A Blog by the Editor of The Middle East Journal

Putting Middle Eastern Events in Cultural and Historical Context

Wednesday, July 8, 2009

Some Odds and Ends Worth Reading

I'm not saving the roundups till Friday this week since there's a fair amount of interesting linkage to link to:
  • I've already noted that The Moor Next Door is doing good coverage of the Mauritanian elections on July 18, about the only go-to site I know in English (there's more in French, of course). Here's his latest on candidate Messoud Boulkheir, the candidate of Haratine origin (literally "freedmen": descendants of slaves, but Arabic speaking, not sub-Saharan). Besides the obligatory comparison to Barack Obama, there's the curious introduction that might in an American context seem a little patronizing, but probably is fine in Mauritanian context:
    If the campaign for the 18 July elections in Mauritania were an American movie, Messoud Boulkheir would be portrayed by Morgan Freeman. But the movie would be somewhat of a departure for Freeman: its ending would evoke cynicism more than hope.
  • Marc Lynch's post yesterday on Palestinian elections is a good summary: it looks like Abu Mazen is joining his PM Salam Fayyad in calling for holding them on time and saying he'll step down if Hamas wins: he's calling their bluff, I think, but it's an interesting development.
  • Thanks to The Arabist yet again for citing my Marwa al-Sherbini post; I do basically agree with him that the whole comparison of this to Neda Agha Soltan or any other news item is pointless, but I thought it worth noting the growing controversy in Egypt. And I don't think the issue is that it isn't topping Michael Jackson in the Western media*, but rather that even the German media was pretty silent. As some have noted, this is changing: BBC, Al-Jazeera English, and others are getting the word out. And meanwhile, the Egyptian media seems to have pretty universally adopted the phrase shahidat al-hijab, "martyr of the hijab" (head veil).
[*This marks the first mention of Michael Jackson in this Blog. I had hoped to hold out completely, but The Arabist's comments forced my hand. Personally, I still miss Elvis.]

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