Archive for the ‘Articles in English’ Category

Egypt Independent, January 9, 2013


On a warm summer evening in 1952, Cairo’s aristocracy gathered for a soiree at a palace belonging to King Farouk’s sister, Princess Faiza, and her husband, Bulent Raouf. The newly wedded couple was well known both in Egypt and Europe for their glamorous lifestyle, and their home on the Nile island of Gazira had become a favored meeting place for Cairo’s nobility.

But this particular party was not quite like the others. As the guests arrived, wearing the latest couture from Europe, sipping cocktails at the bar and dancing under the glimmering chandeliers, members of the royal family filmed it all with a 16mm camera. For months, the royals had been working to produce their own movie, an epic historical drama titled “Oil and Sand,” and they were shooting the final scenes in the ballrooms of the Zohreya Palace.

What they didn’t know was that this would be the last great social event of the 140-year-old Muhammad Ali dynasty. An era in Egyptian history was approaching its end, and in a remarkable twist of fate, the royals foreshadowed their own demise in this home movie. Within weeks of the party, the plot they had written for “Oil and Sand” came strikingly close to reality — just like the fictional king in their movie, King Farouk was deposed by his own military.

The royals never got to finish their movie project. After the coup, the film’s director, Raouf, burned the original film reels for fear they would be used as propaganda by the new military regime. For decades, “Oil and Sand” remained a secret shared by only a small group of royals living mostly in exile, and it would have fallen into complete oblivion had it not been for the rediscovery of a second set of film reels.

Read the rest at Egypt Independent


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The Danish-Egyptian Dialogue Institute (DEDI) in Cairo has published the results of a poll conducted ahead of the second round of the Egyptian parliamentary elections. The poll was conducted in the beginning of December in the 9 governorates where Egyptians will be casting their votes on the 14-15. December. Earlier polls conducted by DEDI can be found on their webpage.

Results from 2nd round poll

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Mashallah News, 1. August 2011

Ahmed Fathelbab wants to create his own qabila (tribe in Arabic). It should consist of a group of people linked to each other, supporting each other and sharing with each other, just like in the tribes that used to make up Egypt’s main communities. Only the tribesmen and women of Fathelbab’s tribe should not be connected by family ties but by a passion. The passion for media.

Fathelbab founded Qabila TV in 2010 along with 12 other young Egyptians, and so far their tribe has been growing fast. People all over Egypt have been contributing to their online, crowd-sourced video productions by sharing their ideas and offering their skills. The result of this collaboration is a number of short-films, info-graphic video clips and music videos. Qabila TV is a community-driven media with the spirit of the tribe and – not least – the revolution. Conceived last year, it has been jumpstarted by an uprising that demonstrates the power of the very ideas that the non-profit production company relies upon.

Mashallah News spoke to Fathelbab, creative director at Qabila TV, in Cairo.

“What happened in Egypt really affirms the notion that you can do amazing stuff by depending on the public and on collective effort. Our plan was to work for a year producing videos before actually launching the website, but the revolution changed this. We felt a need to take part in what was happening very quickly”

Read on at Mashallah News

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Volunteer music teacher with Iraqi refugee girls. Photo: Bassam Diab

Beating a drum can be a good way for a traumatized child to deal with her memories. At a community center for Iraqi refugees in Damascus, children use various art forms to express their emotions and learn how to handle them.

By Rasmus Bøgeskov Larsen, Damascus

From a stack of drawings, she picks one that looks almost like a piece of abstract art. Lines crisscross the paper, forming a web, which almost completely covers a stick figure. All of it is done in the same color. Red.

“We don’t know yet how to interpret this one. The boy is six years old and he refuses to draw in any other color than red. If you give him a crayon in another color, he throws it away”, explains Samar al-Halah, a 26-year old Syrian psychology student who volunteers at a community center in Damascus run by the Syrian Arab Red Crescent.

The little boy, an Iraqi refugee, has only recently begun to visit the center, and the volunteers are still waiting for a chance to understand what he has gone through. The drawings might help them find the answer. Like many other Iraqi children who come here, the boy is unable to put into words what he has experienced, and might well be suffering from emotional repercussions that he is too young to understand.

Read the full article at Mashallah

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JABAL MOHSEN, 2 November 2010 (IRIN) – The past caught up with Hussein Ahmad* one morning in the neighbourhood of Jabal Mohsen, in Lebanon’s northern port city of Tripoli, as he was busily organizing excited local children into five-a-side football teams for an event aimed at easing communal tensions.

As the local politician arrived to lend his seal of approval to the work of Ahmad and the other volunteer coaches, Ahmad immediately recognized the bodyguard with him. A few years back he had been among the armed young men of Jabal Mohsen, the stronghold of the Shia Alawites; Ahmad had been on the other side of the sectarian divide, as the leader of a Sunni militia from neighbouring Bab-Tebbaneh. Not wanting to taint the event, Ahmad kept out of sight until the politician left.

Memories of sectarian violence are still fresh in this area of Tripoli. With the country’s politicians locked in a heated dispute over the UN tribunal investigating the murder of former Prime Minister Rafik Hariri, killed in a bombing in 2005, many fear that trouble will return to the streets, so often the scene of score-settling during Lebanon’s long civil war.

Read the full article at IRIN

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Electronic Intifada, 15. January 2010

It doesn’t take a long walk from Yasin’s little, ingenious studio for him to make his point. Three teenage boys strolling up a narrow alley, cell phones in hand, share some scratchy beats.

“That is one of our songs”, Yasin points out.

Inside the dimly lit 10 square meter ground floor room of his family’s house, he had just been relating how it has become a common experience for him to be able to pick out his own music from the soundscape of the crowded Burj al-Barajne Palestinian refugee camp on the outskirts of Beirut.

When Yasin began writing down his thoughts as rap lyrics some eight years ago, hip-hop to most people was the realm seen in videos of bling-bling, women and fast cars — a world remote from the realities of camp life. But Yasin had traveled back to the roots of the genre in the impoverished black neighborhoods of the American metropolis where he discovered angry voices of disillusionment that resonated well with his own life.

Read the full article at Electronic Intifada

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