Buzz Report: Weekly Top 5: June 16-20, 2013

Throughout the workweek of June 16-20, buzz about the pan-Arab vocal contest Arab Idol continued to dominate social media discussion in the Arab world, with a volume of 230,211. The volume again made the Arts category the most prominent discussion category. This was followed by Politics with a total volume of 115,948.

The elimination of the Lebanese contestant Ziad Khoury from Arab Idol 2 was the most discussed topic in Arts category last week. Social media users, across several Arab countries, generated a sum of 178,627 comments on this development in the competition. Users expressed disappointment towards Khoury’s elimination and wished him a bright future in his career path. Other than that, thousands of comments were related to the statements of the Emirati judge Ahlam, who warned Syrian contestant Farah Youssef that she was being arrogant. Users disagreed with this assessment of the competitor’s behavior and expressed their support for her. Another large bunch of comments were dedicated to support the Palestinian contestant Mohamed Assaf and the Egyptian competitor Ahmed Jamal. On Facebook, Sundus Al-sabbagh wrote: “I assure you the Arab Idol is Mohammed Assaf.” But maha asho, commenting on YouTube, described Jamal as having “a very kind voice and full of feeling, it is a shame if he does not win. Please, Arabs, vote for him.” The majority of comments captured in this topic stemmed from social networks, generating 167,342 comments, followed by some 5,988 comments left on microblogs.

ARTSOn June 15, social media talk of Egyptian President Mohammed Morsi announcing the “definitive” severing of relations with Syria placed the Politics category in the second rank among the five most-debated discussions. It generated 23,033 comments. In his latest public speech, addressing millions of Egyptians, Morsi said the country had decided “to definitively break off relations with the current regime in Syria, to close that regime’s embassy in Cairo and to recall Egypt’s charge d’affaires” from the Syrian capital, Damascus. As he spoke from a Cairo stadium, thousands of opponents believed that the conference entitled “Support for Syria” was intended to threaten the protesters and organizers of the planned June 30 protests against Egypt’s Muslim Brotherhood and Morsi’s regime on his first anniversary of assuming presidential powers in Egypt. Several users condemned Morsi and his handling of regional developments. Some denounced the sectarianism in his speech which was critical of the Shiite sect of Islam, and said this criticism was merely intended to win the support of Egypt’s ultra-conservative Salafists ahead of the protests. Others accused Morsi of acquiescing to the US administration, since the speech followed the US announcement that it would begin supplying arms the Syrian rebels. “When a corrupted regime uses the revolution in Syria as a means to promote itself, this regime has hit rock bottom,” wrote Waleed Badawy on Facebook.  Another opponent agreed. Mohammed Abdelaziz said: “[Morsi] just wants to please the US which has decided to support the Syrian opposition.” However, a pro-regime user, Osha Koky, hailed Morsi: “God be with you Dr. Morsi. We wanted for long to have a real man as a president of whom we can be proud.” However, most sentiment expressed towards Egypt’s first post-revolution president was generally negative.

POLITICSMeanwhile, Egypt’s qualification for the final round of the African Cup following its defeat of Mozambique made Sports the third ranked discussion category. This development in the sports world generated 13,427 posts. However, some users were dissatisfied with the Egypt’s performance in the game against Mozambique, while expressed concern that the team might be defeated in the second round. Al Naser Salah Eldein wrote on Facebook: “With this level of performance, we will not qualify.” Other users criticized the Egyptian team’s American coach Bob Bradley, claiming he is not competent enough to lead the team to victory. Other users commended the Egyptian player Mohammed Abu Traika, and others denounced his performance. However, criticism of the team’s performance and coach was not enough to stifle Egyptians’ generally positive view of their national team.

In the Religion category, leading Saudi cleric Sheikh Mohamed al-Arifi’s call for jihad in Syria also created a substantial buzz on social media platforms, generating some 22,360 comments.  Reactions to his calls varied. Some commended the call for jihad and expressed their support for it, arguing that jihad is the only way to retrieve the Islamic nation’s glories. Aiman Siraj alorabi commented under news published on CNN’s Arabic website: “Announcing jihad is the right way towards Muslims’ glory and victory.” However, other users censured Al-Arifi for urging jihad during a sermon he delivered in Egypt. ShadI Alessy said on Facebook: “He is announcing this from Egypt because in Saudi Arabia he cannot say such a thing.” Some users believed that while making his statements, the Saudi sheikh disregarded the fact that the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia has strong ties with the US. Nazir Maklad commented on Facebook saying: “He is a liar; his country is under US occupation.”

SPORTS, RELIGIONFinally, the Society category came last. The category has not generated more than 30,833 comments in total. The top discussed topic in the Society classification was news that the popular Egyptian preacher Amr Khaled had resumed his work despite a recent illness. The topic has made a total number of 15,937 comments. This is the second week that news about Khaled makes the top discussed topic in the society category. Khaled was infected with a rare virus that forced to hospital and refrain from any activities. In the past week, Khaled addressed his fans on social media to remind them that he trusts in God and that he is confident that God decides the best. Some users expressed their concern about his health and asked for updates about his health. On the preacher’s popular Facebook page, Saly Mohammad Farouq addressed the page administer, urging him/her to assure fans and followers of Khaled’s heath. Many other comments showed users praying for his recovering and praising his personality and doctrine. On Facebook, Yasser Khairy addressed him saying: “Dr. Amr Khaled, may God save you for this nation, Islam and Egypt because you are a unique personality.”


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).

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