Month: April 2013

Weekly Top 5: April 21-25, 2013

April 28, 2013

At the onset of the week of April 21-25, Arab social media users were already discussing the latest episodes of Arab Idol, which aired on the weekend of April 19-20. Arab Idol was the top discussed topic this week, although the most comment-generating subject was politics.

News from Iraq appeared on four of the week’s five days, and was heightened by the Iraqi army’s raid on a Sunni protesters’ camp in the city of Hawija, south of Kirkuk. A wave of violence ripped through Iraq after the Iraqi army clashed with Sunni protesters denouncing Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki’s government. Some users attacked the Iraqi forces and regime, and the raid on Hawija city where protesters camped in the streets. User Iraqi to the Core said: “Claiming that there are armed protesters is a pretext to raid the protester camps. And the so-called Maliki follows only Iran’s orders, and Iran is the de facto ruler of Iraq…”

Iraqi users from across the country fumed at the volatile situation in Iraq, especially after protesters threatened to launch a military counterstrike. User Ahmed Samir Dhahi Dhahi commented: “God curse and damn whoever calls for sectarianism!”

Some described the Hawija raids as a “crime against humanity,” committed by the Iraqi army and aided by Iranian Revolutionary Guards. Some users tried to mitigate the tension by urging the army soldiers to renounce their weapons and join the peaceful protests to face the sectarian war that “Maliki and Iran” wanted to spark. Ali al-Tamimi wrote: “What is the difference between the criminal Maliki and Saddam? Why shut our eyes to the facts. It is only a matter of time, and Maliki and his fellows will burn.”

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MBC’s pan-Arab vocal competition Arab Idol topped the Art category this week, appearing twice and generating 76,838 comments. Users mainly followed the show’s updates after 13 finalists were shortlisted to compete for the title and news of Palestinian contestant Mohamed Assaf who, according to users, is the top contender for the title.

Several users criticized Arab Idol for not including contestants to represent most Arab countries in the third round, despite the presence of Kurdish contestant Parawas Hussein. Several Moroccan and Algerian users said the show should be boycotted because it focuses on talents from Egypt and the Levant only. Some others accused the judges panel of bias to particular Arab nationalities. YouTube viewer Ahla Simo wrote: “It’s a shame that a powerful voice like Jamal Abad’s doesn’t get qualified. The judging panel is unjust. No matter what, Moroccans will always be on top, you haters! Jamal, you remain in our hearts. A salute to the free Arabs! See you next year God willing!”

Similarly, users took pride in their nationalities on the social media, as Iraqi users of all sects declared their support for Mohannad Marsoumi. User Ahmed expressed his support to Marsoumi: “We all support you Mohannad! Kurds, Arabs, Turkmens, Kaldanis, Ashurians. We all belong to one Iraq, with no difference!”

Palestinian users expressed strong support for Mohamed Assaf and wished he won the title. YouTube viewer Mohammed Ismail cheered: “The best voice I’ve ever heard in my life. He can perform all the music tones. Mohamed Assaf is the Arab Idol!”

Assaf’s fans on social media were proud that a Palestinian young man succeeded in reaching an advanced round of the competition, in spite of having suffered a health scare and spending time in intensive care at hospital. Some were happy at Assaf’s growing popularity across the Arab world. Reham Ehab said: “He made us raise our heads up high! God bless you… Keep moving forward”

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Religion was the third most discussed category this week, thanks to prominent Arab preachers’ active social media presence. Saudi cleric and Islamic scholar Salman al-Odah reconnected with followers on the social media after a short hiatus. Following in the footsteps of Egyptian preacher Amr Khaled, Sheikh Odah started his own podcast, Wasam (Hashtag), which airs every week on YouTube.  The fifth episode of Wasam received over 1.3 million views. The episode focused on favoritism in the workplace and the negative impact on business. The scholar also took to Facebook and Twitter to exhort fans to loosen up their “hardened hearts”.  Tweeter Ali al-Dhufairy spoke favorable of the program: “Dr. Salman al-Odah approaches matters the way he likes. In each  #Hashtag he lifts some miseries like no-one else.”

Some users, however, slammed Sheikh Odah as contradictory, saying that he pressed people to do good deeds, when he himself caused “sedition” by urging people to disobey their rulers. Reader Mishoo Naughtyboy wrote: “They criticize the public but forget about themselves.”

On the other hand, some users supported his view in Wasam episode about favoritism in the kingdom’s institutions. Those users expressed frustration at the critics of whoever tried to resist corruption. YouTube user Ahmed al-Amal wrote: “The policy followed here is attacking whoever goes the opposite direction. Either they describe him as liberal or slam him as Shiite, or worse, supported by Qaeda and Iran.”

In addition to Sheikh al-Odah, Sheikh Mohammad Al-Arifi is the second Saudi preacher to make it into this week’s Top 5 topics in the Society category. Sheikh Arifi’s posts on Facebook and Twitter cover a wide array of topics – religious, social, and political.

The sheikh, who is an outspoken supporter of the Syrian uprising against President Bashar al-Assad, condemned the Syrian regime’s “massacres”, and accused Hezbollah and Iran of being involved in the bloodshed in Syria. The cleric tweeted: “A whole neighborhood in Homs, Syria [abolished]. Iran, Hezbullat (Devil’s Party), and Bashar collaborated to kill us. Borders separate them but they are united by their hatred to the grandchildren of Prophet Mohammad’s Companions and despise of Sunnis.”

Users’ prayers for Syria flooded Arifi’s social networks, as they asked God to help the rebels defeat President Assad’s troops. Meanwhile, many users attacked Egypt’s Muslim Brotherhood for “killing”, “torturing”, and “arresting” protesters and condemned Arifi for turning a blind eye to the practices of the Muslim Brotherhood in Egypt. Arifi, yet again, denied his affiliation to any political party or religious group, but reiterated his appreciation of those who work under the guide of Islamism.

On a similar note, Arifi released a new episode of his show Leave Your Fingerprint, which he filmed in Egypt. The episode centered on the Islamic notion of lowering one’s gaze, as Sheikh Arifi asked Muslims to follow this tradition. Facebooker Dalia Makkawe commented: “It was a wonderful episode. You did a great job sheikh. Egypt is honored that you filmed the episode here.”

Some users argued if they were required to lower their gazes while watching TV talent shows. Some denounced Arifi for focusing on “minor” issues instead of urging people to join jihad.

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Meanwhile, the European football Champions League semifinals attracted Arab social media users who eagerly followed the first leg of the tournament’s semifinals. The Champions League appeared twice in the past week and generated 33,010 comments.  Arab users firstly discussed Spanish club FC Barcelona’s 0-4 defeat by German giants Bayern Munich. The next day, they dished on Barcelona rival Real Madrid’s game with German club Borussia Dortmund, which ended in a 4-0 win for the Germans.

In the first match, users were depressed by Barcelona’s poor performance and many blamed the coach for their “unacceptable” heavy loss.  Adel Abdul Jabbar commented: “Yes Barca were sick today, and it is the coach’s fault. I hope they make up for the loss soon.”

Some acknowledged Barcelona’s weak play and Bayern’s excellence in the game, yet criticized the referee who ruled for two disallowed goals for the German team. Tweep Hamdy posted: “I admit that Bayern played a better game than Barca, and deserves to win. But a goal was actually and offside, and another was a foul. That’s too much!”

In the next match, Arabs contemplated Spanish giants Real Madrid after being quashed 1-4 by German club Borussia Dortmund. Depression renewed, but this time following Real Madrid’s heavy and “disastrous” loss. Some, however, reaffirmed their confidence in their team, saying that this particular loss was just a “gaffe” that they would soon overcome. Facebooker Sameer Al Asmi wrote: “The Real will return fresh and in form, and they will win the Cup.”

Others noted that Germans demonstrated vivid excellence over the Spaniards after defeating the giants FC Barcelona and Real Madrid two days in a row. YouTube user Omzar10 noted: “The Germans have really crushed the Spaniards. They play to the last breath and last minute. This is why they are superior.”

Weekly Top 5: April 14-18, 2013

April 22, 2013

The week of April 14-18 was laden with diverse social media discussions from across the Arab World. Updates from talent competition Arab Idol comprised the top news this week, although the most discussed category was politics, generating 160,835 comments.

The top politics discourse was about the clashes between Kuwaiti riot police and supporters of prominent politician Musallam al-Barrak outside his home on April 17. Tensions started on April 15, when a Kuwaiti court sentenced the former lawmaker to five years in jail for insulting the country’s Emir Shaikh Sabah al-Ahmad al-Sabah. Barrak’s supporters then resisted the police forces that broke into the politician’s house to arrest him.

The overwhelming majority of social media users condemned the jail term and police brutality. Many denounced the regime’s crackdown on opposition figures and peaceful protesters. Some others demanded that the regime change to incorporate democracy, freedom, and justice. User Lobzah lamented the verdict saying: “Oh! Barrak jailed on the democratic land of Kuwait? At the sun of Gulf freedom? This is a black day in the future of Kuwait.”

Meanwhile, regime supporters blasted the Kuwaiti opposition – and hence Barrak –as liars who worked for their own interests, even the result was to divide Kuwait. Others said that Barrak broke the law by insulting the emir, and should be punished for his “crime”. Abdullaj Nin Qalil commented: “Who doesn’t respect his country’s figures and Sheikhs, deserves what he begets. Musallam al-Barrak has a foul mouth!”

Politics

Society came second in terms of most discussed categories. The top society topic was the unconventional news of Saudi security forces who drove a religious police member out of Riyadh’s famed Janadriyah Festival. Guests of the Saudi inter-cultural Janadriyah Festival were surprised to see policemen escorting a member of the Saudi Committee for the Promotion of Virtue and Prevention of Vice (religious police) out of the venue after he attempted to prevent a female Emirati singer from performing. Video footage of police dragging Abdullah al-Kahtany out of the site went viral on the internet. Many users resented the police “behavior” against the “protector of Islamic law and morality.” User Southern from the South commented in favor of Kahtany: “We love you religious men. God bless you and bestow His graces on you. We denounce what the police did at Janadriyah.”

Some other users called for the cancellation of the “sinful” festival, to spare people such arguments.  Others supported Kahtany’s diligence, but said it would have been preferable that he had complained to the festival’s organizers instead of attacking the Emirati singer. User Bandar commented: “The religious policeman did his job, but he did it wrong. It is the fault of the festival’s organizers. I hope they cancel it for good.”

Society

The live auditions round of Arab Idol attracted social media discussion, as it signaled the start of viewer voting for their favorite contestant. The majority of users across the Arab world praised all 27 shortlisted contestants of the vocal competition. Many said they were confused as to which contestants they should vote for, since all were “great talents”. Palestinian contestant Mohamed Assaf received the biggest share of praise, as many expected him to win the title. Others commended Iraqi-Kurdish singer Parawas Hussein who performed in Kurdish. Some attacked her, however, for singing in Kurdish, since it is a competition for Arabic-language talents only. The Undertaker wrote on the show: “I will vote for the Palestinian Assaf and the Syrian Abdul Karim as well as the Lebanese Ziad. Those as for the guys, but for the girls, I pick Farah from Syria, and the Kurdish Parawas. I believe those are the top 5.”

Many users called on their peers to relax and enjoy the show without bringing political/sectarian tensions into it. A YouTube user commented: “Let go of racism and vote for art. Singing nurtures the soul. Start a new age of love.”

Saudi podcasts (drama- comedy) fired up the Media category. Such shows are seen as a source of liberation for Saudi producers and viewers alike, due to the Kingdom’s restrictions on traditional media. The eighth episode of online drama Takki attracted no less than 8,800 comments, as it shed light on pressing problems like the kingdom’s segregation of the sexes in the workplace, verbal sexual harassment in the Kingdom’s streets, banning women from driving, and employer discrimination between Saudi and non-Saudi workers.

Social media users opposed the episode’s depiction of Saudi women as fearless in revealing their faces or meeting men alone. YouTube user Ichigo Ame wrote: “Many Saudi girls try to seduce guys by wearing make-up and showing their bodies and then you wonder why men follow them in the streets. Men want to find respectable women to marry. This is the fault of the officials who destroyed the country.” This reflected some user views of the Saudi society that segregates women from men at workplace, yet imposes tough measures for arranged marriages.

Saudi cleric and Islamic scholar Mohammad Al Arifi intensified his interaction with followers on the social media. Arifi’s posts ranged from simple good morning wishes to political discussions on current events. He made it into this week’s Top 5 with his talks on religion, as he asked followers to remember God’s grace. User Hady al-Otaiby concurred: “You should always look at the things under your feet to know how much God has honored you!”

Arifi went on to discuss the situation in the Arab world, tweeting that Egypt’s foreign exchange reserves had reached US$ 18 billion, recovering from the danger zone. Arab users prayed that Egypt and the other Arab Spring countries would recover from their setbacks. Souad Ouni prayed: “God is great. Every Arab country is my homeland. I wish Egypt all good. Amen!”  Syrian users praised Arifi for his support of the Syrian revolution.

Arts, media, religion, sportsMethodology

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).

Weekly Top 5 – April 7-11, 2013

April 17, 2013

The most discussed category in the week of April 7-11 was politics at 109,625 comments, constituting nearly 57% of the total volume. The top topic in the politics category was news of Egypt’s promises to relinquish the disputed Halayeb Triangle to its Southern neighbor Sudan. Sudanese diplomat Moussa Mohamed Ahmed who is the assistant to the President Omar al-Bashir, said that Egyptian President Mohamed Morsi promised to return the Halayeb Triangle to Sudan’s guardianship. The Egyptian presidency soon rebuffed the Sudanese claims as untrue.

The news angered Egyptian social media users who used this piece of news as proof of the ruling Muslim Brotherhood’s indifference to the Egyptian state, and their deep-rooted notion of a cross-boundary Islamic Caliphate. Facebook user Remember Lotus commented on the news on prominent Egyptian Page We Are All Khaled Said: “The Greater Muslim Brotherhood State doesn’t acknowledge borders. They mean to control all the Arab states and declare them a Caliphate. They have no problem getting rid of our land.”

Islamist users, on the other hand claimed that the news was false and meant to discredit President Morsi and the brotherhood. Those condemned the “revolution enemies” and remnants of the former regime for staging war against the president. This led We Are All Khaled Said to post the link of the news from Al Jazeera’s website. Despite the page’s clarification, Facebook user Accountant Mezo slammed the news as bogus: “Morsi didn’t say that, and neither has Sudan commented on it. You are making up stories sir!”

Politics

Moving into the Society category, news about the dust storm that swept across Saudi Arabia took hold of the first rung in this category, and second spot overall through the week. In the period of April 4-7, a fierce dust storm swept across the Arab Gulf states and led schools to shut down temporarily in some cities of Saudi Arabia. The storm also caused a massive road accident in which over 20 cars collided; at least two people were killed in the crash. The majority of users discussed the traffic accidents, blaming reckless truck drivers for the accidents. Al-Riyadh reader Faisal Bin Abdulaziz commented: “The people drive fast, and they don’t care if they speed and kill innocent people.” Others called on the Saudi authorities to construct a railroad to connect the Eastern and Western Provinces of the Kingdom. A Witness commented on Al Weeam news website: “The solution is in the construction of a railroad between Jeddah and Riyadh, and the punishment of reckless drivers.”

Some users seemed more concerned with the schools that continued in the capital Riyadh and other cities in the Middle and Western Provinces in the Kingdom. They urged the government to shut them down, citing health risks to students, teachers, and parents. On Al Arabiya, reader Al-Shemary wrote: “Some people in Riyadh are sick with asthma, I guess you should close the schools there too.”

Society

Art comes in the third place in terms of the most discussed categories in the past week, boosted by discussions on the second season of popular TV show Arab Idol. MBC’s talent show has so far received favorable reviews from Arab viewers. Starting April 6, the singing competition started airing Fridays and Saturdays instead of its once-a-week regular month-long schedule. Many users consider Arab Idol to be the top reality TV/singing competition in the Arab world. Users lauded many of the talents competing in the show, especially Syrian Farah Youssef and Palestinian Mohamed Assaf.  User Mohamed commented on MBC’s website: “Two contestants from Syria are WOW and another two from Egypt are breathtaking. Mohamed Assaf is the incarnation of [Egyptian Crooner] Abdul-Halim Hafez. He is a master!”

Egyptian users mainly supported the Egyptian contestants. Some asked peers not to be biased to their nationals, but to judge contestants according to their talents. Some others were saddened by the elimination of powerful voices at the early stages of the show. Facebooker Mai Mohamed supported Egyptians, saying: “Go Egypt! I hope Sabrine, Heidi, Merna, and Ahmed reach the live shows stage.”

Religion took fourth place this week, supported by the increased activity of Arab preachers like Mohamed Al Arifi (Saudi Arabia) and Habib Ali Al Jifri (Yemen) on the social media. Arifi’s post on spreading peace, love and mercy among people attracted social media users. In the same post, he prayed for Iranians following a powerful earthquake there, and added that people were different from the politicians and religious men who control Iranian politics. User reactions varied. Some rejected the connection Sheikh Arifi made between the earthquake and the corruption in their religious beliefs. Tweeter Shaker wrote: “What is the relation between the earthquake and the religious doctrine?” Other users supported Arifi’s assertion that Iranians are good people, pointing out that many Sunni scholars emerged from Iran like Abu Ahmad Al Ghazali. Facebook user Ahmed El Said commented on the preacher’s Facebook page: “The Sunni Persians have great contributions to the Islamic culture.”

A new category emerged this week; communications, occupying the top topic spot at 13,622 comments. One topic was mentioned in this category in the past week: the Anonymous hacker group attack on Israeli websites. Israeli media claimed no website was disrupted in the internet attack. Anonymous, aided by Palestinian hackers from Gaza, chose the Holocaust Memorial Day to launch the #OpIsrael internet operation in protest of Israel’s policy toward Palestinians.

Some social media users expressed support for the hackers, and urged an attack on Israeli army sites in the real world, not only the virtual world. YouTube user Hasshww commented: “I hope they join the battle on the ground.”  Others said #OpIsrael manifested Arab strength against Israel, if they unite. Facebook user Abdallah Rouis wrote: “Arabs, when we unite, Israel – which holds the top spot in the field of information technology, creation of viruses, online hacking, and internet espionage – will fall down as its electronic defenses will break.”

Others played down the hacking news, and described it as a good attempt to object to Israel’s policies to the Palestinians, although the attacks failed to disrupt the Israeli websites, or to cause damage to the government. These users argued that Israel and its American allies control the world’s internet networks.  User The Good Worshipper commented on PALDF forum:  “It is good news, but you are exaggerating.” Other users argued that internet hacking is a crime, and would rather have those hackers work together to create computer programs that help people, to at least better the image of Arabs to the world. Facebook users Bahaa Abu Zaid commented on this, saying: “It could’ve been much better if we created powerful software for all humans. This will change the people’s opinion of us.”

Art, religion, communications

Methodology

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).

 

Top 5: March 31-April 4, 2013

April 8, 2013

The Weekly Top 5 report highlights the top five subjects which 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.

Most discussions on Arab social media networks took place in the Politics category, which amassed a total of 97,340 comments during the week. However, the week’s top topic belonged to the Media category: the arrest and release of Egyptian TV satirist Bassem Youssef on charges of insulting Islam and Egyptian President Mohamed Morsi. News of Youssef’s arrest trended for two consecutive days, generating a total of 59,511 comments.

On March 30, Egypt’s top prosecutor ordered arrest warrant for the popular comedian on accusations of insulting Islam and defaming Egyptian President Mohamed Morsi. Social media users were disgruntled by the news and expressed concerns of the future of the freedom of speech in Egypt under Muslim Brotherhood rule. Youssef agreed to go to the prosecutor’s office, where he tweeted jokes and sarcastic accounts of his interrogation. He was later released on bail, but not before prominent Egyptian politician and Nobel Laureate Mohamed ElBaradei tweeted in Yossef’s defense: “Pursuing Bassem Youssef and his fellow TV hosts over allegations known only to the Fascist regimes is a continuation of the ugly practices intended to abort the revolution. Change is a must!”

Apparently Islamist users were satisfied that the “man who mocks God” would be silenced. Mohamed Mehyaoui commented on Facebook: “Thank God. We want to cut his head and tongue off. God almighty can do it!”

Top 5

The second most discussed topic this week in the Politics category, and particularly from Syria, as rumors of the death of Syrian President Bashar al-Assad started to circulate. Syrian users shared news on March 30-31 that President Assad had been killed by one of his bodyguards. The news was swiftly denied, much to the dismay of his opponents and the cheer of his supporters. Some of Assad’s opponents, however, wished for Assad’s fair trial – which would eventually lead to his execution – by the people. Facebook user Ziad Ramlawi said: “We don’t want that featherhead to simply die. We want the rebels to arrest him, then he should pay for the damage he has done to his victims.” Meanwhile, some expressed fear that Assad’s death wouldn’t end the violence in the conflict-torn country, but would further fuel the conflicting parties, especially in the absence of a successor to Assad. YouTube user Rore848484 supported that view, and claimed that the Syrian civil war pleased Israel and the West: “Wake up you sleepyheads, this Arab Spring benefits America and Israel.”

In the society category, users were preoccupied with discussions concerning the Muslim preachers Amr Khaled (Egypt), Habib Ali Al-Jifri and Mohammed Al-Arifi (Saudi Arabia) – all three of whom communicate with fans via social media platforms to offer life advice and/or anecdotes with a religious morale.  Saudi preacher and scholar Mohammed Al-Arifi style of social media use to dispense advice seems to closely resemble that of Amr Khaled, an Egyptian preacher who is rather the Muslim world’s pioneer in the use of social media for spreading religious, ethical and moral advice. Arifi, however, missed the target when he urged his followers to quit drinking soda due to the health risks they pose. Users took the matter lightly, slamming as bogus a research finding the cleric had posted, and which claimed the US had banned the sale of soft drinks. Facebook user Fuzzl Buzzl Mani commented: “What a lie you senile fool! America didn’t ban the sale of soft drinks, but the New York Governor banned the sale of the king-size cans at restaurants, which means you can still get them from any market…” On the other hand, some users, including Olive Branch, supported Arifi’s views of soft drinks: “You must know that sodas cause osteoporosis and the destruction of arteries and veins, especially nerve veins whose damage causes Alzheimer’s disease…”

Arifi’s posts also delved into politics as he cautioned Egyptians against their government’s rapprochement with Iran. Most of the users said “Amen” to Arifi’s comments on Iran. Tweep Ahmed al-Baridi wrote: “Iran destroyed Lebanon, Syria, Iraq, and Yemen. But in Egypt, they want to [let Iran] enter it through tourism, and tomorrow they will call for custodianship over the old Fatemid Heritage.”

It is the football championships season in the Arab World, Europe, and Africa, and many Arab users take to the social media to discuss their favorite teams, players, and on match results. On March 30, the Egyptian U-20 team beat Ghana to the 2013 African Youth Championship title. The majority of users expressed joy at the U-20 team’s win, although they criticized the Muslim Brotherhood-affiliated coach Rabiea Yassin, while lauding goalkeeper Mosaad Awad. Facebook user Rda Ahmed reflected on the goalkeeper: “This is the goalkeeper of the future. If he continues on this pattern, he will have credit for 50% of the team’s wins.” Other users attacked Algerian spectators (and hosts) for hurling stones at Egyptian players following Algeria’s elimination from the tournament and a 2010 football riot between the two nations. Facebooker Ahmed Adel wrote: “Thanks to Algeria for supporting Ghana. We had a double win- we won the championship, and we saw you burn in anger.”

Religious discussions centered on Egyptian preacher Amr Khaled who reminded fans on April 1 that the Muslim holy month of Ramadan would arrive in 100 days. Many users took the opportunity to appeal to God to support the people of Syria against President Bashar al-Assad. Rania Hafez wrote on Khaled’s Facebook page: “May God relieve the people of Syria, and make us arrive at Ramadan safe and sound.” On the same day, Khaled urged followers to show benevolence and good manners and to avoid the use of profanity and foul language. Many commended Khaled’s advice. YouTube viewer Hamed Ismaiel wrote: “Amr Khaled uses simple words. His mission is to enter Paradise, in the afterlife, and this life!”

Methodology

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).

The Weekly Top 5 March 23-28, 2013

April 2, 2013

As of the first week of January, we’ve 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.

Politics was once again at the forefront of this week’s top five, as the buzz surrounding the clashes between Muslim Brotherhood supporters and opponents at the Brotherhood’s headquarters in Egypt garnered 40,056 comments. The clashes left over 80 people injured, many of whom were Brotherhood members and supporters. Social media supporters of Egypt’s secular and liberal powers gloated at the Brotherhood injuries, while some denounced the police for protecting the Brotherhood headquarters and joining members of the group in attacking their opponents. User Ahmed Diesel wrote: “This is the first fair punishment since the revolution erupted.”

Meanwhile, Brotherhood supporters vowed to responds to the attacks and asked President Mohamed Morsi to avenge their peers or at least allow them to join jihad (holy war) against their opponents. User Mahmoud Hendy sad: “MB and Islamist powers must attack the traitors headquarters and burn down the satellite channels offices.”

Some Islamist users, mainly supporters of Islamist politician Hazem Salah Abu Ismail, urged him to respond to the attacks against the Brotherhood headquarters. Some went as far as to urge him to besiege the Media Production City and shut down the anti-Brotherhood channels.

Another group of users wondered about the president’s stance towards the recent clashes and the absence of a state of law.

The Top 5

Away from politics, Egyptian users discussed Egypt’s 2-1 win against Zimbabwe in the 2014 FIFA World Cup qualifiers as well as the Egyptian U-20 team’s 2-0 win against Nigeria to reach the 2013 African Youth Cup (AYC) championship finals in Algeria. Together, these two matches garnered 13,033 comments in the sports category. The majority of users were annoyed by the performance of the senior team, led by American coach Bob Bradley. User Ahmed Samir Korayem wrote: “Not a very convincing performance, Bradley. But I hope he learned from today’s match!”

Some, however, toned down their criticism of the team, arguing that the political turmoil in Egypt has taken its toll on everyone in the country. Many also expressed their approval of striker Mohamed Abu Treika, who they claimed led the team to victory. User Eslam Mohamed commented: “The team is nothing without Abu Treika.” Some users also expected Egypt to make it to the 2014 FIFA World Cup in Brazil.

Meanwhile, a number of users were happy that the U-20 team reached the AYC finals, while also mocking President Mohamed Morsi’s tweet congratulating the team for their win. Users joked that the President should stay away from the team lest he “jinx” it. Samehhanafy tweeted: “Please Morsi, I hope you spend the day of our matches elsewhere. Go to Qatar, Mali, or join the Jihad in Burma.”

In the art and entertainment world, the second season of the Arab Idol talent competition once again stole the number one spot with 11,979 comments.  Many users discussed a contestant who claimed that Egyptian pop singer Shereen Abdul Wahab used to sing as part of his choir before she became famous and started to fight him.  Others continued to commend the Egyptian talents and expected the title winner to be an Egyptian. User Anniballo77 said: “The Egyptian voices are so sensitive. They are very sweet.”

However, some users also denounced a Moroccan Quran reciter who auditioned for the show, asking God to show him the right path. User Aleedeloow wrote: “May God show him the right path to righteousness. He used to recite Quran on a Moroccan religious channel. And he has memorized Quran.”

Others disapproved of the judges for mocking the contestant, asking them to show some respect. Judge Hassan El-Shafei in particular received a lot of criticism for favoring Egyptian contestants over their Moroccan counterparts.

In the religion category, Saudi preacher Mohamed Al-Arifi stole the number one spot with his efforts to follow counterpart Amr Khaled’s methods of social media engagement with his fans. The preacher garnered 11,216 comments this week. Al-Arifi now starts the day with a good morning greeting to his fans and reminds them to perform the evening and night prayers every night. He wrote: “How beautiful it is to wash then pray at the hands of your Lord late at night, and read the final chapters of the Quran.”  Al-Arifi also shared with followers a book he has been reading, titled Ethics Encyclopedia, and uploaded the latest episode of his TV show, Leave Your Fingerprint, which airs on Iqraa TV channel.

The majority of viewers lauded the episode and expressed willingness to sacrifice their lives in the name of the Prophet Mohammad. Some also asked the preacher if he really issued a fatwa (religious ruling) allowing Syrian rebel fighters to take turns and marry Syrian women for a few hours. User Adam Omran said: “They say that you allowed Syrian fighters to marry Syrian women and take turns in that. Is this true?”

Finally, in the society category, another Saudi satirical show attracted 7,345 comments. Episode 9 of Season 3 of ‘Eysh Elly’ (What The?) aired on YouTube, criticizing recently uploaded videos on YouTube, including amateur Egyptian poet Emad Abdel Moneim’s  recital of his poem “I Swear I Will Forget You.” The show’s host Badr Saleh, sarcastically attacked the poet’s choice of lyrics and manner of dress. Badr also mocked a video of a girl forcing her hamster to mimic human voices and to run on a wheel.

Users generally approved of the episode, but were annoyed that it was not long enough and that there were many commercials in the middle. User Shosho33393 wrote: “The episode is amazing, but too short!”

Others, however, criticized the show’s director after noticing some errors in continuity and said the episode wasn’t funny enough for them to watch. User MôǾla Ali wrote: “The problem is that they changed the director. Even the host has changed his attitude. He has become less professional.”

Methodology

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).