Friday, October 17, 2008

Enough with the "Arab street"!

In an article (arabic) published by the daily Al-Quds al-‘arabi (2008/09/02), famous Lebanese writer Elias Khoury comments on the use by the actual media of the expression “the Arab street”.

Compared with “the Arab masses” (al-jamahîr al-‘arabiyya) of the 50’s and 60’s, the “Arab street” reflects, in Khoury’s mind, the actual situation of the Arab word and media, dominated by the Gulf States.

According to him, the “Arab street” is an expression which conveys the idea that no political mobilization is possible in today’s Arab world. The lack of reaction of the “Arab street” during the second intifada is a reality which can not be denied, although every major Arab TV station gave an extensive coverage of the tragic events in Palestine.

Financed by Gulf investors, most of the Arab media are obviously not interested in promoting nationalist ideas. For a while, the mainstream Arab media thought they could find a solution playing on the islamist cord but it only lead to more contradictions.

The Turkish soap operas recently aired by other Arab TVs gives another illustration of the lack of a public expression in this so-called “Arab street”. As a perfect illustration of mass consumption products marketed by cultural industries, they are no more than a cheap “relief valve” for “veiled societies” unable to make a collective move toward the future.

The “Arab street” is full of poor and desperate people, only able to look, on their TV screen, for an individual solution to their endless problems.

As usual, the link to the more developed post in French.

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