10 Mar 2013
My first encounter with the concept of “democratic transformation” was in South Africa in 2004, when I attended a seminar in Cape Town at the Center of Higher Education Transformation, and asked why the center was given that name.
The center’s head said: “There are times when you cannot introduce reform on a structurally corrupt basis. The higher-education environment in a...
09 Mar 2013
As results from Italy’s general elections on 24–25 February began trickling through, it was clear that the country’s scandal-ridden political class had received a wake-up call.
Berlusconi put a on brave face by emphasizing his comeback. But gaining 5 percentage points on his all-time low of 17 percent in December would be nothing to cheer about, had his opponents...
05 Mar 2013
Mungo Park, the famous 18th century Scottish explorer, had few good things to say about the Muslims he encountered on his journeys through the Sahara. He spoke of the Moors as “a people who study mischief as a science and exult in the miseries and misfortunes of their fellow creatures.” “Treacherous,” “malevolent,” “ferocious” and “fanatical...
04 Mar 2013
Looking for ways to improve my English when I first arrived in the US, I chanced upon a book about strong and weak words. It now strikes me how the reporting and writing about the Israeli-Palestinian conflict is replete with weak words.
What the book didn’t say is that weak words, when repeated incessantly by powerful propaganda machines, become strong masks for detrimental policies and...
03 Mar 2013
Nobody could have mistaken the horror this 6-year-old girl was experiencing. Nothing more tells of the fear that gripped her than the warm yellow fluid running down her short legs as her knees started to shake. Her heartbeat escalated as the quiver of her little lips began.
I followed her gaze at the door of the drop-in center for street children she was at. An angry man with blank eyes stood...
02 Mar 2013
Women activists have protested all over the world against sexual violence in Egypt. The protests, which took place in front of Egyptian embassies in 20 capitals worldwide and in Cairo, sent a clear message to the Egyptian government that the international community will take a stand against sexual harassment in solidarity with the women of Egypt.
In the midst of all the chaos of the country...
27 Feb 2013
Egyptian politics are somewhat like a dining and dancing establishment. Egyptians attend to eat a filling meal, while being entertained by numerous programs that enable them to dance as they eat. Apparently, what really matters to the audience is the copiousness of the meal, not the entertainment program, overcrowded with musicians and singers.
One of the key factors of success of the Egyptian...
27 Feb 2013
“The transitional period is officially over,” President Mohamed Morsy said following the ratification of the country’s first post-revolutionary Constitution. Indeed, the country seems to have ticked all of the boxes of political transition.
On the one hand, an elite pact was struck between the Islamists and the military to smooth the peaceful passing (or sharing) of...
25 Feb 2013
From the outset of the revolution, we had dreamy romantic perceptions that it would move us forward. We perceived the rebels as being mature and consolidated, facing the dishonorable political power with bare chests. The situation was easy to describe and the fronts were clear; highly moral and brave rebels facing a tyrannical authority that was trying to eliminate them by arrest, injury and...
23 Feb 2013
As Tunisia reels from the implications of the assassination of Tunisian opposition leader Chokri Belaid, once again, events in the small North African country are reverberating further east in Egypt.
A video of the ultraconservative cleric Mahmoud Shaaban posted on YouTube days before the assassination has since gone viral, leading to nationwide condemnation from all sides of the political...