Mohamed Messara seems enveloped by calm, which is surprising given his occupation. The year 2011 was a very dangerous one for photojournalists. Revolutions present opportunities for dramatic pictures, but the risks for conflict photographers like Messara are immense. Five journalists died in the uprising in Libya, and twenty have been killed elsewhere covering the Arab Spring.
Carlos Latuff has penned some of the most acerbic political cartoons of the Egyptian revolution. One of them shows a shoe hurtling toward Hosni Mubarak, such use of footwear being one of the gravest personal insults in Arab culture. Another iconic image portrays Egypt’s longtime ruler as a diminutive figure, dangled from his collar by Khalid Said, the young Egyptian whose death in police custody fueled the January 25 uprising. Latuff’s cartoons are ubiquitous in Egypt, adorning everything from blog sites and Tahrir Square t-shirts to the front pages of Cairo dailies. Yet, the cartoonist is not an Egyptian, but slings his ink-tipped arrows from a studio in far away Brazil, his native country.
Eugene Rogan is an American, but when he arrived in Cairo recently, to present a talk at the Cairo Opera House and appear on a panel at the American University in Cairo, he was in some way coming home. The son of a military contractor, he spent much of his childhood in the Middle East–initially in Lebanon, where he witnessed the reverberations of the 1973 Arab-Israeli War and the outbreak of the Lebanese Civil War; and later in Egypt, at the time of the bread riots and Anwar Sadat’s dramatic visit to Israel. Rogan, a lecturer at Oxford University, returned to Egypt for the launch of the Arabic translation of his acclaimed book, The Arabs: A History.
A curious image is displayed on a wall outside the American University in Cairo’s Tahrir Square campus. Inconspicuous at first glance, the red and white chess board is more than a game. The pawns are grouped together at one end, and an upside-down king is flanked by bishops, knights, and castles at the other. An apt metaphor, to many revolutionaries, of how a ruler was toppled yet strongmen remained in power.
Women in the Middle East and North Africa region (MENA) are making appreciable strides in social development. They now outnumber men attending universities in most Arab countries. Disparities in literacy and enrollment in primary and secondary education have fallen dramatically in the last few decades. The impact of these changes can be seen in the labor market as well. As a result of better educational opportunities and growing economies, employment for women has been rising at a faster rate than for men.
Vendors in Tahrir Square have been doing a brisk business selling T-shirts of various colorful designs that usually have “January 25” emblazoned on the front. Certainly the first day of the Egyptian revolution, when tens of thousands initially gathered in Cairo’s central square, was a milestone. Now, with the television cameras largely gone and souvenir stands taking over, the revolution might appear to be over. Egyptians know better, perhaps none more than Hossam El-Hamalawy.
Egypt, led by Egyptians, is today at a very special juncture. Egyptians have a remarkable opportunity to shape a new and better destiny for their country. And the rare combination of both willingness and ability comes wrapped in a new sense of purpose, energy and engagement on the direction of the country.
Upon entering the office of the American University in Cairo President Lisa Anderson, you’ll admire the beautiful colored globe prominently displayed on a table. But dozens of globes? There’s a collection of smaller globes on a bookshelf. There are bowls of tiny globes (key chains, actually) on a coffee table. Globes, globes, everywhere.
Butler is harsh on the tendency in the West, especially among feminists, to categorically condemn the veil. “Negotiating questions of sexuality and gender is not always done according to the same language you find in the U.S. or in France,” she explains.
Due to its geography and political standing, Egypt has interacted with the wider world throughout its long history. In taking its place on the international stage, it has produced honored statesmen and Nobel laureates. It has provided numerous global public servants, including a secretary general of the United Nations and a director general of the International Atomic Energy Agency.