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Counting Votes in Egypt and Practicing Return in Palestine: Interviews with Hossam El-Hamalawy and Samera Esmeir
Despite massive pro-military media propaganda in Egypt, and threats of large fines against those who did not vote, the election commission had to extend the voting for a third day in an attempt to draw more people to polling booths. As predicted, ex-army chief Abdel Fattah al-Sisi was declared president of Egypt with 96% of the votes. So what was behind the low turnout at the elections? Was it apathy or an effective Egyptians boycott? What explains the lack of voter turnout when the military has been getting support from a huge sector of the Egyptian public? Khalil Bendib posed these questions to Cairo-based activist and journalist, Hossam El-Hamalawy.
Later in the show, we discuss the creative ways Palestinians have used to practice their right of return over recent years. We will speak with Samera Esmeir, associate professor at the department of Rhetoric at UC Berkeley about her recent article, “A Guide for the Perplexed: On the Return of the Refugees" published on the Middle East Research and Information Project journal website. In this text, professor Esmeir focused on the the the return of some of the Palestinian refugees to their village Kafr Bir'im, located in northern Palestine in the Galilee, whose residents were expelled in 1948.
“Refugees no longer, we have returned!” A group of Palestinian youth made this declaration in 2012 as they decided to practice their right of return by going back to their village of Iqrit in northern Palestine. A year later, some of the refugees from the neighboring village Kafr Bir'im declared their return to their village as well. Announcing that they were no longer refugees, to Israel's consternation, they moved to live in the church and in the two-room school structure of the village, holding gatherings, parties, events, and concerts.
Kafr Bir'im’s history and the struggle of refugees with Israeli courts is a long and arduous challenge against occupation. Samera Esmeir takes us through the village which was declared by Israel a national park in the aftermath of the 1948 Nakba.
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