September 2, 2014

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  • Op-ed: From Khaled Saeed to Malala Yousafzai

    In the midst of revolution, martyrs and icons can become potent symbols that strike deep at the heart of Arab regimes.

    BY AMRO ALI While reading the horrific case of Malala Yousafzai, the 14-year-old Pakistani girl who was shot in the face by the Taliban for championing girls’ education, I came across a photo of a young supporter of Malala that triggered memories of a similar image that has forever been engraved in my mind: in June 2010 an Egyptian youth protesting the tragic killing of Khaled Saeed, the 28-year-old Alexandrian who was beaten to death by policemen that would trigger the rapid countdown to the 2011 Egyptian revolution (See my detailed June piece Saeeds of Revolution: De-mythologizing Khaled Saeed.) The…

    Buttered Up: Cowhide and turnovers

    Chaussons aux Pommes (French Apple Turnovers). (Photo by Sarah Khanna)

    BY SARAH KHANNA Only yesterday I was gifted an early 1980s Rwandan cowhide rug as a housewarming present. At first I was unsure about laying it out, granting it the power to open up thoughts of guests about the ethical treatment of animals. What does it say about me, about our home? It has been a year since I witnessed the slaughter of a sheep for the first time. On Friday, it will happen again and I have chosen to go. It is not a pleasant experience. It is unlikely that it ever will be, but it is necessary to…

    Shaymaa Kamel bares her soul in “Roh”

    "Freedom" (2009) by Shaymaa Kamel.

    BY YASMINE ALLAM Last February Shaymaa Kamel showed a series of large canvases populated by rows of fictional animals dressed in suits. To her, these creatures symbolized the tyranny of successive political leaderships in Egypt, out of touch with their own humanity and their people. The undisguised political nature of this message was a departure from Kamel’s previous work, which had been dominated by far more private and visceral portrayals of her own ongoing quest for identity and introspection. For the first time, Kamel’s current solo exhibition “Roh” (Soul) at Tache Art Gallery, brings under one roof, paintings shown in…

    Egypt’s Syrian refugees live on the edge

    In a three-day event organized by the UNHCR in collaboration with the Egyptian Women's Association and the Administration of the Islamic Compound of Sheikh Zayed, about 1,000 people registered for the refugees' yellow card

    BY NADA MOSELHY Cairo Wessam El-Sonbolly, a Syrian mother of four and a grandmother, sat impatiently in the big hall in the Islamic Compound of 6th of October City waiting for her name to be called out. She was there to issue a “yellow card” to legalize her stay in Egypt and put an end to the haunting  fear of deportation that has gripped her for the past two months. Almost 18 months into the Syrian revolution, El-Sonbolly, like many Syrians who fled their homeland to escape President Bashar El-Assad’s brutal military crackdown on dissent, seeking asylum in neighboring countries…

    Op-ed: On pigtails and education

    This image published in Al Masry Al Youm shows the 11-year-old girl's uneven pigtails.

    BY ASMAA EL GAMMAL Two days ago local media reported that a sixth grade school teacher in Luxor cut the hair of two of her students because they did not wear a headscarf. Accompanying the reports was a photo of a forlorn-looking little girl in pigtails and a pink backpack. At the corner of the photo, an unidentified hand points to her left pigtail, which is now clearly shorter than the right. My instinct told me that there was no need to physically point out everything that’s wrong with this picture. But it seems that sometimes, you need to point…

    Debut novel breaks new ground

    Author Maha Ayoub holds a copy of her debut self-published novel "Magaret Elnour" (Galaxy of Light).

    BY YASMINE MOTAWY Ten years of studying comparative literature have turned me into a very critical reader. So when my friend Maha Ayoub gave me her self-published debut novel to read, I cringed. It spent Ramadan, Eid and a good part of September on my shelf collecting dust until the strangest series of events unfolded all in one week. I met people at a private garden where I spend my Friday mornings, friends at a funeral, and an acquaintance I rarely see, who all happened to tell me they had read “Magaret Elnour” (Galaxy of Light) and loved it. This did…

    BUTTERED UP: Raisin cake and the seed bombs

    Raisin Cake. (Photo by Sarah Khanna)

    BY SARAH KHANNA Felix Baumgartner is on television and in about a minute he will jump from an altitude of around 39,000 meters to Earth. I am piled up on a cream couch, cool blue blanket on my thighs and a thick cut of cake in my hand, eagerly waiting as the television presenters call it a historic moment like they do with most else. He opens the capsule and flies as I gawk with a gaping mouth at our world which hauls its farmers into court over patented (genetically modified) GMO seeds; which now passes pizza off as a…

    TransDance pushes the boundaries

    Performance by Lilibeth Cuenca cannibalises other iconic performance art pieces from the 1960s mostly by women.

    BY RACHEL ADAMS As the Islamist-dominated constituent assembly drafts the country’s new constitution, Egyptian artists are taking advantage of the hiatus by pushing the boundaries of what may become controversial in the future. TransDance is a festival not “of” dance, but “for” dance, and as director Adham Hafez explains, aims to push the boundaries in as many ways as it can. “This is the largest edition [of the festival] and so has the most experiments. My role was [to allow] for the artists to push beyond familiar ground.” Encompassing workshops, debates and performance, the festival takes place in venues as…

    Op-ed: Hypocrisy or religion?

    More conservative women are increasingly lecturing other women on how "proper" their veil is.

    BY REHAM BARAKAT There seems to be a reverberating trend of conversation that I feel is dominating Egyptian society. This is the consistent questioning of people who display what is construed as religiosity in all its forms. It is also the questioning of individuals who are affiliated with religious parties of some sort. And here I am talking about Islam per se. The question that seems to be taking center stage is: are these people really religious or are they merely uninformed hypocrites? The reason why I am interested in this concept is because I have read, seen and heard…

    Op-ed:Tahrir Square: Rent-a-thug culture

    Screen grab from the Battle of the Camel (left) and another from footage taken during clashes between anti-and pro Morsi protesters.

    BY AMRO ALI It’s hard to imagine the above photos are two different events. Yet one took place at the turning point of the 18 day revolution, when pro-Mubarak thugs came out on Feb. 2, 2011 on horseback and camels to scare the protesters away, and the latter was on Friday, nowhere near the level of the Battle of the Camel, but disturbing enough. What they do have in common, besides the striking visual parallel, is citizen versus citizen, which has not happened at any time in between those two events. The backdrop to Friday’s case could not be any…

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