The Week on Twitter: Repeal the Eighth, Jeremy Corbyn & a Muslim Boy’s Clock

This week, Twitter defended the right to protest, watched Jeremy Corbyn not sing the national anthem, and stood in solidarity with a boy who was arrested for building a clock. We also saw thousands speak out against Ireland’s draconian abortion laws, as an abundance of women shared their stories, and called for a repeal of the Eighth Amendment.

#RepealTheEighth #NotACriminal

Last week, Enda Kenny declared that Fine Gael would not commit to holding a referendum to repeal the Eighth Amendment if the party were to return to government next year. Speaking at the parliamentary party think-in, Kenny stated that he had no plans to abolish the law that so brutally equates the life of an unborn foetus to the life of every Irish woman. He also suggested that if the amendment were to be repealed, something else would have to replace it, as he is not in favour of “abortion on demand.”

Kenny’s comments sparked an infuriated response from Twitter, as many took to the site to express their outrage at the Taoiseach’s ignorant, inaccurate, and offensive stance on women’s reproductive rights. #RepealTheEighth became the country’s top trending topic – and continued to trend nationally throughout the week as an in-flux of Irish women bravely shared stories of their own abortions. Róisín Ingle and Tara Flynn were among those who engaged in the dialogue committed to demanding that women should not be forced to travel to attain rights their own country refuses to provide.

The significance of stories like these lies in their ability to create a public discussion about an issue that has remained suppressed and stigmatised for too long. Many have already expressed their unwillingness to vote for a party in next year’s election that does not actively support the abolition of the Eighth Amendment. As well as this, some of the country’s leading artistic figures have also launched a campaign in support of the pro-choice movement. The likes of Cillian Murphy, Jim Sheridan, and Anne Enright have already spoken out about the dehumanising reproductive laws, and called for a rectification of the constitution.

However, for some it still seems like the voices of those who have never had (or never can have) an abortion are more important than those who have. In the interest of ‘balance’ and ‘fairness,’ at least two women who had travelled for abortions in the past were dropped from slots on The People’s Debate with Vincent Browne.

Many were appropriately disgusted by the show’s censoring of women who have been actively affected by the country’s laws, and who have actually had abortions… Unlike those who haven’t, who secured more airtime to discuss an issue that they essentially know very little about.

The 4th annual March for Choice takes place next Saturday the 26th of September.

Man doesn’t sing song. People are angry. #JeremyCorbyn #LabourLeadership

This week, Jeremy Corbyn became the new leader of the Labour party in the UK. Lots of people – who are very conservative, not very nice, and very against anything that’s even a little bit left-wing – were angry, and claimed that the party had destroyed itself… Others made some fairly valid observations about the lack of women present in Corbyn’s Shadow Cabinet… And some (David Cameron) simply feared for the lives of their families.

But some of Corbyn’s harshest critics (and greatest tweets, let’s be honest) appeared when Labour’s newest leader decided to not sing God Save Our Gracious Queen at a Battle of Britain memorial service. Corbyn stood in silence, and lots of people went mad. Some people did some good tweets though. Here they are.

And my personal favourite…

Twitter stands in solidarity with anti-water protesters #JobstownNotGuilty

This week, 27 people who engaged in an anti-water protest were served summons to the Criminal Courts of Justice for the ‘false imprisonment’ of Joan Burton. The protest, which was staged in Jobstown last November, saw the Tánaiste and her assistant sit in a car for a few hours, and then claim that they had been “trapped.”

#JobstownNotGuilty is a reactionary campaign to the charges, which also include ‘violent disorder’ and ‘criminal damage.’ Among those served summons were TD Paul Murphy and councilor Kieran Mahon. Mahon has stated that “our backs are against the wall so we’re coming out fighting.”

The campaign is staging a protest in the city centre this Saturday to dispute the charges and the political policing of protests. Until then, Twitter will continue to stand in solidarity with the Jobstown 27.

14 year old Muslim boy arrested for building a clock #IStandWithAhmed

On Monday, Ahmed Mohamed brought a homemade clock into school and was arrested. The clock – which was made up of a digital screen, a circuit board, and some wires – was shown by Ahmed to his engineering teacher, who advised that he keep his impressive invention to himself. Soon after, the 14 year old was called in for questioning by some senior staff members of his school, fingerprinted, and handcuffed.

Ahmed was eventually released when it was discovered that he did not pose a threat, but that didn’t stop his story making global news, and opening up some pretty important debates about Islamophobia and racism in the Sates. President Obama even sent him an invitation to the White House via Twitter. Since his release, Ahmed has stated that he is sad that his teacher misinterpreted his project, and that he will be changing schools soon.

Thanks, Obama.


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