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Mauritania: Using Twitter to Mock the President

Categories: Middle East & North Africa, Sub-Saharan Africa, Mauritania, Citizen Media, Digital Activism, Freedom of Speech, Human Rights, Protest, Youth

On August 6, Mauritanian President General Mohamed Ould Abdel Aziz appeared [1] [ar] on national television. During that televised appearance, police assaulted [2] [ar] a journalist while he was covering the arrest [3] [ar] of, and the aggression towards a guest who called upon the General to leave. Mauritanian Twitter users followed the events in real time, and reacted via the hash tag #مسرحية _الجنرال [4] [ar] (The General's Play).

All this took place during a live transmitted and long TV show [5]under the title “Encounter with the People.” The televised appearance [of the President] coincided with the anniversary of the 2008 coup d'état [6], which led to the overthrow of Sidi Ould Cheikh Abdallahi [7], Mauritania's first civil and elected President.

The President was insulting the opposition, and accused it of serving the interests of foreign parties. He also ridiculed the opposition's demand which called upon the regime to leave. The Movement of Mauritanian Youth [8] [ar] staged several protests against the televised appearance of the General, and called for the fall of his regime. Dozens of I.R.A.[Abolitionist movement in Mauritania] activists staged a protest [9] [ar] in front of the Justice Ministry building, and the Mauritanian Radio headquarters in protest against the President's slavery declarations during the TV show. They considered his statements as a denial of slavery in public, while standing by the side of slave owners in private.

Mauritanian President, photo published by alkachiv blog [10]

Mauritanian President, photo published by alkachiv blog

Activist Abdel Fetah Habib mocked the President's low education level:

@afetah [11] لم يتكلم عن إنشاء جامعات عليمة بل يفهم فقط في التكوين المهني. هذا مستواه #مسرحية _الجنرال

@afetah [11] He did not talk about establishing universities, as he only understands vocational training. That's his level. #مسرحية _الجنرال [12]

Activist Baba Ould Deye echoed similar sentiments. He tweeted about the General's failure to obtain even the lowest educational qualifications:

@babadeye [13] العالم الليلة يتابع حدث نزول مسبار كيوريوسيتي علي #المريخ،ونحن نتابع #مسرحية _الجنرال الذي لا يمتلك شهادة ثانوية #Curiositylands #موريتانيا

@babadeye [13]: Tonight, the world is following Curiosity landing on Mars, and we are watching the play of the general who does not have a high school degree

Writer and blogger Abu Abbass Braham mentioned the General's history:

@abbassbraham [14] مازال الذكي يتهم المعارضة بالانتماء للنظام السابق، رغم أنه كان حارسه مدة عشرين عاما.

@abbassbraham [14] The smart one is still accusing the opposition of allegiance to the former regime, though he was its guardian for 20 years.

Sidi Ettaieb Ould Mojteba commented on the President's lies:

@mojteba [15] الجنرال يتحدى كل من يقول أن في موريتانيا يوجد بها قمع، ويبدو أنه نسي قضية المشظوفي الذي قتل بدم بارد

@mojteba [15]: The General challenges anyone saying there is oppression in Mauritania. It seems that he forgot about the case of Machdhoufi [16] murdered in cold blood.

Khalil Ould Jdoud, Al-Arabiya correpondent, commented on the same thing:

@KHjdoud [17] مسكين مسيلمة وجدنا من يزايد عليه في الكذب، يستحق العريف دخول الموسوعة العالمية وأن تضرب به العرب المثل

@KHjdoud [17] : Poor Musaylimah [18] [known as “the Liar”, he claimed to be a Prophet], now we have someone who lies more than him. The knowledgeable deserves to be included in an international encyclopedia, and to be considered as a role model for Arabs.

Ahmed Ould Ennahoui mentioned a caller who accused the General of lying:

@nahmedou [19] متصل رائع كذب الجنرال #مسرحية _الجنرال #موريتانيا

@nahmedou [19]A wonderful caller, he accused the general of lying

Mejdi Ahmad expressed his lack of interest towards the General's televised appearance:

@mejdmr [20] علي العموم أنا لم اتابع #مسرحية_الجنرال ولا أبحث عن إعادتها إطلاقا !!

@mejdmr [20]: I did not watch the General's play, and I'm not looking for its replay

Mohammed Abdou inquired about the destiny of the young man arrested at the TV studio:

@medabdou [21] شباب هل لديكم خبر حول المعتقلين في #مسرحية_الجنرال البارحة ؟ ماهي أخبارهم هل أطلق سراحهم؟ #موريتانيا [22]

@medabdou [21]Do you have updates about those arrested during the General's play? Were they released?

Activist Bab Ould Hourma pocked fun at the TV host:

@bHourma [23] اللحظة التاريخية يا منت اليلي لم تحن بعد.. يوم تحين تلك اللحظة ستهربين كما فعلت هالة المصراتي [24]!!

@bHourma [23] Oh Ment Elli (TV host), the historical moment is not here yet…when that moment comes, you will run away like Hala Misrati [25]

Journalist Yacoub Ould Mohamed Salem also commented on the TV host's lies:

@YacoubBHD [26] أحدهم اتصل عبر الهاتف.. بدأ ينتقد انقطع الاتصال فاعتذر المقدم لأن المتدخل اختار قطع الاتصال بنفسه #مسرحية_الجنرال #موريتانيا

@YacoubBHD [26]Someone called on the phone..He started criticizing, and communication was cut. The TV host apologized, and said that the caller willingly chose to end his phone call.