The Arabist

The Arabist

By Issandr El Amrani and friends.

Posts in Announcements
Event: Cairo Divided

Our own Ursula Lindsey will be joining our friend Jack Shenker (of the Guardian) and others at the Contemporary Image Collective in Cairo to discuss Jack and Philip Jason (sorry!) Larkin's text and photo publication on urban planning in the Egyptian capital, Cairo Divided. See below for details.

January 18 2012, 7 pm

Hosted by Megawra and CIC

Jack Shenker presents 'Cairo Divided' together with Wafaa Nadim, Ahmed Zaazaa, Ursula Lindsey and Mohamed El-Shaheed

Amid an uncertain tide of political change, the controversial ‘satellite cities’ project is dramatically transforming peripheries into new urban centres and consigning old focal points to a life on the margins. Against the backdrop of national revolution, photographer Jason Larkin and writer Jack Shenker collaborated for two years to produce ‘Cairo Divided’, a free hard-copy publication exploring the capital’s rapidly-mutating urban landscape.

Please visit the project's website for more details.

On the road...

...till Thursday so don't expect election results here till the weekend, or answers to emails! But I will get back soon.

We have more coming on Salafists and their election strategies, the big picture of what these elections mean for Egypt, and I have meant to write about Morocco's elections too. All this coming soon.

On another note: some readers have complained that I should give the full RSS feed. I understand your pain, they are truncated to get pageviews which gives us ad money. I am considering offering full RSS feeds again, but was wondering if anyone would pay for them?

Your Middle East

We are pleased to announce a new sponsor for this site: Your Middle East, a website that provides breaking news and in-depth analysis from across the region.

Getting tired of scouring the web for the latest news on the uprising in Syria, the elections in Egypt, the transition in Tunisia, succession politics in Saudi Arabia or Qatar’s diplomacy? Your Middle East is a one-stop shop to what’s happening, with breaking news culled from various sources. They also feature analysis from people I really like, like Omar Ashour on Egypt or May Yamani on Saudi Arabia and have cool feature pieces, like this one on a road trip through the Moroccan Atlas. And they have apps for the iPad and iPhone too!

Plagiarism at al-Ahram Weekly

I am disappointed to see that the current issue of al-Ahram Weekly reproduces the chart of political parties designed by Jacopo Carbonari and published on this site without giving any credit. Not only that, they appaear to have modified the chart by removing his name, and used an older version of the chart that is incorrect. The editors have been contacted, and we hope they will issue an apology in the next issue.

We published the original chart here and the last major update is here (arabic version). A picture of the page of the issue in which it is printed is below.


What would you like to see on this site?

I'm thinking, sometimes early next year, of restructuring and redesigning the site a little, and would love readers' feedback on what they'd like to see. Let me know what you think of the following ideas:

  • Separating the core blog to a contributors' blog that would be open to a wider range of people (including, I hope, readers!)
  • Creating a forum — which I would only do if there are volunteers to moderate them.
  • Maintaining a news page, collating links to news stories about the region.
  • Doing weekly roundups of Egypt political news.
  • More translations from the Arabic press.
  • Creating an Arabic-language blog.
  • Closing the comments section (which is a pain to maintain spam-free) but allowing direct feedback by email, which I would curate and occasionally post (what Andrew Sullivan and TPM do, for instance.)
If anyone has strong feelings for or against this, do let me know in the comments or at issandr [AT]

Announcing NOCMES

Update: You can catch a livestream of Rami Khouri Josh Stacher's appearance tonight here and listen to a WKSU radio interview of Stacher here

There's a new Middle East Studies association in the US, co-founded by former Arabist contributor Josh Stacher, that will be bringing some fantastic speakers to the Cleveland area — starting with the man I consider to be one of the finest commentator on the region, Rami Khouri, tonight and tomorrow night.

Check out the NOCMES website for more info, and here is the Fall speaker schedule. Some events will be streamed or archived (including Khouri's two talks). You can also follow NOCMES on Twitter at @nocmes.

Full info below.

Case Western Reserve University, Kent State University, Oberlin, and Cleveland State University Collaborate:

New Perspectives on Muslim and Middle Eastern Societies 

Like our own communities in Northeast Ohio, the Middle East and the wider Muslim world represent diverse cultures, societies, and politics. To disseminate scholarly research on these societies, engage public discussion, and educate the area community about this region, four faculty members from higher education institutions have launched the Northeast Ohio Consortium for Middle East Studies (NOCMES).  The consortium includes, Pete W. Moore, Department of Political Science, Case Western Reserve University; Neda A.  Zawahri, Department of Political Science Cleveland State University, Joshua Stacher, Department of Political Science, Kent State University; and Zeinab Abul-Magd, Department of History, Oberlin College.

With financial support from the Social Science Research Council, and in partnership with Civic Commons, Ideastream, and the City Club of Cleveland NOUCMES will be hosting a series of public addresses and community discussion events entitled, “New Perspectives on Muslim and Middle Eastern Societies.”  The goal is to bring promising scholars from top research universities in the U.S. as well as established intellectuals to Northeast Ohio to address several themes: “Muslim Voices and Publics,” “Women in the Muslim World” and “Muslim Societies in Transition.”

The consortium’s outreach also has community support from The Council on American-Islamic Relations (CAIR) Cleveland, Cleveland Council on World Affairs, Cuyahoga Public Libraries, InterAct Cleveland, Trinity Episcopal Cathedral Cleveland, and The First Church in Oberlin. 

Unlike standard talks on college campuses steeped in academic language, these speakers have been given the charge to present their research in an accessible manner to help the general public understand the issues.

Each speaker will give a general address at the City Club of Cleveland, followed by a second public townhall or conversation with students, faculty and members of the public at venues around the area.


The Consortium’s fall speakers are: 

Rami Khouri, directs the Issam Fares Institute of Public Policy and International Affairs at American University of Beirut and is the editor-at-large for Daily Star, a Beirut-based newspaper.  An internationally syndicated political columnist and author, Mr. Khouri graduated from Syracuse University and has written extensively on political change in the Middle East and US policy.  He will speak Oct. 4 at Kent State University’s School of Journalism and Mass Communication and on 5 Oct. he will deliver a City Club sponsored address.

Sherine Hafez, is Assistant Professor of Women’s Studies at the University of California at Riverside.  A rising star among Anthropologists studying the role of women in Muslim societies, Professor Hafez’s second book, An Islam of Her Own: Reconsidering Religion And Secularism In Women's Islamic Movements was published by New York University Press in 2011.  Professor Hafez’s work challenges simplistic portrayals of the role of Muslim women in political movements, and more specifically how women participated in the 2011 Egyptian uprisings.  Professor Hafez will speak at the City Club and at one of the Cuyahoga Library system branches on November 14 and 15.     


Toby C. Jones, is a historian of the modern Middle East at  Rutgers University.  He has held positions at Swathmore College and Princeton University and was an analyst for Gulf affairs for the International Crisis Group.  His first book published by Harvard University Press, Desert Kingdom: How Oil and Water Forged Modern Saudi Arabia, is widely praised as one of the best new books on that important country.  His current project, America’s Oil Wars, will also be published by Harvard.  Professor Jones will speak at the City Club on 16 Dec. 


Spring 2012 speakers include:

Amaney Jamal is an associate professor of politics and director of the Workshop on Arab Political Development at Princeton University.  Professor Jamal studies how Arab and Muslim Americans become engaged in civic life in the U.S., and has expanded that research interest to patterns of citizenship in the Arab world. She is the author of Barriers to Democracy which explored the relationship between professional associations and democratization in the Middle East and she is co-author of Citizenship and Crisis: Arab Detroit after 9-11.  Her current project is entitled, Living Poverty: The Urban and Rural Poor in Comparative Development.  Professor Jamal will speak at the City Club on February 10.

Anthony Shadid is a two-time Pulitzer Prize-winning journalist at the New York Times.  Widely recognized as the best American journalist reporting from the Middle East, Mr. Shadid is author of Night Draws Near: Iraq’s People in the Shadow of America’s War and is currently completing a book on his family’s ancestral home in Lebanon.  He will speak in Cleveland in early March 2012. 

Jillian Schwedler is an associate professor of political science at the University of Massachusetts-Amherst. Professor Schwedler studies political culture, protest and policing in Jordan as well as neoliberalism and identity politics. She is the author of Faith in Moderation: Islamist Parties in Jordan and Yemen, which explores the relationships between political inclusion and group ideological change. She is also co-editor of Understanding the Contemporary Middle East as well as Policing and Prisons in the Middle East: Formations of Coercion. She earned her Ph.D. at New York University and was formerly the Chair of the Board of Directors (2001-2009) and member of the Editorial Committee (1995-2001) of the Middle East Research and Information Project (MERIP), publishers of the quarterly magazine, Middle East Report. Professor Schwedler will speak at Nocmes events in April 2012.

Events and appearances

A scene from Ahmad Abdalla's "Microphone"

This will be a busy week for me: I'll be appearing on a panel at the Online News Association conference in Boston, specifically their Friday keynote on the Arab Spring with NPR's Andy Carvin, the NYT's Jennifer Preston, Nasser Weddady of IAC and Egyptian journalist Rehab al-Bakri, among others. We'll be talking about journalism and social media and covering the uprisings. Check it out.

On Saturday, I'll be on a panel talk at the Institute of Contemporary Arts in London entitled Winds of Change in the Arab Territories with Iranian philosopher Hamid Dabashi, Israeli filmmaker and academic Haim Bresheeth, Iraqi literature professor and feminist activist Nadje Al-Ali, and more. The talk is part of the ICA's festival of cinema from Muslim societies which is open to all comers.

On Sunday, also at the ICA, I'll be introducing Microphone, a great film by the young Egyptian director Ahmad Abdalla that was made last year and was supposed to air on... January 25. I love this film and highly recommend it.

An apology to readers

This morning I posted an item by occasional contributor Paul Mutter that was based on a misdated Haaretz report, suggesting that the Israeli "loyalty law" discussed over the last year or two might soon pass. An alert reader pointed out the report was dated from last year, and a few Google searches confirmed that the law appears not to be slated for consideration at the Knesset for now. The Knesset is about to reopen from summer recess and the law may be submitted once again, but this morning's post was based on old information.

The post has been removed while I check out the facts. I should have edited the entry more thoroughly, but as I am traveling and very busy with other commitments, it slipped under me. This should not reflect negatively on Paul Mutter's work, which has been a solid contribution to this site.

Although this is not a professional news site (there is no funding, staff, etc.) I try to ensure the facts are always there to back up the opinion. This one slipped under the radar, and for that I'm sorry.

Buy a T-shirt, donate to the Red Crescent

Get a T-shirt with the awesome Arab revolution logo on the right from here (EU store)  or here (US store) and the proceeds go to the Red Crescent, which has been doing incredible work tending to the injured in the Arab uprisings and particularly in Libya where its volunteers face great danger to help others. 

The Red Crescent is the regional equivalent of the Red Cross, with which it partners to provide emergency relief across the world.


Arabist on Wikileaks @ SXSW

I'll be taking part in a panel on Wikileaks at South by SouthWest's Interactive Festival in Austin, TX, on 15 March. The panel will include Alan Rusbridger, editor of the Guardian; Carne Ross, Executive Director of Independent Diplomat; Sarah Ellison of Vanity Fair; Stephen Engelberg of ProPublica and myself:

Wikileaks began as an audacious idea, a statement about the potential of the internet to speak truth to power and to open governments. Barely four years later, the whistleblower's website finds itself at the centre of an unprecedented global storm over the leaking of hundreds of thousands of confidential cables from US embassies around the world. To many WikiLeaks's founder Julian Assange is a hero who has shone the bright glare of public scrutiny into places governments would rather keep hidden; to others he is a vandal, taking a sledgehammer to the secrecy all states need to maintain to function. Is Wikileaks just one expression valve for the web, one that would be replaced by others if it was closed? Has it changed the public's understanding of and relationship to government in any real and lasting way, or is it a media preoccupation?

And of course I'll also be hanging around SXSW for a few days starting Sunday. Happy to meet any Arabist readers in Austin.

To academic readers of this blog

Can you help me out? I've long ago lost access to an academic database, and would love to keep up with any interesting literature, journal articles, debates. etc. that have to do with Egypt and the Arab world. If you've read (or written) something you think is worth sharing, please upload it here. I'll take anything in English, French or Arabic.