Net Protest: extending the Anglosphere
November 5th, 2010

One little detail caught my eye in a Foreign Policy AfPak Channel blog report yesterday.

Whether their first language is Kashmiri or Farsi, the internet makes English the language of choice for protesters.

Kashmiris are slowly harnessing the power of the internet to create a communal digital protest and to forge a voice for themselves in the democratic realm of cyberspace. In 2010 Kashmir’s Generation Next, those who were born or young during the turbulence of the 1990s, found their voices. Unlike Kashmiri youth of the 1990s who were silenced given India’s media, U.N. and NGO blackout of Kashmir, new technologies and social media have made it possible for Kashmiris to begin to tell their own stories, to have a voice and a narrative that can reach beyond the Valley and into international consciousness. Facebook and You Tube have been transformative, creating a cadre of citizen-journalists and more artistic expressions in which Kashmiris create video montages set to music and images, providing a voice whether in Kashmiri or English, such as Kashmiri-American Mubashir Mohi-u-Din’s take on the Steven Van Zandt song Patriot.

This summer Kashmir’s youth have learned two lessons from other international struggles for justice: Iran and Palestine. In 2009 Iranian youth and social activists harnessed the power of social media as young Iranians took to the internet and street in the face of state suppression. Iranians demanded “where is my vote?” — the slogan, appearing curiously and ubiquitously in English, was meant for an international audience, to raise attention to the struggles occurring within the Islamic Republic of Iran after the results of the presidential election were called into question. Similarly, “I protest” cries out in a language that is not native to Kashmir but has united Kashmiris globally as they seek an international audience.

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