Women's safety and participation

I attended a day-long meeting in Cairo yesterday, facilitated by the NGO Safer World, addressing women’s safety and political participation in Egypt, Yemen and Libya. The meeting was attended by activists as well as a few government representatives.

Although the situation varies quite a bit from one country to the other -- in Yemen the context is much more rural, for example, than in Egypt, and geographic isolation plays a big part in women’s security and participation -- there were many similarities. In all three countries, women are the victims of violence -- and of an ideological discourse that blames them for that very violence -- that intimidates them away from the public and political sphere.  Also in all three countries, women’s groups are extremely frustrated and angry with the Islamist groups and parties that have come to power since the uprisings, who they describe as “dictatorial” and accuse of wanting to undo progress on women’s rights. 

In Egypt, as the New York Times recently reported, Islamist members of parliament and preachers have been saying grotesque things about women who were victims of gang rapes in Tahrir. The FJP has condemned some of the recent statements -- but only at the prodding of journalists, and even as some of its members have also expressed similar sentiments. 

President Morsi’s office sent a young female advisor on human rights and women’s rights to the meeting. She responded to the indignant questions of the activists with platitudes about the Freedom and Justice Party’s desire to listen before acting and the need not to demonize each other and to work together. In response to a question about the FJP’s position on lowering the age of marriage for girls, she said that the party had never advocated doing so and that there were “extreme” positions on all sides -- while some Islamists call for lowering the marriage age (to as low as 9), non-Islamists call for defending homosexuality. The claim prompted one activist to ask: “Why are you always bringing up homosexuality when we’re discussing women’s rights?”

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On "Why do they hate us?" and its critics

FP's "sex issue" coverThe piece below was contributed by friend of the blog Parastou Hassouri, who has been living in Cairo since 2005 and focuses on issues of gender and migration. She is currently a consultant with International Civil Society Action Network's MENA program, which examines the intersection of women's rights, peace and security.

Given that Mona El Tahawy has, for at least a decade now, written about Islam and gender in the Middle East, and primarily for an English-speaking (read “Western”) audience, it is a bit surprising that in her recent piece in Foreign Policy’s sex issue, she would repeat so many of the same ideas and fall into the same traps into which others before her have fallen, providing many a commentator and academic with an opportunity to pounce upon her within hours of the piece’s publication.

El Tahawy’s piece reads like a catalogue of horrors, as she cites example after example of some of the more egregious instances of violations of women’s rights: from Saudi Arabia, where guardianship laws infantilize women, to Yemen, where the practice of child marriage is still all too common, and to her native Egypt, where shortly after the uprising which ousted Husni Mubarak, female protesters detained by the military were subjected to humiliating virginity tests.  In the overarching question hanging over the piece – “why do they hate us” – El Tahawy never quite identifies who “they” are, but she does seem to place the cause of this misogyny squarely within conservative religious doctrine now being promoted by some of the political actors that have found a voice in the aftermath of the revolutions in Tunisia, Egypt and Libya. 

The responses to El Tahawy’s piece came fast and furious. I will admit to only having read about twenty of them, though I am sure there are dozens more.  Even before reading the responses, I could have guessed what most would say, for indeed El Tahawy’s piece is reductive and essentialist, at the same time that it generalizes and perpetuates some of the very stereotypes individuals like her have long struggled to debunk. 

However, El Tahawy’s piece and the responses to it get caught in the same circular debates that feminist theorists have been trying to address for some time, and highlight the significance of two theories in particular:  intersectionality and the double-bind. 

Intersectionality, a feminist sociological theory first highlighted by African-American feminist Kimberlé Williams Crenshaw, examines how various biological and social categories such as race, gender, and class, and politics interact on multiple and often simultaneous levels, contributing to systemic social inequality.  Intersectionality led feminists into also writing about the “double bind,” a situation wherein an individual (or group) finds herself struggling to reconcile the sometimes conflicting demands of multiple identities. 

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Being a woman IT professional in Saudi Arabia

This morning, Saudi (update: she was born in Saudi but is not Saudi) IT professional Ruba al-Omari tried for the umpteenth time to attend an IT event in Jeddah. Most of the time she's tried this before, she had to be segregated or what she calls "IT mutawwas" would ask her to leave. She tweeted about her experience, and I Storified it below. I thought it illustrated rather well the ordinary struggles of a woman in the kingdom of backwardness. 
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A sister on the Brothers

Don't miss this review of a new book critical of the Muslim Brotherhood's attitude to women, written by a former Muslim Sister. Noha Hennawy has the story at al-Masri al-Youm:

As the Muslim Brotherhood strives to project the image of a moderate and democratic political organization, a book featuring the angry account of a former member has hit the market.

"The Memoirs of a Former Sister: My Story with the Muslim Brotherhood" is the testimony of Intissar Abdel Moneim, an Alexandria-based novelist and author. With a compelling style and sharp language, the book takes the reader on a journey exploring the internal politics of the 83-year-old organization, placing special emphasis on discrimination against female members.

Throughout her work, Abdel Moneim decries the sisters’ internalization of oppression as women are socialized in a way that compels them to accept male dominance within the organization — and the household.

The book takes Hassan al-Banna to task for his views on polygamy, women's role in society, etc. and recounts the author's experience as a MB activist.

She goes on to criticize Banna's insistence that men and women should be separated. With a scathingly sarcastic tone, the author argues that Banna’s view portrays humans as if they are mere animals who have little control over their impulses.

“You cannot by any logic perceive all people as mere female and male sex organs that roam the streets looking for the moment of intercourse like cats," the book reads. Abdel Moneim attributes Banna’s rigid outlook to his rural background.

This outlook still shapes the group’s perception of women’s roles within the organization and in the society at large. It justifies why the Muslim Sisters' division cannot operate independently from the Brothers, why no woman is admitted into the group's highest bodies, namely the Shura Council and the Guidance Bureau, and why the group will not acknowledge a woman's right to rule, according to the book.

Read the whole thing.

A good read at a time when some MB leaders have voiced opinions that women should not take part in protests (even though some women who support the MB have been at the forefront of the recent violent protests).

On this topic, you should read the work (less hostile to MB patriarchy) of my friend Omayma Abdel Latif. Here Carnegie report on the Muslim Sisters is probably the most in-depth recent thing written on the subject.

Women, "honor" and public space

This is a guest post by friend of the blog Parastou Hassouri, who has been living in Cairo since 2005, has taught international refugee law at the American University in Cairo and specializes in issues of gender and migration: 

Earlier this month, what was perhaps the biggest demonstration by women in Egypt in several decades took place. Thousands marched through Cairo, protesting the abuse of women protesters by soldiers. It was followed by a mass Friday demonstration in support of women, called the “Friday to Restore Honor.”

The show of support was impressive. But the title “restoring honor” was perhaps an unfortunate one in a society like Egypt, where the concept of honor has been used to repress women and push them out of the public sphere.

As the Egyptian feminist organization, Nazra, said in their excellent statement on the issue, this is not about women’s honor.  What must be protected here is not the honor of women, but rather their right to protest and be politically active alongside men as equal partners in this critical phase of Egypt’s history.

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Egypt: An end to virginity tests

Samira Ibrahim, who won first part of her case against the Egyptian military's

From Hossam Bahgat, the director of the excellent NGO Egyptian Initiative for Personal Rights:

I have good news (gasp). This morning the Court of Administrative Justice ruled in our favor in the case against army chief for subjecting female protesters to "virginity tests". Court admitted the case and issued an urgent injunction against any future "tests". We now continue the fight to get criminal accountability and compensation for the women.

The above pic is of Samira Ibrahim, a victim of the "virginity tests" last March who took the military to court.

Read more about the case in Daily News Egypt.

Media and the "girl in the blue bra"

I was interviewed by NPR's On The Media about the Egyptian media's reaction to the footage of the "girl in the blue bra" and, more generally, changes in the Egyptian media landscape and access to information.

Previously:

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Issandr El Amrani

Issandr El Amrani is a Cairo-based writer and consultant. His reporting and commentary on the Middle East and North Africa has appeared in The Economist, London Review of Books, Financial Times, The National, The Guardian, Time and other publications. He also publishes one of the longest-running blog in the region, www.arabist.net.

The counter-revolution and women

The ugliness and ridiculousness of the army and their defenders' arguments this week has been hard to countenance. 

Much of the debate has centered on the shocking image of the young woman dragged, half undressed and mercilessly beaten in the street by soldiers. The denial, misogyny and hostility on display has been in direct proportion to the impossibility of defending this conduct. 

A sheikh with the Gamaa Islamiya exemplified the worst of Islamist bigotry and hypocrisy by telling Al Ahram a few days ago that "real Egyptian men don't follow April 6 women into the street" and if people are concerned for women's honor they should worry about girls sleeping overnight in tents with boys and dancing.

The focus on women -- their safety, their "honor," their participation -- has brought out the worst in the counter-revolutionaries. In the pro-army Abbasiya protest yesterday, people chanted: "From the ladies of Egypt to Ghada.." -- addressing this brave young woman, beaten by the army -- "Your end will be annihilation." They also reiterated the perversely common argument that the woman in the blue bra entrapped soldiers into beating and stripping her in the street. The event was headlined by Tawfeeq Okasha, a weird populist TV station owner (and former Mubarak supporter) who judging by this video -- in which he creepily tells activists Nawara Negm and Asmaa Mahfouz that he has guys all ready and lined up to marry them and teach them to calm down and love their country -- is a raving psychopath and misogynist. Just for good measure, the Abbaseya demo also reportedly featured posters of popular private TV channel presenters Mona Shazly, Reem Maged and others with nooses around their necks. 

The loons in Abbaseya are an extreme end of popular opinion (albeit one that is being dangerously encouraged). Many other Egyptians are shamed, shocked and scared by the army's violence towards citizens, and (although I think by now almost everyone knows that something terrible happened Downtown last week) would prefer to believe that it didn't happen -- or that those it happened to somehow deserved it. Egypt is still fighting the same battle, a year on: a battle over whether all its citizens deserve safety and dignity and whether those who are in power can be held accountable. The denial and incoherent rage being directed at protesters -- and at those women who, according to these arguments, chose to embarrass themselves and their country by getting themselves nearly killed in the street by soldiers -- shows how difficult and threatening this kind of change will be. 

The women's march

It's heartening to finally see some uplifting, positive news in these depressing times. The march of around 10,000 women that has taken place today is precisely the type of unexpected turnaround that has made the Egyptian uprising a success at various points this year. It comes out of nowhere and recharges the depleted batteries of activists. It reminds the protestors that their rage will not be sated by throwing stones but only by seeing the solidarity of their fellow men and women. It is the type of event, once it percolates throught the late night TV talk shows and the newspapers, can actually deliver change and political pressure. For those who thought the protests went astray in the last few days by becoming more about revenge than demands, it is a welcome correction.

The SCAF of course rushed to produce an apology after its agents in the media began spreading rumors that the photo of the woman who was attacked by soldiers several days ago was doctored. Just like earlier today it suddenly announced it would punish officers involved in the "virginity tests" and the Maspero killings. But I doubt people will settle for show trials.

The Associated Press:

CAIRO (AP) -- Thousands of Egyptian women marched in the streets of Cairo on Tuesday, protesting abuse by soldiers who dragged women by the hair, stomped on them and stripped one half naked on the street while cracking down on anti-military protesters in scenes that shocked many in the conservative society.

The march was a rare protest by women and its numbers - about 10,000 by some estimates - underlined the depth of anger over the images from the fierce crackdown over the past five days on protesters demanding the ruling military step down immediately.

Even before the protest was over, the ruling military council issued an unusual apology for what it called "violations" - a quick turnaround after days of dismissing the significance of the abuse.

Thousands of women denounce military violence against female protesters:

CAIRO: Thousands of Egyptian women took to the streets of downtown Cairo on Tuesday denouncing the excessive use of violence and sexual abuse by the Egyptian army against female protesters, drowning out the relevance of an official apology to "Egypt's great women" published on SCAF's Facebook page four hours after the march started.

The march, which included about 6,000 women and around 2,000 men, began in Tahrir Square, the epicenter of Egypt's revolution, and headed to the Journalists' Syndicate. Protesters had a loud and clear message for Egypt's Supreme Council of Armed Forces: "Egypt's women are the red line."

Mothers, daughters and grandmothers marched hand in hand chanting against the military, calling for their fellow Egyptians on the streets and in their homes to join them in demanding that the military step down immediately.

All this sorts of reminds me of a column I wrote on January 1, about women leading the (then not happening) uprisings.

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Issandr El Amrani

Issandr El Amrani is a Cairo-based writer and consultant. His reporting and commentary on the Middle East and North Africa has appeared in The Economist, London Review of Books, Financial Times, The National, The Guardian, Time and other publications. He also publishes one of the longest-running blog in the region, www.arabist.net.

Egyptian women and the revolution

Photo by Rena Effendi

I have a piece in Newsweek magazine about Egyptian women and the revolution. I started working on this in March. Perhaps because I was focusing on the topic, I've been particularly aware of women's absence from the post-Mubarak decision-making process.

The morning of January 28 I was sitting in a room of activists, and quite a few of them were women. There were women in the street that day, and there were a lot of women in Tahrir.  But women have been largely missing, not just from the two most influential organizations of the post-Mubarak era -- the army and the Muslim Brotherhood -- but from opinion columns and the podiums of press conferences, from the courtrooms and of course from all the positions that have yet to open to them, such as being governors or university deans or heads of state institutions. We have one female minister, Fayza Abul Naga, and she is a Mubarak hold-over. (The one area where women are quite influential is the media, with female TV talk show presenters becoming quite well-known public personalities). 

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Words of Women from the Egyptian revolution

The is the trailer for a documentary film titled Words of Women from the Egyptian Revolution. They're fundraising to complete the project. It sheds light on the things many Egyptian women did on the front lines and behind the scenes to support the uprising. It's a nice idea at a time when many complain that women have largely receded from the post-revolution political scene, notably in the formation of political parties.

Issandr El Amrani

Issandr El Amrani is a Cairo-based writer and consultant. His reporting and commentary on the Middle East and North Africa has appeared in The Economist, London Review of Books, Financial Times, The National, The Guardian, Time and other publications. He also publishes one of the longest-running blog in the region, www.arabist.net.

Egypt's first female presidential candidate

Recently, I met Buthayna Kamel, TV-presenter-turned-activist and the first woman to announce she will run for the presidency her. Here's a bit about it from a profile I wrote up for The Daily Beast:

She, like women across the country, was an enthusiastic participant in the January 25 Revolution.

“Women are always at the front of revolutions,” she says. “But then men want to take all the results.”

But, she insists, “I’m not just women’s candidate. I am a candidate for all of Egypt.” She is running for “the peasants, the workers, the women, the handicapped, the Copts, the Nubians, the Bedouin”—all of whom are marginalized, all of whom have been denied their rights. To change women’s status requires changing all of Egyptian society, she says, learning to “accept others and accept criticism.”

In the piece, I discuss Kamel's recent appearance on State TV, which led to accusations of "insulting the army." I mistakenly say the show was pulled off the air. Actually, it ordered off the air but the presenter continued to the end, when he told the audience he'd been receiving calls from the director of Radio and TV to shut down, and wasn't sure he would be on the air again(!)--watch the end of this clip. As to what got Kamel in trouble, it appears to be her ballsy comments in the beginning of the program, in which she condemns the Supreme Council of the Armed Forces for their dealing with the sectarian clashes in Imbaba, for torturing demonstrators and for carrying out military trials of civilians while Mubarak regime figures have yet to be prosecuted. 

International Women's Day in Cairo

I have an account of what happened with the women's protest in Tahrir today up at The Daily Beast.

Protesters were attacked and driven out of the square, accused of being “foreigners” (quite a few foreign women and journalists were present), and had their flyers and posters torn up.

There was tension from the beginning, with throngs of male hecklers outnumbering the hundreds of female protesters.

“A man tried to rule us and failed—will we let a woman?” an middle-aged man yelled at the crowd of Egyptian women holding banners in Cairo’s Tahrir Square. The men around him burst out laughing.

Egyptian women had called for a demonstration demanding that their demands and rights be taken into greater consideration by the military currently running the country.

People's impressions of the protest varied a lot, in terms of atmosphere. I left right before things turned ugly, and didn't sense they would. There were lots of obnoxious hecklers, but I actually witnessed quite a few substantive and civil arguments (no one was aggressive to me). I actually thought that depressing as many of the men's point of view was, it was at least a good thing that people were arguing these issues openly. I was very troubled to hear about the violence. I would say -- and this is purely a strategic observation, not meant in any way to blame -- that the organizers might have been better served by biding their time and getting a much larger coalition of supporters involved (where were the opposition parties? why wasn't this publicized by the Kullena Khaled Said group?) so that the protest might have been larger and not mainly made up of women's rights activists. I hope this doesn't discourage them from organizing something else in the future. 

On Lara Logan and Egypt

I wrote a piece for the Daily Beast yesterday trying to put the sad attack on CBS correspondent Lara Logan in context. (Logan was reportedly "beaten and sexually assaulted" by a crowd the night Egyptians were celebrating Mubarak's resignation). 

A lot of US coverage has been, as far as I can tell, insensitive, sensationalistic or ridiculous (or some combination thereof). I have read incredibly inhumane comments focused on Logan's good looks; her supposed naivete in going into the crowds (never mind that she was just doing her job); and the ways in which she will supposedly milk this for her career (yeah, I wish it had happened to me, what a great way to advance). 

Then there are those who have taken this incident as an excuse to trot out their (non-existent) knowledge of the status of women in Islamic countries. Ironically, even as some right-wing commentators say Logan should have expected this in a country full of Muslim "savages," they reveal the misogyny of American culture by looking for ways to blame the victim of a sexual attack. 

Anyway, what happened to Logan is terrible--and it highlights the problem of sexual harassment in Egypt, which Egyptian women have been fighting for some time now. They may make more progress now that so many of them participated so fully in, and felt so empowered by, their country's revolution.

Recent reporting

I've written something for The National, looking back over the blur of the last two weeks, and trying to peak forward. I almost thought it had become obsolete last night--but as it turns out, we are still in no-man's-land. This is how it starts: 

Our ruler for the last 30 years/His name is Hosni Mubarak/His description?/He's stupid, he doesn't get it/He's blind, he doesn't see/ He's deaf, he doesn't hear/If you find him/Throw him in the nearest garbage can/Set him on fire..." A tall man in a jellabiya and a traditional turban sang these lines in Tahrir Square one night last week, accompanied by a small crowd keeping the beat on pieces of scavenged metal. It was just one of dozens of impromptu chants ricocheting across the square that has become Egypt's revolutionary headquarters. When I asked someone in the group who the singer was, he answered, with finality: "An Egyptian citizen."

Hana Lotfi, a 35-year-old mother who was there with her husband and children, approached me. "The people have been quiet too long," she said. "And being quiet has done us no good. So we die here - we're already dying outside, what's the difference?"

Egypt has changed, it goes without saying. Things are being done and being said, on the airwaves and on the street, that would have been unimaginable last month. The nation is split, wavering, living "in two different time zones" - the present and the post-Mubarak - as one local academic recently put it.

After two weeks of street protests and violent clashes that have left hundreds dead and thousands injured, Egyptians are waiting - uneasily, expectantly, stubbornly - to find out if they are living through a stalled uprising or a real revolution.

(Thanks to AUC law professor Amr Shalakany, whose brilliant column was an inspiration).

Also, at The World website, you can hear me talk to some of the many women--long-time and first-time protesters-- who have taken to the streets since January 25th. I am still amazed and impressed by how many women here have fearlessly taken to the streets. 

Niqabitches

Via The Telegraph, citing a Rue89 piece where the Niqabitches (as the two anti-ban activists who feature in the above video call themselves) write:

"To put a simple burka on would have been too simple. So we asked ourselves: 'how would the authorities react when faced with women wearing a burka and mini-shorts?," asked the students, one of whom is a Muslim.

"We were not looking to attack or degrade the image of Muslim fundamentalists – each to their own – but rather to question politicians who voted for this law that we consider clearly unconstitutional," they said.

"To dictate what we wear appears to have become the role of the State (as if they didn't have other fish to fry ...)."

 

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Issandr El Amrani

Issandr El Amrani is a Cairo-based writer and consultant. His reporting and commentary on the Middle East and North Africa has appeared in The Economist, London Review of Books, Financial Times, The National, The Guardian, Time and other publications. He also publishes one of the longest-running blog in the region, www.arabist.net.

Rape in the UAE

The story below, covered in The National, is disturbing in so many ways:

ABU DHABI // An 18-year-old Emirati woman who was charged with having consensual sex after alleging that she had been raped by six men retracted all her statements in court yesterday.

She told the judge she wanted to withdraw her accusations against all the defendants.

The woman, LH, offered no explanation in court as to why she changed her statements, other than being “unaware” of her actions when she reported the crime.

She added that her brother beat her after accusing her of talking to other men, and after the beating she went to the police to report the rapes.

If the prosecution drops the charge of consensual sex, the woman could face a lesser charge related to deception, which is punishable by six months to two years in prison.

If found guilty of consensual sex, as a Muslim woman, she would face lashes and a maximum sentence of life in prison.

Although she changed her evidence, the charges are criminal, not civil, so it is for the prosecution to decide whether to drop the consensual-sex charge. Prosecutors said yesterday that none of the charges had been dropped at this stage.

According to court records, on May 2, LH went for a drive with a male Emirati friend, HA, in Baniyas.

Prosecutors said she went with the intention of having consensual sex with HA, a charge she denies. HA parked his Nissan Altima in an area called Bahia and had sex with her, prosecutors said. He is accused of then telephoning five of his friends, who joined him and raped LH from 1.30am to 5am.

She went to the police after the incident and told them she had been raped by the men in the back seat of the car. She was tested by the Forensics Unit at the Abu Dhabi Judicial Department, and evidence of assault was cited by the public prosecution in charging all six men with rape.

First, consensual sex outside of wedlock being punishable by " lashes and a maximum sentence of life in prison" is sick. 

Second, the idea that when you report a rape you might be charged with having consensual sex is a horrible deterrent to report a heinous crime.

Third, this woman appears to have been pressured by her family to withdraw the charges of rape. Meaning they prefer not to sully the family name rather than punish the crime done against her. Of course it's hard to know the details, but the story outlined above does not look good. Presumably when she reported the crime, forensic evidence for what was after all described as a gang rape would be obtainable.

Most depressing is the last bit of the story:

When the judge questioned YM [a defendant accused of rape], he also denied having sex or confessing to rape. The judge chastised him as the young man visibly held back laughter, reminding him that if he is found guilty, he faces the death penalty, as do all the men accused of rape.

YM, when asked by the judge, declined to request a lawyer. After the judge explained that it was mandatory to have a lawyer where the death penalty is a potential sentence, YM agreed to find one. The two defendants in custody were both represented yesterday by lawyers. The young woman also did not appear with a lawyer, and she was not asked about appointing one. No member of her family was present in court.

Unsurprisingly, treatment of rape cases doesn't seem great in the UAE. The National has a recent story about a Kirgiz woman who claimed she was raped and ended up being charged with prostitution. Another recent story features an Indonesian maid sold into sexual slavery. Of course such sexual slavery happen everywhere — it's one of the major international forms of international organized crime — but the convergence of retrograde cultural attitudes to rape and what appears to be terrible laws in the UAE makes for a pretty terrible situation. Another piece shows how reluctant this makes women of reporting rape.

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Issandr El Amrani

Issandr El Amrani is a Cairo-based writer and consultant. His reporting and commentary on the Middle East and North Africa has appeared in The Economist, London Review of Books, Financial Times, The National, The Guardian, Time and other publications. He also publishes one of the longest-running blog in the region, www.arabist.net.

Links for Dec.21.09 to Dec.23.09

Middle East Online | The End of Brotherly Love? | Tarek Kahlaoui on the Egyptian MB. * The Israel Lobby and the Prospects for Middle East Peace « P U L S E | Lectures by Stephen Walt. * Israeli Organ Trafficking and Theft: From Moldova to Palestine | Investigation by Washigton Report. * Doctor admits Israeli pathologists harvested organs without consent | World news | The Guardian | Unbelievable. * Israel gives response to Hamas prisoner swap offer | "Israel relayed its response to the proposed swap and handed over a list of Palestinians it wants exile." * Jimmy Carter to U.S. Jews: Forgive me for stigmatizing Israel - Haaretz - Israel News | WTF? * The Fascination of Israel – Forward.com | Review of three books on Israel. * «Il y a 40.000 Chinois en Algérie» | 40,000 Chinese in Algeria, 2000 Algerians in China. * Meedan | Moroccan and Jordanian forces join Saudi offensive against Houthis. | Handle with care, chief source appears to be Spanish press. * In Shift, Oren Calls J Street ‘A Unique Problem’ – Forward.com | Israel ambassador ramps up the attack on new lobby. * IRIN Middle East | EGYPT-ISRAEL: Perilous journey to the promised land | Middle East | Egypt Israel | Migration Refugees/IDPs | Feature | On sub-Saharan migration to Israel via Egypt. * Palestinians shoot at Egypt | Response to the collapsing of tunnels that have claimed many Palestinian lives? * Egypt's ailing cotton industry needs shake-up | Reuters | Industry risks a "slow death." * Middle East Report Online: Broken Taboos in Post-Election Iran by Ziba Mir-Hosseini | On the Green Movement and gender issues. * Egypt rebukes Hamas over 'foot-dragging' in Palestinian reconciliation - Israel News, Ynetnews | Omar Suleiman:
Suleiman said Egypt had promised Hamas it would address the terror group's reservations vis-à-vis the reconciliation deal "after they sign and begin to implement it." He said Hamas' concerns "lacked substance," adding that the agreement would not be revised. "If it will (be changed), I'll resign," said Suleiman.
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Links for Dec.08.09 to Dec.09.09

Les voix de la nation : chanson, arabité et caméléonisme linguistique | Culture et politique arabes | Very interesting post on Arab singers adopting accents and styles of different countries -- has great clip of Abdel Halim Hafez trying out a traditional Kuwaiti song.

✩ Comment l’Algérie a exporté sa « sale guerre » au Mali : Algérie-Maroc | How Algeria exported its dirty war to Mali: AQIM conspiracies.

Fatwa Shopping « London Review Blog | On Nakheel and Islamic finance.

The women who guard other women in conservative Egypt | On female bodyguards.

Yemen’s afternoon high - Le Monde diplomatique | On the drug Qat.

US Congress frets over anti-Americanism on TV in Mideast | The leading inciter of anti-Americanism in the ME is Congress itself, when it keeps voting for wars for Israel.

Baladna English | New newspaper launched in Syria, but nothing on its site yet.

EU Action Plan on combating terrorism | Document on EU CT strategy.

What the US Elite Really Thinks About Israel « P U L S E | Most Council of Foreign Relations members think US favors Israel too much - v. interesting analysis of foreign policy expert poll by Jeffrey Blankfort.

‘The Battle for Israel’s Soul’ – Channel 4 on Jewish fundamentalism « P U L S E | British documentary on Jewish fundamentalism.

BBC News - Dubai crisis sparks job fears for migrant workers | On South Asians in Dubai.

FT.com / Comment / Opinion - Israel must unpick its ethnic myth | Tony Judt.

The Interview Ha’aretz Doesn’t Want You To See « P U L S E | Interview Ali Abunimah not published by Haaretz.

Attention Christmas Shoppers: Top Ten Brands to Boycott | Sabbah Report | Brands to boycott at Christmas.

FT.com / Middle East / Politics & Society - Egypt’s media warn ElBaradei off politics | On the campaign against ElBaradei.

✩ Flourishing Palestinian sex trade exposed in new report - Haaretz | Amira Hass: "Young Palestinian women are being forced to into prostitution in brothels, escort services, and private apartments in Ramallah and Jerusalem..."

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