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Conference to explore community media and the Arab Spring

AMARC is the World Association of Community Radio Broadcasters and for nearly 30 years has worked for media democracy by supporting the growth of community radio. This year AMARC’s Middle East and North Africa conference will focus on “community media and the Arab Spring.” The conference will be held March 9 and 10 in Tunis and seems especially timely as tens of thousands of Egyptians continue to rally in Tahrir Square, celebrating the anniversary of Egypt’s popular revolt.

The conference’s concept statement offers the observation that the protests that started with the Arab Spring

have shared techniques of civil resistance in sustained campaigns involving strikes, demonstrations, marches and rallies, as well as the use of social media such as community radio, and web-based and mobile technologies. These means of communication allowed protesters to organize, communicate, and raise awareness in the face of state attempts at repression and Internet censorship.

Coordinating solidarity and mutual aid between broadcasters, media activists and communication rights activists is a top item on the conference’s agenda. Sessions will also focus on women’s access to community media and participatory sustainable human development. The conference concludes with work towards a “Tunisia Declaration” featuring “debate on a policy declaration and on advocacy strategies, for reinforcing the capacities and to strengthen community broadcasting social impact.”

Here in North America we are too often absorbed in our own over-mediated bubble of constant communication access. So it’s good to be reminded how radio and other community media still play a vital and revolutionary role in the struggle of people for freedom around the world.

It might also remind us that we still need to harness that potential, too.

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