Whenever you think of social media and the Middle East – the first thing that comes to mind is revolutions, right? Admit it. When talking about the Middle East, we’ve consistently had terms like Facebook revolutions and Twitter activists pushed in our faces for over a year, starting with Tunisia, last January.
Right now, there’s a social media campaign brewing in the birthplace of the protests, which has nothing to do with overthrowing aging dictators. Instead, it has its sights set on a getting rid of what is seen as an archaic and unconstitutional law.
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Global Voices points to a Tunisian campaign, using social media, to legalize marijuana, and a Facebook page has been created to raise awareness about the laws surrounding marijuana in Tunisia. Not only is Marijuana use illegal in Tunisia, but citizens can be subjected to random and arbitrary drug tests at the request of a police officer at any time. If caught, the punishment includes a one-year jail sentence and a $750 fine.
The Facebook page lists the group’s demands, and points to reasons why they feel legalization is the safest route to go, citing Portugal as an example, where drug use has decreased drastically since the decriminalization of all drugs.
Through the Facebook campaign, Tunisian activists are calling for an end to the law, while continuing to ban the use of marijuana in public places.
Through a Facebook event with almost 5,000 confirmed attendees, the campaign is also going offline in its attempt to have marijuana legalized in the North African country. The event is inviting Tunisian Facebook users to a protest in front of the Parliament headquarters this Saturday, calling for an end to the law banning marijuana.
So while social media has certainly done its part to highlight the perils of the Middle East, and a glaringly obvious lack of freedom of speech in some countries, Tunisia is at the forefront of showing an entirely different side of the region. With this campaign, Tunisian activists are taking two Middle Eastern stereotypes we’ve seen far too much of in the past year, and are turning them into something refreshingly new.