analysis, comment, reportage

This is our revolution, too

In Egypt, Jan25 on February 21, 2011 at 8:59 pm

Europeans just cannot seem to get Islam, or more properly, Islamism, out of their heads. This seems to be particularly true of Europeans who have not spent much time in the Islamic world, and whose idea of immersion journalism is to spend an afternoon wandering round an immigrant neighbourhood in the European capital city of their choice with a view to chatting up a few swarthy-looking men over a cup of mint tea.

And even some more serious writers have ended up falling into the same trap over the last few weeks. Take Timothy Garton Ash, for instance, whose reporting of the decline of the Soviet empire in Eastern Europe in the 1980s was exemplary in its combination of in-depth research and first-hand experience. In a series of articles in The Guardian, Garton Ash has been greeting the wave of insurrections sweeping across the Arab world with a wall of worry. In his latest piece, published last week, a visit to the Calle de Tribulete in Madrid plunged him into new depths of anxiety. Despite garnering some half-hearted expressions of ill-defined hope, it was not long before he and his interlocutors were overtaken by the memories of terrorism past. He even managed to run into a young man at a bus stop spouting Wahhabi-inspired anti-semitic conspiracy theories to casual passers-by. Needless to say, the overall effect was far from encouraging. (…)

My take on what it is about the Arab revolutions that really frightens the Western establishment.

Read the full text of this article at openDemocracy.


From Cairo to Madison

In Egypt on February 21, 2011 at 8:53 pm

A very interesting article by Muriam Haleh Davis at Jadalliya asks whether the switch from Islamism to labour activism as the single preferred explanation for Arab revolts isn’t a new form of Orientalism which risks betraying the emerging forces in the Middle East by submerging their difference(s). The debate which it has sparked in the comments is worth reading in full.

Since Haleh Davis’ arguments touch on issues I have raised both in my last article for the Monde Diplo, and in my forthcoming piece in Open Democracy, I couldn’t help weighing in:

I agree that to reduce what is going on across the region right now to social and economic unrest, is as inaccurate as it was in the past to attribute everything to a mystical essence of Islam, or Islamism. But at the same time, your argument seems to me also to threaten to mystify the nature of the nature of the solidarity and emulation we can see emerging now in the US or Europe, and which hopefully will continue and grow, even as it becomes more self-conscious, and thus more complex, and more accurate in its references. (…)

Read the full text of her article, and of my response, at Jadalliya, one of the best English-language resources for thinking about what is going on in the Arab world.

Support Iraqi protests!

In Iraq on February 21, 2011 at 8:42 pm

The Brussels Tribunal has launched a new call for action to support the protests in Iraq which have been largely ignored by the world media. Please read, endorse, and demand your prefered media outlets remedy this black-out.

While millions across the world watched live 18 days of dramatic revolution that ousted the US-allied torture-friendly regime of Hosni Mubarak, no one is offered live feed from Iraq of its people’s uprising against an enemy much worse.

And while President Obama and Secretary of State Clinton are being lauded for their supposed support for Egyptian democracy, no one is asking the key question Washington can’t answer: When will members of this US administration and the three previous face trial for crimes against humanity in Iraq?

Despite US hypocrisy, nothing will prevent the collapse of US geostrategic goals in the Arab region. It is not by direct confrontation that this is happening, nor by ideology. The interests of the people are opposed to the model of underdevelopment Washington and allies propose and police.

Read the full text here.