Plenty of people are comparing Occupy Wall Street to the Arab Spring and there's now even a catchy name: the American Autumn. With worldwide attention to the protests growing, the now-hardened protesters in Tunisia, Egypt, Syria and Libya have been taking notice, rushing to offer advice from the experience of the Arab Spring and even in a few instance to actually get involved, starting with Tuesday's spam attack on President Obama's Facebook page from Tunisia.
Tunisians Are Protesting the Protest
This week, Tunisian activists flooded Obama's Facebook page with tens of thousands of comments in what they call a "virtual surprise attack" on the president's lack of direct action to meet the protesters' demands. (Or lack thereof, but we'll get back to that.) Using the hashtag #TrollingObama, the Tunisians made jokes: "Tunisia is the first country to recognize the American Transitional National Council." They offered assistance: "To overthrow any corrupt system in the world, please contact the Tunisian people." They also provided some pretty cogent critiques of the government's handling of the protests: "Tunisian people are calling the U.S. authorities to respect freedom of expression and not to resort repression and assault on the rights of American citizens."
Oh, and they created some adorable ASCII art too:
If you can read Arabic, please let us know in the comments what that says.
Libyans Are Marching to 'Wala Street' Next
At least, that's what the graffiti writers among the rebel forces say:
This isn't exactly advice, but it's interesting. The Libyans aren't actually sending any troops to the United States (that we know of), but even spray-painted slogans can be expressions of solidarity. Max Fischer at The Atlantic writes:
Libyans, of course, are affected by what happens on Wall Street — the entire world rises or falls with the global financial markets that Wall Street's institutions help to drive. But the fact that North Africans could be inspired by Americans who could be inspired by North Africans suggests that, as popular movements rise in power and prominence, the national boundaries and governments that once defined world order are declining in importance.
Egyptians Are Advising the Protesters
Spencer Ackerman at Wired recently interviewed Ahmed Maher, one of the leaders of Egypt's April 6 movement, who gave Occupy DC the "thumbs-up" and claimed to be on his way to Occupy Wall Street to help out as an adviser. Maher offered a few words of wisdom in the meantime: "Stay focused on the main issues. For 18 days in Tahrir Square, we were united to take Mubarak down." Then a word about organizing: "We talk on the internet about what happened in Egypt, about our structure, about our organization, how to organize a flash mob, how to organize a sit-in … how to be non-violent with police."
Finally, Maher wanted to make sure everybody was into this social networking fad. "Are you guys on Facebook, on Twitter? How are you attracting people?," he asked the DC Occupiers. The answer was yes to the first two questions. To the latter, a protester said, "there are reporters everywhere. We're gonna be here as long as it takes."
Syrians Are Recommending "Goals"
The Global Post asked Sameh al-Hamwi, from the Syrian Revolution General Commission, how his experience working on the enduring (and terribly violent) protests in Syria could provide some insight to the Occupiers. First things first: no fighting.
The Wall Street protesters must stay away from violence, especially with the police. They must allow an open space so that people and cars can pass through because by doing so they will gain the support of the public. They must keep cleaning the street and organize their sit in, creating activities, new ideas every day, new banners and logos.
And despite the enduring reticence not to create a list of demands, it might not be such a bad idea, says al-Hamwi:
They should be communicating with the media a lot and putting down new ideas and innovative targets. They should issue a list of goals and write them on canvas banners for the protesters to sign, either by hand or by their fingerprints in paint.