Israel and the Middle-East
Egypt Unwrapped In the first ever Cairo launch of its World Report, Human Rights Watch chief slams Arab autocrats and the Western democracies who support them.
Everybody who pays attention to these sorts of things knows Muslim societies are almost uniquely immune to the forces that have been driving down fertility rates on every continent for decades. But everybody, it seems, fell asleep before the final act. Throughout the ummah (the Arabic term for the global Muslim community), the average number of children born to women is falling dramatically. ( Apoorva Shah and I examine the evidence in detail here .)
One : Gender is not the study of what is evident, it is an analysis of how what is evident came to be. Two : Before resolving to write about gender, sexuality, or any other practice or aspect of subjectivity in the Middle East, one must first define what exactly the object of study is.
Women have participated prominently in the popular protests that have swept the Arab world in the past 15 months, but are in danger of losing social, political and economic gains made under previous regimes.
The electoral success of Islamic parties in Egypt, Tunisia and Morocco, has raised worries about policy and legislation on family and gender issues, this despite re-assuring noises from leading figures. Earlier electoral successes of Islamists in Iraq had brought about a disorderly mix of family policies and rule of disparate religious authorities, accompanied by much constraint and intimidation. This may be a good time to reflect on the record of various Middle Eastern countries on these issues over the course of the twentieth and twenty-first century and their relations to political regimes.
In " Distant View of a Minaret ," the late and much-neglected Egyptian writer Alifa Rifaat begins her short story with a woman so unmoved by sex with her husband that as he focuses solely on his pleasure, she notices a spider web she must sweep off the ceiling and has time to ruminate on her husband's repeated refusal to prolong intercourse until she too climaxes, "as though purposely to deprive her." Just as her husband denies her an orgasm, the call to prayer interrupts his, and the man leaves. After washing up, she loses herself in prayer -- so much more satisfying that she can't wait until the next prayer -- and looks out onto the street from her balcony.
A veritable twitter storm has sprung up around an article by Mona el Tahawy in the latest issue of Foreign Policy , entitled Why Do They Hate Us ? In the article, El Tahawy documents and condemns the abuses meted out upon women throughout the Middle East.
What baffles me most about Mona Eltahawy’s Foreign Policy article is that it does not accomplish the task it sets out for itself; it does not, in fact, answer its foundational question: Why do they hate us?
This week Foreign Policy published a “Sex Issue.” They explained their decision to feature a special issue with these words Foreign Policy's first-ever Sex Issue…is dedicated…to the consideration of how and why sex—in all the various meanings of the word—matters in shaping the world's politics.
Between You and Me
The recent issue of Foreign Policy on sex has instigated critical feedback from many who have rightly challenged racist and Orientalist representations of gender and sexuality in the Muslim and Arab worlds. Several critics have rightly pointed out that essentialist approaches to culture that rely on facile binaries of men/women, freedom/oppression, and West/East lack any meaningful analyses of geopolitics, economy, colonial and post-colonial formations, and historical nuances. Most of these responses, however, have focused on Mona El Tahawy’s article , which reproduces discourses of violent Arab masculinity and victimized femininity.
As democratic movements spread in the Middle East, governments are cracking down, and that means big business for the companies who help them do it. A computer systems coordinator at Tunisia Television in Tunis / Reuters
The first of its kind - a poll conducted in 12 Arab countries, representing 84 per cent of the population of the Arab world, in an attempt to gauge the region's political mood - has arrived at some interesting results.
When the European parliament issued a critical report on Egypt's human rights record in 2008, the Mubarak regime responded with nationalistic fury. The Muslim Brotherhood, on the other hand, sided with Europe . "Respect of human rights is now a concern for all peoples," its parliamentary spokesman, Hussein Ibrahim, declared at the time.
Christians in the Middle East are worried.