The Arabist

The Arabist

By Issandr El Amrani and friends.

Posts in Videos
Video: Impressions from Tahrir, the morning after

I have been sick for the last few days and stayed at home yesterday as Tahrir Square, among other places, descended into violence. I headed out this morning to survey the damage — arriving from Qasr al-Aini, getting tear-gassed on Mohammed Mahmoud St, then circling around behind the police line from Bab al-Luk to take a look at the damage on the opposite side of Mohammed Mahmoud, near the American University in Cairo. Finally I headed back to Tahrir Square to listen to some of the chants and the hypnotic banging on railings protestors tap, just like last January. Sorry for the shaky camera, the idea is just to give readers an idea of what things are like today.

What the al-Sauds don't want you to see

As the al-Saud dynasty engages over a mega-production over the death of Prince Sultan — one of the most profligate of the gerontocracy that rules Saudi Arabia — it might be good to remember that making films like the ones, above, on poverty in the kingdom, get you arrested. 22% of Saudis are defined as poor, according to the film, despite the vast oil wealth controlled by the al-Sauds.

In Tunis

Ursula and I arrived in Tunis today, and the city is abuzz with electoral excitement. On Sunday, Tunisian will hold the first election of the Arab Spring, to appoint a constituent assembly that should not only write the first constitution, but effectively be parliament for a year. I won't give my impressions now, except to say that after several depressing weeks in Egypt this is a breath of fresh air. It makes you wish Egypt had followed the same transition model. One thing that strikes me is that although there are plenty of malcontents — apparently especially in the inner region that started the uprising last December — in Tunis I sensed real optimism.

It's going to be a little messy, for sure. I am now watching the bizarre spectacle on state TV of candidates being given three-minute video spots to explain their platform. This means for for about five hours a day at peak evening viewing time, TV is dominated by little-known personalities from the some 60 of 110 political parties that are participating (in this country of some 10 million.)

The pictures above are from a show at an art gallery, with young artists doing their own provocative versions of get-out-the-vote posters.

The civil state: an Egyptian infomercial

I love this short informercial on what a civil state is. It airs on Qabila TV, which I hadn't heard about, and advocates the creation of a civil state. In the cute cartoon, the state is compared to a bride and there are three choices: the theocratic bride, the military bride, and the civil bride. The first two have little tolerance for disagreements, whereas the civil bride-state does. It's well done, the music is good, and the message simple (if of course a secular one.) Personally I'm glad to see it's out there.

[Hat tip: Sarah Carr.]

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.