ARABICA: A Quick Shot Of What's Brewing In The Arab World

ARABICA: A Quick Shot Of What's Brewing In The Arab World

A R A B I C A ارابيكا

By Kristen Gillespie

Though largely ignored by the English-language media, Bahrainis continue to press for revolution. Soldiers were brought in earlier this year from Saudi Arabia, the UAE and other countries in an effort to keep the Sunni Al Khalifa family from overthrow. With an estimated 80 percent Shiite population, surrounding Sunni regimes consider the preservation of Al Khalifa rule a vital national interest. But Bahrainis are not giving up. Egyptian news channel ONTV aired a video clip making the rounds among Bahrainis preparing for a series of strikes and sit-ins on December 31st. Organizers are urging citizens to carry "portraits of martyrs and detainees' as "fiery revolutionary songs' are played.

An Egyptian court on Tuesday ordered an end to forced virginity tests on female protesters who are arrested, CNN Arabic reported. The court ruled that the armed forces are no longer allowed to conduct the tests, ostensibly "to protect individuals from claiming a possible rape by other detainees by resorting to acts violating the constitution." The tests "violated the women's privacy" and are "humiliating… with the intention of a deliberate insult," the court said in its ruling. An estimated 100 activists outside the courtroom cheered the verdict, as did the two activists, Samira Ibrahim and Maha Mohammed, who filed the lawsuit demanding an end to the forced tests.

*Here, a very conservative Islamist (Salafist) standing outside the courthouse holds a small banner reading: "I want rights for my sister."

*Egyptian Hazem Ghonim tweeted, "If not for a courageous girl named Samira Ibrahim, the issue of virginity tests would have been dismissed by pro-government agents as a rumor to discredit the Egyptian army."

Here, an album of beautiful black-and-white photographs by Randamali6 of the village of Luxor, home to the Valley of the Kings. The images show male and female villagers at home, and working the fields.

Jordan's best-known cartoonist, Imad Hajaj, published a cartoon of what look like two vending machines. The one of the left has a sign reading "Time for sale," as an Arab dictator dressed in military garb (and the words "Arab leaders' written on his back) empties his pockets, sweating and stuffing coins into the machine. The vending machine next to him is empty, with a sign reading "genuine reform."

Jordanian entrepreneur Samih Touqan says in a tweet, "It seems the task of Prime Minister Ain al-Khawasneh's government is not an easy one given the forces seeking to pull it in the opposite direction. I think the government needs support and encouragement and wish it luck."

Dec. 28, 2011

photo credit: illustir

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What It Means When The Jews Of Germany No Longer Feel Safe

A neo-Nazi has been buried in the former grave of a Jewish musicologist Max Friedlaender – not an oversight, but a deliberate provocation. This is just one more example of antisemitism on the rise in Germany, and society's inability to respond.

At a protest against antisemitism in Berlin

Eva Marie Kogel


BERLIN — If you want to check the state of your society, there's a simple test: as the U.S. High Commissioner for Germany, John Jay McCloy, said in 1949, the touchstone for a democracy is the well-being of Jews. This litmus test is still relevant today. And it seems Germany would not pass.

Incidents are piling up. Most recently, groups of neo-Nazis from across the country traveled to a church near Berlin for the funeral of a well-known far-right figure. He was buried in the former grave of Jewish musicologist Max Friedlaender, a gravesite chosen deliberately by the right-wing extremists.

The incident at the cemetery

They intentionally chose a Jewish grave as an act of provocation, trying to gain maximum publicity for this act of desecration. And the cemetery authorities at the graveyard in Stahnsdorf fell for it. The church issued an immediate apology, calling it a "terrible mistake" and saying they "must immediately see whether and what we can undo."

There are so many incidents that get little to no media attention.

It's unfathomable that this burial was allowed to take place at all, but now the cemetery authorities need to make a decision quickly about how to put things right. Otherwise, the grave may well become a pilgrimage site for Holocaust deniers and antisemites.

The incident has garnered attention in the international press and it will live long in the memory. Like the case of singer-songwriter Gil Ofarim, who recently claimed he was subjected to antisemitic abuse at a hotel in Leipzig. Details of the crime are still being investigated. But there are so many other incidents that get little to no media attention.

Photo of the grave of Jewish musicologist Max Friedlaender

The grave of Jewish musicologist Max Friedlaender

Jens Kalaene/dpa/ZUMA

Crimes against Jews are rising

Across all parts of society, antisemitism is on the rise. Until a few years ago, Jewish life was seen as an accepted part of German society. Since the attack on the synagogue in Halle in 2019, the picture has changed: it was a bitter reminder that right-wing terror against Jewish people has a long, unbroken history in Germany.

Stories have abounded about the coronavirus crisis being a Jewish conspiracy; meanwhile, Muslim antisemitism is becoming louder and more forceful. The anti-Israel boycott movement BDS rears its head in every debate on antisemitism, just as left-wing or post-colonial thinking are part of every discussion.

Jewish life needs to be allowed to step out of the shadows.

Since 2015, the number of antisemitic crimes recorded has risen by about a third, to 2,350. But victims only report around 20% of cases. Some choose not to because they've had bad experiences with the police, others because they're afraid of the perpetrators, and still others because they just want to put it behind them. Victims clearly hold out little hope of useful reaction from the state – so crimes go unreported.

And the reality of Jewish life in Germany is a dark one. Sociologists say that Jewish children are living out their "identity under siege." What impact does it have on them when they can only go to nursery under police protection? Or when they hear Holocaust jokes at school?

Germany needs to take its antisemitism seriously

This shows that the country of commemorative services and "stumbling blocks" placed in sidewalks as a memorial to victims of the Nazis has lost its moral compass. To make it point true north again, antisemitism needs to be documented from the perspective of those affected, making it visible to the non-Jewish population. And Jewish life needs to be allowed to step out of the shadows.

That is the first thing. The second is that we need to talk about specifically German forms of antisemitism. For example, the fact that in no other EU country are Jewish people so often confronted about the Israeli government's policies (according to a survey, 41% of German Jews have experienced this, while the EU average is 28%). Projecting the old antisemitism onto the state of Israel offers people a more comfortable target for their arguments.

Our society needs to have more conversations about antisemitism. The test of German democracy, as McCloy called it, starts with taking these concerns seriously and talking about them. We need to have these conversations because it affects all of us. It's about saving our democracy. Before it's too late.

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