As of the first week of January, we added a new feature to the Buzz Report: the Weekly Top 5. The Weekly Top 5 report highlights the top five subjects from five different discussion categories that generated the largest volume of discussion across Arabic language social media platforms on a weekly basis. The report is derived from crawling the web and indexing hundreds of thousands of Arabic-language, user-generated results on a daily basis. A more thorough explanation of our methodology follows the report. The Weekly Top 5 represents data collected throughout the Sunday-Thursday work week in the Arab world.
The greatest buzz this week, with a volume of 13,086 comments, was created by Egyptian presidential adviser Bassem Zarqa’s resignation following President Mohamed Morsi’s dismissal of his Salafist advisor for environmental affairs, Khaled Alam-Eddin. Zarqa’s resignation was part of an angry Salafist reaction to Alam-Eddin’s dismissal over an alleged abuse of his position. The Salafist Al-Nour Party—a former Muslim Brotherhood ally—lashed out against the Brotherhood and the ruling Freedom and Justice Party, as some Salafist figures used social media to accuse Morsi of being complicit in the murder of peaceful protesters. Meanwhile, they pointed out that Alam-Eddin was dismissed without evidence or even any legal investigations. Al-Nour Party spokesman Nader Bakkar tweeted: “If the Presidency dismisses people upon suspicion, then the President himself must resign because some of his subordinates are suspected of the intentional murder of protesters.”
Anti-Brotherhood users like prominent writer Belal Fadl, gloated at the rift between the Salafists and the Brtoherhood. On his Twitter account, Fadl mocked Salafsits for once claiming that Morsi was a descendent of the companions of the Prophet: “I warn my brothers in Al-Nour Party not to insult President Mohamed Morsi since he is a gift from God, and until we give the gift back, do not curse the faithful spare tyre president.”
However, some feared that the feud was staged to drive people’s attention away from other important matters, while others attacked the Salafists their back on the Brotherhood for their own personal vendetta, not for the interests of Egyptians as a whole. Meanwhile, Brotherhood sympathizers urged the two Islamist parties to work on bridging the rift between them. Facebook user Amer Anwar wrote: “May God unite the Muslim Brotherhood and the Salafists to glorify Islam. Seculars, former regime remnants and the Church will crack our lines. We are brothers in Islam.”
In the category of religion, Egyptian preacher Amr Khaled continued to post his daily religious advice on his Facebook page every morning to inspire happiness and optimism in his fans. This week, he urged his fans to count God’s blessings and thank Him for them, as well as make the most of one’s youth in worshipping God before they become old and senile. He wrote: “It is a new day. Look around you and see things brightly. Sure you will find beauty, happiness, and satisfaction.”
In addition, in a new episode of his daily radio show A Smile of Hope, Khaled narrated a story about one of the Prophet Mohammad’s companions, Othamn ibn Talha, and his loyalty to one of the Prophet’s wives, Om Salama. The moral of the story encourages good manners to friends and foes alike. Responding to the story, Maalem Mahmoud wrote: “See how Arabs used to be… very honest, very honorable! Islam surfaced to stress the importance of good manners.”
User attitudes towards Khaled were generally positive, and some had high expectations of the popular preacher. User Moshira Ibrahem said: “I hope you run for presidential elections because Egypt needs someone as loyal as you are.”
Meanwhile, on Sa7i YouTube channel, stand-up comedy ‘Broadcast Show’ launched its second season premiere. The first episode of the Saudi satirical show stole the number one spot in the media category with 6,768 comments. Show host Ibrahim Saleh mocked fellow radio host Badr Al-Zeidan’s voice and manner of speech. The episode also criticized Saudi parents’ desire to see their children become a copy of their friends’ children.
As is often the case among Saudi users, some said they enjoyed the show, but criticized the music played on it, which they considered to be prohibited by Islamic laws. User Rooz44444 commented: “I hope you remove the music in the coming episodes.”
Others were disappointed at the episode, which did not measure up to other successful episodes of Saleh’s show. Oussama M El Saini wrote: “It is a mediocre episode dear friend. We expect the best to come.”
Finally, some praised Saleh’s pure voice and asked him to consider a career in music: “I replayed the video over and over again. His voice is so sweet,” said Mjkiuhful.
In the art and entertainment world, a feud between Lebanese singer Haifa Wahbe and her sister Rola over the singer’s age generated the largest buzz in art category with 3,587 comments. Rola accused her sister of forging her passport, releasing copies of the authentic passport to expose Haifa’s real age.
The majority of users, however, praised the Lebanese singer and attacked her sister. Male users in particular admired Haifa, whom they described as the perfect woman of their dreams, regardless of her age. User Mohamed Salah Sliem Kesho wrote: “41 or 50, she rocks, she is very very hot! Hahaha.”
Others, however, said that Haifa’s beauty was the result of a series of plastic surgeries and say that many Arab women had more natural beauty. User Meaningless Life commented: “OK now I know her age, now what? She is patched up by plastic surgeons, but so?”
On another note, some users attacked Rola, whom they considered “ungrateful” for trying to defame her sister after accepting financial aid from her. User Noha wrote: “I have long known that her sister was wicked. Haifa paid for her college education at the American University in Beirut. But she is blinded by jealousy.” Others, however, suspect the feud was just a game between the sisters ahead of the singer’s new album release. Some ask Arab media to focus on important issues instead of these “trivial” stories.
Finally, in the society category, an HIV-contaminated blood transfusion in a Saudi hospital grabbed users’ attention, generating 3,529 comments. The Saudi Ministry of Health dismissed seven senior officials involved in an HIV-contaminated blood transfusion given to 13-year-old Reham Al-Hakimi. The director general, the medical director, the directors of the laboratory and blood bank and the technical supervisor of the blood bank at Jazan General Hospital were all removed from their offices.
Some social media users were satisfied with the actions taken by the Ministry of Health, which they said were unprecedented in the Kingdom. M.Khaled al-Alkamy tweeted: “Let’s be realistic. This is an unprecedented step. See how many health officials have been removed!”
On the other hand, some said that this was not enough and asked the Health Minister himself to resign. User Hamza Bin Ibrahim wrote: “The health minister didn’t resign yet! He is such an insensitive and irresponsible man!”
Finally, some users recommended paying Reham a huge compensation to help her afford good health care instead of spending large sums of money on “blood money” for killers and criminals. User Mansour commented: “They must pay millions to the girl’s family, like the millions they spend as blood money.
These results above are extracted from thousands of social media sources such as blogs, microblogs, forums, message boards, readers’ comment sections on news websites, etc, which are continually updated. A team of Arabic social media researchers and Arabic social media analysts use Arabic Natural Language Processing and data mining tools to analyze the data and to extract the list of top five subjects, based primarily on keyword repetition.
The Weekly Top 5 displays results of the common Sunday-Thursday work week in the Arab world, and is solely focused on Arabic language user-generated results, classified by volume of comments/discussion.
Data is captured primarily from 17 Arab countries in North Africa, the Levant, and the Arab Gulf region, and when relevant, the five other Arabic speaking countries belonging to the Arab League (Sudan, Somalia, Comoros, Djibouti and Mauritania).