Oriental Hall, etc.

Dispense with the notion that archives are endless rows of cabinets where bespectacled historians pour over dusty, yellowed records.

Dispense with the notion that archives are endless rows of cabinets where bespectacled historians pour over dusty, yellowed records. Mosireen, which means “determined,” but is also a pun on the Arabic word for Egyptians, is a non-profit organization established in 2011 to document Egypt’s ongoing revolution. It has collected more than one thousand hours of video footage, largely shot by citizen journalists from the eighteen-day uprising and subsequent events, and is storing it on hard drives in the collective’s Cairo office as well as on YouTube. The challenge, says co-founder Sherif Gaber, is figuring out “how we can use it, deploy it and give it a continuous life—storage would be the worst thing, just to hold it. This is living material.” To Gaber, the events “remain as immediate as when they were first filmed.” Hence, rather than merely storing the footage, Mosireen is using it to produce short documentaries with the aim of building a historical narrative. Mosireen’s work was a highlight ofAesthetics and Politics: Counter Narratives, New Publics, and the Role of Dissent in the Arab World, a conference held in September at the American University in Cairo. Historian Khaled Fahmy explained how he as the director of a committee at the Egyptian National Archives tasked with archiving the revolution faced similar challenges. It’s one thing to collect data and design a systematic indexing process, he said. But given the incompleteness of political change in Egypt, he added, historians are asking themselves, “What is the revolution we want to document?”
Is an IMF loan un-Islamic? The question has been hotly debated since the election in June of President Mohammed Morsi, candidate of the Muslim Brotherhood’s Freedom and Justice Party. Some Islamists have campaigned against a proposed $4.8 billion IMF loan on grounds that its interest component  (1.1 percent) violates Sharia’s ban on riba, or usury. “It is imperative that Egypt take the IMF loan it has been offered,” Cairo University Economics Professor Ahmed Ghoneim told a recent Tahrir Dialoguespanel on “International Monetary Fund Loans to Egypt.” “There are incentives beyond the loan itself. From a fiscal point of view, Egypt needs the loan, but taking this loan will also force reform of Egypt’s monetary policy which has for too long been pushed aside.” Egypt’s first Islamist president seems to agree. With Egypt’s economy deteriorating since the January 25 revolution, he is backing the loan. “We would rather starve than eat off riba,” Morsi said at a national commemoration of the 1973 war with Israel on October 6. But, he quickly added, the IMF loan “does not constitute riba.”

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