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The Global Importance of Web 2.0

A photo of a woman participating in the #MuslimahPride campaign (photo from facebook, does not belong to me)

Amina, a 19-year-old Tunisian woman, sent two photos of herself to the radical women’s rights organization FEMEN recently. In one of these photos, Amina had written in English “F*** your morals” across her bare chest, as FEMEN encourages women to break down what the organization perceives as male chauvinism by protesting topless. In Amina’s second photo, she wrote in Arabic “My body belongs to me, and is not the source of anyone’s honor.” Amina subsequently posted these photos to facebook at the beginning of April, at which point she lost contact with FEMEN.

In response, FEMEN held protests throughout the world to bring attention to Amina’s disappearance. Because of one woman in Tunisia’s expression of frustration, women in Paris and Milan and San Francisco used the FEMEN website and facebook pages to rally themselves and organize what FEMEN dubbed International Topless Jihad Day in order to rally support for Amina.

And yet, shocked by this extreme form of exposure, Muslim women took to facebook themselves to protest what they felt was FEMEN’s inappropriate portrayal of Muslim women. The facebook group Muslim Women Against FEMEN held an impromptu Muslimah Pride Day, encouraging Muslim women to “post pictures of your beautiful selves, whether you wear hijaab, nikaab or not.” They turned to twitter, tagging tweets with #MuslimahPride to show that covering themselves was their own choice, not something born out of oppression.

This is what Web 2.0 is about, why it’s important, fascinating, and defining for our generation. Amina would not have connected with women in Europe in a way she chose, and those women would not have been able to rally to bring attention to her plight, without a platform like facebook. And other Muslim women - who disagreed with what they felt was a condescending assumption, that because they cover their heads, they must be oppressed - would not have the opportunity to voice their opinions on a world stage without facebook and twitter. A global conversation about the way women present themselves was started by one woman in Tunisia.

Here in Israel, during Operation Pillar of Defense last November, I also turned to twitter to express myself and hear what others were saying. I tweeted back and forth with people in Gaza. We didn’t agree politically, but we talked, and were able to acknowledge that the reality of living under rocket fire or through aerial bombarding was difficult for anyone, and that we hoped for a day when they would stop.

Web 2.0 is the 21st century’s soapbox, its public forum. It creates our global town square and allows for a truly world-wide discussion. Even when that conversation is heated, having the conversation is the first step to real change. Web 2.0 gives us the freedom to have our voices heard, and to interact directly with those who agree, disagree, or are just curious. It empowers everyone to become her own journalist and creates communities of like-minded individuals, whether those individuals live in another country, or another continent.

Comments

Greengirl's picture

Thanks for sharing atzili

Yes, Web 2.0 offers us the freedom to be heard and to hear others. The opportunities are limitless and I pray that it will also become a tool that will b used to restore peace to the world.

Peace,

Greengirl

Iryna's picture

FEMEN or not FEMEN

Is very interesting what you wrote, Atzili. I must confess, I am from Ukraine, the motherland of FEMEN. And even here, not a muslim country, we have the same two camps, who support them and who feel shame. And I cannot say what this movement brought more, respect or sexism. This is complicated issue, but all radical movements are in this way. What is their huge plus - they attract a lot of attention.

Carmen's picture

Atzili, Thank you for for

Atzili,
Thank you for for bringing this issue as an example of Web 2.0 and social media. So many voices, so many perspectives give us so many more choices.

The ability to connect with people and issues the world over is fascinating and empowering. We must also take the time to meditate on all of the viewpoints so that we may truly strengthen our ability to work together.

Thank you so much,
Carmen

Carmen

Anna V's picture

Listening to both sides

You raise a good point here. Listening to both sides of an issue is important to coming to a resolution. I also think that it is important to hear how the efforts are affecting those that you are trying to assist.

atzili's picture

Amina

You're right, Anna. And I worry that, in this case, Amina's story was buried by a very hot topic about the role of women in a society that feels as though it's under a microscope. I understand the response of the Muslim women; I don't think any group wants to hand its right to represent itself to anyone, no matter how well-meaning the other group. But, since I can't find anything about Amina in the news or on social media platforms, I simply hope she's safe..

Tait's picture

Love It

I really enjoyed reading your journal entry. This is true we will not always agree on an issue but many times we can find that common ground. This is where we must come together first and work through the issues that we have from the inside out.

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