Protests Against Government Research Paper

Pages: 13 (3679 words)  ·  Style: MLA  ·  Bibliography Sources: 26  ·  File: .docx  ·  Level: College Senior  ·  Topic: History - Israel

Saudi Arabian Street Art

Saudi Arabian Art

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The people of countries and civilizations use a variety of forms and functions to express themselves and to make light of or bring concern to their daily lives and/or how they view the world. However, when one is speaking of a country where speech and speaking out is heavily regulated or at least scrutinized, artwork takes on a new form and function as the art can be one of the few outlets that some people can use. The above is certainly true of Saudi Arabia, the home country of the author of this report, and any other country that is steeped deeply in religious beliefs and practices and it is certainly common for countries that follow Muslim and/or sharia practices. Saudi Arabia is certainly a country where on has to be very careful about what is said, when it is said, how it is said and who it is directed at. Speaking too critically of the government or of politics in Saudi Arabia or being too risque in general with artwork can lead to problems with the Saudi Arabian government and/or people as there are obviously social and/or religious norms that people bristle about when they are violated. On the other hand, others bristle at having their thumb put down on them by the government and/or the people of the government and artists are certainly examples of this. As such, people can react in a litany of ways. One can see the signs and the patterns although there is much room for interpretation and perception as subtlety and cleverness is necessary to slide things into artwork without raising the ire of the wrong parties. The author of this report will review different works of Saudi art, how they are perceived by the people and government of Saudi Arabia, how they are received and reacted to by outsiders and the overall discourse and blowback both locally and internally of the same.

Research Paper on Protests Against Government Assignment

One perfect example of how art is wielded in a way that brings people together and even encourages collaboration even in the face of negative attention is the 300 camels project whereby people stencil or otherwise add pictures of camels in different places around town and around the country of Saudi Arabia. The gist is that people will paint camels in and around different parts of Saudi Arabia including walls, street corners, docs and so forth. The camel was chosen because if its obvious correlation and involvement with the Arab culture but there were other signs or symbols that obviously would be more "to the point" and striking. However, even with the fairly mundane nature of the camel as a piece of art, there is certainly still a threat from the government if one is doing anything referred to as or resembling graffiti because the government has obviously not given permission for the camels to be painted. Indeed, the government probably does not want the camels painted for more than one reason. However, the movement has caught on as it unites people of Islamic and/or Arabic backgrounds in a show of collaboration and solidarity (Mashalla). The 300 camels has received international renown through social media sites like Facebook, Instagram and Tumblr (Instagram)(Tumblr). It is, obviously, a common penchant of movements like this that want to get the word out, especially to foreign countries outside of Saudi Arabia, to use social media sites as the Saudi government obviously does not have complete (if any) control of these sites other than blocking or otherwise regulation access to the sites from within Saudi Arabia via the internet.

One theme that is absolutely strident and obvious in much of the artwork in and about Saudi Arabia is certainly that of political artists that are trying to convey a political message. Indeed, prior to the street uproars in countries like Egypt and others, it was quite common for Middle Eastern artists to use street art to convey political thought and the countries of Saudi Arabia and Kuwait are perhaps the best examples of this in action. However, there was a clear shift in the patterns and prolific nature of the Saudi street art after the Tahrir Square revolutions in Egypt over the last few years. For example, two themes that are coming out quite often since then are class and gender issues. What happens quite commonly is that an artist will create a piece of art somewhere in the public view. People then quickly document the art before it is discovered and subsequently erased "feverishly" by the government. The art can be as simple as a scrawling in Arabic while others can be full-on murals depicting a scene with a political and/or social context to the locals in Saudi Arabia. Two such examples are included in the first appendix to this report. The top half of the picture shows a woman going swimming but is in full Muslim dress and is thus covered from head to toe as she walks towards the beach with a swimming floatation device wrapped around her. The second piece of art is the phrase "This is God's sea," which is a fairly bald-faced assertion that nature is the creation and property of God himself and not that of any government and/or ruler (Kareem).

Other things that artists in Riyadh and other areas of Saudi Arabia that artists "speak" about and protest against are things like government oppression and/or surveillance, and so forth. Indeed, Westerners can get caught up in violating a religious and/or government norm in Saudi Arabia but the locals are not treated remotely as leniently when they run afoul of the Saudi government and its leaders. For example, just so much as a tweet that is perceived (or directly) offends those that are Muslim can land just about any local in very hot water with the Saudi government, as is the case with just about any graffiti or street art that condemns or otherwise focuses on religious and/or governmental restrictions such as the dressing habits of women, speech against the government, control of the land by the government and so on. There is a perceived endless cycle of people rising up through their art and the government moving to stamp out the uprisings through arrests and warnings to the people. As such, the artists involved obviously remain anonymous as their safety and/or freedom is absolutely in jeopardy (Kareem).

In most corners of the world, simple scrawling of words on a wall is just considered common graffiti and is perceived to be the penchant of common street criminals. Indeed, one may have a point in countries like the United States, Australia or most countries in Europe as free "speech" including that of art is often guaranteed as a right of the people that cannot be squelched and thus the only real legal issue to be deal with is just the graffiti. While some countries that just focus on the act itself, and not the message therein, are quite vicious in how they punish people (e.g. Singapore and their caning of people that do that including American Michael Fay in years past), the paradigm and reasoning behind the art speech is obviously much different in countries like Saudi Arabia. Simply words sprayed on a wall may seem like a simple annoyance in the United States but it's a cry for help and a cry against oppression in countries as potentially punitive as Saudi Arabia. A major contributing factor to the latter is that Saudi Arabia is very steeped in religion as it is very much a theocracy but religion is absolutely not necessary for oppression to be present and/or justified (SSA).

Some messages may be without words but the context can absolutely get the full attention and ire of the government. One can see a perfect example of this in the art depicted in the second appendix. Depicted is the left half of a "Guy Fawkes" mask as well as the "anarchy" symbol and the symbol of "V" from the movie V for Vendetta, who was a lionized hero in that movie. To add some context, Guy Fawkes was a man who lived in the late 1500's and early 1600's. At the time, King James I was in power and Fawkes plotted to assassinate him in favor of a Catholic ruler. This overall plot became known as the Gunpowder Plot. There was a talk of a tunnel being built under Parliament with the end goal being the bombing of the building but there is rumor that at least some of that was a lie by the government. Regardless, Fawkes and many of his co-conspirators were caught and eventually executed.

Much the same thing was depicted in V for Vendetta, but with a few twists. Rather than a Protestant king being plotted against in favor of a Catholic ruler, the ruler in V for Vendetta is depicted as a Nazi-esque leader who has taken over Great Britain and made it a fascist state after… [END OF PREVIEW] . . . READ MORE

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How to Cite "Protests Against Government" Research Paper in a Bibliography:

APA Style

Protests Against Government.  (2014, May 14).  Retrieved October 1, 2020, from

MLA Format

"Protests Against Government."  14 May 2014.  Web.  1 October 2020. <>.

Chicago Style

"Protests Against Government."  May 14, 2014.  Accessed October 1, 2020.