Here's the trailer for The war around us, on our friends Ayman Mohieldin and Sherine Tadros' coverage of the 2009 Gaza war. They went on to do great things covering the 2011 uprising in Egypt, also for al-Jazeera English, which they have both since left.
In late September, the Moroccan police arrested Ali Anouzla, the editor of the independent online Arabic-language site Lakome. His crime? Publishing a story that linked to a story in the Spanish paper El Pais that featured a jihadist video in which members of Al Qaida in the Maghreb threatened the Moroccan king, Mohamed the VI. Even though the Lakome story condemned the video, Anouzla may be charged with encouraging terrorism.
This is from an Amnesty International statement:
“We fear Ali Anouzla is being punished for Lakome’s editorial independence and criticism of government policies, in what signals a worrying setback for freedom of expression in Morocco. He is a prisoner of conscience and should be released immediately and unconditionally,” said Philip Luther, Middle East and North Africa Programme Director at Amnesty International.
No kidding. Lakome is one of the only voices of serious critical journalism in Morocco. The authorities of this supposedly liberal monarchy have systematically harassed the country's small independent press (the editors of the two best independent magazines of the last decade -- Le Journal and Tel Quel -- both live outside the country now, after being the targets of endless litigations, and Le Journal closed down).
Almost every morning I read half a dozen articles in Egypt Independent, the English-language, online (and now weekly print) offshoot of Al Masry Al Youm. (Today, for example, I read this and this.) We link to their stories regularly.
I think the publication had gotten off the ground shortly before the revolution, and I remember their entire staff -- a dozen people at least -- sharing a room in the Semiramis hotel (which at the time had one of the only working internet connections in the city) to cover Tahrir. I don't think anyone in that room slept for a week.
Since then, the publication has grown, cultivating talented local voices and reporters; becoming largely independent of its Arabic sister publication; and offering long-form investigative pieces like this that are rare. It features great photo slide shows and original columns from some of my favorite Cairo-based writers (Maria Golia, Sarah Carr), and from Egypt experts like Robert Springborg, Khalil Al Anani and Michael Hannah.
At the moment, the entire private media in Egypt is suffering from the economic crisis, and EI is encouraging readers to subscribe. Please do -- you can see a message from them after the jump.
Have you benefitted from Egypt Independent over the past few years in getting news from Egypt? Has it been a regular source of information for you? Do you value their contribution to English language journalism in/on Egypt? Do you appreciate their writers, columnists, cartoonists, and staffers that strive to bring you top-notch work day-in and day-out? If you answered yes to any of these questions, and you are keen on making sure independent and free-wheeling journalism in Egypt continues to flourish, then you should subscribe to the weekly print edition for 300 LE a year. To do so fill in this form:
I started out in journalism in Cairo many years ago at what was then the only independent English-language news publication in town, the Cairo Times. I was grevously underpaid, stupendously ignorant, and almost immediately hooked. English-language media in Egypt can get away with publishing stories that the Arabic media is pressured to squelch; it is a window on Egypt for the whole world; and it is often a great place for local and foreign journalists to learn from each other and combine their strengths.
As media censorship and intimidation in Egypt increases, and the economic crisis makes it harder for alternative voices to thrive, it's more important than ever to support publications like Egypt Independent.
I've just started reading Hugh Pope's journalistic memoirs, Dining with al-Qaeda. It's really good fun so far, and the second chapter — covering Pope's first job with UPI in Beirut — has a great story of his disenchantment with Robert Fisk, who always magically had more exciting stories than anyone else. His secret: he made them up. Pope went to great length later on to investigate claims by Fisk, in his Independent reporting and in his magnum opus, about Turkish "starving" of Kurds that nearly got the Independent banned there and caused Turkish authorities to blow a gasket, almost kicking Pope (a lowly stringer for the Indie) out of the country. He's calls all this "Fiskery" — others call it Fisking, especially when Fisk goes after individuals — and while he's not bitter about it there's a real sense of disappointment that Fisk jeopardizes his position of authority and emotional power on these made-up stories. He writes:
Fisk's writings, more than almost anyone else's, manages to step around the cautious conventions of Middle Eastern reporting and drive home at an emotional level the injustices of the dictators and the cruel side of U.S. policies But facts are facts, indispensable legitimizing agents of readers' emotional and political responses.
The thing is, Fisk's over-active imagination makes it easy for Pope to find holes in his reporting, for instance when Fisk refers to getting onboard an Apache helicopter even though they don't have passenger seats. If you hang around journalists with several decades of Middle East experience, particularly ones who were in Beirut in the 1980s, you keep hearing these stories again and again about Fisk. It's a great, great shame that this otherwise powerful writer keeps on doing that.
In any case, do pick up this book, especially if you have an interest either in foreign correspondents in the Middle East. I'll do a proper review later, but I see that the Economist loved it (and if you read the review, you'll note a mea culpa about the paper's support for the Iraq war at the bottom).
The basic goal of all Islamists, from Salafis to the Muslim Brotherhood, is the revival of Muslim society, and the reversal of the perceived decline it has been experiencing for several centuries. All Islamists agree that this decline occurred because of a shift from the original foundations of its greatness, Islam. Thus, they agree that revival means the re-Islamicization of society through ridding it of what they consider corrupting Western ideas, such as secularization.Hamas makes feature film about slain militant - Yahoo! News | "the screenplay was penned by Mahmoud Zahar, the Gaza strongman seen as one of the architects of the group's violent takeover of Gaza two years ago." It'd be nice if Zahar was referred to as Hamas' foreign minister, and also if wasn't such an idiot for spending money on this at this time. Who does he think he is, Saddam Hussein or Muammar Qadhafi? BBC NEWS | Middle East | Saudi 'genie' sued for harassment | About time that genies learn that they are not beyond the law. Boston Review — Helena Cobban: Peace Out | The decline of Israel's progressive movement, by Helena Cobban.
Automatically posted links for December 19th through January 5th:
- Fashion and Faith Meet, on Foreheads of the Pious - NYT article from Dec 2007 on that bizarre Egyptian fetish, the zebibah
- Al Jazeera appelée à présenter ses excuses - Al Jazeera called on by its Algerian staff to apologize for poll about Algiers attacks
- Le Monde.fr : Le Dakar 2008 a été annulé - Paris-Dakar race cancelled for first time because of "al-Qaeda in the Islamic Maghreb" threats
- Benazir Bhutto | Economist.com - A good obituary
- AFP: Egyptian woman in legal test of SMS divorce: report - Woman argues third divorce SMS makes it legal
- Guardian's Tehran correspondent expelled without explanation - Robert Tait kicked out of Iran
- Anti-Zionist author kicks off speaking tour of Lebanon - Norman Finkelstein tour
- Du Nil à la Seine, l'étrange destin des Badraouis - Unusual story about an Egyptian village that specializes in emigrating to France
- U.S. envoy Jones starts Mideast security push - New American governor of Palestine arrives