Egypt Independent’s Final Issue (II): Chronicle of an unfinished report

In the beginning, the challenge seemed enthralling. The job entailed direct and close interaction with senior editors of the print edition, besides sharing the newsroom.

It was like being thrust into a battlefield, the mission all the more difficult because I was the first and only woman in a managing editor position. Our working culture was alien to a society monopolized by men who deal with journalism as a strictly hierarchical field in which professional accountability is taken personally.

Integration between print and online was systematically challenged. But we had the management’s support, so we recruited more likeminded young journalists for the website while making sure to strike a gender balance. We developed an editorial policy for the site, introduced new innovative formats, and published opinion articles from young writers with fresh experiences and relevant analytical tools.

But the cruise did not last for long.

via Our ‘naive’ generation will bring down your media system

Egypt Independent.

avatars.jpg.crop_display

in next days, I will post here in my blog some links to the last issue of Egypt Independent, an English Language newspaper that has just been killed in the country of Nile River and Tahrir Square.

They offered a vision that too many times matched my own ideas, even when lately, it was clear that pressure over them was increasing, and with it, their editorial line suffered some lack of … independence.

Luckily this last issue went back to the usual clarividence I met once.

May these set of  extracts be a respectful way to express my recognition for their task.

RIP

Al-Masry Al-Youm

2009-2013

5 Arabic Books to Read ‘Before You Die’

THERE ARE SOOOO MANY I HAVEN’T READ…. and I’m sure same applies to you, ppl out there!.

At least I’m sure of smthg: If we, westerns had read a bit more of these books, there would be lesser wars.

And same can apply to mid easterns.

Word by word.

Arabic Literature (in English)

Well, perhaps this one was a bit morbid:

The “Five Before You Die” was a feature we ran back in the summer 2010; by now, there are now many more great Arabic books available in translation, but this remains a strong list from translators, authors, critics, and publishers.

Shakir Mustafa

Although he might not put it on his resume, Mustafa was perhaps the first supporter of this blog.  He teaches at Northeastern University, translates, and is the editor and translator of the excellent Contemporary Iraqi Fiction: An Anthology. His picks:

Mahmoud Saeed

Saeed is the acclaimed and award-winning author of Saddam City, among many other works. We have since run an interview with him here. He currently…

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Egypt Independent’s Final Issue (I): Liberal illusions

I would argue that the failure of successive elections in Egypt since 2011 is not due to their technical mishandling, but due to what they failed to produce — namely, a social contract that could deliver the “social justice” in “bread, freedom and social justice.” Such an argument becomes even more compelling as we watch elected officials reinvent the exclusionary economic policies of the Mubarak era, while negotiating with the International Monetary Fund behind closed doors over the future of the Egyptian economy, without much consultation with domestic constituents and stakeholders.

Some may argue that free and fair elections, if properly conducted, are fully capable of producing a government that reflects the promise of the 25 January revolution and its partisans. Yet this line of reasoning conveniently overlooks the distortive role that electoral politics play in pushing out of the national political arena issues and agendas that concern socially marginalized classes.

The experience of the 2011/12 elections is a case in point. The failure of partisans of distributive justice, such as the Revolution Continues Alliance, to secure meaningful representation in Parliament speaks to a reality in which big money and parties of privilege — whether Islamist or secular — dominate the electoral arena, making it extremely difficult for political allies of the marginalized to really succeed in national politics.

In such a context, the liberal prescription of free and fair elections confronts an insurmountable paradox: How can elections create a national political arena capable of resolving pressing conflicts over economic and social rights if those who lack and demand these rights are constantly crowded out of this same arena by default? In this respect, the power that liberals attribute to free and fair elections to resolve the social conflicts that are tearing Egypt apart today is little more than an illusion.

The class compromises required for an “exit door” from the current predicament are too deep to be resolved through the electoral process, no matter how “free and fair.”

via Final Issue: Liberal illusions

Egypt Independent.

avatars.jpg.crop_display

in next days, I will post here in my blog some links to the last issue of Egypt Independent, an English Language newspaper that has just been killed in the country of Nile River and Tahrir Square.

They offered a vision that too many times matched my own ideas, even when lately, it was clear that pressure over them was increasing, and with it, their editorial line suffered some lack of … independence.

Luckily this last issue went back to the usual clarividence I met once.

May these set of  extracts be a respectful way to express my recognition for their task.

RIP

Al-Masry Al-Youm

2009-2013

hey wait,….. nominée?…c’est moi?…. c’monnnn

ok so…. I’ve been nominated for the Versatile Blogger Award. I am a newbie on blogging and I don’t really nhave a clue abt wth it means to be a versatile blogger and even less to get awarded for it …… BUT…. there’s always a first time for everything, they say, so…. let’s check 

the rules of the competition:

 

1) Add The Versatile Blogger award photo on a blog post:

and here it is:     Image

2) Thank the person (or animal) who presented you with the award and link back to him or her in your post:

So the one who offered me the award was Mr. Sreejit Poole, who can be really proud of making our minds get a bit away from the usual vision of life’s surface, flying a bit through his fantastic blog: http://ofmindormatter.com/ .

Certainly a liberating experience for those times when u need to get away from everything and wish this world has still a chance… somewhere.

3) Share seven things about yourself

oh, dammit….. 7 things….. ok there we go:

1- I’m from Valencia (ok, Balansiyah for arabs) that means I am one of those apparently unnatural spaniards who still feel 100% spaniard even when we speak naturally 2 languages: one is Valencian (considered a part of “Catalan”, but we have NEVER called our language like that since 13th Century so…. The other is Castillian (what the rest of the world calls Spanish, although I am one of those who consider that valencian should be accounted as much as spanish language as castillian is!). I said it may sound unnatural because listening to those who speak catalan or basque or galician, in too many occasions makes u feel that incompatibility grows as the use of castillian decreases. And same can happen in Madrid, or other areas of Spain where you can find folks who will call you “3 or 4 things” if they hear you speaking smthg else than the only language they accept as being “spanish”.

My father is castillian and my mother valencian, and I use both languages naturally at home without any kind of nationalist conflict. Out of home I also use english naturally… and then some french… hmmm and a bit of portuguese and italian,… and I want to learn arabic too… I hope to make it happen with amazing personal teaching. 😉 Time will tell.

2I’m Aries, born on April 1st.(aye….. an April’s fool)

I’m a child of Mars. Read Linda Goodman’s book abt Sun signs… she nailed it quite nicely. Aries is not a ram….. is a new born child. For the good and the bad!

3- I’m 40 years old… oh, my…. yeah…. I’m 40 years old. 😛

4- Still single at 40 … but heterosexual (yes, …. I think that matters!), no kids, no mortgages to pay… I just got myself and my car. That has a good side and a bad one…. the good is that I got no banks running after me… the bad is that even if I had them, being a long term unemployed makes it quite unable to start anything solid in life.

5-I’m roman catholic. Yes…. still today. And more… even today, being spaniard!. And somehow happily now, with Pope Francis I.  From 15 to 18 years old, while most of my friends were learning about mixing alcohol with sex, sex, sex, and cigarettes, and tehno music and football, (and why not, some more sex), I was fighting against my hormones and trying to find a sense in Universe and life. I finally left that path the day I decided that I wanted to have a family and grow my kids. Then my time for setting my struggle with hormones came. Not for the techno music, though.

If Roman Catholic Church had made celibate volunteer, (as it happens with oriental churches, or with protestants), for sure here would be many more priests willing to give a hand. And also for sure, many taboos about sexuality and many abuses, fruit of an immature repressed sexuality, would have never happened. Our mission is to make it be heard by those who manage the boat. Theirs is to listen and to react.

Those who know me have heard more than once how I think about having a faith. I know that “my house is dirty” it’s too obvious for me as for everyone else.

When that happens to us, there’s two things we can do:

One  is to clean it. By ourselves or by calling professionals who may do it with more preparation that we usually consider to have.

The other is to get out to the street, point our fingers at our house and shout with all the air in our lungs: “DIRTYYYYYYYYYYY” … I am those who feel that the latter option is merely useless, and nothing positive will come from it, in order to clean the house. .. except to let it be full of flies, ants and roaches feeding from dirtiness and perpetuating it.

So yes… religion has its importance in my life. Not as a daily practice or mass attending. But from inside. Praying simply and intimally.

And I feel ok with it.

6- I’m a frustrated traveller. I have been all over Spain as for 9 years I worked as salesman, but also in Portugal, France, Germany, Belgium, Switzerland… mainly for job.

For pleasure I travelled on my own, backpacking, 3 times to Scotland, and ne to Egypt. Then in 2009 came crisis and unemployement, and then I had to forget about travelling for pleasure to Turkey, Jordan, Poland, Ireland…

In March 2010 I traveled to Canada attempting to find a proper job and maybe a escape forward…. and stayed there for a year…. but everything went wrong, at the end in that sense…. and all I could keep (as if it was little thing) was a lot of friends that will always stay inside me.

My farewell party after 1 year had 208 people invited and 110 of them assisted. Enough said 😉

Do I find I job, I’ll try to make my backpack travel again. Dunno where but will have to be a history place.  I DAMN NEED IT.

7- I’m in love, at this time. And I feel corresponded. It’s a crazy love, hardly possible, full of obstacles and walls… but she makes me smile deep inside, and I make her smile wonderfully. And when that happens I don’t give a damn about what the rest of the world says.

Because when we look into each other’s eyes we notice that it doesn’t matter. Now we have to find a way to convince fate of that same thing.

We’ll manage, somehow.

Dammit, she’s a precious human being! 😉

4) Pass the award along to 15 favorite bloggers. Contact the chosen bloggers to let them know about the award.

hummm ok…. here goes my list:

1: http://levantwoman.wordpress.com/ : An amazing and heart touching blog. Makes you notice how the reality of war and destruction can hurt  someone’s inner reality beyond blood, explosions or media. The personal and internal pain that remains more deeply than any bleeding cut and will be remembered more than anything else. The pain of the loss. The pain of the lack of visible horizons.

If you want to know what it means to feel the pain of war in Syria, whatever your side is, get into Levantina’s place and listen to her.

It’s worth it. You will listen to your own feelings.

Word of   spanish levantine

2: http://manal-alsharif.com/: Yep… Manal Al-Sharif is one of the most important arab women one can read about, nowadays. And even when the achievements of her struggle are limited, to get a sandstorm in Saudi Arabia you need to start by moving a single grain of sand… and she started it by asking to drive her own life.

(In this category I’ll add other 3 saudi women who can hold hands with her:   http://omaimanajjar.wordpress.com/ ,  http://saudiwoman.me/http://tamadoralyami.com/ … all these LADIES belong to that very special class of women who can teach others that things are not always as media shows them, and also that if  there’s any hope in Saudi Arabia… it will come from its women.

May Allah keep their beautiful eyes safe and open to make us notice that Saudia may be a different planet, but it’s still inhabited by many humans, whetever we may think most often)

NOTE: You’ll need to use a translator, if u r not arabic literate.

3: http://arablit.wordpress.com/ : If you are (again, as myself) illiterate in arabic language, but you are interested, intrigued, or willing to be surprised by its amazing literature, unpromoted and mostly unknown for common westerns,  this is your site.  News and info on Arab Literature….. IN ENGLISH! 😉

4: http://globalvoicesonline.org/ : The voice of many people from all over who will read, hear, evaluate things happening all around, and will tell them to us here, quite before someone considers it’s proper to be posted on mainstream media.

5: http://shareenayoub.wordpress.com/ : She’s an egyptian woman living in Canada… yeah… being Mediterranean, it sounds terrible for me too. But she manages to make it work…. as everything else. I miss her to write more, lately… specially because, as she says… she writes funny posts.  Simple. The mom we all wanted to have! …. or the school mate’s mom we’d envy?  😀

6: http://riyadhbureau.com/ : News from Saudi Arabia. Free Speech news, that is. As far as I can imagine in KSA. Period. Give it a look.

7: http://susanalshahri.blogspot.com.es/ : A fresh view from Oman, that quite and unknown country for so many of us here in the west…  in the eyes of a young openminded woman, well informed, well educated, and with a good taste for photography and quite a coherent position on many things. Very advisable.

8: http://mideastposts.com : A bit of everything on Middle East Info. From Morocco to Dubai.  Very useful if u are on these issues, as I am.

9:  http://www.karlremarks.com/: An hillarious satyrical (hence, coherent and realistic) view on Mid East issues… from Libnan to the world… a must read!

10: http://stephenliddell.wordpress.com/ : Another historyaddict as me, lover of his homeland’s roots, like me, lover of Mid East, like me, a backpacker, like me, but differerent than me, just lost his job recently and could travel, and experience what it means to follow T.E. Lawrence’s steps into Wadi Rum… among many others!

He recently lost his mother, (which will prevent my expectedly contrary reaction for his somehow topical mass- media-oriented position on syrian war, at least for now) and that makes me express here my condolences again. As far as I could appreciate, his mam will have reasons for feeling proud of the man she grew up.

11: http://whiskyandtea.wordpress.com/ : Pretentious, young, leftist…. and even this… insolently brilliant.

And quite a good taste on Single Malt whiskies, among other issues… Good one for you, Mark!

12:  http://historykicksass.wordpress.com/: What’s better for a history lover than historical objects and curiosities?…. From Roman water pumps to Graham Bell’s voice records…. History Kickass. (I just expect to find some day a spanish contribution… even north americans must have smthg ours upthere, beyond a black legend :D)

13: http://nervana1.org/ : News and comments about Middle East to the british Isles, with a woman’s educated vision.

14: http://thegulfblog.com/ : a very complete amount of info about the Persian Gulf  area, and whole Mid East by extension, from the eyes of an anglosaxon expat with good experience and knowledge.

15: http://notgr33ndata.blogspot.com.es/ : Tarek is an Egyptian living in London who writes for Global Voices… also was the first to like and comment one of my posts made about his article on al-Andalus. Let’s say that if there’s still a Mossarab writing to you… it’s because of him. I wish others dared to comment and discuss too! 😉

end-of-time

….and now…just waiting is left.

Let’s tell all the interesting people that they are on the list for the prize too… whatever it is….. whenever it is! …

(damn…. that sounded so much like  Shakira….. geez.)

Syria, in a vision I share quite much… choosing the lesser bad future.

I am not saying I am happy with the regime. I am far from it. I also do not want President Al Assad to be president forever. There are many changes the Syrian regime needed to and still needs to make. But I and most Syrian people would agree, that we would certainly rather have what Syria had a year ago than be in the state that we are in now. At this moment, Syria’s future is very unclear and not looking good. As we already established, Syria is now flooded with terrorists and terrorist attacks, the economy is getting worse and worse day after day, crime has increased, there is no more peace and security. At least our future a year ago was going uphill.

via Syria, freedom or no freedom?

Lead-Infos.

I’m not going to deny that this is a sided vision of the situation,….. and maybe as all sided visions it lacks certain amount of accuracy in being equidistant distributing blame on both parts. The fact that the author justifies the army crush on early protests (which she says to support) because there was suspice (quite solidly based) that protesters were gahering weapons, starting the civillian bloodshed (and again in Hama, as the symbol that this city is by itself for the Syrian MB), has no excuse. I am not saying that regime’s armed forces  should have remained quiet at 100%, but at least they should have waited for the protesters to strike first… that would have given them some moral weight. What we all saw all over, what happened in Al-Bara and many other places, even justified by the fact rebels mix with population, is the greatest mistake of the regime, and worst than 3 defeats. too many kids, women, elder, … too many martyrs of the rebel cause…. of the wahabbi cause, after all? 🙂 …. I feel that it will depend quite a lot on us.

In any case, I share MOST of what she said here.

I dislike Assad,… I think he should have pushed for a change from within the regime to give it moral strength… and now he or his general staff has made too many bloody mistakes, too many killings to make that process happen…. BUT

I reject completely the theocrat vision of Syria under Shariah laws.

Period.

….I guess this a reason enough as to publish this here. 🙂

he other is that lately western powers are talking openly of use of chemical weapons by Syria’s army on population…

… WMD… US reps and UK cons… yeah… sounds familiar….. same as these guys that became famous lately:

we-miss-bush-

(Image:  http://lgstarr.blogspot.com.es)

…if they only knew wtf they were saying…

geez.

Into Comanche Territory*

That night, I walked down to our little supermarket to buy cigarettes. The men at the counter pointed at my jeans and asked why I was so dirty. I said “al-Bara,” and pointed vaguely towards the north. I think they understood.

An old man pulled up a chair and sat right next to me while we smoked in silence. His sleeve was touching mine.  The shopkeeper came out and handed me a little bottle of orange juice. He’d opened it for me and had put in a straw. There was something about this gesture that broke me. I just looked at the ground and started crying. I didn’t try to hide it. It was the first time in a while I’d felt normal.

(I almost died in Syria – Salon.com.)

Olly Lambert went into Syria’s Comanche Territory, to live from both sides what was happening in the Orontes River Valley… his work is reproduced in this PBS Frontline Documentary:

Syria: behind the lines

It’s been aired on TV  some weeks ago, and the images are still from 2012 but it’s still enough to notice how things work when a civilised secular country ruled by an iron fist for decades splits into pieces and falls into atavism, anarchy and the most basic and primitive confrontation. Neighbour vs neighbour, brother vs brother. A time when a person stops being considered as a person and becomes a number you add to the fighting lines, on your side or against you: A Civil War.

Things have gone much worse by  now…

mirasol terricomanche

(Art: Alex Mirasol)

(*) “For a reporter in a war, Comanche Territory is where instinct tells you to stop the car and go back, a place where always seems about to dusk while you walk close to the walls, towards the shots in the distance, hearing the sound of your footsteps on broken glass.

War floor is always covered with broken glasses. Comanche Territory is where you hear them crunching under your boots, and although you do not see anybody, you know you are being watched. ”

(Arturo Pérez-Reverte, “Territorio Comanche”, 1994)

Male/Female … Friendship?

Recently I read some article about how hard it is for men and women to create a friendship in non-wahabbi (or hannabillahi?) Gulf Countries

Oman: The Trouble With Male/Female Friendship, Middle East Perspectives )

…and it made me think -once again- about my own experience with Middle Eastern and specially Arabic people (from Morocco to Iran) and how surely a 95% of the people I contacted and met, and those who taught me all I know about arabs… are women.

I can recall endless nights hitting keyboards, feeling my ears in pain for headset use and itchy eyes at waking up after hundreds  of  late nite convos.

Everything I learnt about these amazing peoples, who never stop surprising me, came thru the words of princesses, poets, photographers, bloggers, psicologists, shopping travellers, prostitutes, teachers, happy and unhappy married ladies, librarians, divorced doctors, marketing experts, dietitsts, traders, journalists, artists of painting and drawing, human resources managers, university students, office assistants, translators, media workers, incredible singing architects… and I still had not enough.

We fixed the world 100 times together and clashed 100 more about how to fix it, we allowed each other to learn from real sources letting standards and stereotypes turn to nothing, we argued and joked, we shared dreams, secrets, sadness, ideals, jokes, life conceptions,  and innumerable songs, videos and deep personal moments that go beyond the expected cold Facebook “friendship”. I don’t remember how many times I was told that of

“You know things of me that I’d not tell anyone else even under death threat”…

From them I could learn how to understand what my eyes were seeing on TV about Lebanon, Iraq, afghanistan, PalestIsrael, Egypt, Syria, Iran… always doing the necessary effort of looking at facts with their eyes, and not just with those of media.

With them I discovered that still today you can find true passion and feelings and sentiments waiting to be shared as soon as a chance appears at night, when public daily life around them simply avoids  every single chance to do so, if there’s anyone close. 

Lama's

(Art by: Lama Khatib Daniel)

What a difference with their western counterparts, (with some very honourable exceptions) who most often always had very little wish to share smthg with a western male, to teach him something without imposing their point of view, or simply to tell him about her view on the social background…  and when  this happened, it actually tends to be truffled with war-of-sexes stereotypes and reivindicative defensive positions.

Really, ladies… it’s not a matter of being myself pro-feminist or anti-feminist, more machist or less, but….. it’s exhausting and utterly boring to keep attempting to reach one of your inside’s. Khalás.

If I look for being appreciated as useful and “pleasant as a shot of fresh air”, as someone who treats females as equals, who respects them, listens to them and laughs with them. If I have a moment to have a chance for feeling better and for wanting to be better, without being ultimately suspected to be a gay (I’ve been even told “you’d b the perfect gay friend every woman needs, if you were not so hetero” ¡¡!!) … it’s most of times while talking to a Middle Eastern woman.

Middle East men are usually “kewl” when u limit the conversation to cars, football, “barty” and women.

Even then you find them loaded with an aura of stubborness that is hard to accept when you don’t know what’s going on inside their brains. They know more abt this, and that, and that too. It’s a clear signal for you to avoid talking about religion, philosophy, politics, geopolitics, arab world, al-andalus, history or any of these deep issues.

Specially religion.

They won’t accept an alternative point of view. Theirs is the only good logic one and they are not interested in wasting time listening to any “wrong” conception of things which, as far as it’s not theirs, will be erroneous… this has happened with a vast majority of the few arab men I met.

Even those who appeared to be more openminded felt the need of falling in an ideological challenge arena that again turned into useless undesired confrontation,… so they are not on my wishlist.

When I read that article I asked myself -once again- how much are these guys going to loose… how much learning, how much life knowledge and mind and soul development they are letting get lost because of almost eternal social conceptions…

Once again I asked myself if this Must’arib would be here writing if arab men were as they are dreamed and expected to be. And intimally I was thankful they are not.

sultane

(Art by: Lalla Essaydi)