Episode II: The Art of Throwing Rocks (on March 25 2011)

From the Egyptian Intifada, 2011

From the Palestinian Intifada, 1988

Throwing rocks in demonstrations is usually associated with an unarmed group of people using them as weapons or shows of resistance against a stronger oppressive force, be it an army or an occupation.

I recently found this excerpt from a blog of an activist spending time in Nabi Saleh, Palestine:

There are two basic lessons: how to hold a rock and how to throw a rock. The village was now empty of the occupying force, the street littered with sound bombs and canisters. My lesson took place across from a small empty lot with the sun dipping in the background.

“This is how you hold a rock,” said one of the shabab(youth). “No, not like that, like this. OK, you’re doing it wrong. No, look at my fingers! Imagine your thumb and forefinger as a pair of tweezers. Hold them up like this. The rock should fit comfortably.” He gave up on his theoretical talk, grabbed my fingers and molded them into the correct shape.

One kid tapped my arm. “Let the rock rest against your middle finger. That’s it, you got it.”

“Now stretch your arm out, away from your body,” the same shab continued. “No, not like a stick figure. Bend your elbow slightly. Move your arm backwards a little. When you throw, don’t let your shoulder move. The rock travels longer based on the follow through movement of your arm. OK, throw.” I threw. The rock felt lighter as it whizzed through the air. I yelled out in joy. “Did you see that!” My teachers nodded absentmindedly and threw their rocks. The distance covered was still longer than mine.

“OK, good, but you need to refine your technique a bit more. Try again. Wait, remember to keep this finger like that. OK throw again — wait, what are you doing, aiming for the driver? Let the car pass before you start. Now watch out for the kids. Hey!” he yelled out good-naturedly, “Get out of the way!”

I threw again, a broad smile breaking out across my face.

In Jordan however, during the hours of March 25 2011, the act of rock throwing was reserved for citizens and aimed at other citizens. These acts took place from one end of the Duwwar towards the other, or from the bridge on top aimed at the Duwwar below.

Since then, on numerous occassions protestors calling for reform would be met with anti-reformists and their rocks.

Things work differently here.