Columbia International Affairs Online: Working Papers

CIAO DATE: 12/2011

Street, Shrine, Square and Soccer Pitch: Comparative Protest Spaces in Asia and the Middle East

Teresita Cruz-del Rosario, James M. Dorsey

November 2011

S.Rajaratnam School of International Studies


Shrines, squares and soccer stadiums have provided the settings for anti-government protests and people power in Southeast Asia and the Middle East in recent decades. At times used for mass detentions and torture of regime opponents by the security forces in the Middle East and North Africa, soccer stadiums became battlefields of resistance by soccer fans against autocratic rulers as the fans became politicized, clashing with security forces and increasingly using matches to shout anti-government slogans. The authors project those spaces as venues of political entitlement. They enabled protestors to overcome fear in confronting the regime in Cairo’s Tahrir Square, Benghazi and elsewhere. They also generated a sense of entitlement and demands for far-reaching reforms in post-revolution Egypt and other North African and Middle Eastern countries.