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Egypt Media Roundup Moment of Glory sudden death in Turkey الظاهر بيبرس وإبنه بركة خان Announcing the #IslamophobiaIsRacism Syllabus
[Cover of Behrooz Ghamari-Tabrizi, Foucault in Iran: Islamic Revolution after the Enlightenment]

Foucault’s Folly: Iran, Political Spirituality, and Counter-Conduct

Behrooz Ghamari-Tabrizi, Foucault in Iran: Islamic Revolution after the Enlightenment. Minneapolis: University of Minnesota Press, 2016. [This is part four of a book symposium on Behrooz Ghamari-Tabrizi's Foucault in Iran: Islamic ...

[Left to right: Brian Edwards and Bassam Haddad.]

Bassam Haddad and Brian Edwards Discuss Middle East Studies and Public Scholarship

This conversation between Bassam Haddad of George Mason University and Brian Edwards of Northwestern University addresses the role of public scholarship and its relation to print publication within the climate of Middle East Studies. The ...

New Texts Out Now: Jens Hanssen and Max Weiss, eds. Arabic Thought Beyond the Liberal Age: Towards an Intellectual History of the Nahda

Jens Hanssen and Max Weiss, eds. Arabic Thought Beyond the Liberal Age: Towards an Intellectual History of the Nahda. New York: Cambridge University Press, 2016. Jadaliyya (J): What made you write this book? Jens Hanssen (JH): The ...

[Sabry in his engineering job, 2013. Photo by Mounir, Sabry’s brother.]

Two Years Without Trial in Max Security: Will the Scorpion Release Sabry on 16 April?

In August 2016, Sabry’s brother sprayed an image of Sabry’s face and bandaged limbs, clasped between the claws of an ominous scorpion, onto a wall in downtown Cairo. Next to it was a piece of text that began: “It is the third Eid that ...


New Methods of Warfare Target Civilians--And it's Legal

[image from empirestrikesblack.com]

The laws of war, or humanitarian law, are dynamic and read like a rich treatise on lessons learned-always commentary on the regulations of war that should have existed in order to avoid grotesque brutality. Consider that the International Committee of the Red Cross is the progeny of Henri Dunant's reflections on the lack of care for combatants in the Battle of Solferino, which he captured in his Souvenir de Solferino. The Hague Conventions of 1906 and 1907 came on the heels of Russo-Japanese War of 1904-05 while World War II inspired the Geneva Conventions of 1949.

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What's in a City? (Part 1)

Map of the city of Beirut

One night a few months ago, while spending some time in Beirut, I needed to get from the Sinn al-Fil neighborhood to that of Ras Beirut, and called a taxi to pick me up. After driving around for twenty minutes, it became clear that the cab driver had no idea how to get us out of the urban planning nightmare that is Sinn al-Fil. So we flagged down a family in a silver SUV to ask directions. “Brother, how do I get to Beirut?” the taxi driver asked. SUV driver stared at him. “We ARE in Beirut, man. Where do you think you are? Where do you need to go?” Taxi man: “No, I need to get to Ras Beirut, near the Military Club.”    SUV driver: “Habibi, Ras ...

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Is Lebanon Ready?

[Image from Maryam Monalisa Gharavi]

هل لبنان مستعد؟ قبل ثمانية وعشرين عاما، كان الذباب يحوم حول أجساد ممزقة، بعضها ببطون مبقورة، وبعضها الآخر تهاوى على الأرض في صفوف منتظمة. بعضها كان أشلاء، وبعضها الآخر كان متجمدا بيد ترتفع حاملة بطاقة هوية. بعضها كان يعود لرجال، ونساء، الكثير منها كان لأطفال. بعضها كان لحيوانات.      كانت أرض خراب، صورة ما يمكن للإنسان أن يرتكبه من هول، بيدين عاريتين، وفي مواجهة ضحيته وجها لوجه. الذين عاثوا ما عاثوا في مخيمي صبرا وشاتيلا يومي السادس عشر والسابع عشر من أيلول العام 1982، كانوا من البشر. تسنى لهم النظر إلى ضحاياهم في عيونهم. رأوهم في ثياب النوم، أخرجوهم من أسرّتهم، صفوهم على امتداد الجدران، قتلوا بعضهم بالرصاص، وقرروا التخلص من البعض الآخر ...

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The Predicament of Independent Opposition (Part 2)

[Image from Jadaliyya]

In part I, here, the three waves of political liberalization in Syria were listed, but only the first was discussed. The second wave, L 1.2, is discussed below. The purpose of these narratives is ultimately to discuss the predicament of independent opposition in Syria, i.e., the opposition (to the Syrian regime) that is anti-US foreign policy, anti-Islamists who have their bases and some allegiances abroad, and the one that opposes the creeping dominance of business interests in the country. Many of these individuals and groups are called out by the Syrian state as traitors of sorts, at the same time that their critical stances, actions, and writing vis-a-vis external ...

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Laugh! There is a Bomb in your Car

A Scene from the Show

Ramadan is a very special time of year for Muslims and it is impossible to overestimate its socio-cultural importance. Additional time and effort are invested in its daily rituals and practices. Familial and social bonds are augmented and celebrated. Traditional games used to be an important facet of the month’s celebratory and festive mood culminating in the feast marking the month’s end. While these games are still popular and are still played in many parts of the Islamicate world, they have been largely eclipsed by visual entertainment. Thus, Ramadan is the month to watch TV and follow the new shows and soap operas. It is the month with the highest rates of viewership ...

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Burn Baby Burn

[Image from unknown archive--Protest in Beirut]

I have been thinking a lot about electricity. A couple of nights ago, I spent 24 hours without it. At ten pm the lights went out, and they did not come back on until the next evening. With the lights went the air conditioner, the television, the refrigerator, the internet, the fan, my stove, and finally, my computer and my telephone. That night, I put a puzzle together by candlelight, opened all my windows, sat naked on my couch, and re-learned the value of a summer breeze. I slept on the marble floor of my bedroom.

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.. مستوطنة اريئيل والأمير الضفدع

[Image from Jadaliyya]

 إنضمت وزيرة الثقافة والرياضة الإسرائيلية ليمور ليفنات إلى جوقة المنددين برسالة وقع عليها 53 ممثلاً وكاتباً مسرحياً إسرائيلياً يعلنون فيها عن رفضهم الإشتراك في أي فعاليات فنية أو عروض مسرحية ستقام في أي مستوطنة بنيت في الأراضي الفلسطينية المحتلة، بما في ذلك مستوطنة اريئيل. وبحسب مركز"بتسيلم"م لحقوق الإنسان في الأراضي المحتلة، فإن المستوطنات الإسرائيلية في الأراضي المحتلة يفوق عددها ال 150  مستوطنة إضافة إلى أكثر من  100 بؤرة إستيطانية. يعيش قرابة النصف مليون مستوطن في هذه المستوطنات التي يقع تحت سيطرتها  أكثر من 40 بالمئة من أراضي الضفة. بنيت مستوطنة اريئيل هذه عام 1978وتعد رابع أكبر مستوطنة في فلسطين ...

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What is Good Sex?

[Image from unknown archive]

I am sure we all have our own answers to this question. While I can only imagine how interesting these answers may be, the answer according to the Lebanese state (or any other state) is much more complicated. This answer is refracted and expressed through various mediums, including the law. One way to understand what "good sex" is according to the Lebanese state is to study the way that sex is regulated in the Lebanese legal system. In order to do this, the legal system in its entirety must be taken into account. 

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Neoliberalism's Populist Engine and Race in America

[Image from Manishtama.blogspot.com]

What began as an entertaining spectacle of Americans reenacting the Boston tea party across the country in early 2009 has congealed into a viable and tangible political force. In the recent primaries leading up to the November mid-term elections, Tea Party candidates both challenged long-time Republican incumbents, and dominated the terms of reference thereby forcing Republican nominees to shift to the right. Senator John McCain’s bid for the Republican Senatorial nomination in Arizona is especially telling. Despite serving as a senator for four terms and securing the Republican Party’s Presidential nomination in 2008, McCain went head to head against his Tea Party ...

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The Politics of Power Cuts In Egypt (Part 1)

[Image from Jadaliyya]

Egypt has been suffering from an exceptionally hot summer, with record temperatures observed all over the country. The “terrible heat wave” mantra, thus, grew to become what is probably the most pressing issue in Egypt today. The advent of Ramadan obviously could only but emphasize this problem more, as people now have to fast through long and exceptionally hot summer days. Naturally none of this is unique to Egypt: the entire region suffers the same heat wave. But unlike its neighbors Egypt has been suffering also from long, systematic, nationwide power cuts. Facing sudden shortages in the country’s electric generation capacity, the authorities began to reduce demand ...

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To Stay Modern

BP WWII advertisement (company website)

On 4 August, after more than five million barrels of oil battered the Gulf of Mexico for over 100 days, BP proclaimed the success of its “static kill strategy.” Pumping the blown out well with mud and cement was working to stop what BP calls the “leak” or alternatively, “the Gulf of Mexico incident.” The company, its website explained, was “doing everything we can to make this right.” In the meantime, the environmental and economic devastation of the worst spill in US history and the world’s largest accidental release of oil, promises to outlive both BP and its relentless search for petroleum.

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The Safety of Objects

[Jadaliyya Image]

I am making a list. A list of objects needed when the next war begins in Lebanon. I am not being morbid. I am being realistic. After all, it has been over four years since the last “big” war in this country (July 2006), and over two years since the last “mini war” (May 2008). Still more ominously, nothing seems to have changed since those past two wars. The same inept politicians are still arguing over the same issues, the country is still tiptoeing on the double-edged sword of corruption and inefficiency, the gulf between rich and poor continues to widen, Israel is still desiring the destruction of the last non-Palestinian armed resistance group in the Arab ...

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The Forgotten War

Selective amnesia is often deployed or manipulated to package history in a more simple and palatable narrative. The process involves major elisions to edit out any event(s) that might complicate the desired reductive and truncated narrative. One such major elision in the reigning Iraq narrative is that of the Iran-Iraq War (1980-1988). That destructive war claimed the lives of hundreds of thousands of Iraqis and Iranians and predetermined the lives of millions of others. It impacted the societies of both ...

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Waiting for History: A Meditation on the Trial of Omar Khadr

The Guantánamo military commission trial of Canadian child soldier Omar Khadr began on August 12. But at 4 p.m. on the first day, Khadr’s lawyer, Lt. Col. Jon Jackson, collapsed in the courtroom from extreme pain related to a surgery he had earlier in the summer. Jackson and all the other trial participants and attendees—except Khadr, of course—were transported back to the mainland. Had the trial not been interrupted, by now the forty-some scheduled witnesses would have testified, the seven-member ...

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Kafala Politics and Domestic Labor in Saudi Arabia

As we prepare to land at Riyadh’s King Khalid International Airport, I grudgingly wear my abaya and wrap the headscarf around my neck. A few Saudi men in jeans and t-shirts rush to the bathrooms and change into their long, white thobes. When we touch down, I call my wakil, a male agent who has to be physically present in lieu of my male guardian to “collect me.” The word in Arabic is yistilimni. I ask him to meet me at the immigration counter. A few meters outside the door of the plane is the VIP ...

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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 you can swim into and explore. ...

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Can A Muslim Truly Be An American?

There are numerous ways to approach this question.  From a legal standpoint, many Muslims are American, having been born in the United States.  Many Muslim immigrants are in possession of a United States passport, an item that ideally would be the only criterion by which one is judged “American.” National identity is only partly informed by formal citizenship, however.  In the United States today, as throughout its history, citizenship is invested with crucial symbolic ...

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Egypt's Power-Cuts (Part 2)

In part one we saw how exceptional heat wrecked havoc on Egypt this summer, as it supposedly increased demand for electricity beyond the national generation capacity. This prompted the authorities to cut power off whole cities and neighborhoods for long durations everyday to bring demand down to a level within the network’s capacity. As we have seen, the social and economic cost of doing so have been plain huge. And as such, they signalled the state’s failure to all. But the reason why all of this ...

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Presumed Intelligent

If you gave an exam with 779 questions and the test taker got anywhere from 36 to 84 of the answers “not totally wrong”—not 36 to 84 percent but actual answers—you would regard said test taker as not the master of this domain, right? Of course, right. (You might even advise said taker to find another major.) Well, that’s the US government’s score on the test that is the Guantánamo Bay (GTMO) detention facility. The total number of foreign prisoners ever detained at GTMO is 779. Or ...

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An Open Invitation to An Occupation Masquerade

       دعوة مفتوحة إلى حفلة احتلال تنكريّة    نائب الرئيس الأمريكي جو بايدن في بغداد (ليشرف على مفاوضات تشكيل الحكومة العراقية التي قد تستغرق قرناً). ووزير الدفاع الأمريكي روبرت غيتس وصل هناك صباح اليوم في زيارة مفاجئة للمشاركة في الطقوي الاحتفالية. مساء أمس وجّه أوباما خطاباً إلى الشعب الأمريكي من مكتبه في البيت الأبيض وهو تقليد مهم في السياسة الأمريكية وهي المرة الثانية فقط التي يستخدم فيها أوباما هذا المنبر بالذات. والمناسبة هي  “الاحتفال بانتهاء المهام القتالية في ...

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The Predicament of Independent Opposition (Part 1)

In Sunday's New York Times article on Syria (August 30, 2010) , “Doors Start to Open for Activists in Syria,” we hear of a mix of change and age-old obstacles. The story is short and sweet, with a mixture of sound observations, levelheaded optimism, and critique. There is nothing particularly striking about the report, except the anticipation of responses from various sides. I’ll take up two of these. But first, a quick look at the record of “change” or “political liberalization” in Syria since 1991.

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My Great and Terrible Obsession: Torture

Every single day I think about torture. Some days I write about it, or teach about it. Every day I read about it. I can turn any social conversation with any friend or relative to the topic. (Keep that in mind if we meet for coffee.) Torture is my obsession. I can trace my obsession back at least to college; I wrote my senior thesis (at Tufts circa 1983) on human rights violations in the West Bank and Gaza, among which torture featured prominently. When it was time to select a subject for my ...

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Endless Negotiations: Palestinian Quicksand

News of resumed peace talks have hit the headlines--on September 1st, international leaders will break bread and on September 2nd, ostensibly well-rested and full-bellied, they will resume direct peace negotiations. Sadly, the photo opportunity will provide little more than the occasion for spectators to juxtapose this photo alongside similar ones over a span of nearly two decades. While this may make for a lovely Sunday afternoon activity with our children as we instill in them their first lesson in ...

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The Poet Lives

Two years have passed since the Palestinian poet Mahmoud Darwish (1941-2008) died at a hospital in Texas from complication of heart surgery on August 9, 2008. His death left a considerable void in Palestine and the Arab world. He was, after all, a unique figure by any measure. By the end of his life he had been widely recognized and admired as a great world poet who left behind an oeuvre of staggering beauty and sophistication. He was the most popular and inventive Arab poet in the last three decades. ...

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