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Lebanon

We are Here and We Will Not be Denied: An Interview with Poet Omar Sakr

[Front cover of These Wild Houses. Image via Cordite Books Australia.]

In January 2017, Omar J. Sakr released his debut book, a collection of poems entitled These Wild Houses. The following interview touches upon themes of intersectionality, identity, and representation, particularly relating to Omar’s background growing up as a queer Muslim Arab Australian. Camille Reynolds: I would like to begin by asking about your creative process. What did you set out to create at the inception of this book? How did you go about putting your story down on paper and dealing with the vulnerabilities that come with that, especially knowing that you are forging a new path in Australian poetry through discussing the intersections of your queer/Arab/poor ...

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الخط الساخن للجنسانية: مقابلة مع مشروع الألِف

 في هذه المقابلة عن مبادرة الخط الساخن للجنسانية نتحدث مع جزء من مجموعة متطوعات بمشروع الألِف. في دردشة صباحية في تعاونية الضمة بيروت نستمع إلى تجربة ثلاثة نساء ليلى عليا ويارا متدربات على تقديم المعلومات والدعم حول قضايا الجنسانية من خلال تلقي اتصالات يومية على الخط الساخن  اجرى محمد علي نايل هذا الحوار مع فريق الخط الساخن للجنسانية في مشروع الألِف.  يهدف الخط الساخن إلى تقديم الدعم للنساء وذوي الجندر غير النمطي اللواتي/الذين لديهن/م أسئلة وتساؤلات حول الجنسانية، النوع الاجتماعي، والصحة الجنسية والانجابية. تتكلم متطوعات/ي الخط الساخن من منظور نسوي، وتقدم المعلومات الصحيحة والخالية من الأحكام المسبقة. تهدف المبادرة إلى عكس نظرة إيجابية ...

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Entretien avec Sébastien Lamy sur le droit de l'urbanisme au Liban: la nécessité d'une doctrine juridique

[Chantier de reconstruction du centre-ville de Beyrouth. Photo Eric Verdeil, 2016, Creative Commons, NC]

[Les projets de construction sur le littoral de Raouché ou sur la plage de Ramlet el Baida ont fait l’objet, ces derniers temps, d’intenses mobilisations in situ visant à s’y opposer. Fait relativement nouveau, ils ont aussi suscité, tout comme certains projets impliquant la démolition d’immeubles anciens, des contentieux juridiques. Ces recours en justice ont certes démontré la compétence des opposants mais aussi les faiblesses des multiples couches juridiques qui régulent la construction et l’usage des sols dans les villes libanaises. Le contexte est donc à la fois celui d’une fragilisation du droit et d’un recours accru à celui-ci. Cela rend essentiel un ...

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La crise des déchets, le Liban et son territoire

[Credit to @picture-alliance/dpa/N.Mounzer]

 [Le texte qui suit correspond à une intervention prononcée le 28 novembre 2015 lors d’une table ronde sur la question de l’environnement au Liban organisée par la Maison du Liban à la Cité universitaire internationale de Paris et son comité des résidents. Les autres participants à la table ronde étaient Ghaleb Faour et Eric Verdeil] Il y a dix ans, nous achevions de présenter le schéma d’aménagement du territoire du Liban et démarrions, dans la continuité de ce travail, un projet consistant à programmer les investissements publics sur un horizon de quinze ans, à partir de la définition des choix de politiques sectorielles. Ces travaux n’ont, malheureusement, ...

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“Til Sect Do You Part?” On Sectarianism and Intermarriage in Lebanon

In August 2017, a Christian man and a Muslim woman (Boutros and Marwa) made headlines when they married in Lebanon. Why? One might assume that the interreligious nature of the couple prompted this media attention. However, that was far from the case. In my current research on Lebanese social responses to interreligious and intersectarian marriages/long-term relationships, I have had no difficulty locating people to interview. Mixed couples are more common than people often imagine, and exist to varying extents across generations, classes, and communities. As such, it is unlikely that a mixed marriage would make the news. No, what warranted media attention in this case ...

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The Changing Face of Street Art in the MENA Region: Diminishing the Voice of the People?

[Ouzville in Progress. May 2017. Image by Camille Reynolds.]

Street art in all of its forms has long been associated with subversive goals and a compelling aesthetic. Created by individuals and communities who strived to push back against oppressive systems of power, contribute to civil and political discourses they were otherwise excluded from, and expand upon the boundaries of artistic expression, street art has always been a highly inclusive, accessible, and often effective method for those in a society to amplify their voice. Political actors across the Middle East North Africa (MENA) region in particular have used street art to articulate dissent and dissatisfaction with oppressive regimes. However, there are also those who ...

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Statement of Condemnation and Clarification by the Socialist Forum in Lebanon

[Logo of Socialist Forum]

[The following statement was issued by Socialist Forum on 16 July 2017 in response to its decision to cancel a demonstraiton it had organized in response to the recent actions taken by the Lebanese government (through the military) within the Syrian refugee communities of Arsal.] On Friday June 30th, 2017 at dawn, a faction of the Lebanese Army raided two Syrian refugee camps (Nawar and Qareiah) in the town of Arsal, in what was officially designated as a "preventive raid" in search of "terrorists" based in the camp. As a result, several people were killed, amongst them a child, and several soldiers were wounded due to a suicide bombing inside the ...

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بيان المنتدى الاشتراكي رداً على هجمات ضد اللاجئين السوريين في منطقة عرسال

المنتدى الاشتراكي يدين العنصرية ويتضامن مع اللاجئين السوريين

[أصدر المنتدى الاشتراكي هذا البيان في ١٣ تموز، ٢٠١٧، رداً على هجمات ضد اللاجئين السوريين في منطقة عرسال] فجر نهار الجمعة 30 حزيران 2017، قامت قوة من الجيش اللبناني بمداهمة مخيمي النور والقارية للاجئين السوريين في بلدة عرسال، ضمن ما اعتبره الجيش "عملية استباقيّة" ضد "إرهابيين" موجودين في المخيم. نتج من ذلك مقتل عدد من الأشخاص بينهم طفلة، وإصابة عدد من العسكريين بجروح بسبب تفجيرات انتحارية. وشٌنّت حملة اعتقالات طالت ما يزيد عن 350 شخصاً من اللاجئين السوريين، على أساس الاشتباه بانتمائهم لتنظيمات إرهابية. وقد تناقل العديد من وسائل الإعلام صور المعتقلين في ظروف غير إنسانية، من تعذيب وانتهاك لكرامة البشر. لم ينته الأمر هنا، إذ أعلن الجيش يوم الثلاثاء في 4 ...

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Life in a Street: How Informal Mechanisms Govern Scarce Public Spaces in Nabaa, Beirut

[Negotiations and invisible tactics: bargaining over space as well as prices. Image by Petra Samaha]

The informal mechanisms of organization in everyday public life have been at the core of concerns of many researchers and practitioners (e.g., Rukmana and Hegel in Indonesia, Mehrotra in India, and Nagati in Egypt). While examining these processes in different contexts, the focus was typically on their interplay with "formal" regulations or in relation to the private built environment. Few highlighted the significance of these informal arrangements per se and their importance in governing public shared spaces (Simone 2004 & 2009, Bayat 1998 & 2010). These mechanisms lend some sort of spatial flexibility to the street transforming it into much more than ...

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Survivor: Life After Cluster Bomb

[Mohammed's prosthetic legs lie on a sofa at his home in the Rashidiyeh camp for Palestinian refugees in southern Lebanon. Photo by Laura Boushnak.]

Survivor is a decade-long documentary photography project following the story of Mohammed, a young cluster bomb survivor. During the summer 2006 Israel-Hizbollah war in Lebanon he was riding as a passenger on his father's motorbike when it struck a cluster bomb. Over the past 10 years I have documented how Mohammed, like so many other survivors around the world, lives with the horrifying repercussions of cluster munitions. Mohammed was eleven years old when he lost both legs during the last week of the conflict. The fact that he lives a five-minute drive from my parents' home made it easier to follow him through the years. I saw the young boy who had to endure physical ...

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New Texts Out Now: Sami Hermez, War is Coming: Between Past and Future Violence in Lebanon

Sami Hermez, War is Coming: Between Past and Future Violence in Lebanon. Philadelphia: University of Pennsylvania Press, 2017. Jadaliyya (J): What made you write this book? Sami Hermez (SH): I wrote this book because I felt there was a story that needed to be told of how people in states of protracted conflict live their lives with the specter of war continually hovering in the background, akin to the sounds of Beirut traffic. The potentiality of a coming war during my research in Lebanon moved in parallel with people and organizations working on preserving the memory of past war, on communal peace building initiatives, and on advocating for forms of transitional ...

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New Texts Out Now: Toufoul Abou-Hodeib, A Taste for Home: The Modern Middle Class in Ottoman Beirut

Toufoul Abou-Hodeib, A Taste for Home: The Modern Middle Class in Ottoman Beirut. Stanford University Press, 2017. Jadaliyya (J): What made you write this book? Toufoul Abou-Hodeib (TAH): The book started with the idea of using extant homes as a material archive, which grew out of my experience as an architecture student and a practicing architect in Beirut in the 1990s and early 2000s. The frantic post-war reconstruction of Beirut in the 1990s was accompanied by a pace of deconstruction that literally transformed whole neighborhoods overnight, not least in and around the city center, where many of the residential buildings from the late Ottoman period were located. ...

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Queer Arab Joy in Anya Kneez: A Film Review

Anya Kneez, a short documentary directed by Mohamed Abdouni and produced in association with Cold Cuts, premiered in June 2017 at the Brooklyn Museum in New York, with an additional screening held in Mar Mikhael, Beirut at AR_KA. The eleven-minute film provides an intimate look into the complex life of Abdouni’s best friend, Anya Kneez, a drag queen living in Beirut. Carving out space in our hetero-normative world, Anya Kneez provides visual representation of queer and gender ...

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Cities Media Roundup (September 2017)

[This is a monthly roundup of news articles, and other materials related to urban issues in the region, and beyond. It does not reflect the views of the Cities Page Editors or of Jadaliyya. You may send recommendations for inclusion in the Cities Media Roundup to cities@jadaliyya.com, mentioning “Roundup” in the subject line. We also welcome your submissions to the Cities Page: please check details on cities.jadaliyya.com]   Urban Development and Infrastructure 11 Billion-Dollar Mega-Projects ...

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إيتل عدنان عن فدوى سليمان

[هذه المادة جزء من ملف خاص عن الفنانة السورية فدوى سليمان. اضغط/ي هنا لبيقة المواد]       نعلمُ إن القدر قاسٍ، ولكنه دوماً أقسى مما ظنناه. تعرّفتُ إلى فدوى مؤخراً، ورأيتُ شدّة التزامها بكلّ ما يؤثّر فيها. أثناء محادثتها، رأيتُ إلى أيّ حدّ لم تكن تحتمل الظلم في هذا العالم. كانت قد كرّستْ نفسها من أجل سورية مفتوحة للجميع، سورية السلام. كانت قد كرّستْ نفسها للشعر أيضاً. لقد فقدنا بوفاتها شاعرة كبيرة وضوءً أمامنا. أرجو منكم قراءة شعرها، بانتباه، والإنصات إلى صوتها عبر ...

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New Texts Out Now: Bashir Saade, Hizbullah and the Politics of Remembrance: Writing Nations

Bashir Saade, Hizbullah and the Politics of Remembrance: Writing Nations. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 2016. Jadaliyya (J): What made you write this book? Bashir Saade (BS): This book is based on my PhD dissertation and the research I had done at the time, from 2006 to 2011. I started after the July 2006 war, which was the trigger for an already growing interest in understanding the phenomenon of Hizbullah. I was mostly interested in questioning the way Hizbullah had been studied so far, and ...

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George Wassouf: the People's Champ

Whenever memories take me back to the time when the Lebanese Civil War (1975-1990) had just ended, one sound always echoes along the scenes: it is the special voice of that one singer who will always function as an anchor pinning down that particular slice of my remembrance of the past. Born in 1961 Kafroun, a Syrian village located in the countryside of Homs, George Wassouf came from a modest family. At the age of sixteen, he moved to Lebanon on his own and managed to find the space to shine as the star ...

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War is Here: The Lebanese Political Elites Unite Again

War is often understood as a temporally bounded event. A war begins, and eventually it ends. In the process, people are killed, maimed, starved, and traumatized; infrastructure is damaged; and life-worlds are destroyed. In such context, survival, not life, becomes the goal. Yet such an understanding of war is often duplicitous. For example, one might look to the Gaza Strip, where slow death under a globally-sanctioned siege under the temporality of a “ceasefire” is easily as violent, as final, as the ...

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Des déchets aux remblais: imaginaire aménageur, corruption et dérèglements métaboliques à Beyrouth

Les scandales à répétition qui éclatent à propos de la gestion des déchets au Liban et plus particulièrement dans l'agglomération de Beyrouth mettent en évidence les montants énormes des contrats en question et leur opacité, et donc plus largement la corruption qui joue un rôle déterminant dans l'organisation de l'action publique. Les débats de l'été 2015 ont ainsi permis d'exposer publiquement les zones d'ombre, anomalies et irrégularités concernant les contrats successifs de Sukleen, et de pointer vers ...

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New Texts Out Now: Hannes Baumann, Citizen Hariri: Lebanon's Neoliberal Reconstruction

Hannes Baumann, Citizen Hariri: Lebanon’s Neoliberal Reconstruction. Hurst: London, 2016. Jadaliyya (J): What made you write this book? Hannes Bauman (HB): On 14 February 2005 I was preparing my PhD proposal in the library of IFEAD, the French research institute in Damascus. During a break I noticed that people were huddling around a portable TV in the lobby, transmitting grainy images of a bomb explosion. It was the Beirut blast that killed former billionaire-prime minister Rafiq Hariri. A month ...

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Lebanon's New Electoral Law: Proportional in Form, Majoritarian at Heart

The Lebanese government and parliament finally approved an electoral law on 16 June 2017, “averting” a political and constitutional crisis. Political parties have congratulated themselves for this “achievement,” despite being four years late and creating a dangerous precedent by illegally extending the parliamentary mandate three times since 2013. While the long-awaited electoral law contains elements of a proportional representation (PR) system, its soul is majoritarian and its districts are crafted ...

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Municipal Politics in Lebanon

The municipal system has been a key pillar of debates on administrative decentralization, economic development and political participation in Lebanon. During the late 1990s and early 2000s, activists sought to stop the demolition of the 1924 Barakat Building on the basis that it was a heritage site. In response to public pressure, the Municipality of Beirut expropriated the building in 2013, and has since overseen a contentious process of transforming the space into a memory museum. International donors ...

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Along What Lines Are Lebanon’s Political Elite Divided?

Eight years on and Lebanon still does not have an electoral law. Despite the many draft proposals and meetings by the Council of Ministers (COM) and parliamentary sub-committees, political parties appear more likely to either hold elections according to the so-called 1960 law or illegally extend their mandates than pass a new electoral law. Granted, a new electoral law would determine who has the power to nominate a prime minister, form a new government, issue a vote of confidence and oversee ...

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Media on Media Roundup (April 25)

This week’s Jadaliyya “Media on Media” roundup tackles several important themes shaping the Middle East mediascape. A leaked video allegedly showing Egyptian soldiers killing detainees in the Sinai Peninsula caused a great deal of debate surrounding Egypt’s human rights record. In Lebanon, a Hezbollah-organized media tour of the country’s demarcation line with Israel generated controversy regarding Lebanon’s relationship to Israel and Hezbollah’s military power. Following a referendum extending ...

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