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Empty Tahrir

An Egyptian child with a police costume in Tahrir square. January 25, 2016 (Photo by Jonathan Rashad)

Five years ago, thousands of Egyptians called for protests on the 25th of January to demand "bread, freedom and social justice" and challenge the security apparatus' vast human rights violations. The protesters managed to topple thirty-year autocrat Hosni Mubarak after eighteen days of protests and clashes with the police. Before that day in 2011, January 25 was the national commemorative day of the police. What does that day mean to Egyptians today? Ahead of the anniversary of January 25, authorities arrested activists, shut down cultural spaces, and conducted mass searches of flats in downtown. I decided to cover the situation in the spot where more than 800 ...

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Boom: A Photo Essay

[All photos courtesy of Hisham Ghuzlan]

When I visited Shatila last week two topics dominated conversation: the carnage in Gaza and the deleterious effects of the construction boom underway in the camp. I’ll take them in turn, though Shatilans usually don’t; for them, each topic seems the underbelly of the other. Building in Shatila has long been described by residents as a kind of cancer, its growth both irregular and hazardous. The waves of Syrians and Palestinians fleeing Syria since 2011 have caused it to metastasize. Two years ago its population was estimated at 21,000, around 9000 of them Palestinian. Friends tell me the influx of refugees, alongside the steady flow of Lebanese and labor migrants ...

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Sub-Saharan Migrants’ Quest for Hope and Other Dangerous Pursuits

[Collective meal in an Ivorian ghetto (overcrowded and derelict collective housing arrangement for migrants) nicknamed

[This article is the fourth in a Jadaliyya series that addresses the present sociopolitical landscape of migration in Morocco. Read the previous installments in the series by Sébastien Bachelet: "Cynical and Macabre 'Politics of Migration' at Morocco’s Borders;" by Anna Jacobs: "Creation and Cooptation: The Story of Morocco’s Migration Reform;" and by Allison L. McManus: "Subaltern Is Not Voiceless – They Sing: Learning from Migrants’ Cultural Production."]   "I have seen the best minds of my generation destroyed by madness, hurled down Tangier buildings, pushed over Nador’s cliffs, crushed under rocks and ...

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غزة قبل الشتات

[الطلبة الفلسطينيون في الجامعات البريطانية يحتفلون بزواج زميلهم عز الدين الشوا، لندن، سنة 1928]

[ هذا المقال جزء من ”أصوات من أجل غزة" وهو ملف خاص تنشره جدلية على مدار شهر كامل. للإطلاع على بقية المقالات اضغط/ي هنا]  هذه الصور من كتاب ”قبل الشتات: التاريخ المصوّر للشعب الفلسطيني ١٨٧٦-١٩٤٨“ تأليف وليد الخالدي، صدر عن مؤسّسة الدراسات الفلسطينيّة. صدر الكتاب بطبعة أولى عام ١٩٨٤ وطبعة إلكترونية متاحة للجميع للتصفح. وجاء في التقديم للكتاب أنه يروي ”رحلة صورية مرئية، عبر ستة عقود من تاريخ فلسطين قبل سنة ١٩٤٨، وهي حكاية فلسطين قبل التقسيم، الطرد والشتات... يظهر الكتاب كل جانب من جوانب المجتمع الفلسطيني جلياً في نحو ٥٠٠ صورة، تم انتقاؤها من بين الآف الصور، التوفرة في المجموعات الخاصة والعامة في العالم. تقدم النصوص الوصفية والتحليلة كل حقبة من الحقب ...

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Al-Manial’s Tragedy in Photos

[Residents of al-Manial march from Salahuddien Mosque with the coffins of people killed in the clashes. 6 July 2013. Photo by Jonathan Rashad]

Hundreds of people, including supporters of deposed president Mohamed Morsi and residents of Cairo's al-Manial district, clashed for hours on al-Gamaa bridge on the night of 5 July 2013, using rocks, sticks, and guns. The chaotic scene started around 10 p.m., as Morsi's supporters were returning from a march nearby Tahrir Square. The violence dragged on for hours, as victims were being carried away to the hospital every few minutes, and as the terrifying sound of gunfire echoed through the streets. Twelve of al-Manial’s residents died in the clashes. Their anger and agony was still visible the next day, when I went back to cover the funerals of al-Manial ...

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The Last Colony: Photo Essay on Western Sahara

[Djimi Elghalia, vice president of the Sahrawi Association of Victims of Grave Human Rights Violations Committed by the Moroccan State (ASVDH), pictured near El-Ayoun city, in Moroccan controlled Western Sahara. Photo by Andrew McConnell.]

[This is one of seven pieces in Jadaliyya's electronic roundtable on the Western Sahara. Moderated by Samia Errazzouki and Allison L. McManus, it features contributions from John P. Entelis, Stephen Zunes, Aboubakr Jamaï, Ali Anouzla, Allison L. McManus, Samia Errazzouki, and Andrew McConnell.] [The photos above were taken by Andrew McConnell, who also wrote the following text.] The territory of Western Sahara is Africa's last open file at the United Nations Decolonization Committee. The year 2010 marked the thirty-fifth anniversary of the Moroccan invasion which forced former colonial power Spain to withdraw without holding a UN sanctioned referendum on the ...

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The Dramaturgy of A Street Corner

[Street cafe set up at the intersection of Mohamed Mahmoud Street and Tahrir Square. Photo by Mona Abaza (Captured 30 April 2012)]

Much like the ongoing revolutionary struggle in Egypt, this short piece is part of an in-progress work to chronicle the evolution of revolutionary art on Mohamed Mahmoud Street, also known as the “street of the eyes of freedom”—nicknamed as such since many protesters lost their eyes on that same street after being targeted by professional snipers during protests in 2011. (See previous articles on this subject by clicking here, here, here, here, and here. Also see interview with artist Alaa Awad on the subject by clicking here). For a second consecutive year, Mohammed Mahmud Street witnessed intensive turmoil, and chronic violent clashes between demonstrators and ...

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New Texts Out Now: Nadje Al-Ali and Deborah Al-Najjar, We Are Iraqis: Aesthetics and Politics in a Time of War

[Cover of

Nadje Al-Ali and Deborah Al-Najjar, editors, We Are Iraqis: Aesthetics and Politics in a Time of War. Syracuse: Syracuse University Press, 2012. Jadaliyya (J): What made you write this book? Nadje Al-Ali and Deborah Al-Najjar (NA and DA): The idea for this book first emerged in 2006, when Iraqis were generally portrayed either as passive victims or as perpetrators of horrific violence. In the midst of an ongoing humanitarian crisis and the violence, destruction, killings, and widespread sufferings inside Iraq, we did not hear the voices of contemporary Iraqis. While media and academicians centered on suicide attacks, Islamist militias, occupation forces, political ...

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Imagining Tahrir

[Tamer, mason from Beheira province. Tahrir Square. Photo by Yasser Alwan.]

I. Egyptians saw themselves for the first time through their own eyes in Cairo’s Tahrir Square in January and February 2011, and reveled in that encounter. Participating in and recording that experience was to become part of the consciousness of a community that was ready to move heaven and earth to restructure Egyptian society for the better. The consciousness was individual in that it established one person’s experience among the crowd, it was moral because recording everything became imperative for a community working so hard to sustain itself and build a new society. And it was collective. No one refused to be in a photograph or a video before the “Battle of the ...

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City, Space, Power: Lahore’s Architecture of In/Security

[Multiple layers of security barriers outside the entrance to the Governor’s House in Lahore. Photograph by Sadia Shirazi.]

Casualties of War Lahore today looks like a city at war. One of the greatest unacknowledged casualties of the United States’ “war on terror” has been the cities—and citizenry—of Pakistan. The US invaded Afghanistan in 2001 to oust the Taliban from power in response to the terrorist attacks on the World Trade Center.[1] In 1985, sixteen years prior, President Ronald Reagan equated the Taliban mujahideen who had defeated the Soviets in Afghanistan as “the moral equivalent of America’s founding fathers.”[2] This presidential stance has obviously changed since. In 2008, the US committed another surge of troops to Afghanistan due to the continued presence of the Taliban in ...

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Demolishing Palestine

[An Israeli border police officer stands guard as municipality workers demolish a Palestinian house. Image by Sebastian Scheiner/AP Photo.]

Since the Israeli occupation of the West Bank and Gaza Strip began in 1967, Israel has demolished about 27,000 Palestinian homes and other structures crucial for a family’s livelihood, according to Israeli government statistics (Compiled by the Israeli Committee Against House Demolitions). Almost half of these were carried out in just the last twelve years. So far this year, 702 people have been displaced and 140 homes demolished. The government categorizes many demolitions as the consequence of not acquiring an Israeli building permit. However, in recent years, over ninety-four percent of all Palestinian permit applications have been rejected. Under Israeli zoning ...

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Syrian Refugee Photo Essay

[A Jordanian works at setting up the first Jordanian tent camp for Syrian refugees in Zataari, Jordan, near the Syrian border, July 29, 2012. Image by Mohammad Hannon/AP Photo.]

As the crisis in Syria continues to escalate, refugees are fleeing to the surrounding countries in huge numbers. According to the UNHCR, as of August 8 there are over one hundred thirty-eight thousand refugees registered for assistance – roughly fifty thousand in Turkey, thirty-nine thousand in Jordan, thirty-five thousand in Lebanon and twelve thousand in Iraq. Many other displaced Syrian civilians are not registered, and perhaps over one million are displaced within Syria. Neighboring countries, local organizations, and the international community are providing assistance to those fleeing the violence. In March the UNHCR planned for one hundred forty thousand refugees ...

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A Compound in Common: The Case of “Little Duweiqa,” Haram City

While the eyes of the world focused on the intermittent occupations of Cairo’s Tahrir Square, in the four years since the Egyptian uprising of 2011, a different kind of social action has persisted at the city’s periphery. On 13 August 2010 and in February 2011, during the eighteen days leading to Hosni Mubarak’s fall, a group of 231 resettled slum dweller families from the impoverished Duweiqa district of Cairo abandoned their allocated twenty three square-meter homes to squat liveable ones in Haram ...

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Three Travelling Plaques Become Four in Mohamed Mahmoud Street

This article should be read as the continuation of a series I wrote for Jadaliyya on art and the Egyptian revolution, the most recent of which was posted on 25 January 2013 and entitled “The Dramaturgy of a Street Corner”. For the past three years, graffiti in Egypt has drawn a record level of attention from the international media. If one performs a Google search using the keywords “graffiti Egypt”, about 10,900,000 results appear. If one searches for the same keywords on youtube, there are 396,000 ...

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Sisi Mania in Photos

Expressions of support for former army chief and the presumed presidential election winner Abdel Fattah al-Sisi have reached new heights during the lead-up to the 26-28 May 2014 vote. His name and image can be found on billboards all over the buildings, posters plastered on the walls coffee shops, and photos on display at street vendors’ stands. As I covered the elections over the course of the past week in Cairo, I encountered pro-military songs everywhere—coffee shops, driving cars, public ...

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Morsi Trial Protest in Photos

On 4 November 2013, supporters of Egypt's deposed President Mohamed Morsi protested outside the Police Academy in Cairo as they awaited his trial. Due to chants by the defendants, including Morsi and fourteen other leaders of the Muslim Brotherhood, the trial was adjourned until 8 January 2014. Morsi, along with the other defendants, are accused of inciting murder against opposition during his year as president.              

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Intimidation and Resistance: Imagining Gender in Cairene Graffiti

The issue of women’s empowerment continues to be of paramount significance in determining the future of the incomplete Arab revolutions. Numerous scholars, activists, and feminists have commented with concern about the precarious position of women after the contagious revolutions, which started in Tunisia, Egypt and Libya. Many have expressed anxiety that the controversial gender issue in the Middle East will dominate the coming years, as even Christian leaders transmit Islamists’ pressure on women to ...

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Port Said in Revolt

Tears in the eyes, bullets on the ground, and blood on the pavements - as injustice prevails. That is Port Said. The city has witnessed unrest again in March in response to an Egyptian court ruling that sentenced twenty-one Port Said residents to death for alleged involvement in killings that happened during a 1 February 2012 football riot, which left seventy-four dead . More than forty-six were killed in Port Said over the past two months during clashes.             ...

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Alexandria Re-Imagined: The Revolution through Art

On 24 January 2011 – a day before the arc of Egyptian history would be altered – the film Microphone was screened. Microphone documents Alexandria’s pre-revolution underground scene of artists and musicians fighting a passive oppression that suffocates their ability to nurture their creativity. Khaled (played by Khaled Abol Naga), who has returned to Egypt from the US, wishes to aid the youth by providing them with a venue and funding for nurturing their talents. In one scene, Khaled is ...

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The Swallows of Syria

[Note: The views and testimonies herein are the refugees’ own, and do not necessarily reflect the views of the author or of Jadaliyya.] Somaya left Homs, Syria after finding the corpse of her tortured son in a sewage ditch. Zaynab escaped with her family when she discovered that Syrian soldiers kidnapped, raped, and killed three of her schoolmates. Aziza fled after snipers killed both her husband and sister-in-law. Reports indicate that refugees and residents have also been subjected to abuse and ...

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Living Under Threat of Expulsion: Palestinian Women Photograph Life in Susiya Village

These photographs were taken by women residents of Susiya village from the Nawaja family, ranging from teenagers to the elderly. Here are their names: Wadcha, Basma, Iman, Iam, Hitam, Ula, Rabicha, Samicha, Sane, Samma, Hadija, Sanaa, and Khitam. In 2011, the women of Susiya documented their lives as a part of a participatory photography project conducted by Activestills photographer Keren Manor and guest photographer Mareike Lauken. This project was one of many activities of the village’s Creative ...

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The Syrian Refugee Crisis Intensifies

Over three hundred thousand refugees have fled across Syria’s borders to Turkey, Jordan, Iraq, and Lebanon, according to the latest UNHCR statistics. This number accounts for only those who have registered with the UN or are waiting to register. The UN also estimates that one to one and a half million people are internally displaced within Syria. If correct, then nearly ten percent of the population of the country (twenty-two million) no longer lives in their homes. Inside Syria as of mid-September, ...

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Families of Kidnapped Lebanese in Syria Cut Off Access to the Airport in Beirut

In an irony of history, the old Lebanon, feared in the decade of the 1970s for its hijackers, is now the victim of kidnappings. The confusion is greater when Lebanese are kidnapped in Syria and Syrians are kidnapped in Lebanon as a deliberate proxy war between pro-Syrian regime groups in Lebanon, and detractor groups in Syria. [Families of the eleven Lebanese kidnapped respond to press and ask for immediate release of their relatives.]   The media reports began to filter in on Wednesday ...

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Recalling the Past: The Battle over History, Collective Memory and Memorialization in Egypt

History is inescapable in Egypt. Foreign tourists drawn to the abundant physical remains of Coptic, Pharaonic, Hellenic, and Islamic cultures are reminded of the contemporary past as they head downtown from the Cairo airport past the triumphant October War Panorama, a war museum commemorating the 1973 war with fighter jets parked out front. Numerous place names—Sadat City, the Twenty-sixth of July Street, Talaat Harb Square, the Sixth of October Bridge—are constant evocations of persons and events raised ...

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