Cultural Briefings

Al Nakba at 67: Generations of Catastrophes

By 
Elie Chalala

I rarely passed on an Al Nakba remembrance, an event which was pivotal in forming my political and moral consciousness during my early days in Beirut and in my academic diaspora. Nowadays, I reserve my aggravation for those intellectual cowards who saw nothing in Al Nakba except a shelter to hide from their shameful silence on one of the most horrific “Nakbas” in modern Arab history.

Sorry Abu Al Ala: In Revolution, There's Little Time to Mourn

By 
Elie Chalala

A jihadist group launched an "operation" against the statue of the philosopher and poet Abul Ala al-Maari (973-1057) in Maarat al-Nouman, a city in northern Syria. The beheading of the statue, built to honor a 10th century poet known for his rationalism and anti-religious rhetoric, has provoked the ire of more intellectuals than the beheadings of thousands of Syrian civilians. While the complaints are mostly justified, the dismay of some at the single lifeless "beheading" raises questions about the intellectual  commitment to the freedom of speech and religion.

A Sister Mourns a Martyr

To Sawsan Hakki: "O Sawsan: Your Smile Shines from Beneath Syria's Dust."
By 
Hala Mohammad, Introduction and translation by Elie Chalala
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Sawsan Hakki, an architectural engineer, was killed in her car when Aleppo University was bombed from the air. (Yes, a university campus bombed!)  Many students of history might confuse what the Assad air force has done with attacks by an external enemy opposing a war of liberation.  But this thought lasted briefly! The target was Syria's second largest city, occupied (partially now) by Assad's loyalists, Shabiha and non-Shabiha.  Sawsan Hakki was the sister of Syrian director Haitham Hakki, and the sister-in-law of poet Hala Mohammad, Haitham's wife.

Culture of the Abyss

New generation of Lebanese politicians reveals further decline in quality of leadership
By 
Elie Chalala

Hussam Itani, former editor of the opinion pages of As Safir and currently a columnist for Al Hayat,  has always distinguished himself with his daring and unapologetic opinions. Equally important is the intellectual appeal of his newspaper columns. The latest by this Lebanese columnist is "The Culture of the Bottomless Abyss" (Al Hayat, November 13, 2012) in which he sums up the decadent state of culture and politics in today's Lebanon. 

Right

Hussam Itani, former editor of the opinion pages of As Safir and currently a columnist for Al Hayat,  has always distinguished himself with his daring and unapologetic opinions. Equally important is the intellectual appeal of his newspaper columns. The latest by this Lebanese columnist is "The Culture of the Bottomless Abyss" (Al Hayat, November 13, 2012) in which he sums up the decadent state of culture and politics in today's Lebanon.

Aleppo: A Tale of Three Cities

By 
Yassin al-Haj Saleh

(Yassin al-Hajj Saleh is considered one of the most important observers of Syrian politics. He spent 16 years in Syrian prison, an experience about which he recently wrote a book. One Syrian scholar rejected the description of Yassin al-Haj Saleh as a political observer or analyst and instead he considers him the ultimate historian of the Syrian Revolution. Recently he wrote a short essay on Aleppo, a city with which he had an intimate history. 

(Yassin al-Hajj Saleh is considered one of the most important observers of Syrian politics. He spent 16 years in Syrian prison, an experience about which he recently wrote a book. One Syrian scholar rejected the description of Yassin al-Haj Saleh as a political observer or analyst and instead he considers him the ultimate historian of the Syrian Revolution. Recently he wrote a short essay on Aleppo, a city with which he had an intimate history. With his permission, I translated his contribution  about Aleppo. The title "Aleppo: A Tale of Three Cities" is mine. --Elie Chalala)

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