From the Editors
A small scale protest which was meant to stop the destruction of what has been described as an oasis in the heart of Istanbul, replacing it with an Ottoman era-themed shopping complex, has led to more than 235 protests in sixty-seven cities in Turkey. According to the latest news reports, more than 1,700 people have been arrested. On 1 June, Amnesty International said the use of tear gas had caused an unknown number of injuries, including serious head injuries when the tear ...Keep Reading »
The director of United for Iran, a human rights organization, and co-author of the best-selling graphic novel, Zahra’s Paradise, have launched a virtual presidential campaign to draw attention to the lack of democratic processes and viable candidates in this year’s carefully engineered elections in Iran. The presidential nominee, Zahra is the heroine of the graphic novel, Zahra’s Paradise. Her nineteen-year-old son, Mehdi, disappeared after participating ...Keep Reading »
The economic crisis in Cyprus has put the eastern Mediterranean island nation in the lime light. Cyprus has been divided for more than four decades between the Turkish north and majority Greek south. While for Greek Cypriots, the history of Cyprus starts with ancient Greece and Hellenistic culture, the Turkish Cypriot community tend to find the Ottoman invasion of 1571 as the defining moment in the history of the island. What is the history of Cyprus and what led to it's ...Keep Reading »
Iranian activists, journalists and human rights advocates have been coming under increasing pressure by the Iranian government; at a time when the international news media is fixated on Iran's nuclear program. This week, Malihe Razazan speaks with Hadi Ghaemi, Executive Director of the International Campaign for Human Rights in Iran, about Iran's political prisoners and the campaign to hold the Iranian government accountable for violations of human ...Keep Reading »
In his Nowruz message on 21 March, the jailed leader of the Kurdistan Workers’ Party (PKK), Abdullah Öcalan, declared a ceasefire and called on armed militants to withdraw from Turkish territory. He said, “Today we are waking up to a new Middle East, a new Turkey, and a new future” and added, “The Middle East and Central Asia are looking for a new order. A new model is a necessity, like bread and water. It’s inevitable that Anatolia and Mesopotamia will be pioneers in ...Keep Reading »
Samera Esmeir in Coversation with Adalah's Suhad Bishara, Marking Land Day in Palestine; and Lina Attalah on the Future of Egypt Independent Newspaper
30 March marks Land Day in Palestine. On the latest edition of Voices of the Middle East and North Africa, Professor Samera Esmeir speaks with Suhad Bishara, Director of the Land and Planning Rights Unit of Adalah, the Legal Center for Arab Minority Rights in Israel, about Israel's contemporary land policies. Egypt Independent, a weekly English language newspaper and its website have become one of the premier sources of news, information and analysis on Egyptian politics, ...Keep Reading »
19 March marked the tenth anniversary of the US-led invasion of Iraq. Ten years after the invasion and occupation of Iraq, what has changed for the country and its people? To understand the legacy of the war and occupation of Iraq, Vomena's Shahram Aghamir spoke Iraqi poet, novelist and scholar, Professor Sinan Antoon.Keep Reading »
Tahrir and Beyond: Interviews with Journalist, Ahmad Shokr, and Filmmakers Jehane Noujaim and Karim Amer
On the latest edition of Voices of the Middle East and North Africa, Cairo-based journalist, Ahmad Shokr comments on the serious unrest in the major Egyptian harbor city of Port Said over the past two weeks. The root cause is said to be from the recent court verdict condemning 21 civilians to death and acquitting 7 police officers involved in a January 2012 soccer riot that killed 74 people last year. Egyptian filmmakers Jehane Noujaim and Karim Amer talk about their award ...Keep Reading »
With the second anniversary of the Syrian uprising fast approaching, there seems to be no end in the near future to the nightmare the country is currently going through. What are the myths and realities of the Syrian uprising, as well as the roots and the trajectories? Professor Beshara Doumani of Brown University spoke about these issues with Syrian-born activist and sociologist Yasser Munif. VOMENA also received an update on the current Boycott Divestment Sanctions (BDS) ...Keep Reading »
Law and Family (Non-)Unification in Israel: A Conversation Between Samera Esmer, Taiseer Khatib, and Hassan Jabareen
On 11 January, the Israeli Supreme Court upheld the constitutionality of the 2003 Citizenship and Entry into Israel Law. This law effectively prohibits Palestinian residents of the 1967 Occupied Territories, who are married to Palestinian citizens of Israel or to residents of East Jerusalem, from entering into Israel for the purpose of family unification. This law was amended in 2007, further prohibiting the entry of spouses who are citizens of Syria, Lebanon, Iran, and ...Keep Reading »
Voices of the Middle East and North Africa (VOMENA) also be heard live on-line at kpfa.org. The Middle Eastern and North African Perspectives (MENAP) produces Voices of the Middle East and North Africa that is aired on KPFA 94.1 FM in Berkeley, KFCF 88.1 FM in Fresno every Wednesday at 7 PM (PST). This program is also aired on Tampa’ WMNF 88.5 HD3 every Thursday at 6PM (EST) To contact us, please call 510-848-6767 ext. 632, or send us e-mail to email@example.com.
Voices of the Middle East and North Africa is an eight-year-old radio program produced by a diverse group of individuals from various lands in West Asia and North Africa. Several essential features distinguish our program from others currently available in North America: its scope, its magazine format, its authenticity and its philosophy and perspective.
An alternative perspective:
Voices of the Middle East and North Africa has consistently brought listeners deeply informed and authentic voices that take listeners beyond the headlines into the richly diverse and fascinating world of culture and politics of the Middle East and North Africa, exploring the complex web of class, gender, ethnic, religious and regional differences which separate and distinguish the ways of life and political and ideological perspectives of people in that part of the world.
Through the fine lens of academic scholarship, grassroots activism, artistic and intellectual interpretation, our radio program goes beyond the reductive stereotypes of the Sword and the Veil, oil riches and terrorism, backwardness and war to help create a fuller understanding of reality, deconstructing in the process the artificial duality of the so-called “clash of civilizations” and bridging the chasm of misunderstanding that currently exists between our native and adoptive lands.
It is our belief that humanizing and understanding others is essential to understanding ourselves, that factual information and education are essential to a true democracy and that a truly informed public is our best defense against war and tyranny. Our nation’s increasing involvement in the Middle East and its dramatic consequences for us and others are dictating that we, the People, can no longer afford the luxury of indifference or ignorance in matters Middle Eastern.
While there may be a handful of radio shows across the country whose focus is the “Middle East,” none of those seriously covers the countries of North Africa, which are usually lumped in the broad category of “Middle East” and are not covered on a consistent, on-going basis. For example, regular in-depth stories on the history of French colonialism in the Maghreb (Algeria, Morocco and Tunisia) and how that history relates to current foreign occupations in the Middle East are a staple of our program. We are also the only radio program in the country to delve into the fascinating culture and history of the native Berber (Amazigh) people in the Maghreb, as well as such usually shunned topics as the rich and long history of Jewish culture in the Middle East and North Africa, the Armenian genocide and other unique and important subjects such as labor struggles and queer rights in those countries.
Ours is a program, which pointedly and systematically gives a platform to native voices – thus our program’s title – whether they are based within the countries we cover or in the international diaspora. Our hosts and producers are all immigrants from the Middle East and North Africa (Iran, Kurdistan, Algeria, Morocco, Palestine, Iraq, Lebanon, Egypt, Afghanistan) and the overwhelming majority of our guests are credentialed scholars, activists, writers, musicians, artists, etc. with roots and expertise in the lands of the Middle East and North Africa. It is also our policy to always include representative voices from both genders in each and every program.
Weekly magazine format:
Ours is an attractively produced, entertaining one-hour weekly program produced in the studios of Pacifica’s original station, KPFA-94.1FM in Berkeley, the first-ever listener-sponsored community radio station in the country. One unique feature of our show is that it highlights, every single week, both the political and the cultural together, always combining a public affair segment (politics, history, analysis) of approximately 30 minutes with an art and literature (cinema, theatre, etc…) segment of approximately
22 minutes, complemented with short commentaries and a weekly community calendar of events. We strive to maintain a good geographic balance in each weekly program (e.g., if the public affairs is on Iran, the arts and literature might be on Morocco, and so on) to showcase the cultural diversity of the region every week and interest potential listeners from many different backgrounds. This balanced format has been key to our success and popularity with the listening audience.
Where else in North America can you hear, on a regular basis, about issues of feminism, labor, grassroots democracy, AIDS and gender issues as they pertain to the lives of Middle Easterners and North Africans as well as local diaspora communities? By going in depth into such varied and otherwise untapped issues, and by covering the arts, poetry and literature of those countries, we are able to demystify the Arab, Iranian, Turk or Berber as the “Other,” and thus further the cause of mutual understanding, world peace and freedom.
VOMENA's website can be found here.