Essays and Features

Taking on Sexual Harassment, a Social Phenomenon in Egypt

By 
Mohammed Ali Atassi

Sexual harassment of women in Egypt is one of many social problems that politicians and the media have tended to treat as an instance of individual, abnormal behavior. Because they treat it as an isolated aberration from proper social norms – falling outside the path, principles and traditions of a sanctioned way of life – Egyptian society as a whole does not need to confront it.

Early Advocate of Separation Between Religion and State, Abd al-Rahman al-Kawakibi, from the Mysteries of His Life to the Clarity of His Ideas

By 
Ibrahim al-Ariss

Abd al-Rahman al-Kawakibi, a 19th century Syrian intellectual, is considered one of the most eminent enlightenment thinkers, having demonstrated the highest clarity in his political and intellectual undertakings. On the one hand, he aimed at seeing despotism destroyed through contemporary methods–through science and knowledge. On the other, he pointed to other means, that of the founding of an Arab political union that would be surrounded by a cohesive Islamic community.

Award-winning 'Bin Baraka Alley' Emerges from Decades of Censorship

By 
Dunya Mikhail

The second edition of Mahmoud Saeed’s “Bin Baraka Alley” was recently published by Dar Al-Adaab in Beirut. The first edition, published in Jordan by Dar al-Karmal in 1993, won first place in the novel category in Iraq that year. Despite such high recognition from Iraqi critics, the novel was banned in Iraq, Morocco, Jordan, and Kuwait.

The Paris and Turin Book Fairs To Boycott or Not to Boycott: Subjecting Culture to Politics

By 
Elie Chalala

The polemical issue of boycott is a longstanding one in Arab political, economic and cultural discourse. Not only has most of the Arab world long boycotted Israeli economic products, as well as cultural events that include Israeli participation, but boycotts have also targeted Western products if their producers conduct trade with Israel. Excluding a few Arab states and those states which signed peace agreements with Israel, the issue of boycott remains present today.

Multiple Factors Spur Resignations from Al Jazeera English

By 
Elie Chalala

Two years ago, Al Jazeera English launched a campaign claiming that Al Jazeera English would distinguish itself from its Arabic-language counterpart by being less ideological and partisan. However, recent resignations from the 24-hour international news channel suggest a different reality. David Marash, the channel’s Washington-based anchor, resigned when his two-year contract expired March 2007. According to The New York Times, Marash, a familiar face to ABC’s “Nightline” viewers, cited “increased editorial control” as one of the main reasons for his departure.

Remembering Hani al-Rahib: Death Ends Novelist's Portrayal of Arab World in Crisis

By 
Mahmoud Saeed

Syrian novelist Hani al-Rahib, who died on February 6, 2000,  at the age of 61, used to call the novel an immunization against madness.  Certainly some creative people are so afflicted, while others obviously struggle to stave it off. Dostoevsky’s epileptic fits convinced some that he was insane, and even if Dostoevsky was not clinically insane, he lived in a continual crisis and suffered from depression; the novel was a mechanism of escape from these realities. Many agree that Ernest Hemingway feared madness, a fear he kept at bay through writing.

Iraqi Intellectuals: Victims of Repression and Sanctions

By 
Mahmoud Saeed

Not a long time ago, I received a letter from Moussa Kreidieh, just before his death, thanking me for sending him the equivalent of $100 as payment for two articles I had arranged for him to have published in an Arab newspaper outside of Iraq. “I had only two options: either selling my car or leaving it to rust from rain and sun, not to mention that it badly needed two sets of tires after they have been going flat. Now with the $100 I am able to purchase two new tires and spare the death of my car,” said part of Kreidieh’s letter.

Youssef al-Sayigh: Poet of Sorrows, Master of Contradictions

By 
Elie Chalala

Many readers had to wait until the recent death of Iraqi poet Youssef al-Sayigh to learn the details of his problematic life.  Major events often thrust sad and hidden details into the open, and al-Sayigh’s death in Damascus on December 12, 2005, was a key event indeed.

Al-Sayigh was a famous Iraqi poet, novelist, playwright, essayist and painter. Two tragedies, one political and one personal, influenced his prominent literary career.

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