Tag Archives: Egypt

Racialicious Crush Of The Week: Mira Nair

By Andrea Plaid

Having watched several of Mira Nair’s films repeatedly, I swear her guiding directive is, “If you’re 1) brown,  2) grown, and 3) sexy, you need to be in my film.”

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The Friday Mixtape – 6.29.12 Edition

With Mexico’s presidential elections coming up this Sunday – under no shortage of shadiness, mind you – let’s kick off this week’s edition with Molotov’s “Gimme Tha Power,” (nsfw – language) which still resonates a decade after its original release:

Our next track is a find by our own Andrea Plaid: Esperanza Spalding, who we’ve featured before, teams up with jazz great Joe Lovano for a cover of Michael Jackson’s “Can’t Help It,” in a clip that winds its way thru NYC. And if you’re a fan of Wicked or Rent, keep an extra-close eye on her co-star …

Speaking of finds by friends, the dynamic duo at Disgrasian turned us on to this cross-continental collab between Japanese beatbox wiz Hikakin and Nonstop, a U.S.-based dancer:

Remember “Sh-t Men Say To Men Who Say Sh-t To Women On The Streets”? Check out this Egyptian counterpart, which was posted earlier this month. Directed by Anum Khan with help from HarassMap, “What Men Say to Men Who Harass Women on the Streets” packs an equally potent message.

One more track with a message to close us out: Jasiri X and Rhymefest went to the source when making the video for “Who’s Illegal?,” traveling to Alabama and Arizona and getting a view from the ground-level at the immigration fight in each respective state. The track is currently available as a free download on Jasiri’s Bandcamp site.

M.I.A. And The Real ‘Bad Girls’

By Guest Contributor Thanu Yakupitiyage, cross-posted from Hyphen Magazine

Courtesy of TheGrio.com

By now pretty much everyone knows M.I.A. as the bad girl who flipped off the Super Bowl halftime camera. But her fans are more preoccupied with her new music video, “Bad Girls”, in which BMWs and Mercedes Benzes race in a desert we presume to be in the Middle East, tires burn in nameless oil states, Bedouin-styled men ride stallions à la Casablanca, brown rebel-types tote guns, and backup dancers appear in not-quite-accurate hipsterized niqab and hijab.
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Not My Arab Spring

Courtesy of Illume Magazine

By Guest Contributor Sara Yasin

The Arab Spring shattered everything that I thought I knew about the Arab world. As unrest broke out in the region, and regimes fell, I realised how little I knew. As a Palestinian-American, it has been routine to reference my heritage, from explaining why I do not look like Princess Jasmine, or distancing myself from suicide bombers. The politics of the land of my parents always frustrated me, and I suppose what I understood was mostly gleaned from exhausted conversations overheard in our home or headlines.

To my shock, even though I proved to know very little about what caused the Arab Spring, many seemed to automatically think that the first half of my hyphenated identity automatically made me an authority on the region. While I feel tied to and interested in the struggle for change across the Middle East and North Africa, this is not my Arab Spring.

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How Egypt’s Nude Revolutionary Delivered a Stick of Dynamite

 By Guest Contributor Simba Rousseau, cross-posted from Witnessing Life

Twenty-year-old Egyptian blogger Magda Aliaa el-Mahdy rose to stardom after delivering a stick of dynamite via her blog, ‘A Rebel’s Diary’, in what she described as being in the spirit of the revolution.

(Editor’s Note: NSFW image is under the cut. – Arturo)

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Quoted: Beyonce’s Observations on Women and Liberty

Beyonce

During our November 9th, 2009 show at Port Ghalib in Egypt, something happened that inspired some of my writing for my album 4 (arriving in a few weeks). I was in the middle of performing “Irreplaceable,” and as the audience started singing “to the left, to the left” there was a woman sitting on top of a man’s shoulders in her full, traditional burka. Only her eyes and hands were visible.

She was waving her hands to the left, to the left, and singing every word – which I could see because the veil around her mouth was moving. Although the venue was at capacity, I could see her clearly in the audience. I was shocked she was even there, that she’d even been allowed to go to a concert, because after it gets dark, you don’t see any women in burkas on the street. So her presence alone was so moving. Witnessing the power, beauty, and strength of women – especially those living in places where their liberty is limited – is what moved me the most. I felt she had her beliefs, and they were important to her, but music also had a place in her life and she made a choice to be there.

—Beyonce, “Eat, Play Love,” published in Essence, July 2011

Women’s Voices in the Revolutions Sweeping the Middle East

By Guest Contributor Tasnim, cross-posted from Muslimah Media Watch

Google executive Wael Ghonim became one of the faces of the Egyptian revolution through the Facebook page “We are all Khalid Said,” which was a vital spark to the revolution. But another important spark was a video posted by 26-year-old Asmaa Mahfouz from the April 6 Youth Movement, where she declared that she was going out to Tahrir Square and urged people to join her in saving Egypt.

The spirit of freedom Mahfouz spoke about was symbolized in Tahrir Square, where Egyptian women found an equality and camaraderie that they are hoping will be carried forward in shaping a new Egypt—a hope Mona Seif, Gigi Ibrahim, and Salma El Tarzi express in this article.

In the revolutions currently sweeping the region, women’s voices have been loud and clear, from Amal Mathluthi singing for the Tunisian revolution, to the “bravest girl in Egypt” leading chants against Mubarak, to the journalist and activist Tawakul Karaman’s heading protests in Yemen. Outside the region, R&B artist Ayah added her voice to the single “#Jan25″ in solidarity with the Egyptian people, and journalist Mona El Tahawy appeared on countless media outlets, bringing the world’s attention to the events unfolding in her country, and the ongoing events in Yemen, Bahrain, Libya, and Iran.

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The World on Fire: Tunisia, Egypt, and the Power of Protest

by Latoya Peterson

What is the tipping point for a revolution?

Normally, there are many different things brewing – a political climate, social unrest, gross inequality that all contribute to turn a nation inside out. Yet many reports want to trace a revolution back to a single, definitive event. Crispus Attucks is considered the first martyr of the American Revolution, Rosa Parks is widely considered the catalyst of the US civil rights movement, her actions sparking the Montgomery Bus Boycott, and Mohamed Bouaziz is the name behind the sudden surge in interest in self-immolation.

Bouaziz’s last protest made its way to cameras, which then spread the news that Tunisia was on the cusp of a revolt. Al Jazeera frames the story:

In a country where officials have little concern for the rights of citizens, there was nothing extraordinary about humiliating a young man trying to sell fruit and vegetables to support his family.

Yet when Mohamed Bouazizi poured inflammable liquid over his body and set himself alight outside the local municipal office, his act of protest cemented a revolt that would ultimately end President Zine El Abidine Ben Ali’s 23-year-rule.

Local police officers had been picking on Bouazizi for years, ever since he was a child. For his family, there is some comfort that their personal loss has had such stunning political consequences.

“I don’t want Mohamed’s death to be wasted,” Menobia Bouazizi, his mother, said. “Mohamed was the key to this revolt.”

And yet later, it is revealed that Bouazizi was one of many who had started to sound the alarm – an alarm suppressed by government officials and widely ignored by media under governmental control:

Mohamed Bouazizi was not the first Tunisian to set himself alight in an act of public protest.

Abdesslem Trimech, to name one of many cases occurred without any significant media attention, set himself ablaze in the town of Monastir on March 3 after facing bureaucratic hindrance in his own work as a street vendor.

Neither was it evident that the protests that begin in Sidi Bouzid would spread to other towns. There had been similar clashes between police and protesters in the town of Ben Guerdane, near the border with Libya, in August.

The key difference in Sidi Bouzid was that locals fought to get news of what was happening out, and succeeded.

“We could protest for two years here, but without videos no one would take any notice of us,” Horchani said.

I often wonder what ignites a protest and what does not. I specifically think of Lee Kyoung Hae, who stabbed himself in protest of the World Trade Organization’s policies toward South Korean farmers and their agricultural policy at large. I was in high school when the Battle in Seattle occurred – I’ve been fascinated by the World Trade Organization ever since. But while Lee did not die in vain, his protest did not lead to the type of uprising that could topple the WTO. Why? Why do some protests galvanize into movements, and others fade into time?

There are no clear answers to these questions, and yet the world keeps moving. Egypt, hot on the heels of Tunisia, also underwent a revolution, one that garnered a bit more attention from media outlets here.

Reader Lara tipped us to this amazing piece by Sarah Ghabrial, which delivers some much needed context:

As much as Egyptians may have surprised themselves and their neighbours, no one seems more caught off guard by this recent turn of events than members of western mainstream media and political officials. The western media appear bewildered, their commentary halting and unsure. Perhaps this is because, for so long, news agencies have stacked their rolodexes with analysts on the Middle East whose area of expertise lay primarily in terrorism and religious fundamentalism. They now seem ill prepared to comprehend this past week’s events, which have been so free of religious rhetoric, much less offer any insight on what the world may expect to come next. More than one commentator has remarked on the possibility of an Islamist take-over in Egypt and elsewhere, as though for lack of anything else worthwhile to say. Some appeared at a loss as they reported that protesters were not shouting “Death to America.”

The response to civil unrest in Egypt has been strangely unlike the response to the Iranian would-be “Green Revolution” of 2009. Because Iranians were standing up to a long-hated Islamist regime, their struggle was immediately embraced in the west across the political spectrum.

By contrast, western observers in the cultural mainstream have been hesitant about the Days of Anger, as they lack a clear and ready-made approach for identifying and understanding Arab discontent. This is probably due in part to the ostensible “secularism” of these regimes, and because instability in the Middle East is seen as a breeding ground for terrorism. Ironically, most terrorists out of Egypt are largely a product of the Mubarak school of stability — imprisonment, repression, and torture. But apparently the alternative is more horrifying: a scenario in which Egyptians may choose their own government. One can picture the Egyptians who populate the imagination of policymakers and journalists: a pious and incorrigible bunch, impelled in the direction of fanaticism as though by gravity. (Read the rest…)

And Larbi Sadiki pinpoints the real catalyst - and why so many news outlets missed the signs:

Regimes in countries like Tunisia and Algeria have been arming and training security apparatuses to fight Osama bin Laden. But they were caught unawares by the ‘bin Laden within’: the terror of marginalisation for the millions of educated youth who make up a large portion of the region’s population.

The winds of uncertainty blowing in the Arab west – the Maghreb – threaten to blow eastwards towards the Levant as the marginalised issue the fatalistic scream of despair to be given freedom and bread or death. [...]

From Tunisia and Algeria in the Maghreb to Jordan and Egypt in the Arab east, the real terror that eats at self-worth, sabotages community and communal rites of passage, including marriage, is the terror of socio-economic marginalisation.

The armies of ‘khobzistes’ (the unemployed of the Maghreb) – now marching for bread in the streets and slums of Algiers and Kasserine and who tomorrow may be in Amman, Rabat, San’aa, Ramallah, Cairo and southern Beirut – are not fighting the terror of unemployment with ideology. They do not need one. Unemployment is their ideology. The periphery is their geography. And for now, spontaneous peaceful protest and self-harm is their weaponry. They are ‘les misérables’ of the modern world.

Already, discussion of a domino effect looms large – and while some pundits are wondering which country is next, the larger question is what will these changes symbolize in the world within the next decade?