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Maya Mikdashi

Co-Founder and Co-Editor

What is Sharia?

[Sharia For Dummies. Image From Unknown Archive]

This question has animated scholarly, religious, and political debates for centuries. These debates have been lively, at times contentious, and have been held (under different circumstances and leading to different results) in different parts of the Muslim majority world as well as in parts of the world with few, if any, Muslims. More recently, it seems that the question “What is sharia?” has become a pressing concern in Western countries with growing Muslim minorities who ...

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The Ongoing War; Lebanese Leaders Against the Lebanese

[Lebanese National Dialogue Table: Image From Unknown Archive]

It has been 21 years since the end of the Lebanese civil war. 21 years since the last spasms of violence reverberated through the country’s cities, towns and villages. More than two decades ago, a country torn apart, in ruins and in rubble, suddenly found itself at “peace.” Almost immediately, the reconstruction began. In these years, landmarks such as Nasser, Modca, Horshoe, and the Carlton were torn down and replaced with uniforms of the new global order; cheap clothing ...

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Why Secularism is Not the Answer; Gays in the Lebanese Khutba

[Protestors in Lebanon,

In the past 48 hours, a debate has erupted on the facebook page of the movement to “overthrow the political sectarian regime in Lebanon.” This debate was not about how to accomplish this lofty goal, or how to better strategize for more effective and powerful street demonstrations, or even what the actual demands of the movement are, should be, and how these demands can be enacted. Rather, the debate is about homosexuals and homosexuality in Lebanon. What does homosexuality ...

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What is Political Sectarianism?

[Protestors in Lebanon,

*Note: This analysis refers to political sectarianism in Lebanon, it cannot be “applied” to the workings of sectarianism in other contexts, such as Iraq, Saudi Arabia, Israel, Bahrain or Bosnia Herzigovina. There is an ongoing spasm of activism in Lebanon directed towards changing the sectarian structure and ethos of the state. For the past five weeks, growing numbers of people have taken to the streets stating their refusal of both the March 14 and March 8 coalitions and ...

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It's Official: In 2006, The Lebanese Government Was Hoping Israel Would Disarm Hezbollah For them

[Lebanon, August 2006. Moments after an Israeli air strike destroyed buildings in Dahieh: Image by Paolo Pellegrin]

So now we know. In 2006, as Israel was bombing Lebanese highways, power supplies, the airport, and oil reservoirs, the Lebanese Prime Minister was hoping that Israel would finish “the job” quickly and successfully. Now we know. As over a quarter of the population was displaced from their homes under the threat of missiles, tank fire and artillery, the then commander of the army and now president of Lebanon, was letting the Israeli government know that the Lebanese army would ...

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The Marriage of Sexism and Islamophobia; Re-Making the News on Egypt

[Online Real Time Sexual Harassment Map of Egypt; Image by]

I find myself intermittently infuriated and nauseated by the news coverage of the sexual assault on a female CBS reporter in Tahrir Square during the celebrations the day that Husni Mubarak resigned. This coverage has ranged from the disappointing silence of Al-Jazeera to the blatant racism of Fox News. What actually happened that day to Lara Logan, chief foreign correspondent for 60 Minutes, is not yet known and I have no interest in speculating over the lurid details ...

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Tunisia, Egypt, Lebanon?

[Lebanese Army: Image from Now Lebanon]

We are living in extraordinary times. 2011 Egypt, in hindsight, will be seen as just as, if not more, “historic” as the 1952 coup. This precedent and others illustrate that this revolution is not the instantiation of the political awakening of a “stagnant” part of the world, and nor was it brought to you (only) by Facebook or twitter. For now, the 2011 people’s uprisings in Egypt and in Tunisia resist categorization, and cannot be contained or explained by adjectives that ...

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Looking to Egypt, Again

[Anti-Mubarak Protests in Cairo: Image from AP]

I grew up hearing about Egypt.  The Egypt of those stories, woven inextricably into the memories of my father and his brothers and sisters, was always one of strength, inspiration, beauty and steadfastness. It was the Egypt of Nasser and Um Kulthoum, of Arab Nationalism and of the Bandung Conference. It was the Egypt of solidarity with Palestine. As a child in Beirut, that place seemed as close as the catch in my father’s voice when he would talk about hearing Nasser on ...

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The Other Coup?

[Flag of Lebanon]

Lebanon has not had a government since January 12th , when ministers allied to the March 8 opposition movement withdrew from Cabinet, precipitating the collapse of the Sa`ad al Hariri led majority government. For months prior to the collapse of the Hariri-led government, the cabinet had been at a stalemate and had not been performing its constitutionally defined duties towards Lebanese citizens. The reason for that stalemate was the inability of the majority and the ...

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Boutros Harb For President

[Boutros Harb: Image From Unknown Archive]

In my capacity as a founding editor of Jadaliyya, I hereby endorse Boutros Harb, current Lebanese Minister of Labor, for the office of President of the republic. If Lebanon were a country where presidential candidates actually stood for elections and citizens actually voted to choose who would occupy the office of the President[1], I would certainly vote for him. I would even campaign for him. Throughout a long career of public service to his country, Mr. Harb has ...

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Lebanese Ideology and Boutros Harb: Separate, But [ Kind of] Equal

[Boutros Harb: Image From Unknown Archive]

For over a week now, the debate on a draft law proposed by Lebanese Minister of Labor and former presidential candidate Boutros Harb has been heating up. If passed by the Lebanese state, this law would make it illegal for a period of 15 years for Christians to sell land, apartments, houses or commercial property to Muslims, and vice versa. The draft law has won the support of the Maronite Patriarch, Samir Geagea, Amin Gemeyal, and Future party MP Ahmad Fatfat. Harb has ...

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A Legal Guide to Being a Lebanese Woman, Part 2

[wedding rings. Image from unknown archive]

In Part 1 of A Legal Guide to Being a Lebanese Woman, I represented graphically a number of the laws that constitute Lebanese male and female citizens differently. I meant to show how the Lebanese legal system as a whole is built to produce categories of citizenship that are differentiated according to sex. In this post I build on this argument and question why religious personal status is often posited as the “problem” for women in countries where the secular state is just ...

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A Legal Guide to Being a Lebanese Woman (Part 1)

[Chart of Sex Based Differentiation in Lebanese law; Chart by Maya Mikdashi]

For the past four years I have been researching the histories and the applications of the Lebanese legal system. An understanding of this legal system, which is the architecture of the Lebanese state, has been vital to my dissertation. I have spent thousands of hours poring over legal texts and legal histories, putting together the puzzle of how, when, and why laws are promulgated, amended, and put into practice in Lebanon. I have met with countless lawyers, judges, ...

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Things To Do On Lebanese Independance Day + Arabic Translation

[Martyr's Square: Image from NOW LEBANON]

Drive from Saifi Village to Hayy al Sullum or Naba`a, marvel at the miracles of capitalism and Lebanon’s constitutionally protected free market economy. Watch a few pilots from the Lebanese Air Force put on a show in the sky, feel safer knowing that if the IDF is also watching, they are sure to be too afraid to continue violating Lebanese airspace on an almost daily basis. Take a walk in casual clothes through what used to be a bustling souk but is now luxurious downtown ...

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Thanksgiving In Beirut

[Mass Grave at the Massacre of Wounded Knee: Image from Wikipedia, Indian Costume: Costumes Galore]

On November 24, people from across the United States will gather with family and friends to celebrate Thanksgiving. They will travel (on the busiest travel day of the year), they will eat turkey and pumpkin pie, and they will shop at the orgiastic sales that are a fixture of what is perhaps the most widely celebrated holiday in the USA. Like all ideologically inflected nationalist myths, holidays such as Thanksgiving or Columbus Day both commemorate and mask the histories of ...

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Gynecology, Honor, and the Special Tribunal for Lebanon

[Lead Investigator of the STL D.A Bellmare: Image from Unknown Archive, Female Reproductive System: McGraw Hill Companies]

Last week Sayyed Hassan Nasrallah gave a speech on honor. However, this speech was not about the honor of resisting occupation or the honor of the Palestinian cause. The Sayyed’s speech, rather, focused on how the Special Tribunal For Lebanon had threatened the honor of Lebanese citizens by requesting gynecological files from a women’s clinic in the southern suburbs of Beirut. The day before, when the STL investigators arrived at the women’s health clinic, a group of women ...

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Top Ten List: What to Expect From Ahmadinejad’s Visit to Lebanon (+ Arabic Translation)

[Image From Unknown Archive: President Ahmadinejad]

[Update: See Arabic translation below . . . by popular demand!] 10- Upon hearing Ahmadinejad’s footsteps in Lebanon, Ariel “Arik” Sharon rises from his coma long enough to learn that Iran is still on the road to becoming the second country in the Middle East to have a nuclear weapon after Israel. He has another stroke. Round two for Ahmadinejad. 9-Upon meeting Ahmadinejad at a fundraiser for Hezbollah, Lebanese-American Miss USA 2010 Rima Faqih assassinates him, flies back ...

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Good Morning Palestine

Image From Unknown Source; A View From The South

For four days last week, I drank my morning coffee while gazing at Palestine. I was spending the weekend with friends at a house in a border village between Lebanon and what is now the State of Israel. Every morning, I walked from the bed I was sleeping in, to the kitchen to make a cup a coffee, then out onto the balcony where there was a cool breeze. The village is old, its remaining permanent inhabitants are mostly old, but its roads are new. The asphalt is still black in ...

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An Archive of Perversion; 1966 and a Desire to Criminalize

Image by Maya Mikdashi; An Opinion Issued in 1959 Regarding

On Friday I was at the library of the Lebanese Syndicate of Lawyers (Bayt al Muhaami), where I have conducted much of the archival research related to my dissertation. As I was researching decisions made by the Ministry of Justice's advisory body regarding religious conversion, I came across an advisory opinion issued by Hay'at al Tashri` wa'l-Istisharat in 1966 in response to an inquiry made by then Prime Minister Rashid Karami. The Hay'at al Tishree` Wa Al Istisharat is ...

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At The Beach With Nancy Ajram

A few weeks ago, I found myself sitting next to Nancy Ajram at a beach/restaurant in Batroun-a lazy town in the north of Lebanon. No, not the Nancy Ajram, star of the stage, Melody TV, and many a teenage boy’s fantasy. I was sitting next to an attempt at Nancy, an approximation of her or rather, a mold of her made of plasticized flesh. My friends and I had gone to a restaurant that is situated inside a hollowed out rock cove in the sea. There are caves lining the cove that ...

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Maya Mikdashi


Maya Mikdashi received her PhD from Columbia University's Department of Anthropology. She is Co-Director of the documentary film About Baghdad. Maya is currently a Mellon Postdoctural Fellow at Rutgers University. She  is Co-Founder and Co-Editor of Jadaliyya Ezine.

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