- Amnesty decries treatment of injured detainee Esraa al-Taweel
- Maroc : « La progression des islamistes est un sérieux problème pour la monarchie »
It might be a bigger problem if they had no legitimate parties left to co-opt
- Une « révolution des ordures » au Liban ?
Analysis of "You Stink" movement (in French)
- The Egyptian star pupil who scored zero in all her exams
More bald-faced corruption
- Two Years, Eight Months and Twenty‑Eight Nights
Ursula Leguin (!) reviews Salman Rushdie's latest.
- 'Arabs Without God' translated
Brian Whitaker's book on atheism available in Arabic.
- Four Seasons rolls out the red carpet for King Salman
Who will rid us of these turbulent Sauds?
- Why I tweeted the photo of the dead Syrian toddler
From Liz Sly, who's been reporting on Syria for years
As the bodies of those trying to reach Europe continue to be found piled in trucks or washed up on shores, are we finally acknowledging the almost unfathomable magnitude of this humanitarian crisis, and our responsibility to help? Many ordinary citizens are doing more than their governments.
German train stations are overwhelmed by donations for arriving refugees. An online fundraising campaign has raised $150,000 to benefit a Syrian father of two selling pens on the streets of Beirut. Over ten thousand Icelanders took to Facebook to volunteer to host Syrian refugees (after their government announced it would take 50).
If you are an American, you can sign this petition to resettle more Syrian refugees in our country (we have taken less than 1,000 so far). The suffering of these people is a historic calamity, and a shame on us all.
In the latest installment of our In Translation series – brought to you as always by the crack translation team of Industry Arabic – we look at commentary from within Lebanon on the “You Stink” movement. These protests, sparked by the failure of municipal garbage collection services, have taken on an unexpected amplitude, targeting corruption and the political impasse (the country has no president and its parliament’s mandate expired in 2013) created by its sectarian politics. The article below, from An-Nahar newspaper, discusses the attempts by the Lebanese factions to use the protests to resolve the impasse over the presidency to their advantage.
“All of Them Means All of Them”: A Third, Civilian Way for Rights and to End the Gridlock?
Rosana Bou Moncef, An-Nahar, 31 September 2015
The countries now closely observing the situation in Lebanon would like to see the political authorities take up the popular demands that have brought thousands of people out into the streets. People are hurling charges of corruption against officials, although some of the officials are trying to exempt themselves from these charges and shift the blame to others, while they continue to huddle around the Cabinet table or around sectarian leaders complaining of insult and neglect. Most of the countries watching would not like to see the current order seriously disturbed, although they would like to see the Lebanese people form a peaceful civil force or a third force that could compel officials to take the interests of the people into account, or grant them more attention than they do to their own. This is based on the idea that the Lebanese people and Lebanese youth in particular have a dynamism that obliges them to confront the political class and claim their rights, rather than emigrate and leave officials to run their fiefdoms and tend their personal interests.Read More
Great idea: displaced Syrians act as online Arabic tutors
- Anthropologist Seeks the Roots of Terrorism
On the challenges of studying jihadists
- Donne che mordono donne
In Italian: testimony of medieval practices of ISIS female police
- Eric Laurent interpellé pour chantage au Roi
French journalists accused of blackmailing the king of Morocco
- Vast Reserves of Natural Gas Found Off the Coast of Egypt
Great, much-needed news.
- IS posts pics of food distribution in North Sinai
- Sinai Militancy and the Threat to International Forces [PDF]
- The disgrace we should not embrace
Khaled Mansour on Egypt's human rights council.
- Egypt in Talks to Buy Mistral Warships From France
More Sisi defense spending...
- Securing the Sinai MFO Without a U.S. Drawdown
Eric Trager on MFO policy review.
- Is Alawite Solidarity Finally Breaking?
- Brookings | Rethinking Political Islam
Essays on Islamists in various countries.
- Lebanon’s Un-collected Problems
Sahar Atrache on Beirut's garbage crisis
- You Can't Stop the Signal
Great piece by Mahmoud Salem.
Our friend Sarah Carr opens a blog post about the Egyptian government's latest misguided, ineffectual attempt to legislate what women wear on their heads ("Secularisn't") with some reflection on her own distaste (and doubt over the validity of that distaste) for the niqab, the full face covering.
I mean there are a million ways to abuse a child on the abuse spectrum. Perhaps allowing/encouraging her to wear neqab isn’t that bad. I think why it bothers me is that it sexualises a child, since for women who wear it, the neqab is an interpretation of the veil, which ultimately is about modesty. No child should have to think about that, and no one should be thinking about that while looking at a child.
I think a lot of people struggle to explain why they feel so differently -- why they feel a line being crossed, or draw a line -- about the hejab (head scarf) and the niqab (full face covering). I like to keep the criminalization of fashion to a minimum, and I think the French ban on the headscarf is ridiculous and discriminatory. But there is more than a difference in degree between covering your hair and covering your face. What's troubling about the niqab is a very obvious thing: it's dehumanizing. We anthropoids acknowledge each other by looking each other in the face and in the eyes -- doing so is one of the most powerful, most meaningful and sometimes uncomfortable (as we've all experienced on public transportation) interactions we can have. To become faceless is to erase yourself and to greatly limit your capacity to relate to others and for others to relate to you.
Post-summer break link dump.
- The ‘magic words:’ How a simple phrase enmeshed the U.S. in Syria’s crisis | McClatchy DC
One of Obama's big mistakes.
- So…Yalla, Bye | Foreign Office Blogs
Funny send-off by departing UK ambassador
- Syria: The Threat of Indifference by Hugh Eakin and Alisa Roth | NYR Daily | The New York Review of Books
- ISIS Enshrines a Theology of Rape - The New York Times
- In Egypt, Disaffected Youth Increasingly Drawn To Extremism
- Sexual harassment in Saudi Arabia is widespread
- The Launch Of The "New Suez Canal" Was Really, Really Weird
Buzzfeed gets snarky
Last month, Huffington Post launched its Arabic edition in London to great fanfare. Like other spin-offs of the American website, HuffPo Arabi is a joint venture, not under the direct editorial control of the original. It is not the first Arab world edition to launch – HuffPo Maghreb has French-language Tunisian, Algerian and Moroccan sites – but it is the first Arabic edition one. It has generated some controversy already (update: meant to link to this critical Buzzfeed piece), in part because the site is far from the liberal leanings of the HuffPo mothership, but also because of its pro-Islamist leanings. One of the key people behind HuffPo Arabi is Wadah Khanfar, a former director-general of al-Jazeera known for his support of the Muslim Brotherhood trend. The site has predictably taken the kind of positions generally associated with the Qatari-funded media (i. e. anti-Assad, anti-Sisi, pro-Erdogan, etc.)
Among one of its early coups is to secure an interview with the imprisoned leader of the April 6 movement, Ahmed Maher, sentenced to prison last year for violating the draconian protest law approved by interim Egyptian President Adly Mansour and enforced with gusto under President Abdelfattah al-Sisi. The interview does show some criticism of the Brotherhood, even if most of the vitriol is reserved for Sisi, and paints an alarming picture of the radicalization taking place in Egypt's over-flowing prisons.
We bring you this translation through our friends over at Industry Arabic – we heartily recommend them for any Arabic translation job big or small. Check out their website to get a quote for your needs.Read More
- Number of Syrian Refugees Climbs to More Than 4 Million
- Quick Thoughts: Nathan Thrall on the Gaza Strip One Year After Israel’s Operation Protective Edge
- Facts and footballers | Inanities
Nice vignette of Egyptian media vulgarity
- Egypt Wants To Jail Journalists For Not Falling In Line. It's Been Trained By A US Nonprofit.
- Exclusif. Forces armées/ Plusieurs changements au DRS et mécontentement du général Toufik
Exclusif. Plusieurs changements au sein du DRS/Et le général Toufik boycotte la remise de la médaille de Bravoure
- A Detailed Look at Hacking Team's Emails About Its Repressive Clients - The Intercept
- Small Arms Survey - 2015 YB released
"Business as usual for small arms exports to ‘Arab Spring’ states"
- Egypt anti-terror bill speeds trials, tightens hand on media
This ought to end terrorism in Sinai
- Egypt Warns Journalists Over Coverage of Militant Attacks
Sisi compares report to a “fourth generation of warfare, and even fifth.”
- Egypt’s Coming Chaos Steve Cook
- Egypt's Brotherhood calls for uprising after killings
It has been calling for an uprising for a while, mind.
- Assault in Sheikh Zuweid: A turning point in Egypt's fight against terrorism
- Widespread Graft Benefited Tunisian Leader’s Family, Study Says - NYT
- BREAKING: Egypt's top prosecutor killed in bomb attack
- In Morocco, It’s Jennifer Lopez Versus Jihad
Worst article I've read on Morocco in a long time. Full of errors and clichés. Reporter was flown to Morocco by PR firm.
- Alexandria's iftar event breaks world record despite the mayhem
"Scuffles broke out among attendees of the event, who smashed chairs and tables and threw them at each other."
- Senussi “claims” US offered pardon and job in new government
Claims that in 2011 US offered to drop ICC charges (improbable...)
- ‘He’s Jesus Christ’
Kristof on the Nuba Mountains conflict.
- The Massacre of Druze Villagers in Qalb Lawza, Idlib Province
By "moderate jihadi" Jubha an-Nusra
“Tell me, respectable president Sisi, why you didn’t secure the checkpoints when you knew they were targeted?” the bitter father of one of the 17 (according to the military) or 70 (according to medical sources) soldiers, who were killed in last week’s coordinated North Sinai attacks, tried to ask the camera as the CBC reporter next to him continued to talk over him.
CBC was not the only channel to choose the wrong guest in last week’s mess. Dream TV’s Wael el-Ebrashy looked regretful in his stony silence as he heard former presidential candidate Hamdeen Sabahi say that the state’s oppression (of activists and the MB) breeds terrorism.
Politely critical voices like Sabahi’s, however, were lost in a sea of calls for revenge and conspiracies theories, with the double chin of former deputy head of the Supreme Constitutional Court Tahani el-Gabali and the wagging finger of Sada el-Balad host Ahmed Moussa taking the lead.
The former demanded that all human rights activists be silent forever and that the Egyptian government stop considering the condemnation of the international community when cracking down on its opponents (implying they ever did), while the latter all but ordered judge Nagy Shehata to find a way to legally kill deposed president Mohamed Morsi and senior members of the Brotherhood in their cells.
“It is very simple,” Shehata replied with confidence, being the reliable source that he is on the subject of killing Brothers. (Shehata has handed down over 500 death sentences to MBs.) Transfer their cases to the State Security Criminal Court, he said, so that there can be no appeals.
Impressively efficient, the fuming Moussa then showed a picture of a man he said was a former military officer, whom he said was the behind the assassination without shedding light on how he happened across this information so quickly. If it is true, shouldn’t the government make some kind of announcement and if it isn’t, shouldn’t the patriotic Moussa know better than to spread false information?
Also giving legal advice on TV lask week was el-Gabali, who told el-Ebrashy that anyone who is happy or celebrates the death of Barakat is a partner of the terrorists and should be arrested. “Don’t you want the rule of law? This is the rule of law,” she said.
- A terrible blow, but Tunisia will not buckle
- Tunisia attack: multiple deaths at Sousse beach resort
- Scott Ritter · ‘We ain’t found shit’ · LRB 2 July 2015
On why Iran shouldn’t accept ‘no notice’ inspections of its nuclear sites
- Patrick Cockburn · Why join Islamic State? · LRB 2 July 2015
On Kurdish advances on Tal Abyad, IS and Turkey
- Political TV talk shows a victim of Egypt’s crackdown on dissent — FT
- Stop Scaremongering About ISIL in Libya | Al Jazeera America
- Why We Need al-Qaeda by Ahmed Rashid | NYRblog
- A Partnership with China to Avoid World War by George Soros | The New York Review of Books
- The west opens up to Egypt’s President Sisi - FT
This gets the politics right and the economics wrong - Egypt has not "graduated from handouts" and not that many foreign companies are keen to invest.
- How leaked Saudi documents might really matter
By Marc Lynch
- Germany frees al-Jazeera reporter Ahmed Mansour
Instead of extraditing him to Egypt as it had hoped
- Leaks allege assassination plot hatched by Egypt and Sudan | Middle East Eye
- How security forces keep critics quiet in 'progressive' UAE
Our own Nour Youssef has a piece in the Guardian about the Egyptian media, the role it has played in the events of recent years, and the complicated system by which it stays in alignment with regime interests. It has interviews with a who's-who of prominent TV hosts and is chock-full of incredible quotes.
“I would say anything the military tells me to say out of duty and respect for the institution,” says Ahmed Moussa, one of the most popular TV presenters inEgypt.
Moussa has no qualms admitting on air his relationship with the authorities – and his vocation to serve them. He claims he would also extend the same courtesy to the police, he said but he “might stop and think a little first”.
Sharing Moussa’s sense of duty towards the military is the veteran talk show host Mahmoud Saad, from Al-Nahar TV. “The military should never, ever, ever be covered,” he says, shaking his head. “You have to let them decide what to say and when to say it. You don’t know what will hurt national security.”
But it’s also the power to influence people that appeals to him, he says. “It’s a beautiful feeling knowing that when you swing right,” he says as he swivels his upper body right, “the people will swing right. “And when you swing left,” he goes on, swivelling in the opposite direction “the people will swing left.”
- How security forces keep critics quiet in 'progressive' UAE
One tactic: kidnappings
- The Moral Conflict of Living and Working in Qatar
Interesting discussion of the personal pros and the ethical cons
- Water In Crisis - Spotlight Middle East
Apparently desalination is not the answer
- The Rhetoric of Egyptian Reaction
A new post by Baheyya
- Smuggling books across the border: PalFest 2015
Leila Abdelrazaq puts the experience into drawings
- 'One Thousand and One Nights won’t be any less impressive than Hollywood movies': Nicole Saba
Ahram Online on what may be the Ramadan serial of the year
- Why Obama’s Plan to Send Advisers to Iraq Will Fail - The New York Times
Compare to what Iran's "advisers" do in Iraq...
- Clans du pouvoir : les masques sont tombés
Algerian Kremlinology - the comments are out there.
- U.S. Embracing a New Approach on Battling ISIS in Iraq - NYT
- Israeli exonerates itself over killing of Gaza boys on beach
- A Room Of Their Own: Makeshift Schools Help Syrian Students
- Egyptian Muslim Brothers launch “fierce” attack on Tunisia’s Ennadha, Ghannouchi
- The Guardian view on the flogging of Raif Badawi: Saudi Arabia is in the dock | The Guardian
- Egypt says terror attack foiled at temple in tourist city of Luxor | The Guardian
- Five takeaways from the Turkish election
- One Egyptian novelist takes another to task for accepting $60,000 Qatari literary prize
- Mysterious Disappearances of Egyptian Youth Continues
Egypt more and more resembles Pinochet's Chile
- On being transgender in Egypt
- How Teaching in English Divides the Arab World - Ursula on a growing trend at universities in the middle east
The number one topic of conversation in Morocco in the last few weeks has been the film Much Loved, by director Nabil Ayouch. The film tells the story of prostitutes in Marrakesh; it premiered at Cannes and some scenes were leaked -- and widely viewed -- online. These include a scene featuring a gay prostitute, rich Gulf clients who mock the Palestinians as a bunch of parasites, some explicit dancing, and some more explicit dialogue (I believe the words the women speak are the most shocking element in fact).
Judging from the snippets I've seen, the movie's style is naturalistic, almost documentary; the dialogue is reportedly based on research the director and lead actress carried out with sex workers.
Before the director even presented his official request to screen the movie in Morocco, it was banned here, for being "une atteinte a l'image du Maroc," ("an insult to Morocco's image"). The lead actress has received death threats.
The director's protestations of shock sound hollow to me; you don't screen a movie with this style and subject at Cannes and expect no blowback back home. But of course the ban is ridiculous. Those who support the director -- like the editorialists of the liberal magazine Tel Quel -- have pointed out that as usual decision-makers and public opinion are much more concerned with the representation of social problems than with the problems themselves (an attitude that is frequently found in the Arab world). There is a significant amount of prostitution in Morocco, and Moroccan women have a reputation of being both terribly attractive and immoral in other more conservative Arab countries (whose men come here to take advantage of these qualities). But as Omar Saghi writes in Tel Quel, Moroccan women are considered "loose" only by the standards of Gulf Arabs, and why should they interiorize these views? He writes that "Egypt, close to the Gulf, has long paid dearly for this comparison: after having veiled its women, decreased salaried female employment, and lowered a lead cloak on its beaches, Egypt remains, for the Gulf, a pagan country with shameless women who speak too loud and have the regrettable tendency to go out in public. To fix the problem of prostitution in Morocco, we should abandon an apocalyptic vision and come back to our senses: end the prostitution of minors, punish pimps and trafficking networks, spread information about health hazards...As far as defending the image of Moroccan women, let's stick to two things: keep demagogues out of this, and stop comparing ourselves to Yemenis."
I have a new piece in The Chronicle of Higher Education about the spread of English at universities in the middle east. This is a world-wide phenomenon, and the main reason for it is that working in English helps academics access the latest research and to publish (because most journals are in English). It also often helps students land better jobs after graduation. And there are other more ambiguous gains to English: access to Western culture generally, a different and often more open teaching style (since more professors might be foreign), and a general aura of "modernization."
I reported in Qatar, Egypt and Morocco, and there are some big variations -- in the Gulf the concerns regarding English are tied up with anxieties about identity, being a minority in one's own country and the pace of change. In Egypt English has theoretically been part of the curriculum and a language of instruction for decades but the real problem is the abysmal quality of education, growing privatizations, and the gap between rich and poor (which foreign language universities and programs can exacerbate). In Morocco there is a growing interest in introducing English -- something that is somewhat surprising given that the country is already dealing with a very complicated post-colonial linguistic tangle, with the educational system divided between Arabic and French and with the place of darija (the local dialect) and Berber languages (recently recognized) to be ascertained. In all countries the feelings about languages taught and used at schools are of course passionate, because they are feelings about identity and the future opportunities of one's children.
The piece is behind the paywall. For those interested (in this and other coverage of scholarship, ideas, academia, including my own reporting on the Arab world and the debate over rules on sexual conduct, feminism and freedom of speech on campus triggered by this essay), think about subscribing.