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Revolutionary Contagion: Morocco and a Plea for Specificity

An image of Mohamed VI of Morocco, featured on the bigbrother.ma blog

Since January 15th, media discourse on the Arab world has almost uniformly coalesced around a single term, “contagion.” This is a telling semantic choice given the word’s broader associations with disease; a synonym for “infection” or “contamination,” it carries rhetorical connotations that are hardly subtle. The Wall Street Journal has analyzed Egypt’s “contagion risk” (Feb. 1st) and in the past two and a half weeks The New York Times has published at least half a dozen articles on the topic, with the same word always employed. On Feb. 2nd, for example, Sara Hamdan asked, “which countries will be most susceptible to contagion?” The risk of contagion, the susceptibility ...

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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 the radio. As I grew older, I noticed the bitterness that always laced those stories, the slight shake of my aunt’s head at the end of a sentence, the drop in of my uncle’s shoulders as he described ...

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Everything Is Illuminated

Protest in front of the Egyptian Mission, New York City [Photo by Anthony Alessandrini]

Everything is exposed. Every crack is showing. Protesters throughout Egypt have put their bodies on the line day after day, their vulnerable, breakable bodies, and with their bodies, they have forced, each day, a bit more of the story to become illuminated. Anyone familiar with the combination of brutality and tactical expertise possessed by the Mubarak regime could not have been surprised by the savage strategy that has been aimed at unarmed protesters in Cairo and throughout the country over the past few days. The signs of a scorched earth strategy became apparent early on: the “mysterious” disappearance of security forces from the streets followed almost immediately ...

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The Poetry of Revolt

Tahrir Square, January 30. Photo: Asmaa Youssef (al-Masry al-Youm)

[This post was selected as one of three winners in Three Quarks Daily Arts & Literature Prize] It is truly inspiring to see the bravery of Egyptians as they rise up to end the criminal rule of Hosni Mubarak. It is especially inspiring to remember that what is happening is the culmination of years of work by activists from a spectrum of pro-democracy movements, human rights groups, labor unions, and civil society organizations. In 2004, when Kefaya began their first public demonstrations, the protesters were usually outnumbered 30 to one by Central Security Forces. Now the number has reversed—and multiplied. No less astonishing is the poetry of this moment. I ...

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Cartoons: Tunisia and Recent Events

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Original cartoons for Jadaliyya by Khalil Bendib.    [Jadaliyya is inaugurating its cartoon and arts sections. We encourage the submission of cartoons and other art work. Email your material to post@jadaliyya.com]                     

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وحدة عداء المسافات الطويلة [The Loneliness of the Long Distance Runner]

[Image from unknown archive]

 يبدو أنه سيحقق وقتاً جيداً اليوم. الميل الأول انتهى. ٥ دقائق. يعدو ويعدو ويعدو. تنطلق أفكاره. يفكر أنه فعلاً محظوظ ليتم اختياره للمشاركة بالسباق. يفكر أن صحته تتحسن، ونفسيته تتحسن. يفكر أن هذا كله لن يعني شيئاً بعد بضعة أشهر. ينظر مرة أخرى إلى الساعة. حان وقت الغيار الثاني. الغيار الثاني صار أسهل. أصبح أكثر قدرة على السيطرة على جسده. في البداية كان يشعر أن جسده عدوه. أنه في معركة دائمة معه. أن جسده يخذله في أي فرصة تسنح له. أما الآن فجسده قطع خط الحصار وأصبح حليفه. كأنهما رفيقان في تنظيم، يتعاونان ويساعدان بعضهما، لأن مصيرهما واحد وفائدتهما واحدة. وهكذا، العداء وجسده تابعا العدو. (ولكن مهلاً، في هذه الحالة بالذات، العداء وجسده لهما مصالح تقع في أمكنة مختلفة ...

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State Culture, State Anarchy

Mubarak told Christiane Amanpour that Egyptian “culture” was anarchic in nature—and that chaos would break out if he stepped down. So, Egyptians are barbaric and can be tamed only by the strong hand of a loving father—what else is new? This is not just what Lord Cromer used to say, it is exactly what the autumnal patriarch has been saying for twenty years now, channeling the stark (and false) choice once proposed by Matthew Arnold, "culture or anarchy." The slogan analog appeared on signs ...

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Impromptu: The Cairo Commune

They fought tooth and nail Wednesday night and defended al-Tahrir Square after a long day during which the last Pharao played his last card by unleashing his hired dogs to attack unarmed protesters who shook the earth in Egypt under his throne. When darkness fell, those heroes persevered despite a rain of rocks, Molotov cocktails and sniper bullets. They barricaded themselves and sealed the entrances to al-Tahrir. Their real barricades, however, were their hearts and spirit and those supporting them. ...

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Singing for the Revolution

So was it Wikileaks, Facebook, or Twitter? Perhaps all three contributed to the revolutionary winds in the Arab world? This is one of the questions repeated ad nauseam by a great number of commentators and parroted by many in the United States and elsewhere in the “civilized world.” Others wonder if perhaps it was Obama’s speech in Cairo or even the Bush doctrine (for Fox-infested minds and they are many)? Yes, new technologies and social media definitely played a role and provided a new space and mode, ...

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“Our Assessment Is That the Egyptian Government Is Stable”: Thinking of Cairo from New York (Updated)

As Jadaliyya's Tough Niece reminds us (My Mother and My Neighbor's Dog on the Tunisian Revolution and Its Aftermath), there has been a lot of fairly uninformed stuff written in the blogosphere about Tunisia and its aftermath, rhapsodies about the revolutionary role of social media and overconfident assessments about what will happen next. I hesitate to contribute to this outpouring. And yet I find it impossible not to write something about Cairo, something for Cairo, just before the breaking of dawn ...

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Islam in American Barrios & Prisons: Converts Reclaim Moorish Spain, Reject Church

For those in the US typically designated as “Latino” or “Hispanic,” the historical legacy of Islam plays a role similar to that in the African-American context. As the term “Moor” was embraced by various African-American leaders to unite poor, disenfranchised blacks with the glory of Islam, the connection to Moorish Spain provides a powerful tool to re-imagine Latino identity. Converts learn that popular Latin American terms like ojala (“may God will”) derive from the Arabic allah and that their African ...

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"ما خفي كان أعظم: عن "خائف إلى الأبد [Sayed Kashua - Forever Scared]

” إنني أخاف من السيارات، من الكلاب، من الأفاعي، أخاف من الطائرات، والمروحيات، من الدبابات والجنود. أخاف من العمليات الإرهابية. أخاف من اليهود، أخاف من العرب، واخاف أن يضعونا يوماً ما في مخيمات لللاجئين.“ (سيد قشوع، صحيفة هآرتس، 2002) بهذا الإقتباس يبدأ أول مشهد في الفيلم الوثائقي ”خائف إلى الأبد“ (2009) وهو من إخراج الإسرائيلية دوريت تسمباليست (العنوان بالانجليزية يختلف عن العنوان العبري للفيلم وهو ”خائف منذ الطفولة“) ومدته 50 دقيقة تقريباً ويعرض في الكثير من المهرجانات الأوربية هذ العام. يأخذنا الشريط ...

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