassan to report from the Syrian city of Hama was burned to death after regime forces targeted his home. According to a fellow media activist, Syrian army soldiers set Hassan's house alight after an assault on the area that left 16 people dead. The activist said that the army were aware that the house belonged to Hassan, a 27-year-old whose real name was Abdel Karim al-Oqda.
See the full article (Guardian, Roy Greenslade, 9/21/12)
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Telecom Services Blocked to Curb Protests in Kashmir
The state government of Jammu and Kashmir ordered telecom companies to block access to YouTube and Facebook in the Kashmir Valley, effective midnight Thursday, to curb potential protests over an amateur video that has angered Muslims. Local residents were not able to access YouTube at all; however, access to Facebook was not uniformly blocked across the valley. Twitter was accessible until midmorning. Internet access and cellphone service were blocked in Kashmir on Friday afternoon.
See the full article (New York Times, Pamposh Raine and Betwa Sharma, 9/21/12) *NYT sign-up may be required to view the full article
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What's New from PeaceMedia

"The Independent Radio Network" - Search for Common Ground
Search for Common Ground has supported the creation and development of the Independent Radio Network (IRN) since 2002. The IRN uses radio to strategically promote nonviolent democratic processes in Sierra Leone and enhance the public's knowledge of government operations. IRN is now recognized as a respected and credible source of news in Sierra Leone.
See the full video
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