1. PEACE IN THE “MIDDLE EAST”? DELINEATING THE REGION WE KNOW SO LITTLE OF

    image

    What is the Middle East? Is Morocco and Algeria part of this collective region? Can Turkey, Afghanistan and India be included, too? You’d be surprised.

    It’s an age old question that has never properly been settled. Luckily, The University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill’s Carolina Center for the Study of the Middle East and Muslim Civilizations has put together a thought provoking and interactive slideshow that highlights the countries that have been added and removed (figuratively speaking, of course) from the region we know (or thought we knew) as the “Middle East”. Even for those who that have studied the Middle East such as myself, many colleagues and friends, it is very dizzying and complex to weave through the slideshow, which only tells but a small slice of a larger, complicated and rich historical narrative.

    image

    According to the first slideshow:

    "The term "Middle East" was coined in 1902 by American naval officer Alfred T. Mahan, who was regarded as an expert in sea power and world affairs. Writing for London’s National Review, Mahan used the new term in calling for the British to strengthen their naval power in the Persian Gulf. As scholar Roderic Davison explains, Mahan’s Middle East “was an indeterminate area guarding a part of the sea route from Suez to Singapore.” The new coinage played off the terms “Near East” and “Far East,” already in use.”

    See the slideshow here: http://www.unc.edu/mideast/where/mahan-1902.shtml

    image

     
  2. Cairo Egypt 1968 

    Photo: Kees Scherer 

    (Source: greeneyes55, via yallacairocalls)

     
  3. Pascal Meunier: Damascus, Syria (1997)

    ~remembering Damascus during peace time~

    (Source: 5centsapound)

     
  4. Walled off: Twelve years of Israel’s separation barrier

    The West Bank “separation barrier” or “security fence” or “apartheid wall” or “anti-terrorist fence,” depending on whom you ask, is the largest infrastructure project in Israel’s history. Twelve years old this April, it costs Israel an annual average of $260 million for maintenance.

    Since 2005, Activestills, a collective of Israeli, Palestinian and international photographers, has been documenting the evolution of this structure and its impact on the lives of those it is designed to keep out of Israel. In the process, Activestills has created a compelling visual record of a physical structure that has come to exemplify the ongoing Israeli-Palestinian conflict.

    Continue reading and see photos

    (Photo: Activestills.org)

    (Source: aljazeeraamerica, via nolandwithoutstones)

     

  5. THE NEW AND IMPROVED EGYPTIAN MOTORBIKE THAT HAS YET TO BE SEEN

    image

    This Habal-Habal has extensions consisting of wooden planks across the seat of the motorcycle. (Photo by Sherbien Dacalanio)

    image

    The motorcycle above, known as the Habal-Habal, is used in the Philippines and can apparently carry up to 10 passengers. 

    As soon as I saw this photo I thought of Egypt and the common pile up that happens on many motorbikes throughout the country. While I do not advocate the use of the Habal Habal, I am left wondering why it hasn’t made its way over to Egypt.

    Here are some examples (as provided by a Google search) of the common Egyptian motorbike scene:

    image

    image

    image

    image

    image

     
  6. refugeeartproject:

    "Using scraps from the streets of war-ravaged Damascus, in January they built the largest mural made from recycled material" setting the 2014 Guinness World Record. - BuzzFeed

     
  7. Photos from Morocco

    by Kazuyoshi Nomachi

    (Source: fotojournalismus, via nolandwithoutstones)

     

  8. SAUDI ARABIA: KING ABDULLAH’S NEW TERRORIST LAWS CRIMINALIZE FREEDOM OF EXPRESSION

    King Abdullah of Saudi Arabia has passed a series of new laws the further limit its citizens’ freedom. According to Human Rights Watch:

    Saudi Arabia’s new terrorism law and a series of related royal decrees create a legal framework that appears to criminalize virtually all dissident thought or expression as terrorism. The sweeping provisions in the measures, all issued since January 2014, threaten to close down altogether Saudi Arabia’s already extremely restricted space for free expression.”

    The interior ministry regulations include other sweeping provisions that authorities can use to criminalize virtually any expression or association critical of the government and its understanding of Islam. These “terrorism” provisions include the following:

    • Article 1: “Calling for atheist thought in any form, or calling into question the fundamentals of the Islamic religion on which this country is based.”
    • Article 2: “Anyone who throws away their loyalty to the country’s rulers, or who swears allegiance to any party, organization, current [of thought], group, or individual inside or outside [the kingdom].”
    • Article 4: “Anyone who aids [“terrorist”] organizations, groups, currents [of thought], associations, or parties, or demonstrates affiliation with them, or sympathy with them, or promotes them, or holds meetings under their umbrella, either inside or outside the kingdom; this includes participation in audio, written, or visual media; social media in its audio, written, or visual forms; internet websites; or circulating their contents in any form, or using slogans of these groups and currents [of thought], or any symbols which point to support or sympathy with them.”
    • Article 6: “Contact or correspondence with any groups, currents [of thought], or individuals hostile to the kingdom.”
    • Article 8: “Seeking to shake the social fabric or national cohesion, or calling, participating, promoting, or inciting sit-ins, protests, meetings, or group statements in any form, or anyone who harms the unity or stability of the kingdom by any means.”
    • Article 9: “Attending conferences, seminars, or meetings inside or outside [the kingdom] targeting the security of society, or sowing discord in society.”
    • Article 11: “Inciting or making countries, committees, or international organizations antagonistic to the kingdom.”

    These broad provisions contain language that prosecutors and judges are already using to prosecute and convict independent activists and peaceful dissidents, Human Rights Watch said.”

    Read the rest of the story here.

     
  9. Photos from Pascal Meunier’s Nights of Cairo

    (Source: 5centsapound, via nolandwithoutstones)

     

  10. NINTH ANNUAL TUNISIAN JAZZ FESTIVAL BEGINS APRIL 3RD

    The ninth annual Tunisian jazz festival Jazz à Carthage is being held this year from April 3-April13th.

    According to the Jazz à Carthage website:

    The ninth session will be held from 3rd to 13th April 2014 in the coasts of Carthage. Minds will be enlightened and flourished by the springtime vibes. Freshness and novelty are the key words of this session and will offer the audience a program with the most delightful new voices of the international stage and with artists visiting Tunisia for the first time.

    Youth and novelty will be expected through a constellation of certified artists, whose international renown is confirmed, with a nearly perfect parity between male and female voices since this session will count ten women amongst its artists.

    Some of the artists performing this year include Abderraouf Ouertani Quartet, Nour Harkati Band, Joss Stone, Ana Vidovic, Freddy Cole, Bastian Baker and more.

    Check out their website for more: http://www.jazzacarthage.com/ and follow the Jazz à Carthage twitter page here.