USIP's Media, Conflict & Peacebuilding Roundup

United States Institute of Peace


Center of Innovation: Media, Conflict and Peacebuilding

Weekly News Roundup, September 6 - 12, 2012

Media and Journalism

Internet and Social Media

What's New from PeaceMedia

Media and Journalism

Anti-Muslim Film Director in Hiding, Following Libya, Egypt Violence
The director of a controversial anti-Islam film has gone into hiding, according to reports, fearing reprisals over a work that has sparked violence in Egypt and Libya and led to the deaths of four Americans. Sam Bacile, a California real estate developer, posted a 13-minute clip of "The Innocence of Muslims," in July, and the film became a lighting rod after the Egyptian media began showing parts of it on air and dubbed versions of the English-language film appeared on the Internet.
See the full article (Washington Post, Nia-Malika Henderson and Michelle Boorstein, 9/12/12)
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Origins of Provocative Video Are Shrouded
The history of the film - who financed it; how it was made; and perhaps most important, how it was translated into Arabic and posted on YouTube to Muslim viewers - was shrouded Wednesday in tales of a secret Hollywood screening; a director who may or may not exist, and used a false name if he did; and actors who appeared, thanks to computer technology, to be traipsing through Middle Eastern cities.
See the full article (New York Times, Adam Nagourney, 9/12/12) *NYT sign-up may be required to view the full article
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Photographer Captures Attack in Syria, Lives
Experienced war photographer Tracey Shelton [was] embedded with Syrian rebels in Aleppo, a city so dangerous that most reporters do not go there. She photographed the instant of a blast that killed most of the men. She was with the rebels fighting to oust President Bashar al-Assad to shoot a feature film about their lives. The images, published on CNN, Global Post and several other outlets, went viral.
See the full article (CNN, Ashley Fantz, 9/12/12)
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Google Blocks YouTube Clip Only in Egypt and Libya
YouTube, the video website owned by Google Inc, will not remove a film clip mocking the Islamic Prophet Mohammad that has been blamed for anti-U.S. protests in Egypt and Libya, but it has blocked access to it in those countries. Google's response to the crisis highlighted the struggle faced by the company, and others like it, to balance free speech with legal and ethical concerns in an age when social media can impact world events.
See the full article (Reuters, Gerry Shih and Sue Zeidler, 9/12/12)
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Media's Balancing Act with Terrorism
When I was in Colombia recently, President Juan Manuel Santos delivered a speech that's been rattling around in my head ever since. In it, he cautioned news media, particularly television reporters, against being used and manipulated by terrorists. It's a message that reporters everywhere should ponder: The news media can help terrorists just by reporting their frightful acts to a mass audience.
See the full article (CNN, Dan Rather, 9/11/12)
Click to read "Colombian Peace Talks," a USIP On the Issues by Virginia M. Bouvier.
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Iran Jails Women Journalists
Two Iranian journalists, Shiva Nazar Ahari and Jila Bani Yaghoob, have been arrested in order to serve previously imposed jail sentences. Ahari, 27, a human rights activist and editor of the Azad Zan (Freed Women) website, is serving a four-year sentence for plotting against national security and transmitting anti-government propaganda. Yaghoob, who has been a journalist since 1994, wrote for many reformist newspapers about Lebanon, Afghanistan, and Iraq .
See the full article (Guardian, Roy Greenslade, 9/11/12)
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Legal Proceedings Brought Against Afghan TV Channels
The Afghan Ministry of Culture and Information has brought legal proceedings against two popular entertainment television channels. The ministry said the content violated a new media law, which bans programs that are deemed an affront to Afghan culture. In related news, Afghan journalists have boycotted sessions of the lower house of parliament, saying the sessions were being censored by the government.
See the full article (RFE/RL, 9/10/12)
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Dozens of Kurdish Journalists Face Terrorism Charges in Turkey
The biggest media trial in Turkey's history has begun in what human rights groups say is an attempt by the government to intimidate the press and punish pro-Kurdish activists. A total of 44 Kurdish journalists appeared in court in Istanbul on various terrorism charges. The contentious case comes amid an escalation of Turkey's 28-year-old Kurdish insurgency, with renewed clashes between the PKK and Turkish security forces.
See the full article (Guardian, Constanze Letsch and Luke Harding, 9/10/12)
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Freeing the Press
Today, the latest issues of the weekly journals are likely to have picture of [Aung San] Suu Kyi and other opposition figures splashed across their covers. Not surprisingly, Burmese readers tend to be better informed these days -- and not only about the pro-democracy forces, but also about once-taboo topics such as the ethnic civil wars in the country's borderlands. [But] that doesn't mean that the specter of censorship is entirely dead.
See the full article (Foreign Policy, Min Zin, 9/6/12)
Click to read about USIP's upcoming event "Burma/Myanmar in Transition: A Discussion with Aung San Suu Kyi" on September 18 at 12:30pm.
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Internet and Social Media

@Fault: Besieged U.S. Embassy #Fails Its Twitter Defense
When Egyptians stormed the gates of the U.S. Embassy in Cairo, the diplomats took to their computers and mobile devices - and blamed an American video for stirring up the locals. But the Embassy's tweets against the movie and "religious incitement" instantly came in for more criticism, from Americans who thought the diplomats had conceded far, far too much - like basic principles of free speech.
See the full article (Wired, Spencer Ackerman, 9/11/12)
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Oman Jails Six Men for Internet Slander: Activist
An Omani court sentenced six people to jail terms ranging from a year to 18 months for slander over internet posts against the government. The verdict, issued on Sunday, was a further move by Oman to deter unrest inspired by Arab Spring revolts last year. Oman's public prosecutor pledged to prosecute such statements under its information technology law, which formed the basis of the latest rulings as well as the earlier verdicts.
See the full article (Reuters, Saleh Al-Shaibany, 9/10/12)
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Careful Who You Friend: Taliban Posing as 'Attractive Women' Online
Tech-savvy Talibs have posed as pretty girls on Facebook to lure Australian troops into giving away military secrets. That's one disturbing - but not totally surprising - conclusion of a recent Aussie government review of military social media usage. Canberra is particularly sensitive to tracking and infiltration by extremists after an apparent Afghan army trainee killed three Australian troops in southern Afghanistan earlier this month - part of a wave of insider attacks.
See the full article (Wired, David Axe, 9/10/12)
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Indian PM Warns of Dangers of Social Media
Indian Premier Manmohan Singh warned Saturday over the use of social media to inflame ethnic tensions after online threats and text messages sparked a mass exodus of migrants from southern cities. The unprecedented exodus was triggered by inflammatory text messages and videos posted online which warned that Muslims would target them in reprisal for deadly clashes between the tribals and Muslims in remote Assam state.
See the full article (AFP, 9/8/12)
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Twitter Newbie: Egyptian President Mursi Dedicates First Tweet to Martyrs
Egyptian President Mohammed Mursi on Saturday logged what he said was his first post on Twitter, which he dedicated to martyrs of the Egyptian uprising last year and to the people of Syria. His verified account on the microblogging website had previously been flooded with what appeared to be news written about him, but not by him. The move is in line with Mursi's ever-growing social media bubble.
See the full article (Al Arabiya, 9/9/12)
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What's New from PeaceMedia

"Kenya IDP Camps" - TV2 Africa
As four prominent Kenyans are to have their post-election violence cases tried before the International Criminal Court, thousands of people are still languishing in often-deplorable conditions in camps that they fled to during violence following the last elections.
See the full video
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