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The Perils of American Muslim Politics الهَدم والبناء الاستعماري في الجولان حقوق المثليين والمثليات محكّ لحقوق الإنسان بين المدرسة والمسجد نص للأديب
[Turkish riot police detained demonstrators who gather at Besiktas to support detained teachers Semih Ozakca and Nuriye Gulmen, in Istanbul on 23 May 2017. Image by Depo Photos/Press Association via openDemocracy.]

Fear and Loathing in Turkish Academia: A Tale of Appeasement and Complicity

It was a “call for papers” like all others. “On behalf of the Turkish Political Economy Society (TPES),” said the organizers of the Fifth TPES Interdisciplinary Workshop on Turkey and Latin America in Comparative Perspective, “we would be ...

[اللوحة للفنان العراقي قيس السندي]

الاغتيال والاختطاف في العراق: حقل التحريض المتسع

 لا توجد إحصائية دقيقة للاغتيالات والاختطاف في العراق. فالسلطات الرسمية لا تكترث كثيراً بأرشفة الاخبار السيئة التي تحدث يومياً، أما الصحافة فلا تعير أهمية أيضاً لمثل هذه الحوادث، وغالباً تتعامل معها إذا ما هزّ اغتيال او اختطاف الرأي ...

The Referendum in Turkey-A STATUS/الوضع Interview with Sinan Birdal

In this interview for STATUS/الوضع, host Shahram Aghamir speaks with Sinan Birdal, who unpacks Turkey's constitutional referendum that passed on April 16. In a turbulent political environment where the soft and hard executive ...

[Tanks in the streets of Tehran in 1953. Image via Wilipedia]

Musaddiq’s Spectre: On the Recent Declassification of US Documents

Following the 1989 release of the first Iran-related volume of the State Department’s Foreign Relations of the United States (FRUS) series, a plethora of books and articles have been written detailing the MI6-CIA coup d’état in Iran on 19 ...

Imperial Feminism, Islamophobia, and the Egyptian Revolution

[Image from unknown archive]

". . . I’m making this video to give you one simply message: We want to go down to Tahrir Square on January 25. If we still have honor and want to live with dignity on this land, we have to go down on January 25. We’ll go down and demand our rights, our fundamental human rights...The entire government is corrupt—a corrupt president and a corrupt security force…If you stay home, you deserve what will happen to you…and you’ll be guilty, before your nation and your people…Go down to the street, send SMS’s, post it post it on the ‘net. Make people aware…you know your own social circle, your building, your family, your friends, tell them to ...

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From the Blogosphere to the Street: The Role of Social Media in the Egyptian Uprising

[Image from unknown archive]

While the uprising in Egypt caught most observers of the Middle East off guard, it did not come out of the blue. The seeds of this spectacular mobilization had been sown as far back as the early 2000s and had been carefully cultivated by activists from across the political spectrum, many of these working online via Facebook, twitter, and within the Egyptian blogosphere. Working within these media, activists began to forge a new political language, one that cut across the institutional barriers that had until then polarized Egypt’s political terrain, between more Islamicly-oriented currents (most prominent among them, the Muslim Brotherhood) and secular-liberal ones. ...

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Tahrir's Other Sky

[A Tunisian protestor. Image from unknown archive.]

The Earth is closing on us pushing us through the last passage and we tear off our limbs to pass through. Where should we go after the last frontiers? Where should the birds fly after the last sky? -- Mahmoud Darwish Egypt’s exhilarating call for freedom, as Elliott Colla recently noted is an astonishing moment of poetry. The refrain, "Ish-sha‘b/yu-rîd/is-qât/in-ni-zâm” (The People Want the Fall of the Regime) resoundingly rings for millions in the Arab world and beyond. With all eyes on Liberation Square, many are wrestling with what Maya Mikdashi aptly called the unfamiliar restlessness of hope. As the twists and turns of the 25 January ...

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إلى أين تتجه الثورة المصرية؟ [Where is the Egyptian Revolution Heading?]

[A girl waves the national flag of Egypt in the crowd during protests, Image by Felipe Truba, EPA]

يقدم النظام الحاكم في مصر تنازلات يومية كبرى كل يوم للانتفاضة المصرية، التي نجحت في تثبيت أقدامها على الأرض. ما حققته الانتفاضة حتى اللحظة لم يكن يحلم به أحد: تعهد مبارك بعدم الترشح، إنهاء مشروع التوريث، السقوط السياسي للحزب الحاكم بكل عفنه، والتخلص من قيادتي حرسه القديم والجديد، الاعتراف بأكبر جماعة معارضة في مصر كانت محظورة منذ أسبوعين مما يفتح الباب لكل القوى الوطنية خارج الشرعية، الموت السياسي بالسكتة للمشروع النيوليبرالي المعادي للفقراء في السياسات الاقتصادية والاجتماعية، اهتزاز المجالس البرلمانية المزورة..والقائمة تطول والمكاسب تزيد كل يوم. لكن ليس من الصدفة أن النظام الذي أصبح يقبل كل ذلك بين يوم وليلة مازال يتمترس وراء ضرورة بقاء مبارك رئيسا، بينما يرى الشارع ...

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It's Not About Islam, Stupid!

[Image from unknown archive]

“Yes We Can” Since the flight of Tunisia’s Ben Ali on January 14th, there has apparently been a breakthrough in the imaginary of the possible in the Arab world.  I was in Egypt at the time, and reeling as everyone seemed to be from the bombing of the Coptic church in Alexandria, attention soon became fixed on Tunisia, and a moment of national unity in reaction to the tragic event in Alexandria, soon developed into a movement of national unity that dared to conceive of and act toward an alternative to their own regime. Like many others, I have also been riveted to coverage of the demonstrations that Tunisia’s revolution inspired in Egypt, a revolution that remained ...

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Why Egypt's Progressives Win

[Women protesting in Tahrir Square; Image from AP]

On 6 February 2011, Egypt’s hastily appointed Vice President Omar Suleiman invited in the old guard or what we could call the Businessmen’s Wing of the Muslim Brothers into a stately meeting in the polished rosewood Cabinet Chamber of Mubarak’s Presidential Palace. The aim of their tea party was to discuss some kind of accord that would end the national uprising and restore “normalcy.” When news of the meeting broke, expressions of delight and terror tore through the blogosphere. Was the nightmare scenario of both the political left and right about to be realized? Would the US/Israel surrogate Suleiman merge his military-police apparatus with the power of the ...

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Revolutionary Contagion: Morocco and a Plea for Specificity

An image of Mohamed VI of Morocco, featured on the 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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Little Protests, Big Erasures

[The Back of a Guantanamo Prison Uniform, Image from Unknown Archive]

In a recent interview with Carol Rosenberg, Joint Detention Group Commander Col. Thomas’ has stated that, contrary to reports issued by the Center for Constitutional Rights and CUNY Law School, detainees at Guantanamo Bay are not, in fact, engaged in protests. According to Col. Thomas, detainees are neither holding sit-ins, nor particularly moved by the events unfolding across the Middle East. Instead, Col. Thomas -- in an attempt to “set the record straight”-- tells us that detainees are actually far more engrossed in following soccer tournaments. I suppose it’s no coincidence that in presenting this as the ‘real’ state of affairs, Guantamano Bay gets fashioned as ...

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State Culture, State Anarchy

[Gaber Asfour Sworn in as Minister of Culture. Image from Alarabiyya]

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 carried by Mubarak’s goon squads this week: “Thirty years of stability, Nine days of chaos.” While “culture” has little to do with the underlying demands of the people ...

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How Can Egypt Get From Tahrir Square to Democracy? Lessons from Poland in 1989

[Polish Round Table 1989; Image from Wiki Commons]

This article is co-written by Michael Kennedy and Shiva Balaghi “To Husni Mubarak: leave already. Arabs around the world are trying to sleep,” read a tweet. “Leave already, my hand hurts,” read a sign held up by a man on Cairo’s streets. From Tahrir Square, we hear that protesters are facing a new pressure possibly more strong than the pro-Mubarak thugs set lose on them in recent days. Family members, neighbors and merchants in the Tahrir area are pleading with them to go home already and let life get “back to normal.” The White House has heard the message that Mubarak must go, and must go now. But what next? On January 25, the very first day of these protests, a young ...

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Impromptu: The Cairo Commune

[Egyptian protester hooked to an IV drip, image from unknown archive]

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. Hundreds were wounded and some lost their lives. Their spirits were hovering over al-Tahrir, waiting and looking down at their comrades who were determined to defend the ...

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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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Egypt, and the Post-Islamist Middle East

For years, western political elites and their local allies have charged the Arab peoples with political apathy and lethargy. The argument that Arabs are uninterested in seeking to wrest greater democratic freedoms from their authoritarian rulers always rested on shaky foundations. But now that millions of Egyptians, following the Tunisians’ example, have proved it wrong by mobilising against power, the sceptical ground has adjusted: toward the murmured fear that Egypt’s uprising would develop into an ...

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Recuperating the Democracy Narrative: Fareed Zakaria and Preparing for a Post-Mubarak World

On February 8, 2011 Secretary of Defense and ex-CIA chief Robert Gates urged “ governments in the region” to “take measures to begin moving in a positive direction toward addressing the political and economic grievances of their people."[1] The mantra has droned out of  Obama administration corridors for weeks including Hilary Clinton’s now infamous and indeed racist admonition of Arab regimes to reform in early January. In Doha, the Secretary of State criticizes the “corrupt institutions and ...

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The Arab Pro-Democracy Movement: Struggles to Redefine Citizenship

  We are witnessing a historic moment in Egypt and the Arab world. The youth of the region have a revolutionary opportunity to enfranchise citizens---this is the antithesis of the entire post-colonial formula. I am trying to identify the tangible but radical changes that can take place. Clearly there are many forces in Egypt that might undermine this revolutionary situation. The old political parties, and most importantly the Muslim Brotherhood—might try cutting deals. I think the most that may ...

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The naysayers who had been suggesting (or, in some cases, hoping) that the protests in Egypt were running out of steam have been proven wrong, once again, by the Egyptian people. By some accounts, the crowds in Midan Tahrir today were the largest yet — “hundreds of thousands,” according to the Guardian’s live reports — and many of those protesting today were coming out onto the streets for the first time. As I write this, protests continue in front of the Parliament building, with the possibility of a ...

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ثورة...وأشياء صغيرة أخرى [A Revolution. . . and a Few Other Things]

 طيارة ورق بدت أصابع رجب أرقّ من سيقان الورود، وهي تلف الخيوط السوداء والبيضاء حول العيدان بعزم وحذر متلعثم. استوطنت بقايا شحم السيارات تحت أظفاره، فصبغتها بالسواد ولم يساعده غسلها كل يوم إلا قليلاً. شحم السيارات التي يفك قطعها منذ خمسين عاماً لا يمر مرور الكرام فوق هذا الجسد، فيبدو رجب كأنه ولد بأظفار يتمدد تحتها سوادٌ أفحم من الليل . «أنفخ معايا في الهوا يا عم، يمكن طيارتي تطير فوق الرؤوس»، قالت له الصغيرة بصوتها المشدوه الذي كان يبحث عن مكان له في زحمة الهتافات في الميدان. ترك رجب الجمع الذي ...

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Making History in Tahrir

Nightingale, do not fear your song Speak your complaint and tell of your ordeal The song will not kill you but Holding back song is what will kill you I wonder! Salah Jahin (1930-1986)  Watching Egyptians protest today is a sight I never thought I’d witness. Having studied urban protest in Egypt and Syria in the late Middle Ages, like other Arabs of my generation I had been beguiled by our political quietness, our seemingly unending, bottomless stoicism. I chose to work on ...

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Egypt's Three Revolutions: The Force of History behind this Popular Uprising

When the Egyptian Uprising of 2011 began, we heard media pundits, friends, and colleagues milling about in search of apt metaphors to describe the mass protests and revolution in Egypt. In so far as “history” was mobilized in these discussions, it was generally as repetition or analogy. Hence: the Berlin Wall; Tiananmen Square; the first Palestinian Intifada; the Iranian Revolution; the Paris Commune; and the French Revolution, as well as Egypt’s own 1919 and 1952 revolutions. But do these vivid ...

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Preparing Tomorrow's History Lessons

Last night, my husband Michael Kennedy and I wrote an essay for Jadaliyya suggesting that the Polish Round Tables of 1989 might present a model for those hoping to move the Tahrir protest movements forward. He is an academic who works on Central and Eastern Europe, I on the Middle East. The difference in our world regions, I often tell him, is in your part of the world, the US supports protest movements; in my part of the world, the US stands in their way. I’d hoped Egypt’s January 25 movement would be ...

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U.S. Foreign Policy and the Democratic Uprising in Egypt

At least thirteen pro-democracy protesters have been killed and hundreds injured in clashes with pro-Mubarak mobs in and around Tahrir Square in downtown Cairo. The attacks began on Wednesday when hundreds of Mubarak’s supporters, some of them on horses and camels, charged the pro-democracy protesters in an attempt to take control of the area. The assault escalated in the early hours of Thursday when Mubarak’s mob opened fire on their opponents. Since then, the mob has continued to use violence and ...

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Looking to Egypt, Again

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 ...

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Encouraging the Outcome through Silence

On Tuesday February 1st, the 82-year old Hosni Mubarak, who has ruled Egypt with a hammer-swinging fist since 1981, announced that he would not run in September’s presidential election. He also pledged to “die on Egyptian soil,” sending the message that he would be retiring in Egypt, not into exile. The demonstrators rejected his belated concession. The protesters’ demands have not wavered since the beginning of the uprising. They want an end to Mubarak’s tenure and have signaled that military generals ...

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The "Anderson Cooper Effect" on American TV Reporting from Cairo (Updated Feb 3)

UPDATE BELOW. On February 2, CNN journalist Anderson Cooper was one of many victims of violence by Mubarakoids who turned Tahrir Square into a battle zone. Cooper was beaten by thugs, as were other members of his crew. A BBC crew was arrested, blindfolded and taken into custody for several hours before being released. MSNBC’s Richard Engel and his NBC colleague Brian Williams reported throughout the night from a vantage point where they could see, film and comment on the violence that has engulfed what, ...

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Popular Now: Qatar, Saudi Arabia, and the Gulf Cooperation Council Crisis

The 1967 Defeat and the Conditions of the Now: A Roundtable