Digital Communities

Travelling While Arab: a Podcast and Study on the Effects of Social Media on the Free Movement of Arabs

In August 2019, 17-year-old Harvard Freshman and Palestinian Refugee Ismail Ajjawwi was deported back to Lebanon upon arrival at Boston's Logan Airport by immigration officers for “political points of views that opposed the US” expressed by his friends on his Social Media. Was his free movement deliberately sabotaged under the guise of contesting political agendas by association, or could there be a valid reason to ask people to relinquish their personal social media in the interest of security? This paper and accompanying Podcast intends to answer the hypothesis that Social Media can be arbitrarily used against Arabs to hinder or restrict free movement due to racial profiling. What is considered a political threat? How many degrees of separation must there be between an individual and a ‘non-desirable’? Which countries are moving to protect the digital privacy rights of individuals and citizens? These questions will be addressed using a mix of virtual interviews worldwide with people who have experienced it, studying previous scholastic journals and articles, obtaining statements from immigration professionals and advisors, and creating a platform for individuals to share their own stories and opinions.
About the Author
Tamer Gargour

Tamer Gargour is a Jordanian American who has spent most of his life in Jordan and attained a bachelor of Law from Cardiff University. With a love for the performing arts and music, Tamer has pivoted his career towards radio as a show creator and radio host for the past 7 years. Tamer now hopes to challenge himself and learn new techniques and media methods to best tell stories, market brands, reach people artistically and tactfully, and begin carving a life personally and professionally within the creative industries in Toronto through his education as a master of digital media candidate at Ryerson University.

About the Project

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The arrival of new social distancing standards and practices undoubtedly played a large role in the evolution of my project. While before it may have proven difficult to secure in-person interviews with high caliber interviewees, requiring formal introductions through the social niceties of society such as an initial meeting over a coffee to break the proverbial ice, this strange twist in fate allowed me to dive headlong into reaching out to unfamiliar people with a higher chance of engagement. Indeed, the interviews with people based around the globe, in Tunisia, UAE, Washington D.C., and Sydney Australia proved possible due to a newfound reliance on services such as Google Meet, Zoom, and Squadcast. In a way, the successful end result of my project was facilitated by a new normal, a sudden expectation to learn the nuanced skill of personable on-line interactions through virtual peer-to-peer meetings, as well as allowing our need as a people to feel more productive during a disruptive time may have contributed to securing credible participants willing to share their time and expertise with me.