The Weekly Top 5 report highlights the top five subjects from five different discussion categories that generated the largest volume of discussion across Arabic language social media platforms on a weekly basis. The report is derived from crawling the web and indexing hundreds of thousands of Arabic-language, user-generated results on a daily basis. A more thorough explanation of our methodology follows the report. The Weekly Top 5 represents data collected throughout the Sunday-Thursday work week in the Arab world.
The European football Champions League once again stole the top spot in this week’s Top 5, as FC Barcelona’s 4-0 win against AC Milan generated a buzz of 23,636 comments. Barcelona fans in the Arab World were overjoyed by the AC Milan knock-out and their favorite team’s entry into the quarter-finals.
Users commended Barcelona’s performance and praised their striker, Lionel Messi, whom they described as a “football legend.” User Elhabak wrote: “How wonderful you are, you magical Argentine (Messi).” Some also remarked that AC Milan played poorly and deserved to lose. Use Ahmed said:
“Barca didn’t just teach AC Milan a lesson, but they taught them how to play football, not play with 11 goalkeepers.”
Meanwhile, Barcelona fans also exchanged profanities with fans of archrival Real Madrid, who had supported AC Milan against Barca. User Ashraf Alhmede wrote: “Don’t be that happy, Real Madrid will crush you in the coming days.”
In the politics category, an Egyptian court upheld 21 death sentences against the Port Said football rioters generated 22,180 comments. Though Al-Ahly Club Ultras fans were satisfied with the death sentences, they rejected the acquittal of seven interior ministry officials accused of involvement in the riots that killed 72 spectators after a football match in the city of Port Said last year. The Ultras fans threatened chaos unless their demands for a retrial were met.
Egyptian opposition figure Mohamed ElBaradei urged the court to release the written judgment of the verdicts. He tweeted: “We are waiting for the written judgment of the verdict to catch the “mind” of the Port Said massacre to understand what is going on in Egypt. I hope it is not the boogey man who has been haunting us for 2 years.”
Users slammed the Ultras fans as rioters, especially after photos of the theft of football cups and medallions from the Egyptian Football Association headquarters went viral on SM networks. User The Egyptian Police said: “Who will defend the Ultras Ahlawy… they are stealing the Football Association.”
While some urged the Ultras to respect the court’s verdict, others accused them of ties with the ruling Muslim Brotherhood, whom they believed had incited them to break down the police corps to give way to Muslim Brotherhood militias to deploy. Some Islamist users called on President Mohamed Morsi to strike rioters and saboteurs with an iron fist. Adel al-Johary wrote: “Now Ultras will become a burden on Ahly fans and Al Ahly club. They are committing national security crimes, the deserve the toughest punishment…”
The society category was topped by news of the death of 51 people in Libya due to poisonous liquor. The buzz around the liquor, which had been mixed with methanol, generated 9,951 comments.
Some users criticized the victims of the poisonous liquor for drinking in the first place, some arguing that God had let them die while committing a sin after giving them a chance to repent. Others, User Free Whisper wrote: “May God grant us a good ending. How will they meet our God when they were drunk? God let them die drunk because He knows they wouldn’t repent. May God lead the drunken and addicted to the right path.”
Others, however, asked God to forgive and have mercy on them and to grant their families solace. User Warfali commented: “To God we return. May God grant their families with patience and solace. But whoever poisoned liquor could easily poison potable water in any Libyan city. I don’t think that the criminal is Libyan or even an extremist Islamist.”
Like Warfali, many users had concerns that if people were able to poison liquor, they may soon poison food and drink. Some also lashed out at the Health Ministry, saying that many of the victims died due to a shortage of supplies and professional caliber in Libyan hospitals and said the Ministry should have held a press conference to explain the details of the accident.
Meanwhile, Arab users tuned in to the premiere of the second season of Arab Idol on MBC network. The show generated 9,076 comments in the Art category. The majority of users commended the talented participants on the Arabic version of the American reality show American Idol, commenting and tweeting on SM networks as they watched the show.
There was a general approval of and support for the Syrian contestants as well as prayers for the Syrian rebels fighting against President Bashar Al-Assad and his troops. However, many expected the winner to be an Egyptian national, as many of the Egyptian contestants were admired during the auditions. User Ahmed Meseed said: “Egypt will have the lion’s share in the end, because Egypt has the most beautiful voices…”
Users also generally approved of the judges, particularly Lebanese singers Ragheb Alama and Nancy Ajram. However, some attacked UAE singer Ahlam for contesting the decisions of the other judges and expressed their annoyance at what they considered favoritism of some contestants over others. User Silence of the Grave said: “I feel that Ahlam’s decisions are against the judges not the contestant.”
This week also featured one topic in the rare economy category, generating 2,092 comments. Egyptian users discussed allegations that telecommunications and construction giant Orascom had evaded 14.4 billion Egyptian pounds’ worth of taxes. Many accused the Muslim Brotherhood of intentionally targeting the Coptic Sawiris family, which owns Orascom, and of trying to undermine successful businessmen and investors to make way for Brotherhood businessmen. User Samuel Adel wrote: “Morsi’s dogs are hungry, so they thought of teasing Christians. Why Sawiris? Where are [Khairat] el-Shater and the other businessmen who evade taxes?”
On the other hand, some said the matter should be investigated before Egyptian tycoon Naguib Sawiris’ “innocence” was declared. Still others attacked Sawiris and accused him of stealing Egypt’s money, investing in Israel, supporting Christian missionaries in Egypt and inciting his employees to protest in his support. User Alaa Sheikh criticized those whom he believed were defending Sawiris simply because of their opposition to the Brotherhood : “Do we agree to let Sawiris steal from the people because he is against the MB?”
These results above are extracted from thousands of social media sources such as blogs, microblogs, forums, message boards, readers’ comment sections on news websites, etc, which are continually updated. A team of Arabic social media researchers and Arabic social media analysts use Arabic Natural Language Processing and data mining tools to analyze the data and to extract the list of top five subjects, based primarily on keyword repetition.
The Weekly Top 5 displays results of the common Sunday-Thursday work week in the Arab world, and is solely focused on Arabic language user-generated results, classified by volume of comments/discussion.
Data is captured primarily from 17 Arab countries in North Africa, the Levant, and the Arab Gulf region, and when relevant, the five other Arabic speaking countries belonging to the Arab League (Sudan, Somalia, Comoros, Djibouti and Mauritania).