by TP Lifintseva · Cited by 11 — Abstract: The phenomenon of fitnah could be traced throughout history in both to Arab and African women who could cause disorder because from the acquired belief and the highest principles; and also the internal “Text-centred research: Fitna as a case study and a way forward for guests in.
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Religions 2015, 6, 527Œ542; doi:10.3390/rel6020527 religions ISSN 2077-1444 Article Fitnah: The Afterlife of a Religious Term in Recent Political Protest Tatyana P. Lifintseva 1, Leonid M. Isaev 2 and Alisa R. Shishkina 3,* 1 Department of Philosophy, National Research University Higher School of Economics. Myasnitskaya st., 20, Moscow 101000, Russia; E-Mail: 2 Department of Political Science, National Re search University Higher School of Economics. Myasnitskaya st., 20, Moscow 101000, Russia; E-Mail: 3 Laboratory Monitoring for Socio- Political Destabilization Risks, National Research University Higher School of Economics, Myasnitskaya st., 20, Moscow 101000, Russia * Author to whom correspondence should be addr essed; E-Mail:; Tel.: +7-916-0641-087. Academic Editor: Peter Iver Kaufman Received: 6 November 2014 / Accepted: 16 March 2015 / Published: 20 April 2015 Abstract: The phenomenon of fitnah could be traced throughout hi story in different regions and cultures. The Arab spring events of 2011Œ2012 are not an excep tion in this context. The next outburst of protest activity occurred wher e it was not expected in the near futureŠin Ukraine. If we compare the events in the Arab countries in 2011 and Ukraine in 2013Œ2014, it can be concluded that in essen ce they fit the ch aracteristics of fitnah very well, which are attributed to it by the Arabic political culture. In both cases, the fitnah acquired permanent character turning into anarchy and chaos (fi foudafl). The government/the ruling power found itself unprepared for such manifestations of fitnah and miscalculated the threat posed by the protesters. From our perspective, in the mode rn world this phenomenon can be explained by the rapid development of Internet technologies that gives the opposition an opportunity to prepare a protest virtually, in an area not totally controlled by the government. Keywords: revolution; Arab spring; fitnah; internet technologies; political destabilization OPEN ACCESS

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Religions 2015, 6 528 1. Introduction In our studies devoted to the Arab Spring, we wrote about the fact that such events in the Arab political culture are referred to fi fitnahfl [1Œ3]. Basically, the word fitnah has a verbal form fa-ta-na, which has a range of meanings: to seduce, fascinate, captivate, etc. Thus, the term fitnah can be translated as strife, rebellion, in surrection, etc. It occurs in the Qur™an 30 times a nd always with a negative connotation, rebellion is considered figreater sin than murderfl [4]. This could be la rgely explained by the fact that any fitnah by definition is a depart ure from fithe right wayfl as defined in the Qur™an. fiAnd fight them until there is no more fitnahfl ([4], 2:193). fiKill them until no more fitnahfl [4]. The phenomenon of fitnah was also reflected in the scientific literature. Thus, Fisher writes that fitnah is translated in Cowan and Wehr™s great dicti onary as fitemptation, trial; charm, charmingness, attractiveness; enchantment, captivation, fascinationfl, etc. In one passage, thoseŠand it seems that they must be Muslims, albeit errant MuslimsŠwho misint erpret certain Qur™anic verses are condemned for seeking fitnah, or discord. In other passages, fitnah is associated with the hypoc rites, who are, almost by definition, either within the Muslim community or claiming to be so. Someti mes the reference is to people who, while not going so far as to declare themselves Muslims, have indeed made friendly overtures to the Muslim community, but who later showed hostility, or fitnah, against it. Fisher further explores that fitnah became a basic concept of great symbolic value for the early Muslim community, which was preoccupied with questions of continuity and survivalŠ fitnah , or disintegration, representing of course the failure to preserve the harmony of the community [5]. Thus, as we can see, fitnah could refer to a quite wide range of different contexts: from political disturbances, civil wars, doctrines that could endange r the purity of the Muslim faith, tensions between secular authorities and pious mi norities ([6], pp. 139Œ40) to the de stabilizing effect of women upon society [7] (this passage is applicable both to Arab and African women who coul d cause disorder because of their potential vulnerability to Western habits). Th erefore, the main directions of the discussions on fitnah are connected with its negative and divisive natu re. In this paper, we try to propose a specific vision of the concept of fitnah referring to the issues of social interaction, especially in the digital era. Throughout history, in differe nt cultural and religious traditions , we can see such phenomenon as a fitemptation by the revolutionfl. In ge neral, it can be characterized as the expectation that monotonous fivegetationfl, such as poverty, boredom, etc. will come to end and fiThe Wonderful New Worldfl will begin in its place. The traditi on of reflection about fitemptation by the revolutionfl, in our opinion, originates from the novel fiThe Devilsfl of the fam ous Russian writer Fyodor Dostoyevsky. The concept fitemptationfl, fiseducingfl (in its spiritual aspect), as well as fisinfl, is inherent mainly in religions with biblical rootsŠJudaism, Christianity and Islam. 1 For the existence of a paradigm of fisinfulne ssfl and, respectively, fitemptationfl, the developed concept of subjectivity is necessary, moreoverŠthe idea of fipersonalitinessfl (subj ectivity) has to be the fiaxisfl of a religious doctrine. The concept of subj ectivity is inseparably with Western culture and Western philosophy, which are generated by the values of religions with biblical roots, in which personal being of God, his personal attitude (love) towards created beings and his dialogical self-explication in 1. In this aspect we refer Islam to Western religious traditionŠin opposition, for example, to Buddhism, Jainism, Thaoism.

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Religions 2015, 6 529 the acts of Revelation are postula ted. Thus, the doctrine of God here implicates position that being in its absolute limit and at the top of the fiv alue verticalfl is personalistic [8,9]. Temptation (the term originates from Latin fi tentatio fl) in Judaism, Christianity and Islam means an external occasion or a ficallfl to sinŠto break the commandment, the law, to change to the ideal, to recede from the acquired belief and the highest principles; and also the internal inclination and excitement, under the influence of vicious tendency or passion to act in the same way. So, the temptation in Christianity (as well as in othe r fiAbrahamicfl religions) has the tran scendent origin. The temptation in the Old Testament tradition was comprehended as a divi ne punishment for a sin, as a sign of rejectedness by God, as the inclination to sin st arting with the story of Eve and th e Original Sin. Temptations of man were connected with the intrigues of the evil embodi ed in the image of a Sata n. Therefore, the temptation was also the fight of the good with the evil in the soul of man. The Gospels say: fiAnd whosoever shall offend one of these little ones that be lieve in me, it is better for him that a millstone were hanged about his neck, and he were cast into th e sea.fl ([10], Mark 9:42). fiWoe to the world because of the things that cause people to stumble! Such things must come, but woe to the person through whom they come!fl ([10], Matthew 18:7). Now we™re coming to IslamŠfithe youngestfl of biblical religions. A word with important historical implications, fitnah is also widely used in modern Arabic. The first fitnah in the Arab-Muslim history dates back to 656Œ661 years, when th e conflict between the fourth Righ teous Caliph, Ali, and his deputy in Damascus, Muawiya, led to the emergence of Kh awarij, and subsequently to the inter-Islam split between Sunnism and Shiism [11]. According to the Russian Arabist E.I. Zelenev, fitnah repeatedly occurred in modern Arab history. For example, in 1908 election campaigning trip of religious politician Rashid Rida provoked thousands of protests in Damascus. The events in Egypt in 1882 and 1919 could also be considered through the prism of traditional Arab form of protestŠfitnah [12,13]. However, the relation to fitnah of Muslim political and legal thought is not so definite. For instance, Ja’fari law school ( madhhab) categorically rejects any manifestati on of turmoil, as evidenced by the activities of its founder Ja’far al-Sadiq. After th e Abbasid revolution of 750, the majority of Shiites expected that al-Sadiq will head a dynasty of Alids in their struggle for power with the Abbasids, but he considered fitnah counterproductive and prefer red to put up with the new Baghdad authorities. He did not simply refused to support, but also condemned first the anti-Omayyad uprising of his uncle Zayd ibn Ali in Kufa in 739, and then the anti-Abbasid one as well organized by his c ousins Ibrahim in Iraq and Muhammad in the Hijaz, referring to the fact that turmoil is much evil for Shiite than the reign of unwanted ruler [14]. The representatives of another madhhab, Hanbali, allowed the violent overthrow of the ruler who encouraged people to question the faith. Its founder, Ahmed ibn Hanbal not only considered fitnah possible, but also called for involveme nt in the unrest to defend the practiced beliefs to the end [15]. Another confirmation of ecl ectic interpretations of fitnah is the perspective of Islamic law. Authoritative Muslim jurists of the Middle Ages and modern researchers have developed many classifications of offenses, among whic h the most widespread classificatio n is based on the nature of the violated rights and interests. According to this classification, there is a group of offenses that represents the greatest danger to the public, infringing fithe rights of Allahfl (i.e., the interests of the entire Muslim community)Šhudud [16]. However, Muslim legal scholars are not unanimous in what specific offense should be included in this category of crime. Most re searchers believe that these include the seven most

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Religions 2015, 6 530 dangerous public actsŠadultery, drinking alcohol, theft, robbery, unproven accusation of adultery, apostasy and fitnah [17]. However, Ibrahim al-Dasuki al-Shahavi, for example, excludes fitnah from this list as another authoritative Muslim jurist , Atiya Mustafa Mashrafa, does ([18], p. 144). This very typical lack of unity on the classification of fitnah clearly confirms that in Islamic law there are different formal definitions; fitnah within the various schools is understood in different ways. If we turn to the understanding of political activity by contemporar y researchers, the book of A.A. Said and M. Abu-Nimer should be mentioned. They st ress, for example, that the rapid development of the Islamic realm means the subjugation of the religion to the state, so that it is better not to consider Islam as fundamentally apolitical religion that sustai ns only traditional political structures. They also underline that Muslims are socially interactive individuals who act within a wide range of social frameworks, and thus, the understanding of contemporar y Islam should not be limited by its history: fiWhat could have been historically true once is not unchangeably true todayfl [19]. This supposition gives us enough grounds to conc lude that the phenomenon of fitnah in the modern world is being transformed under the conditions of the changing World-system. We can see that in the modern globalized world some religious or cultural terms and phenomena are interrelated and often overstep the bounds of a particular country, region or ethnic an d cultural group. The states have faced the crisis of sovereignty and the Westphalian system is now not a determining factor of international life. The cu ltural transparency of new world reality is taking roots in almost all spheres of the society. That is the reason why we can use the religious concept to describe the modern political protests processes. The Arab Spring was th e first and most vivid example of a new type of protest activity determ ined by several characteristics, e.g. Widesp read use of the Inte rnet, international reaction, etc . provided some features and scenarios of ne w protests that became common not only in the Arab countries but also in other wo rld regions as well. The Ukrainian Maidan exemplified this new form of protests. Thus, in this paper we propose an understanding of the term fitnah that is not strongly attached to the religious context and it™s classical meaning, but inst ead speaks about the tendencies and scenarios of distemper in the modern world that we re primarily influenced by the Arab spring events. 2. Fitnah in the Modern Protest Movements If we compare the events in the Arab countries in 2011 and Uk raine in 2013Œ2014, it can be concluded that in essence they f it the characteristics of fitnah very well, which are attributed to it by the Arabic political culture. Now we should try to consider it in detail. It is known that by the beginning of the anti- government protests on January 25, 2011 Egyptian opposition was a very fragmented group, and its range of political views was ve ry wideŠfrom Islamists to Naserists. Its distinguishing ch aracteristic was the fact that oppos ition did not articulate coherent requirements, not to mention a program of action for the future. It is interesting that the original slogans of Cairo’s Tahrir did not contain any word about th e resignation of President Hosni Mubarak. By that time, the demands of the demonstrators were reduced to four main points: raising the minimum wage to 1,200 Egyptian pounds, the dissolution of parliament, the abolition of the state of emergency, the resignation of Egyptian Interior Minister Habib al-Adly ([20], p. 46). A similar pattern was observed in Kiev, where all the same students and the middle class took place in the demonstrations not demanding the resignati on of President Yanukovych, but the signing of an

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Religions 2015, 6 531 association agreement with the EU. At the same time, Maidan, exactly like Tahrir, absorbed highly fragmented political prefer ences of the protesters. The eclecticism of protesters, thei r social bases and political positi ons significantly influenced the formation of programs, challenges, and priorities the groups faced in Cairo and in Kiev. fiEven where social or ideological background is available it, fo r the time being, does not turn into a meaningful program of action and does not ripen to the level of doctrine. Pe rsons involved in the fitnah, as a rule, couldn™t imagine the political problems they face, vague ly and emotionally articulate their goals; these people clearly lack rational comprehension of what is happeningfl [21]. All th is could be observed in Tahrir and Maidan where protesters were not able to articulate the reasons that prompted them to go into the streets, reducing everything to ab stract corruption of the president a nd his family, as well as difficult socio-economic situation in the country. At the same time, protesters were completely impervious to constructive understanding of the situation. It is known that in the period of Mubarak’ s rule (1981Œ2011) Egyptian economy developed quite rapidly, showing growth in 4.5 times over 30 years [22,23] , which is one of the best indicators for the countries of the Third World in these years (Figure 1) [24,25]. Figure 1. Dynamics of GDP (PPP) 2 in Egypt in 1980Œ2010, in billion dollars 2005. Source: [20]. Especially accelerated economic growth was observe d in the last years of President Mubarak, when the new government headed by Ahmed Nazif formed in July 2004, was able to develop a reasonably efficient economic reform program that provided very noticeable acceleration in economic growth in this country ([20], p. 2). Even in the year of the global financial and econo mic crisis, Egypt™s GDP di d not fall but continued to grow quite rapidly. Economic growth rates stil l slowed slightlyŠfrom 7.2 to 4.6% per yearŠbut Egyptian leadership averted an economic crisis su ccessfully. In 2010, the rates of economic growth in Egypt accelerated again. 2 Gross Domestic Product (at Purchasing Power Parity). 100 150 200 250 300 350 400 450 1980198519901995200020052010

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Religions 2015, 6 532 We should keep in mind that in Ukraine economi c stagnation was out of the question. Since 1999, Ukraine’s GDP began to grow quite rapidly reach ing 15% per year, slowing down only in 2004 because of the fiOrange Revolutionfl and in the year of the global financial and economic crisis. In 2000Œ2004 economic growth rates in Ukraine were very hi gh: two years before the fiOrange Revolutionfl, in 2003Œ2004, Ukrainian economy has been one of the fastest growing economies in the world (excluding small countries). However, at that time Viktor Yanukovych was the head of the Cabinet of Ministers. Overall growth of GDP per capita in Uk raine was 2.5 times higher than the world average (Figure 2). The growth was same as in the resource-rich Russia, making Ukraine™s growth a serious achievement. Yes, this level was significantly lower than in Belarus, but there it was one of the highest in the world, comparable only with the economic miracle of the last decadeŠChina. Figure 2. Dynamics of GDP (PPP) in Ukraine in 1991Œ2010, in billion dollars 2005. Source: World Bank 2013. After Viktor Yanukovych took the post of the Presid ent, country’s economy continued to grow: economic growth was 6.8% per year indicating Ukraine™s withdrawal from the global fi nancial crisis. On the graph there is visible slowing of Ukrainia n GDP growth in 2012 that is actually a consequence of the second wave of recession in Europe. Yanukovych™ s policy of reorientati on of the country from West to East seems quite logical. The data given above support the id ea that the impoverishment of th e population is not a sufficient condition for the revolutions both in the Arab world a nd Ukraine. However, the protesters on Tahrir and Maidan were totally unreceptive to such facts, remaining absolutely confident in critical socio-economic situation of the country, as well as that regime change c ould reduce the level of corruption in Egypt and Ukraine. It is interesting in this regard that the protesting crowd on Maidan was blind to attempts to explain the economic disadvan tages of signing agreements with the EU, reduction of social benefits and allo wances in this context, etc., which is typical for fitnah: specific proposals of 4050 60 708090100 1991 1992 1993 1994 1995 1996 1997 1998 1999 2000 2001 2002 2003 2004 2005 2006 2007 2008 2009 2010 2011 2012

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Religions 2015, 6 534 clashes with supporters of the current government [2 ]. Even the disconnection/ shutting down of mobile and Internet connections in Cairo le d to an influx of people into the st reets of Cairo, in general, and on Tahrir Square, in particular. This was due to the fact that residents of the city were forced to leave their homes and join the demonstrators due to their in ability to get through to their relatives [2]. Figure 3. The number of protesters in Kiev from November to December 2013 (the opposition data segment is marked in blue, the Ministry of Internal Affairs data are marked in red). Source: ([26], pp. 34Œ35). It is interesting that the government uses force pr ecisely at the moment when the number of protesters reaches the level that is apparently regarded by the regime as a relatively safe for it and with which regime feels the strength to cope. However, the pre-revolutionary nature of the turmoil allows questioning the right of authorities to respond to this form of protes t by repressions. Declaring war on protesters and thereby actualizing fear of reprisals after returning to the original state of the situation, the government itself is leaving demonstrators with no choice but to fight. Fear of being punished for taking part in fitnah is forcing its supporters to unite under the slogan fial-Shaab yurid iskat an-nizamfl (People want the fall of the regime); the same dema nd was proclaimed by the cr owd of people on Maidan after Yanukovych crossed the bifurcation point using force against demonstrators. But declaring war on protesters and drawing the fif irst bloodfl, the authorities not only forced the demonstrators to go to the end, but finally formed its image as the repressive machine ready to resort to forceful methods to control the protests. Demonstrat ors themselves subsequently were armed with these tactics. The opposition to the government, which saw th e negative effect from the authority™s use of force against protesters, began to use the repressive im age of the authorities to continuously fifeed streets with combustible materialfl: as soon as the number of demonstrators started to fall, or the rekindling of protests was required, the oppositio n used snipers to shoot at dem onstrators as a provocation. That repeatedly occurred during the Arab spring in Syria and Yemen [27], as well as in Kiev, according to 2000100000150008000002000500002500400000100000 200000 300000 400000 500000 600000 700000 800000 900000

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Religions 2015, 6 535 one of the authors, who witnesse d it in Kiev on February 20, 2014. 3 During that time, in the minds of people, such steps were consistently associated with the actions of the authorities, who, in their opinion, once again provoked violent conflicts wi th the protesters. Inte restingly, in these ca ses, the victims of snipers were fiexhibitedfl for everyone to see (or records of such killings were ac tively spread throughout new media) in order to as much as possible cultivate the hatred of pr otesters against the authorities. Why does power find itself unprepared for such manifestations of fitnah and miscalculates threat from protesters committing errors fatal for it? From our perspective, it can be explained by the rapid development of Internet technologies that give s the opposition an opportunity to prepare a protest virtually, in the area not totally controlled by the government. 3. Internet Technologies as a Mean of Protest Activity The graph (Figure 4) shows that th e number of Internet users in Uk raine is similar to the number of Internet users in the countries that were most affected by the antigovernme nt demonstrationsŠEgypt, Libya and Tunisia. At the beginni ng of the 21st century, these countries demonstrated a rapid growth in the number of Internet users, which played an im portant role in organizi ng mass demonstrations on Tahrir and Maidan. The popularity of different network platforms used dur ing the Arab spring and events in Ukraine is interesting (Figures 5 and 6). As it was shown in our previous res earch [27], the most popular social media during the events of the Arab Spring were F acebook and Twitter due to their speed of connection, anonymity and opportunities to ov ercome information barriers established by the government and security services. As we can see from the figures below, in 2013 in Ukrain e the popularity of such resources as Facebook and Twitter has increased dramati callyŠjust as it was, for example, in Egypt in 2011 which became the climax for the expression of pr otest activity. This gives us grounds to conclude that in terms of information and communication, Ukrainian events follo wed a similar path to the Arab Spring, and to analyze some of the most important as pects of these forms of political interaction at the present stage. 3 It is known that on February 20, 2014 in Kiev, as a result of shots of snipers from the hotel fiUkrainefl, there were killed, by various estimates, up to 70 people. At that time, the author (L.M. Isaev) resided in this hotel and witnessed the events that took place that day. From 8:30 a.m. local time, the hotel was invaded by prot esters and its entrance was cordoned off and came under the control of armed opposition that was located in a medical center at the first floor of the building. Immediately after the seizure of fiUkrainefl, armed protesters began to conduct raids on the hotel rooms looking for the representatives of fiBerkutfl who, they thought, were hiding in the hotel. At about 12 a.m. local time the searches were completed. However, the protesters from the rostrum of the Maidan during the day, February 20, 2014, stated that the snipers of fiBerkutfl were located in the hotel fiUkrainefl and were firing at protesters. That does not actually correspond to reality because since 8:30 a.m. fiUkrainefl was under the co mplete control of the opposition. In addition, corpses of the first seven demonstrators killed on February 20, 2014, deliberately were not brought to the hotel fiUkrainefl and were exhibited as victims of the government. The first floor of the hotel was divided into three parts: a place for first aid, a hospital for the severely wounded and a morgue. Throughout the day, the corpses and wounded were brought here, but for the reason mentioned above this was not made with the first oppositionists killed by snipers, and they defiantly continued to stay on Maidan.

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Religions 2015, 6 536 Figure 4. The number of Internet users in Ukraine and some Arab countr ies, per 100 people. Source: World Bank 2014. Figure 5. Dynamics of popularity of Facebook, Tw itter and Google Docs (in descending order) in Ukraine by year. Source: Google Trends 2014. Figure 6. Dynamics of popularity of Facebook, Tw itter and Google Docs (in descending order) in Egypt by year. Source: Google Trends 2014. 051015 20 253035 40 45 501993 1994 1995 1996 1997 1998 1999 2000 2001 2002 2003 2004 2005 2006 2007 2008 2009 2010 2011 2012 EgyptTunisiaLibyaUkraine

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Religions 2015, 6 537 Such characteristics of Internet space as its ubiquit y, the ability to receive fee dback, the lack of clearly recognizable leaders, etc. form an entirely new logic of social interaction compared to, for instance, traditional media. Respectively, new forms of expression of discontent and protest activity were established. Most part of the communication in this case occurs through the so-called social media. This term is used to describe the new generation of digital networked information and communication technologies. They may be vested in a variety of formsŠInternet fo rums, blogs, media file hosting, and so on. A key feature of this type of media is th e possibility to simultaneously create the content and consume information products. As it was already me ntioned above, the main functional and semantic distinction of social media from other forms of information and comm unication is anonymity, opportunity for feedback, and the absence of clearly defi ned leaders or authors (bot h in literary and news aspect, about which McLuhan wrote [28] and in the formation of a new type of social movements). Protest movements organizational and preparatory pha ses of which were carried out in the space of social networks can be the most striking examples of usage of soci al media during protests. Thus, the wave of antigovernment demonstrations of 201 1Œ2012 in the Arab world, the Occupy Wall Street movement as well as protests in some European c ountries actually were prepared in the absence of recognizable leaders. fiThere were neither charismatic ideo logists nor representati ves of trade unions or religious speakers (or they were present only at the beginning)fl [29]. Of course, the mobilization of the population took place around some colorful characters, but there is no question about their charisma as leaders, if only because that Internet communi cation is actually impersona l, and even photos an individual are quite difficult to reconcile with his/her real appear ance. As a result, protesters are often really frustrated by the fact that the demonstrator s in the streets do not re cognize those who conducted the preparatory stage on Facebook or Twitter. P. Howard and M. Hussain reflecting on the degr ee of influence of information technology on the protest activity during the events of the Arab Spring, come to th e conclusion that the first few months of protests, for example, in Tunisia or Egypt, can be divided into five or even six phases [29]. The first of them is a stage of preparation during which activists using digital media are looking for each other, they formulate a consensus on a common di scontent and define certain political goals of their future actions. The second phase is a kind of trigger for further acti ons, and during the events of the Arab Spring it was represented by the incidents of sel f-immolation of the ordinary citizen s desperate by regime actions. The state media usually ignored this kind of accidents, however, they were widely publicized on the Internet, and that further fueled popular discontent. This stage was followed by a period of street prot ests, the preparation of which was carried out through the interactive networking. As the situation changed, there em erged the international response, and in this case, new media also played an importa nt role in drawing the attention of international organizations and foreign news agencies to the situation in the country. Soon, this led to an outcome, in which the regimes were trying to balance between the demonstrators and the use of repressive measures to suppress the protests. The result was that governments either collapsed or were in a stalemate or even a state of civil war. In some cases, there was anot her phase of the eventsŠinformational confrontation in which various players continued to compete for th e right to influence events through the control of revolutionary discourse. Use of the newest media and commu nication technologies in the contex t of protest activity is also capable of expanding or increasing the mobilization resources and re ducing the costs of coordination.

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