Egypt Moves Ahead with National Dialogue
A Weekly Political News Magazine
Iran: Endless Living Crises, Human Rights Violations
A Weekly Political News Magazine
Issue 1905- May- 20/05/2022
Mohamed Bin Zayed Al Nahyan: 3rd UAE’s President, People’s Leader
Issue 1905 May 20/05/2022
Lives of Syrians in Europe in Trouble
Editorial With the arrival of more than a million Syrian refugees to European countries in the past years, as a result of the war that Syria has been witnessing since 2011, families are experiencing a new suffering that worries thousands of them and is based on the issue of reunification between members of the same family. In the cover story, Jiwan Soz interviews three young Syrians living in France who spoke about their difficult experience waiting for their wives and children. They unanimously agreed that the unification procedures seem complicated in this country, as our wives and children cannot catch up with us before completing our asylum papers and then applying for a residency card. In the politics section, Ahmed Taher writes about how during setbacks and crises, warnings are issued by loyalists before the opposition, out of fear of losing control and facing worse conditions and the collapse of the state. Iran today, he said, is facing the aforementioned in light of the exacerbating the daily living crises of Iranian citizens who are groaning under the burden of the siege on the one hand, and the lack of proper utilization of the state’s resources and wealth on the other hand. In Egypt, Mohammed Khalil writes about how the political and partisan forces in Egypt, as well as civil action players in the country have enthusiastically welcomed the invitation to national dialogue extended by Egyptian President Abdel Fattah al-Sisi during the Egyptian Family Iftar banquet.
A Weekly Political News Magazine
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Several political and partisan forces considered the invitation a great opportunity to reinvigorate the Egyptian political life. Accordingly, a number of Egyptian political parties valued the invitation, confirmed its acceptance, and start working at all fronts and on all topics related to the dialogue. They aimed to pave the way for community interaction with all economic, social, and political issues aimed at building the new republic with the participation of the Egyptian society’s various segments. On May 4, fine Egyptian artist Mohamed Abla won the Goethe Medal 2022. The medal is an official badge of honor of the Federal Republic of Germany and the most coveted prize in its foreign cultural policy. The medal honors personalities committed to international cultural exchange or teaching the German language. In the interview section, Salma Adham interviews Abla is known for his paintings of abstract sceneries in Egypt about the prize. «It was wonderful news. When I have informed of the award, I was very happy. I love Goethe as a poet and a human being. So, I am thrilled that my name is associated with him,» Abla told Majalla. Read these articles and more on our website eng.majalla.com. As always, we welcome and value our readers’ feedback and we invite you to take the opportunity to leave your comments on our website.
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A Weekly Political News Magazine
A Weekly Political News Magazine
Issue 1905- May- 20/05/2022
Mohamed Abla: The First Arab Artist to Obtain Goethe Medal
32 Fox TV Soft on Russia?
44 Batiking For a Living
56 Working in the Metaverse
Words, Drawings Radiating 34 Hope for Palestine 5
54 Get a Helping Hand for Pain
Elizabeth Line at Paddington Station in London Britain’s Queen Elizabeth II (R) visits Paddington Station in London on May 17, 2022, to mark the completion of London’s Crossrail project, ahead of the opening of the new ‘Elizabeth Line’ rail service next week. /AFP
People view Van Gogh Dublin An Immersive Journey inside the RDS in Dublin. The immersive 3D light show opened this week and continues until August. /dpa
Hezbollah and allies who support its armed presence have lost the parliamentary majority they held since 2018 in Lebanon, according to a Reuters tally of official results released on Tuesday, dealing a major blow to the heavily armed group. Hezbollah, the Shi'ite Amal Movement, the Christian Free Patriotic Movement, and a number of other MPs considered to support the group's armed presence in the country now hold around 62 seats, compared to 71 in the outgoing parliament.
Egypt will start operating its new Sphinx International Airport near the Giza pyramids by mid-July with the aim of easing pressure on Cairo's main airport and boosting tourism, a cabinet statement said on Wednesday. The airport near the new Grand Egyptian Museum in Giza on the outskirts of greater Cairo is part of plans to improve accessibility to historical sites for visitors, with links to popular Red Sea resorts like Sharm el Sheikh and Hurghada. Tourism receipts, a major source of foreign currency for Egypt, jumped to $3.0 billion in the last three months of 2021 from $987 million a year earlier as travel recovered from the impact of COVID-19 restrictions.
Israeli forc West Bank prominen this week, Palestinian The Israeli conductin outskirts o Shireen Ab Her funera Jerusalem thousands
ces resumed raids in the occupied k area of Jenin on Friday, where a nt Palestinian journalist was shot dead , wounding at least 11 people, the n Health Ministry said. i military said its forces were ng counter-terrorism activities on the of Jenin, where Al Jazeera journalist bu Akleh was killed on Wednesday. al procession in the Old City of m on Friday is expected to draw s.
UAE President Joe Biden sent a high-powered U.S. delegation to the United Arab Emirates on Monday to offer condolences after the death of its ruler, in an apparent bid to repair frayed ties with Gulf Arab allies. Washington's desire to improve relations with Gulf monarchies has become more urgent following Russia's invasion of Ukraine, which highlighted the relevance of Gulf oil producers as Europe looks to cut its energy dependence on Russia.
IRAQ The U.N. special envoy for Iraq warned its political leaders Tuesday that “the streets are about to boil over” because of their deadlock and failure to address a host of issues, including the suffering of ordinary people and armed groups firing rockets with impunity. Jeannine Hennis-Plasschaert told several reporters after briefing the U.N. Security Council that Iraq and the region cannot afford to go back to October 2019. That is when young men and women fed up with an Iraqi political elite they blamed for many grievances launched mass demonstrations that were met with bullets, water cannons and tear gas that plunged the country into renewed instability just as it was starting to emerge from war against the Islamic State extremist group.
IRAN Sweeping U.S. sanctions imposed on Iran have badly impacted the country’s economy and worsened the humanitarian situation in the Persian Gulf nation, a United Nations special envoy said Wednesday. According to Alena Douhan, the U.N. special rapporteur on unilateral coercive measures, the sanctions have affected Iran’s main export groups, banks and also several companies and nationals, including some pharmaceuticals and food production.
A WEEK ACROS CANADA.
U.S. Health officials are considering extending the eligibility for a second COVID-19 vaccine booster dose to people under 50 amid a steady rise in cases, with the United States seeing a threefold increase over the past month. The U.S. Food and Drug Administration had in late March authorized a second booster dose of the Moderna and Pfizer/BioNTech SE vaccines for people aged 50 and older, citing data showing waning immunity and the risks posed by Omicron variants of the virus.
Pope Francis, who has been using a wheelchair because of a bad knee, is going ahead with plans to visit Canada this summer so he can apologize in person for abuse suffered by Indigenous people at the hands of the Catholic church. The Vatican on Friday announced that Francis will head to Canada on July 24 and visit Edmonton, Quebec and Iqaluit, a small town in that country’s far north. About half the population of Iqaluit is Inuit. The pope leaves Canada on July 29, arriving the next day in Rome. Last month, Francis made a historic apology for abuses in Canada’s church-run residential schools and expressed “sorrow and shame” for the lack of respect for Indigenous identities, culture and spiritual values.
Thousands of Tunisians protested o Sunday against President Kais Saie demanding a return to the normal democratic order and rejecting his replacement of the independent electoral commission with one he named himself. "The people want democracy" and "Saied has led the country to starvation" were two slogans chan by the protesters at the main rally i central Tunis, the biggest against h in months, a week after a far smalle demonstration in his support.
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The Kremlin said on Tuesday it would be "outright theft" for the Group of Seven economic powers and European Union to seize Russia's frozen reserves and spend them on behalf of Ukraine. German Finance Minister Christian Lindner told four European newspapers that he was open to the idea of seizing Russian state assets to finance the reconstruction of Ukraine and that proposals to that effect were already being discussed among the G7 and in the EU.
INDIA. More than 500,000 people have fled their homes in India's northeastern state of Assam to escape heavy floods triggered by pre-monsoon rains that drowned seven, authorities said on Wednesday, as they warned the situation could worsen.
Investigators looking into the crash of a China Eastern Airlines jet are examining the actions of the crew on the flight deck, with no evidence found of a technical malfunction, two people briefed on the matter said. In mainland China's deadliest aviation disaster for 28 years, the Boeing 737-800 crashed in the mountains of southern Guangxi on March 21, after a sudden plunge from cruising altitude, killing all 123 passengers and nine crew. The pilots did not respond to repeated calls from air traffic controllers and nearby planes during the rapid descent, authorities have said.
Lives of Syrians in Europe in Trouble
Syrian Refugees Tell Their Stories of Suffering to Majalla Jiwan Soz - Al-Qamishli With the arrival of more than a million Syrian refugees to European countries in the past years, as a result of the war that Syria has been witnessing since 2011, families are experiencing a new suffering that worries thousands
of them and is based on the issue of reunification between members of the same family. This happens especially with those who arrived alone without their families to the countries they chose fleeing to and reside there, so what are the difficulties these
people face when trying to ask members of their families to join them? The difficulties of applying for family unification vary according to the kinship relationship between the applicant and the person who wishes to join the Syrian refugee who has arrived in a European country to the country of asylum. However, he is forced to wait until he obtains the right of asylum and secures a home for his family members residing outside Europe before he initiates an official request for family unification from the local authorities.
Complicated, Time-consuming Procedures In this context, three young Syrians living in France spoke about their difficult experience waiting for their wives and children, and unanimously agreed that “the unification procedures seem complicated in this country, as our wives and children cannot catch up with us before completing our asylum papers and then applying for a residency card.
A Syrian family at Moria camp in Greece on November 2017 ,30 © REUTERS/Alkis Konstantinidis)
“There also is a need to secure adequate housing for all family members, and then the second stage of suffering begins when we start preparing the papers required to complete the unification of procedures at the Immigration Department in our places of residence.”
In this context, three young Syrians living in France spoke about their difficult experience waiting for their wives and children. residency card, revealing that he arrived in Paris at the beginning of 2020, but so far, he had not applied for a residency card because of the time taken to process the request. He included his family consisting of his wife and two young children. He added in an interview with Majalla: “It was expected that the residency card would be in my possession at the beginning of the year 2021, according to the expected period during which asylum applications are studied as usual, but the outbreak of the coronavirus and the closure of state departments for a long period of time prevented this, and so far, I have not submitted an application to obtain a residency card.
He continued, “The interview that I should have had with the immigration department in Paris was delayed for more than a year. I did the interview in April of the year 2021, and then I got asylum in December of last year, but I did not get a birth certificate so that I could apply for This was confirmed by an employee in the Immiresidency, after which I could start my family gration Department in the province of Marseille unification process.” to Majalla, explaining that the French law does not give the right to a married refugee to request This Syrian refugee is one of thousands of Syrfamily unification and receive his family memian refugees who have arrived in France in recent bers as refugees only after he himself obtains years, and are waiting for their family members refugee status and subsequently obtains a French to join them after they were able to reach the residency card. Requirements also include the French territories on refugee visas or by sea ilprovision of adequate housing sufficient for all legally. individuals, including wife and children.
Coronavirus Negatively Affecting Asylum Application Files A Syrian refugee complained about the long period needed to study the asylum application and obtain a final decision on it and then obtain a
An employee from French non-profit organisation La Cimade told Majalla that “the issue of family reunification is already taking a long time, especially after the outbreak of the coronavirus and the closure that France witnessed as a result more than once, which led to the accumulation of these files.”
The employee, who works in the association concerned with helping refugees and immigrants, stressed that “the file for family reunification in the best cases takes about a year and a half if the person granted asylum is married before being granted asylum.” He pointed out that “the refugee at the present time waits for about two and a half years until he obtains the right to asylum and then residence, and then he needs about a year and a half of procedures for his wife or children to join him, and therefore with his arrival in France he must wait for about 3 years at least to meet his family.” He added, “These procedures seem easier compared to the refugee who wants to associate with a woman residing in another country. For example, if a Syrian refugee intends to marry a Syrian girl residing in her country or in Syria’s neighbouring countries, then the conditions are more difficult”. He stressed that “every refugee who intends to be associated with a woman in Syria or in neighbouring countries, he must first obtain a document confirming his celibacy from the Asylum Department in Paris, and then he must travel to a third country in which to marry, and then return to France to duly translate the marriage contract and send it to the Asylum Department to register
Refugees have already exceeded these two conditions after obtaining work with a suitable income, but this did not help in processing the applications for their wives to join them in a shorter time.
his marriage in France”. He pointed out that “the registration of marriage takes about a year, after which the refugee can bring his partner according to a request for family unification, but he must provide enough housing for two people and have enough work to live with his wife, and in the absence of these conditions, his request will be rejected.” Another Syrian refugee told Majalla, “I got married in Erbil, the capital of the Kurdistan region of Iraq, and I was finally able to register my marriage in France, but I was not able to meet the other required conditions, such as the condition of having enough work for two people.” He added, “My request was rejected twice because it was difficult for me to get enough income with my wife according to French standards, and thus we remained suspended between two countries. I am here and my wife is in another place.” The conditions for family unification do not differ between France and the rest of the European countries, but the time period during which applications are processed varies not only from one country to another, but from one province to another. A Syrian woman residing in the Jordanian capital of Amman, said, “My husband has been residing in France for about 3 years, and so far, I have not been able to join him. We got married about one year before he traveled.” She told Majalla, “My husband has not yet obtained a birth certificate after he was granted refugee status, so we have to wait for about another year before I can join him.” Most European countries stipulate the necessity of adequate housing for all family members, but they tolerate such conditions and the necessity of having a job that provides the income required for the family’s livelihood if the applicant for family unification has married long before his
Refugees seeking reunification with family members in Germany sit in front of a banner announcing a hunger strike during a protest near the parliament building in Athens, Greece, Nov. 1, 2017. (Reuters/Alkis Konstantinidis)
arrival to the European country and obtaining asylum there.
clear as he put it, and it cannot be bypassed or its provisions can be ignored.
But it stipulates the necessity of having a suitable job and housing for every refugee who got married after arriving in Europe.
Although these two conditions hindered family unification, the whole case ends after the refugee obtains a job that provides the cost of living for two or more people, according to the number of his family members.
According to another employee of the French association La Cimade, a refugee married to a woman residing outside France can apply to the authorities to join him, but the authorities cannot tolerate his application when there is insufficient income for their livelihood and an adequate housing, noting that these two conditions apply in all European countries and for all refugees, no matter what countries they come from. The employee told Majalla that refugees asked for their help to overcome these two conditions, but this matter cannot be bypassed, as the law is
Fears of Consummating Marriage for Purpose of Visa Refugees have already exceeded these two conditions after obtaining work with a suitable income, but this did not help in processing the applications for their wives to join them in a shorter time. A Syrian woman who got married three years ago in Istanbul to a Syrian refugee residing in
Germany said that “my husband fulfilled all the conditions required of him after we got married, but the German consulate in Istanbul has not yet set a date for my interview.” She told Majalla, “The appointments are getting late at the consulate, even though the conditions that accompanied the outbreak of the coronavirus no longer exist.” The condition of this woman who is waiting for an interview at the German consulate in Turkey may seem much better than other women who were refused visas even though their husbands fulfilled all the required conditions. A Syrian woman said that the German consulate refused to grant her a travel visa to join her husband. “The consulate refused to grant me the visa because it did not find evidence of my association with my husband, such as pictures of the wedding ceremony. Therefore, the refusal came after the consulate’s suspicions that the marriage took place on paper only with the aim of obtaining the visa only and moving to Germany”. She added, “I have lodged an objection with the consulate and at the moment I am waiting for its response.” Conditions for Entering Neighbouring Countries
“The consulate refused to grant me the visa because it did not find evidence of my association with my husband, such as pictures of the wedding ceremony.”
The mechanism of work of European embassies and consulates in dealing with family unification files differs between countries, and the conditions for entering those countries, which sometimes seem difficult, force women who want to join their husbands residing in Europe to wait for a longer time. Lebanon, Turkey, Jordan and the Kurdistan region of Iraq impose multiple and different conditions for entering their territories to conduct interviews at foreign embassies and consulates. Majalla spoke to an employee in a travel office in the Syrian capital of Damascus, who confirmed that most of those who want to join their families in Europe are trying to get appointments at European consulates in Erbil, due to the few requests for family unification that they receive compared
Migrants and refugees arrive at a tent village at the Donnersberg bridge close to the central train station in Munich, Germany, Sunday Sept. 13, 2015. (File photo: AP)
to larger requests that reach European consulates in Turkey and Lebanon.
More than a million Syrian refugees live in Europe, more than half of them in Germany.
According to the employee, requests in consulates that receive fewer files do not take longer, which leads to the desire of many to start with files for family unification through European consulates in Erbil, and not in other capitals of the neighbouring countries of Syria.
There are also more than 114,000 Syrian refugees living in Sweden, according to United Nations statistics, which also confirm the presence of 74,000 Syrians in the Netherlands and 17,000 others in Denmark, in addition to 38,000 in Greece, 23,000 in France, 7,000 in Switzerland, 4,000 in Belgium, and the same in Italy, 3 thousand in Romania, 2352 in Spain, 1729 in Ireland, 1069 in Poland and 663 in Luxembourg.
Although the family reunification procedures take a long time and may extend for years, it is the most appropriate way compared to traveling illegally, which may eventually lead to death, as happened when a small boat sank off the Lebanese coast in Tripoli last month, which led to the loss of two Syrian women.
Jiwan Soz is a researcher and journalist who focuses on * Syrian and Turkish affairs and minorities in the Middle East. He is also a member of Syndicat National des Journalistes (National Syndicate of Journalists [SNJ]). He tweets at @JiwanSoz1
Iran: Endless Living Crises, Human Rights Violations
A Sensational Sectarian Rhetoric and a Government Brewing the Streets
By Ahmed Taher Baku-During setbacks and crises, warnings are issued by loyalists before the opposition, out of fear of losing control and facing worse
conditions and the collapse of the state. Iran today is facing the aforementioned in light of the exacerbating the daily living crises of Iranian citizens who are groaning under the burden of the siege on the one hand, and
the lack of proper utilization of the state’s resources and wealth on the other hand. A warning came from within the ruling elite, as former Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad warned during his speech in the city of Bushehr, as quoted by “Dawlat Bahar” website what he called: “the flood of public discontent.” This is an indication of what Tehran will witness due to the state of general resentment prevailing in the country due to the successive failures of the Iranian governments in resolving daily living crises. According to Ahmadinejad: “Human torrents are flocking across the world and in Iran in particular, and the first step is public resentment.”
Iranians protest against the surge in fuel prices (AFP)
This warning concerned with the serious and aggravating situation is consistent with what MP Muhammad Hassan Asfari, a member of the Iranian Parliament’s Internal Affairs Committee, also spoke of during a press interview. He criticized the government’s decision to lift subsidies for the import of food commodities. “When we want to resolve economic problems using people’s money, we cannot eradicate the roots of poverty. Rather, the severity of poverty is increasing every day,” Asfari said. He stressed that the policies adopted by the Iranian government in tackling economic crises are not fruitful because “they cannot be resolved with promises and words,” as he put it. He also undermined any steps that can be taken in order to solve this crisis, such as raising the salaries of government workers. Asfari believes that increasing the rate, even if it reaches 75 percent, will not eradicate the issue of poverty that the Iranian society suffers from. He indicated that there are at least “9 million Iranian families suffering under the poverty line... and that the majority of families are awaiting aid from the Imam Khomeini Relief Committee and the State Welfare Organization of Iran, which are concerned with caring for people with limited income in the country.” In the same context, Mohammed Hassan Abu Turabi, Tehran’s preacher, warned in his sermon last Friday (6 May 2022) that
Reality of the Iranian situation at home: a religious discourse that tantalizes feelings, a government that fails to perform its tasks and mandates, and a Revolutionary Guard that practices the utmost opportunism at home and aggression abroad. “the country’s economic problems are a sure result of the economic policies of the past decades, and that no rash decisions should be taken in dealing with the economic issues.” The Islahat News website carried the statement of Taqi Fadel Mebdi, a member of the Society of Seminary Teachers of Qom, who warned in a letter sent to Iranian President Ebrahim Raisi: “If the country’s economic conditions do not improve, and the high prices are not curbed, we must wait for the rebellion of the hungry … and that a rebellion is more dangerous than a revolution.”
ORGANIZING DEMONSTRATIONS AND PROTESTS Needless to say, these warnings did not come out of nowhere. Several indicators show that some Iranian cities have begun to witness incidents similar to what happened on the occasion of International Workers’ Day (on May 1, 2022), which coincides with the Iranian Teacher’s Day. On that day, some joint gatherings were organized between workers and employees of the Ministry of Education, in order to protest the repercussions of inflation that exceeded forty percent on their salaries amid difficult economic conditions. In response, the security forces launched an arrest campaign targeting the protesters, as announced by the Coordinating Committee of Teachers and Trade Unions. Human Rights Watch called on the Iranian authorities to release the teachers. It is noteworthy
that these protests were not the first of their kind. Recently, there have been similar protests during which demonstrators were also arrested. Human Rights Watch revealed that in mid-April, the union teacher Rasoul Badaghi was sentenced to five years in prison for participating in demonstrations. This was in compliance with what Yousef Nouri, the Iranian Minister of Education, had announced when he said that “the matter does not end here, but the teachers participating in the protests will be expelled because they are il-
The current events taking place on the Iranian streets today and before are a warning to those who realize the difficulty of the situation and the seriousness of its repercussions.
legal,” as he described it. It was not only the teachers who protested. Some Iranian cities in the Khuzestan region in the south of the country witnessed demonstrations during the past week (7-8 May 2022) that protested the poor economic and living conditions. This prompted the Iranian forces to send military reinforcements, armored vehicles and riot forces to suppress protests and arrest dozens of citizens, as mentioned by reports issued by the Human Rights Activists News Agency (HRANA).
CONGESTION TO ERUPT INTO AN EXPLOSION However, what is noteworthy is that despite these warnings from loyalists of the Iranian regime who represent part of the ruling elite, as they are aware of the seriousness of the situation and its repercussions on internal stability. They fear that such protests that Iran is experiencing at intervals not far apart will grow into a point of no return that
Escalation of protests by workers, unpaid salaries, unsafe working conditions, arbitrary arrests, and trials
Iranian President Ebrahim Raisi delivering a speech in a parliament session (AFP)
threatens the state and the disintegration of its bonds. The feared scenario is similar to the case of Arab countries, like in Iraq, Syria, Lebanon and Yemen. However, what increases the seriousness of the Iranian situation compared to what the Arab countries are witnessing lies in the reasons behind these demonstrations. What the Arab countries are witnessing is due in large part not only to the failures of the governments of these countries as much as to the size of external interventions and the attempts of the meddlers to impose their agenda on other parties. Meanwhile in Tehran, the protests are the result of the failures of the policies of the previous and current Iranian governments. This deems addressing the causes of these demonstrations more complicated in the Iranian case than in the cases of neighbouring Arab countries. If it is true that the Iranian government, which is a tool in the hands of its Supreme Leader, succeeded every time in containing such disturbances and demonstrations under the force of arms and arrests, then it is also true that the renewal of these demonstrations and protests
and then suppressing them by force of arms increases the strength of the internal tension that paves the way for an explosion that could erupt at any moment. The crisis would escalate and ways to mitigate its severity are complicated by the sedating measures that the Iranian government is tsking in an attempt to provide to its citizens, whether by increasing their salaries or ignoring the payment of their dues to government entities or through a religious discourse that agitates the feelings and blinds the mind. The developments and escalation of events, and the increasing intertwining and complexity of crises, make it difficult for the state to link all the threads of events and control them. Iranian officials need to realize the difficulty and danger of the current event, and of manipulating rights and freedoms, especially the basic ones for citizens (food, drink, clothing, housing, education and health...). Some Iranian human rights organizations warned that the government might try to exploit the visit of Alina Douhan, the Special Rapporteur on unilateral
coercive measures, in an attempt to evade accountability for human rights violations. Iranian officials sought to market this visit, during which Douhan is scheduled to meet in Iran with representatives of international and regional organizations, financial institutions, non-governmental groups, as well as civic groups, in addition to government officials, provided that the results and recommendations of the visit will be presented in a report to the 51st session of the Human Rights
Iranian officials need to realize the difficulty and danger of the current event, and of manipulating rights and freedoms, especially the basic ones for citizens.
Council next September. This apprehension on the part of the opposition comes amidst the notion that receiving Douhan should not be a substitute for the visit of the UN Special Rapporteur on human rights, which Tehran has refused receiving for several years now. Meanwhile, it welcomed the visit of the Special Rapporteur on unilateral coercive measures, according to Kazem Gharibabadi, Vice-President of the Judiciary for International Affairs and the Secretary-General of the High Council for Human Rights. He said, “This visit represents a strong opportunity to get acquainted with the negative effects of the unilateral embargo on the rights of the Iranian people.” It is useful to say that the Iranian human rights portfolio is full of distortions and grave violations of the rights of Iranian citizens. Perhaps what is happening with some foreigners residing in Iran and visiting confirms that the human rights violations are
Part of the teachers’ demonstrations
Demonstrations in Iran on November 2021 ,16.
lizes feelings, a government that fails to perform its tasks and mandates, a Revolutionary Guard that practices the utmost opportunism at home and aggression abroad. Among them are the people groaning and sacrificing their lives and their freedoms at other times in an attempt to break from this closed loop in which there is no hope for a future that rebuilds the Iranian state for the future generations. These generations see turbans as nothing but tools for domination and mechanisms to control the capabilities of oppressed peoples to deceive them under the slogan of defending religion, which is no longer steady as it was before. The current events taking place on the Iranian streets today and before are a warning to those who realize the difficulty of the situation and the seriousness of its repercussions. If the situation explodes and conditions deteriorate, the Iranian people will This is the reality of the Iranian situation have no choice but to resort to the streets at home; A religious discourse that tanta- to let out some steam. not a single behaviour or an expression of the direction of an institution, as much as they represent a governance and policy approach of a state that sees in violations of the basic rights of the citizen an excuse to cover up its repeated failures. These are the result of its preoccupation with foreign intervention and building its weapons programs at the expense of providing the basic needs for the citizen who has suffered for more than 40 years since the mullahs came into power and plunged the state into a cycle of conflicts, wars and conspiracies. The Iranian citizen ended up paying the price of false arguments and empty slogans that failed to feed the hungry stomachs and provide the required treatments. Citizens nowadays are entangled in a cycle of living crises, being unable to meet their basic needs.
Egypt Moves Ahead with National Dialogue
Will Dialogue Contribute to Involving Parties in Political Decision-making Process? Mohammed Khalil Cairo - Political and partisan forces in Egypt, as well as civil action players in the country have enthusiastically welcomed the invitation to national dialogue extended by Egyptian President Abdel Fattah al-Sisi during the Egyptian Family Iftar banquet. Several political and partisan forces consid-
ered the invitation a great opportunity to reinvigorate the Egyptian political life. Accordingly, a number of Egyptian political parties valued the invitation, confirmed its acceptance, and start working at all fronts and on all topics related to the dialogue. They aimed to pave the way for community interaction with all economic, social, and political issues aimed at building the new republic with the participation of
the Egyptian society’s various segments. The majority of Egyptian political parties, in addition to the Journalists Syndicate, and major figures of civil action, announced their participation in the dialogue. This came after the National Training Academy issued a statement confirming that Sisi tasked the National Youth Conference with coordinating with political parties, movements and youth groups to hold this dialogue. The event is organized under the Academy’s umbrella in coordination with all political and youth parties to run a national dialogue that tackles the priorities of national work at this current time. The outcomes of this dialogue are then submitted to the presidency. The Academy stresses that it manages this dialogue with complete impartiality and not biased, provided that its role is to coordinate among the different groups participating in the national dialogue without interfering with the content of what is being discussed. The goal is to pave the way for a serious, effective and inclusive national dialogue that involves all forces and groups.
Egyptian President Abdel Fattah al-Sisi (Reuters)
The dialogue should be in line with the ambitions and aspirations of the political leadership, and the various political forces, in order to contribute to determining the priorities of national action and build a new republic that accepts everyone - according to the statement – where differences of opinion cannot meddle with the homeland’s issues. The Academy will also adopt the principle of expanding the base of participation in the dialogue by inviting all representatives of the Egyptian society, with as many groups and institutions as possible, to ensure the representation of all groups in the societal dialogue, achieve real momentum and credibility and launch a new stage in Egypt’s political path. However, questions have arisen about the willingness of the political parties in Egypt to participate in this step, which is a real opportunity for the parties to express their presence in the political scene. Will the dialogue unravel the crisis facing these parties, and their inability to devise new political visions, adopt political plans, reach solutions for the country’s economic woes, or adopt a methodology and a clear roadmap to address economic crises? Will these parties utilize the national dialogue to prove their actual presence in the political scene? Or will the dialogue reveal their vulnerabilities and incapacity, and show that they are nothing more than formal parties, or “cartoon” parties that do not exist in the political scene, and that they are actually among the causes of the problem? Therefore, the national dialogue should include a roadmap to address the economic challenges, and to
Dialogue is an opportunity for the political forces, on the condition that they are serious. If the issue is not taken completely seriously, the invitation may be withdrawn. develop solutions to the crisis and the weakness of the Egyptian parties.
A Suitable Time to Initiate the National Dialogue Sisi called for the national dialogue at a particularly appropriate moment, as the past period was dedicated the cleanse the leftovers of the Brotherhood regime, eliminate terrorism and end the difficult period that Egypt experienced, according to the head of the Arab Party for Justice and Equality, Sheikh Ali Freij. Talking exclusively to Majalla, he stressed that today, thanks to the government’s policy and the efforts of the army and police, all terrorist forms have been eliminated, even in the Sinai Peninsula. He said that now all terrorist elements present there have been eliminated except for a number of a few small groups that hide in the mountains. He explained that citizens returned to their villages, and the wheel of development is spinning again in Sinai. Freij added that the national dialogue came today at a time when Sisi is rebuilding the state and announcing a new republic based on the elements of freedom, justice and development. He noted that the President has come a long way in restoring the infrastructure in the country, and allowing the participation of youth and women, whose participation used to be limited. Today, young people and women are taking part in various fields, including in the Parliament and its two branches - the House of Representatives and the Senate. Women represent 50 percent of the society and have come to enjoy a great role after they were dysfunctional forces. The dialogue will allow the participation of political parties in order to have a broader role. It will also open the way for all national forces supporting the Egyptian state to take responsibility and participate in the political decisionmaking. There is no doubt that the President was keen since day one on involving the political parties as they are the only entities entrusted with the practice of political work in Egypt. After all, they are among the legitimate channels for practicing political work in the country, and
through them, people from all ages, backgrounds and gender can participate in this national dialogue. The current Egyptian political parties are existing parties that were approved by the Parties Affairs Committee. These parties emerged after a long period of practices during which the parties became accustomed to the existence of a dominant party, which is the ruling party. Today, however, the door is open for all parties to practice political and partisan work on an equal footing. Therefore, the people must participate in the exercise of their role through these parties, and according to the program of each party. The parties in general had to develop cadres tasked with leading the party work, which is now available. There is also the role of the training academy tasked with train-
Parties that are content with the opposition discourse without breaking a sweat in order to present alternatives and visions consider the dialogue a burden.
ing young people who have grown today to become the parties’ active elements. There is no doubt that today the parties have been given the opportunity to participate and present their vision, and that the ball is now in their court. They should be interacting and participating, and they are required to get rid of the methods of bidding and destructive criticism, and to adopt instead constructive criticism that is in the interest of the country.
A New Challenge to Achieve the Dialogue’s Objectives Representative Amal Ramzy, a member of the Senate’s Defense and National Security Committee, told Majalla exclusively: The Egyptian state had facing multiple challenges related to its national security and the fierce war waged by terrorist and extremist groups after the June 30 Revolution, which attempted to undermine the stability and security of the Egyptian people, not only at the internal level, but also externally. Nonetheless, it stood in the face of terrorist operations that are financed from abroad and by international powers, and scored many achievements over the past years, evident most successfully in the development of Sinai. Today, the Egyptian state has turned towards a new challenge, which is developing the new republic and transitioning towards it. This requires a comprehensive national dialogue that involves all societal groups, especially the political parties, which in turn will be the vital link in achieving the desired goals of this
Sisi shakes hands with Hamdeen Sabahi during the Egyptian Family Iftar banquet (social media)
Head of the Egyptian Party Engineer Sayed al-Jabri
dialogue. The call for national dialogue itself aims to bring together the groups and segments of society under the umbrella of a dialogue through which discussions will take place and create a space for tackling problems, challenges and issues facing the state. This requires upholding the public interest and achieving all what is beneficial for the society. As for the role of parties, as a quick link to the public, they are tasked with managing the dialogue and communicating the views of decision-makers to the public in an understanding manner. This requires moving away from adherence to partisan ideologies and trends. Instead, there is one basic task, which is the homeland and how to move quickly to the new republic that relies on modern civil democracy. Amidst the repercussions facing the Egyptian state from in the recent period, whether related to COVID-19 or to the crisis of the Russian-Ukrainian war and its negative reverberations, the biggest challenge remains trying to survive the Egyptian economy despite all these obstacles and striving to achieve positive growth rates that contribute to maintaining the efforts made by the government over the past years. The national dialogue must include in its speech and points the need to find serious mechanisms to deal with economic challenges and the means to getting out of the impasse of these crises by developing a roadmap that relies on the available capabilities and the possibility of employing them in strengthening the local product. It also relies on Egyptian hands in order to achieve self-sufficiency until the war ends.
When tackling the parties’ crises and weaknesses, the primary cause is that each party works in isolation from the other. This eventually produced many different opinions, ideas and orientations for the public. The evidence lies in the great success the parties achieved during the parliamentary elections, and their ability to unite in order to gain access to the House of Representatives and the Senate and the formation of an electoral alliance. Their success in such a trial underlines the need for unity in order to achieve a better future.
A Call for Unity During Difficult Times There is always a lurking societal danger in the face of any sudden economic or strategic crises. The foundation of society and its cohesion face an actual threat, according to the writer and political analyst Abdullah al-Sanawi. He said in an exclusive interview with Majalla: I perceive the presidential call for dialogue as a call for cohesion during such difficult times. However, which dialogue are we talking about Every dialogue has its context, its requirements, and its origins. We need the idea of dialogue to take its full extent and succeed in achieving its goals represented in cohesion and finding consensual solutions or a new social contract for the economic issue. The dialogue can also be understood as a call for Egyptian talents and competencies to find solutions to the aggravating economic crisis, expand the extent of the
public sphere and public freedoms, and release all the oppressed behind prison walls - those imprisoned according to the pre-trial detention law, or those imprisoned by judicial rulings, if not accused of murder or inciting violence. This is what can be called the general concept, the general framework, or the necessities of the dialogue. The dialogue has its necessities, and I think that there is a national consensus among most people to accept dialogue. The Muslim Brotherhood are seeking to seal a new deal with the current regime. The Brotherhood, as we said, do not negotiate, but rather seal deals. We do not want to repeat yesterday’s mistakes, during the days of Presidents Anwar Sadat and Hosni Mubarak. Still, this does not mean rejecting dialogue with them. I agree with the presidential rhetoric that as citizens, they must be integrated into society, social life and their functions as individuals. However, speaking of them as part of the Brotherhood is a totally different issue. The Brotherhood as a political group, resorts to violence, since it does not comprehend the language of dialogue. When the Brotherhood returned in the seventies during the era of President Sadat, it aimed to confront the two leftist currents across universities campuses: the Nasserite and the Marxist. This eventually ended in the assassination of President Sadat in 1981. Another dialogue took place with the Brotherhood in a different form during deals that took place in 2005. After these deals, the Brotherhood left the National Front, which was headed at that time by Dr. Aziz Sedky, to take part in the parliamentary elections as part of a united opposition front. The Brotherhood took alliance with the regime and won 88 seats in Parliament. Thus, the group’s history show that they are not open to dialogue. Nonetheless, we must build a real civil and political life in order to avoid repeating the mistakes of the past are. Therefore, the in-
Dialogue necessitates a suitable atmosphere to make the dialogue a success, and the rest of the parties must bring to the table what they have.
vited are the civil forces, currents, unions, institutions and parties despite their severe and grave weakness. While we do not have a partisan life, it must be involved because, once again, we suffer from a gloomy political vacuum. If there is a severe economic crisis, or societal tensions, we will have economic solutions that have been agreed upon. The community after all stands in the face of any threats facing its future and its fate, because it cannot bear new disturbances. Dialogue is therefore very necessary, and it must be serious and involve Sisi to head it. Sanawi added that dialogue is an opportunity for the political forces, on the condition that they are serious. If the issue is not taken completely seriously, the invitation may be withdrawn. The issue is not conducting a dialogue and then going back home. The real issue is being able to resolve the piling problems, reduce public tension, and reach a new atmosphere that allows gradual improvement. The topic of dialogue is urgent and necessary in order to save the country from any widespread unrest that threatens peace and security.
A Great Responsibility and Opportunity to be Seized The parties should invest in the idea of dialogue to develop their performance, present visions, and not be content with simply opposing, according to Dr. Amr El-Shobaki, a researcher at Al-Ahram Center for Political and Strategic Studies. He emphasized in exclusive statements to Majalla the parties’ responsibility, because there is undoubtedly a part of them that is content with the opposition discourse without breaking a sweat in order to present alternatives and visions. Therefore, the dialogue emerges as an opportunity to promote the idea of presenting visions and programs and creating serious spaces. In my opinion, if the dialogue is properly utilized, it will lead to a political breakthrough, and may help push the parties to present visions and programs. The dialogue represents an opportunity that must be utilized, and I hope it will not be lost. It is an opportunity that everyone should benefit from in reviewing the laws of pretrial detention, expanding the margin of public freedoms and freedom of expression, and giving more spaces for political parties to walk the streets. The aforementioned concerns the political system. As for the parties, the dialogue is burdening because they must present visions, prepare their cadres and train them in governance and management. Simply being an opposition would not suffice.
Dialogue is a real opportunity for the parties to express their presence in the political scene (AFP)
The parties have an opportunity that can be utilized it if they properly seize it.
Time: An Absent Luxury for Holding a National Dialogue
Dealing with Internal and External Challenges
In light of the current situation in Egypt against the backdrop of the global system, the dialogue needs to activate real visions, as the parties that currently think about looking for visions to find solutions will be out of context. The parties must have a strategic vision first, according to the head of the Egyptian party, Major General Engineer Sayed al-Jabri. He stressed to Majalla the need for readymade ideas in order to come up with innovative solutions that generate high incomes through a strategic vision for quick solutions, and others for the medium and long term. We must have an integrated vision with an executive financial timetable. Do the parties have such visions? We at the Egyptian Party have this vision, but political money was in control of the electoral process. The parties also do not have the magic wand to change the situation in the blink of an eye. At the same time, the culture of difference among the parties does not exist, in a way that evades crises. This dialogue necessitates a suitable atmosphere for its success, and the rest of the parties must bring to the table what they have.
The national dialogue is a call launched by the president in the face of the challenges facing the country internally and externally. The dialogue is comprehensive as it does not exclude any of the political parties. This is the logic behind the dialogue, according to Senator Naji al-Shehabi, Head of the Democratic Generation Party. Speaking to Majalla, he stressed that when there is a dialogue about an agreedupon and well-prepared agenda, the dialogue will be a participatory vision among all political parties and across the Egyptian political spectrum. We, in the Democratic Generation Party, appreciate the call for dialogue, which reflects a comprehensive vision of how to revitalize Egyptian society across the political, economic, societal, industrial, and agricultural axes. Dialogue will be an opportunity for political parties to find solutions to various problems, and I believe that serious parties that have a vision and serious programs will succeed in this.
Fox TV Soft on Russia? US Opinions on Media Coverage about Russia
By Mohammad Ali Salih – Washington Last week, Republican Senator Rand Paul blocked a Democrat sponsored bill to send 40 billion dollars to Ukraine, for humanitarian and military needs. It was also last month that the Democrats, with a majority in the House of Representatives, pushed a resolution that calls for NATO to be more than a military alliance, to be “a force for countries’ sovereignty, integrity and democracy.” But many Republicans voted against the resolution, arguing that NATO should confine itself to military issues. It is not that the Republicans have not been supporting the Russian invasion of Ukraine, but they have become suspicious of the Democrats› attempts, led by President Joe Biden, to spread their liberal opinions in Ukraine, in Europe and in other parts of the world. No one has demonstrated this Republican softness towards Russia more than conservative Fox TV, and no one on Fox TV has more eloquently expressed the point than big stars Tucker Carlson and Jay Carafano.
In March, Russia’s foreign minister, Sergei Lavrov, praised Fox News for its coverage of the war, without mentioning the names of Carlson and Carafano. He said, “We know the manners and the tricks that are being used by the Western countries to manipulate the media. We understood, long ago, that there is no such thing as an independent Western media … Whenever something is happening by the way of mass protest, mass demonstrations – which they don’t like – they immediately call it domestic terrorism. I call what they are doing information terrorism”. But, he added, “If you take the United States, only Fox News is trying to present some alternative point of view”. On the other side, Democrats, and non-Democrats, have been accusing Fox TV of being soft on Russia -- in the steps of former President Donald Trump. Below are two opposing opinions, excerpts from each person’s tweets, websites and statements to the media: On one side, James Carafano, a commentator on Fox TV, and a director at the Washington-based conservative Heritage Foundation, while not supporting Russia, argued that 40 billion dollars aid to Ukraine is too much.
On the other side, Cheryl Teh, a journalist with “Inside Inc,” an American media company, argued that Carafano, Tucker and the rest of Fox TV were just echoing Putin.
James Carafano: “Too Much”: “This proposal of giving Ukraine 40 billion dollars is too large, too bloated, and completely lacking in strategy. By proposing such a package, Biden, and his fellow Democrats, are forcing Americans to choose between advancing our interests abroad and governing responsibly here at home …
Talk about a false dilemma. The 40 billion dollars proposal is fiscally irresponsible and is the epitome of everything that is wrong with how Washington works today. Let’s start with some basics: First, continued support for Ukraine›s self-defense against Russia is in U.S. interests. Second, Russia’s use of military force to redraw sovereign borders in modern Europe has global consequences. Third, President Biden’s self-inflicted economic crisis is becoming worse ... Let›s, also, talk about Russia and China: First, Putin’s dangerous designs do not stop with Ukraine. Second, Russia and China, both, want Europe divided, weakened, and distracted, leaving America alone, isolated, and vulnerable on the world stage... Thwarting this ambition by supporting Ukraine makes sense. However, it is just as true that the 40 billion dollars proposal is fiscally irresponsible ... We want the U.S. government to support the people of Ukraine, help them repel Russians, and project American power in a way that sends a signal of strength and resolve to Moscow, Beijing, and our other global adversaries. But, it is hard to do so when our leaders in Washington put forward proposals that spend billions of dollars that we don’t have... So, what are the problems with this proposal? A quick look at both process and policy reveals some troubling answers. First, the Democratic Party›s leadership in the House of Representatives gave members only a few hours to review the proposal before voting. Second, even as inflation surges to record highs and Americans are suffering from higher prices on just about everything, Washington cannot seem to curb its addition to reckless spending that isn’t offset.
Third, while the bill contains important spending that will bolster Ukraine’s defenses, it also authorizes nearly a billion dollars in unlawful immigration benefits, and roughly 9$ billion for things like funding Ukrainian government officials’ salaries and pensions... If we truly want to help Ukraine achieve victory in its immediate crisis—and we should—our response should be focused squarely on that effort, not helping pay foreign bureaucrats’ retirement bills…”
Cheryl Teh: «Fox is Putin’s Echo”: “Fox TV, again, echoed Putin›s talking points and falsely claimed that the US involvement in the Ukraine war is ‹payback for the 2016 election». It suggested that the US was helping Ukraine because it wanted to depose Putin … Fox TV has done this before without any evidence. And by doing that it is picking-up an international audience on the Russian government›s media which has been forced to echo the propaganda supporting the war. No wonder that Fox TV’s Tucker Carlson has received widespread rebuke from US military, and disinformation experts calling him a ‘cancer’… This is his strange argument: ‘We don›t arm Ukraine so we can help the Ukrainians. They are merely unfortunate pawns in all of this. So, we arm Ukraine so that we can punish Russia. Why? For stealing Hillary Clinton›s coronation.’ Using ‘Russiagate,’ Fox TV is referencing the language former President Donald Trump, and many of his Republican allies, used to question a Justice Department investigation into Russian meddling in the 2016 presidential election. That probe led by special counsel Robert Mueller found that the Russian government had indeed interfered in the 2016 election in an elaborate attempt to ruin presidential candidate Hillary Clinton›s chances of winning … The US began arming the Ukrainians with lethal aid, namely Javelin anti-tank weapons, when then-President Donald Trump approved it in late 2017 as a measure to deter the Russians from the launching the kind of wider invasion that Putin ordered in February. Carlson’s brand of conservative commentating has made him one of the most popular US media figures among adults between the ages of 25 to 54. And he is well loved by Russian television, which occasionally picks up his remarks, and other Fox TV’s friendly news …”
Words, Drawings Radiating Hope for Palestine Pen Palestine Builds Community, Connects Children By: Sarah Gamal
ing their rights. Such challenges are the result of a variety of factors, not the least of which Everyone was fast asleep except for an Is- is the extremely high level of violence to raeli soldier who was awakened by a child which they are subjected in their schools and carrying his school bag with his pens, books, communities, alongside the ongoing conflict. and notebooks, heading towards his school whose walls had been either pierced by bul- “Pal” is an English word that means “friend.” lets or smashed by shrapnel. If the child had A “pen pal” is someone you get to know survived and continued on his way to his seat in the classroom, there would have been a vacant seat next to him decorated with wreaths for a classmate who was shot by occupation soldiers while having fun in front of his yard or returning or going to school. According to UNICEF reports, major strides have been made in recent decades to improve the situation of children in the State of Palestine, with some social indicators, such as near universal immunization coverage and high primary school enrollment rates – including for girls – showing progress far ahead of other Middle Eastern and North African countries. However, much work needs to be done to ensure that every Palestinian child reaches his or her full potential. This includes addressing the numerous barriers that children and youth face in accessing basic services and exercis-
Sadyieh’s handwritten letter to her pen pal Paige in California.
“According to UNICEF reports, major strides have been made in recent decades to improve the situation of children in the State of Palestine, with some social indicators, such as near universal immunization coverage and high primary school enrollment rates – including for girls” “Pen Palestine was born out of the positive success I experienced when I first organized a letter writing exchange a few years ago while working to develop the leadership skills of my 4th and 5th grade students at a Jewish community center. Being that good leaders operate from a position based in kindness, compassion, empathy and grace, I knew that enabling my students to understand the plight of the other would be an essential part of developing their abilities to embrace a very challenging world,” Heather told Majalla. Heather Alexandra, founder and coordinator of Pen Palestine, is a public school teacher working with fourth graders in the progressive community of Berkeley, California. (Photo Credit: Kala Minko)
through friendly written correspondence. Pen Palestine is an educational project that uses handwritten letters, photographs, and drawings to connect Palestinian children with children all over the world. The purpose is to promote cross-cultural friendship and understanding by allowing Palestinian children to express their identity, and the beauty and innocence of their hearts, so that other children can see them as loving children of the world who are no different from them. Heather Alexandra, founder and coordinator of Pen Palestine, is a public school teacher working with fourth graders in the progressive community of Berkeley, California. She has over 25 years’ experience teaching in both New York and California.
To that end, she gave her students the opportunity to form friendships with children in Gaza who were receiving mental health treatment for post-traumatic stress disorder as a result of the 2014 55-day siege. Having witnessed and experienced the profound emotional impact this project had on both children and adults on both sides of the globe, Heather knew she wanted to continue involving her students in this project for many years to come. “Receiving photos of happy faces from Gaza holding letters from new friends encourages me to keep herding,” Heather said. Heather saw the importance and need for greater connection and communication as a result of humanity’s loneliness and isolation
A picture of Paige, 9 years old, with her initial letter to her pen pal Sadyieh in Gaza.
as a result of the pandemic. This prompted her to broaden the project beyond her own classroom by making this opportunity available to other teachers as well. As a result, Pen Palestine was born. Heather’s partners in Gaza, the Palestine
“Heather Alexandra, founder and coordinator of Pen Palestine, is a public school teacher working with fourth graders in the progressive community of Berkeley, California. She has over 25 years’ experience teaching in both New York and California.”
Paige’s handwritten letter to her pen pal Sadyieh in Gaza.
Children’s Relief Fund (PCRF), UNRWA schools, and her friend, award-winning distinguished English language teacher Ms. Asma Mustafa, have helped her connect teachers from Canada, the United States, the Czech Republic, and Ireland with English language teachers and social workers in Gaza this school year. “My students are very young, 8 and 9 years old. They know nothing of politics in the MENA region, only that their pen pals live difficult lives thousands of miles away. They come from diverse cultural and religious backgrounds,” Heather said. The process for Pen Palestine goes as follows: “Teachers from outside Palestine connect with me via PenPalestine.org and submit a request for connection which can take up to 6 weeks depending upon the number of students they would like to involve. After I have matched teachers with each other, cor-
Nayla when received her first response from her new pen pal Raghad from Gaza.
Nayla is writing a response to her new pen pal Raghad from Gaza.
respondence is initiated by foreign students. The “mailing” process is a little different than the regular process of sending letters,” Heather said. “Considering the difficulty of getting anything in and out of the Gaza Strip, teachers send letters electronically rather than through posted mail. Each and every letter file is sent to me so I can check clarity of letter images, legibility, and appropriateness of subject matter. Sometimes letter files need to be re-photographed and I communicate with the teachers to help guide them on what needs to be improved. When the files look clear they are sent on to the cooperating teacher wherever they are in the world. The process continues until the end of the school year,” she added. Regarding financing: “Right now I am still doing all of this work on a completely vol-
unteer basis. The abundance of requests for connection I originally received was beyond what I was able to provide six months ago creating a strong desire to make Pen Palestine my full-time job as I would like to participation in Pen Palestine to remain free of charge to teachers and parents,” she said. With regard to Heather’s aspirations for the future, she said: “I am currently looking to secure fiscal sponsorship from a charitable organization. This will enable donors to give tax deductible donations to cover operating costs involved in administering the project. In addition, I also plan on writing grant proposals in the coming school year.” Heather’s concluding message is: “Children should not pay the price of political conflicts, it is the right of every child to enjoy their innocence in an educationally and psychologically healthy environment.”
A Weekly Political News Magazine
Issue 1905- May- 20/05/2022
Mohamed Bin Zayed Al Nahyan: 3rd UAE’s President, People’s Leader
Mohamed Abla: The First Arab Artist to Obtain Goethe Medal Abla to Majalla: «Art is a Personal Experience that Meets Society» By Salma Adham – Cairo On May 4, fine Egyptian artist Mohamed Abla won the Goethe Medal 2022. The medal is an official badge of honor of the Federal Republic of Germany and the most coveted prize in its foreign cultural policy. The medal honors personalities committed to international cultural exchange or teaching the German language.
Johann Wolfgang von Goethe is considered one of Germany›s greatest authors. On August 1749 ,28, he was born in Frankfurt and wrote poems, plays, and novels, now regarded as German literature classics. The Goethe Prize, worth (72,000$), is awarded every three years on Goethe›s birthday to someone whose works are deemed to reflect the spirit of the German literary giant. Abla will receive the Goethe Medal from the President of the Goethe Institute at a ceremony on August 28
Egyptian visual artist Mohamed Abla. Photo by: Salma Adham
in Weimar. Mohamed Abla is known for his paintings of abstract sceneries in Egypt. He was born in 1953 in Belqas in the Egyptian Nile Delta. After studying fine arts in Alexandria in 1978, Abla embarked on a seven-year academic trip to Europe. In 1981, he studied graphics and sculpture at the Arts and Industries College in Zurich, Switzerland. Abla then studied graphics in Austria. «It was wonderful news. When I have informed of the award, I was very happy. I love Goethe as a poet and a human being. So, I am thrilled that my name is associated with him,» Abla said to Majalla. «When I heard (that I had won the award), I thought of the long artistic history that I had made between Egypt and Germany. The award made me remember many events and memories in my life,» he added. In 1985, Abla won First Prize at the ‹Cairo seen by artists› exhibition. In 1996, Abla won the first prize in Kuwait Biennale and the Grand Prix at the Alexandria Biennale in 1997. «People are always heroic in my work. You will
Literature, art, writing, and poetry attempt to describe aspects of life, and the artist needs to see it from different sides. Being interested in all these arts and cultures, in general, is part of the artist›s tools. always find a human being or the shadow of a human being. In all my works, I followed people everywhere. You will always find people and their stories. People are always interesting to me, so I address them in my work. The human factor is a feature of my work: the interest in the human element and the attention to aesthetics related to humanity,» Abla explained to Majalla. «I draw my diary. My life is reflected in my work. Every face has a story behind it which is
enough to write a book about it. We can say that all the topics relate to me and the things I have experienced. I draw to discover the world and to document events.»
MULTIMEDIA ARTIST Abla started thinking about old photos and incorporating them into the artwork when he had a state of nostalgia after her mother passed away. «I started looking at old photos and made a whole exhibition called Nostalgia related to old photos, particularly family photos,» he said «I do not like the idea of one style. I change according to the topics and ideas I aspire to paint. I like to do the thing that I love; it does not have
«When I heard (that I had won the award), I thought of the long artistic history that I had made between Egypt and Germany. The award made me remember many events and memories in my life,»
to be linked to a specific style.» Abla stated to Majalla that photography, literature, art, writing, and poetry attempt to describe aspects of life, and the artist needs to see it from different sides. Being interested in all these arts and cultures, in general, is part of the artist›s tools. Drawing emerges from the human soul, and therefore it is directed to the human soul. That was the answer when I asked Abla about the relationship between art and psychology. «The human soul, whether the artist or the receiver or the psychology of the whole society, is something worthy of study. I wanted to know about myself and the people around me. And I was engaged in art therapy, and most of the time, I was thinking about its psychological impact. Abla has done various projects of which he is proud, including a very important project about the Nile, another project about Cairo Towers that talks about random buildings, and a significant project, which is the interactive Abla method. In 2007, Abla founded The Fayoum Art Center, a space for artists to meet, work and collaborate. The International Summer Academy inspires the center in Salzburg, where Alba teaches. It is located by Lake Qarun in Fayoum and is surrounded by mountains, dunes, and palm trees. It is also close to Wadi Elrayan waterfall and the paleontological site Wadi Al-Hitan, which have inspired scenic artists.
Mohamed Abla’s: art exhibition in Cairo, Egypt. Photo by: Salma Adham
Mohamed Abla’s: art exhibition in Cairo, Egypt. Photo by: Salma Adham
«The Fayoum Art Center is one of my dreams that I achieved. I dreamed of a place that brings together artists, young and old, and they learn from each other and their work. Especially in Fayoum, a quiet and beautiful place with large areas,» Abla stated to Majalla. The place includes workshops, lectures, a museum, and various activities. Last year, Al Fayoum art center opened a section for Arab caricatures that did not exist before, and people
The human factor is a feature of my work: the interest in the human element and the attention to aesthetics related to humanity,» Abla said to Majalla. from all over the world and media colleges come to visit it. «Anyone who works in media and newspapers deals with caricatures, and there is no place like the Al Fayoum art center to find all the history of caricatures.» Talking about future projects, Abla said that he has an exhibition on August 26. The show will be an introduction to his art and will include selections of his works. It will be displayed in Weimar, where Goethe lives, and in Cairo. «In Egypt, of course, there are many artists and galleries. This is something to be optimistic about, but artists need to choose their artworks carefully. There are many beautiful artworks and large projects that deserve to be prized. My advice to any artist is to work a lot because art is like the sea. Don›t let anything distract you from work, and direct all your focus to art if you want to make a difference.» Abla added.
Batiking For a Living Artist revives ancient Egyptian batik art
By Salwa Samir Samar Hassanein graduated from the Faculty of Art Education in 1998. She worked in pottery for some years and took part in many local exhibitions. She then entered the world of candles and also marketed her products at exhibitions and bazaars. Day after day, she got bored as she practiced something that is not unique and which many people can easily do. She searched for a craft to distinguish her talents until she found what she wanted.
In 2008, she designed her first batik product, a curtain. Later she made bags, blouses, cushions and scarves and sold them in exhibitions. Given the scarce information about the roots of the batik in Egypt, Hassanein found that her first clients were foreigners, who suggested that she design certain models such as jilbab and swimwear cash, and this she did. This experience motivated her to publicize batik among Egyptians by joining in exhibitions and showcasing
Hassanein told Majalla that she had a strong desire to design fashion dyed in the batik way that reflects Egyptian identity and is linked to Egyptian roots and cultural heritage, which she found in her project. She revealed that “Few people have any idea that batik is an ancient Egyptian art,” whose technique is decorating the cloth by using wax. “Ancient Egypt knew batik through Abyssinia. There is an artifact found in Tutankhamun’s tomb made of batik.” She said that she didn›t learn this fact at her Faculty. She studied that batik is an art that flourished and appeared in South Asian countries. But when she delved deep into this art to specialize in it, she read dozens of foreignlanguage books and articles that revealed the fact that batik is an ancient Egyptian art dating back to the V century BC. “Batik moved from Egypt to India through the Silk Road, that ancient trade route that linked the Western world with the Middle East and from there it spread to Southeast Asian countries like Indonesia,” Hassanein, 47, said.
A model wearing batik products designed by Samar Hassanein. Credit: Artist Samar Hassanein
Few people have any idea that batik is an ancient Egyptian art,” whose technique is decorating the cloth by using wax. to survive in fear of the danger of extinction. In time, the number of her Egyptian clients surpassed foreigners’, especially after Covid19-.
Samar Hassanein posing for a photo in front of her batik product. Credit: Artist Samar Hassanein
What helped her to reach a wider audience was her participation in large exhibitions such as Turathna (Our Heritage), which is the largest exhibition for Egyptian handicrafts and local handmade art. This exposition is organized by the Micro, Small and Medium Enterprises Development Agency (MSMEDA), where hundreds of craftsmen, artisans, and exhibitors display their products to the public under the sponsorship of President AbdelFattah El-Sisi.
samples of her different colorful products. Four years later, she opened her own shop inside Souq El-Fustat, or Fustat market, located at the heart of the old Cairo district. Her gallery was among 50 glassfronted galleries with Egyptian handicrafts that struggle
“Many people who visit the exhibition are astonished by the products and become my regular clients,” she said. She explained how the technique of batik is quite difficult. “In general, dying is made by using hot water and putting the fabric in hot water containing the colour. The matter is different in batik, as it needs cold water to protect the wax from melting. The wax is used to draw the motifs. So I must use cold water, which is the difficult process in making batik,” Hassanein said. “Then I put the fabric in boiling water to remove the wax, so the motifs appear in colors different from the color of the fabric itself,” she added. The cost of her products varies between LE250 and LE4000. To show the Egyptian identity in her batik products, she didn›t follow the common motifs used in designing batik in South Asian countries. “Most of their batik products depend on floral motifs. Here I use motifs that reflect Egypt like crescents, hieroglyphic letters, calligraphy, and palm trees,” she said. However, Hassanein believes that South Asian countries are better than Egypt in marketing this art, that’s why many people thought that batik flourished there first. “Also, some countries use silk and pure cotton, something we lack here in Egypt,” Hassanein pointed out.
A model wearing batik products designed by Samar Hassanein. Credit: Artist Samar Hassanein
Jiggery-wokery The Battle Between ‘Common Sense’ and ‘Woke’ Continues Unabated
Former US President Donald Trump
Bryn Haworth Given that it has become the bugbear of all right-thinking rightwingers, does it strike anyone as odd that the word ‘woke’ is almost unheard, except in the protestations of right-wing people? I have literally never heard the word used by anyone I would consider left-wing in their views. Sticking my neck out here, but it has occurred to me that woke might be an ideological fiction, some sort of mythical enemy on the level of ‘reds under the bed’ or, for those too young to remember Bolsheviks that were such an ever-present danger to our bedrooms in the Cold War, the Illuminati and the paedophiles in high places. As a consequence of their near-mythic status, it is hard to see the card-carrying followers of
woke, even on a clear day. Perhaps, like fairies, they perish if you stop believing in them. There is something about the slogan in the picture above that bugs me. I know, I’m being pedantic here, but wouldn’t ‘wake up’ have worked better than ‘awake’? It’s a moot grammatical point, I grant you, given that ‘woke’ is a solecism in the first place, an erroneous past tense form of wake that ought more properly to read ‘awoken.’ ‘AWAKE NOT WOKE’ is a play on words, but what does it say about the state of modern American English that, given an opportunity to correct the appalling grammar of the original, the sloganeer opted to compound the error? Anyway, we are where we are. Woke has reached the level of public consciousness because those on the conservative side of 20/05/22
politics keep banging on about it. As a new publication by the Common Sense Group, a small bunch of enlightened right-wingers in the Tory party, puts it: ‘It is worth noting that recent polling evidence now suggests that the general public have woken up to the change in society…’ Does that make the public woke, I wonder? Sorry, I’m being facetious. Let the man speak, for God’s sake: ‘A ComRes poll of 2,000 people commissioned by the actor Laurence Fox in February 2021 showed that 50 per cent agree ‘freedom of speech is under threat’ while only 24 per cent disagreed. This, Fox argued, directly comes from the assault on traditional and conservative values. It is hard to disagree with his conclusion.’ Freedom of speech is, of course, under siege in this way from the exponents of woke. Now I am also in favour opinion polls, as I consider them an infallible guide to the thoughts of the Great British Public, but a poll by YouGov taken a year ago suggested that most Britons (some 59%) had no idea what ‘woke’ meant, over half of whom (30%) had never heard the term. The pollsters were curious to know if people thought Joe Biden was woke: ‘In January of this year Boris Johnson was caught off guard by a question on whether incoming US president Joe Biden was woke. The prime minister ultimately didn’t answer, although he did say there is “nothing wrong” with being woke. Of those who understand the term, only 22% see the US president as woke. Another 39% say that although he is not specifically woke, he probably holds some woke views, while 16% think Biden is not woke at all.’ YouGov politely omits to tell us if these same respondents thought Joe Biden was ‘sleepy’. The nub of this whole matter is what people consider woke to be, and here the picture starts to get a tad more complicated. ‘When it comes to what constitutes wokeness, the view most commonly associated with the term is supporting the removal of historical statues with links to historical abuses like the slave trade, according to 60% of those who say they know what the term means. Similarly, supporting the Black Lives Matter movement is considered woke by 56% of this group.’ If only it were that simple. However, ‘Supporting equality for transgender people is woke according to 52% of those who say they understand the term, compared to 43% for supporting equality for gay and lesbian people, 40% for supporting gender equality and 39% for supporting racial equality. Being left wing is not a sufficient qualification for being considered woke, with just 21% saying so. Similar numbers say the same of those who want to re-join the EU (19%). Being politically correct is more likely to see a person tarred with the woke brush, at 46%.’
‘When it comes to what constitutes wokeness, the view most commonly associated with the term is supporting the removal of historical statues with links to historical abuses like the slave trade, according to %60 of those who say they know what the term means. None of this vagueness is surprising, given the way the avowed opponents of woke have tended to keep the term deliberately nebulous. Something similar may be going on with the present use by the Kremlin of the term ‘Nazi’ or, as per a recent press release, ‘Nazist’. In the West, a degree of democratic freedom does not always correspond to appreciably greater political literacy than can be found among the inhabitants of the Federation. It doesn’t help that our attention spans are diminishing at an alarming rate; soon we will be unable to concentrate long enough to understand the Queen’s Christmas message. In this climate, vagueness has the virtue of allowing just about anything voters don’t like at any given moment to be ‘tarred with the same brush’. The Queen herself is in danger of being considered too woke. But the list of things woke is also reminiscent of the way the so-called Eurosceptics – and the present (at the time of writing) prime minister is a shining example – used to slag off the European Union. In fact, the way they still slag it off, and, presumably, the way they will slag it off in perpetuity. Here, for the purpose of refreshing the memories of those who are not regular readers of the Daily Telegraph, are just some of those myriad defects the European Union was guilty of: seeking further integration, which will undermine national sovereignty and the nation state; elitism; a lack democratic legitimacy and transparency; being too bureaucratic and wasteful; encouraging high levels of immigration; being a neoliberal organisation and serving big business at the expense of the working class; being responsible for austerity and privatisation. As if these defects were not enough, there were the more obviously mythical ones, such as those affecting barmaids. This one got The Sun so incensed, it ordered Brussels to get its ‘hands off
our barmaids’ boobs’: ‘The EU has declared a crackpot war on busty barmaids – by trying to ban them from wearing low-cut tops. Po-faced pen pushers have deemed it a health hazard for bar girls to show too much cleavage. And in a daft directive that will have drinkers choking on their pints, Brussels bureaucrats have ordered a cover-up. They say barmaids run a skin cancer risk if they expose themselves to the sun when they go outside to collect glasses.’ The bit about skin cancer was the only factual basis of the story. The EU had indeed tried to protect the interests of employees forced to work in the sunshine, but the cleavage angle on the story was pure Sun newspaper embellishment, courtesy of the spirit of Benny Hill. Cue comically sped up footage of a distressed bureaucrat in a suit being chased round a park by a bevy of buxom barmaids.
‘their legendary attention to detail by rejecting new specifications for condom dimensions’, despite demands from the Italian rubber industry for a smaller minimum width. Readers were informed the decision had left ‘Italian egos smarting’, and Johnson quoted an official spokesperson, Willy Hélin, who insisted “this is a very serious business”. That was back in 1991. Three decades later, and Willy Hélin was still serious about it, and still furious about Johnson’s distortions, insisting that the story had nothing to do with national penis sizes, but “safety, because so many doctors were interested to know about the risks for Aids patients” (The Guardian, 14 July 2019). I do not indulge in this retrospection purely out of nostalgia, but because the man who came up with the running jokes is (at present) the prime minister (N.B., at the time of writing) and has just become the first person in that post to be found guilty of breaking the law. Just as Benny Hill had his running joke of a diminutive bald man whose head Benny used to slap, so Johnson – who has gathered around himself an entire cabinet of curiosities whose chief function is to do the rounds of the television studios defending their leader’s latest sick joke – has the divine Michael Fabricant, MP for Lincoln, who wears a very persuasive wig. Actually, I tell a lie, Fabricant wears more than one wig, as he owns several of varying lengths, the exact number of which is probably unknown even to his wife, in order to create the impression that his hair has grown between visits to his local barber. Lately, he has been wearing his longest wig, possibly in an attempt to revive his youthful days as a mop top, since when his head has shrunk somewhat. This wig, if I’m not mistaken:
Poster of Benny Hill
Boris Johnson has added generously to the catalogue of Europe’s purported absurdities, mostly in a spirit of raillery it must be said, or mendacity if you prefer. In the referendum campaign, he cheerfully repeated the claim that Brussels wanted to regulate the shape of bananas. And in his earlier incarnation as one of the worst journalists England ever spawned, under the headline “Italy fails to measure up on condoms” – once again, the reliable Benny Hill tone – he wrote that Brussels bureaucrats had shown
It is worth noting that recent polling evidence now suggests that the general public have woken up to the change in society.
Tory MP Michael Fabricant
Bigwig? In his defence of the indefensible, Fabricant has an uncanny habit of making the prime minister sound more in touch than we thought, just because Fabricant is so much further out of touch, but he accomplishes this feat in such an emollient manner, under so ridiculous a toupée, that no one can summon the indignation to be offended.
The curse of woke is identical to the scourge of Brussels bureaucracy in the way it can never be pinned down. It is what the psychoanalysts would call ‘overdetermined.’ It would take a bitchy Enobarbus to do justice to the infinite variety of its defects. In woke, the Brexiteers have found the true replacement for Europe. They can moan about it, laugh at it, snort at it, and best of all they can vilify it, as fundamentally un-British. Since it doesn’t really exist, isn’t a real word, and most of the British public have only the dimmest idea what it is about, the ‘patriots’ are spoilt for choice. Hence, ‘Common Sense: Conservative Thinking for a Post-Liberal Age,’ in which a group of what we might call ‘commonsensicals’ assemble in the gloom of the war room to gird the nation’s loins and offer it nothing but blood, toil, tears and sweat. Their first strategy I will call the ‘Bent Bananas’ line of attack. Trans rights are a favourite here, allowing for endless mock-indignant references to people who have cervixes. ‘…words that have been universally understood for millennia, such as ‘man’ and ‘woman’ are now emotionally charged and dangerous: in recent NHS public-information campaigns, women have been called ‘people with a cervix’ to avoid offending transgender activists; recent maternity guidance has suggested replacing ‘breastfeeding’ with ‘chestfeeding’ and some corporations have begun spelling ‘women’ as ‘womxn’ because this new word explicitly includes non-cisgender women and is therefore more inclusive and progressive. When feminists such as Germaine Greer and J. K. Rowling point out that non-cisgender women are men, that people who give birth are women and that the enforcement of trans-rights often mean a loss of rights for women, they are shouted down, abused, no-platformed and threatened with violence’ (Gareth Bacon MP) Ah, the delicious irony of it all, to see a Tory male briefly dressing up as a militant feminist. Picture the scene in the Commons Bar. To the initial dismay of his colleagues, Gareth Bacon, the honourable member for Orpington, enters wearing dungarees and a prominent nose piercing. Sensing the dismay of his fellow commonsensicals, he swiftly allays their fears with a manly guffaw. “Ha! They say politics creates some strange bedfellows, what! I mean, that Germaine Greer is a proper horror to look at these days, and even back when she looked half decent, she was revealed as a harpy the second she opened her mouth to speak. But what the heck? Sometimes we men have to lie back and think of England. I mean, chestfeeding! I tried that once, and I was thrown out of the rugby club! This’ll show those feminist fillies the truth of what we chaps have been saying all along: if you’ve got it, flaunt it! Why agitate when you can lactate? Tits out for the lads! Etc, etc, etc.” The after-dinner circuit beckons. Alternatively, there is the ‘Our Ancient Liberties’ strategy. These two strategies work best when employed in combination, a joke here, a rousing peroration there. All that time spent poring over the speeches of Cicero in Latin classes comes in jolly handy. Guaranteed to please the punters after any corporate banquet. According to Our Ancient Liberties, the Tory male can deplore
The curse of woke is identical to the scourge of Brussels bureaucracy in the way it can never be pinned down. the anarchic forces that imperil each and every public monument, from a statue in Oxford representing Cecil Rhodes to the effigy of a slave trader in Bristol, on the basis that the very History of this Great Country is in jeopardy. This is the kind of history the commoners understand – emphatically not the kind taught in universities, to take a random example. Historic events are what TV commentators talk about whenever the monarch rides past in a gilded carriage. Ceremony, pageantry, spectacle. A delighted if bleary-eyed member of the crowd who camped out to be here, saying “We came to witness history being made.” This is the wholesome, family show version of history we can all get behind. Apart, of course, from those anarchist types, the kind our brave forefathers never imagined they were fighting to protect. Thus, on the noisy side effects of the murder of George Floyd, the family of the nation’s historians can bring the full power of their magniloquence to bear and (ye gods be praised) remind everyone that Britain won the war while they’re at it. Even as I write, from a deceptively peaceful lounge in rural Kent, there is a Battle for Britain going on. There must be, as Sir John Hayes, a knight of the realm, tells me so: ‘We must fight back and proclaim the primacy of our shared values. The battle for Britain has begun, and guided by the common sense of the people, we must triumph for the common good.’
Vapour trails left by British and German aircraft after a dogfight over Kent
This time round, however, the battle is not taking place in the skies over Kent, which accounts for why I can’t hear the dogfights. It’s not even taking place on Kentish shores, though Nigel
Farage would have us think there’s an invasion there too, and on this very day the prime minister (watch this space) has pledged to send the invaders to Rwanda. But no, this battle is not as solid as the traditional battles of our glorious history. It is being fought in the ether, with the good guys in the Spitfires valiantly defending the precepts of common sense, while the bad guys are threatening to overrun the country with ‘wokery’, ‘wokeness’, or just plain ‘woke’. Who is to blame for this wokery? Why, the elitists in the universities, of course. The superior attitude of the new ‘woke elite’ has catalysed the metamorphosis of liberalism from a doctrine of tolerance to one of intolerance: ‘Few of the liberals who direct universities, media organisations and large corporations are distinguished by any sense of the complexities and contradictions of ethics and politics. For many, the human world is composed of simple moral facts. Western colonialism was an unmitigated evil; historic national identities are intrinsically racist; religions are no more than structures of oppression. Anyone who questions these supposed facts is in need of political re-education or summary dismissal.’ It’s a plea for nuance. In contrast to such crude thinking, the politics of the commonsensicals must be ambitious, elegiac and significant. Did I say elegiac? Yes, for there is an element of pathos in all this, a sad duty to defend the indefensible, ahem, correction, the defenceless. The Conservative Party must look to its past, to the Tory tradition of elevating the people. It must revive Disraeli’s dizzy notion of ‘one nation.’ Winning the culture war is vital to national rebirth. Here is Gareth Bacon in his serious vein, in a chapter entitled ‘What is Wokeism and How Can it be Defeated?’: ‘Britain is under attack. Not in a physical sense, but in a philosophical, ideological and historical sense. Our heritage is under a direct assault – the very sense of what it is to be British has been called into question, institutions have been undermined,
As if these defects were not enough, there were the more obviously mythical ones, such as those affecting barmaids. 50
the reputation of key figures in our country’s history have been traduced.’ Yes, but what about social media? Personally, I blame Nick Clegg. ‘The rise of the power, reach and influence of social media has been influential in increasing the pace and spread of what is a broadly left wing, anti-British, anti-western and anti-capitalist rhetoric… Yet what has become colloquially known as the ‘woke ideology’ has no democratic mandate – there is no official ‘woke’ political party and the left-wing parties espousing elements of the ‘woke’ agenda such as Labour, the Liberal Democrats and the Greens were routed at the general election held in December 2019. The woke ideology, such as it is, […] is perhaps more akin to desire for anarchy than to a conventional political ideology.’ Okay, okay, but just because they don’t field candidates, are they not entitled to their views in a free society? Well, no, because they are fundamentally opposed to free societies, silly! They wish to cancel us, remember – pay attention at the back – their basic impulses are totalitarian: ‘…speakers whose views do not correspond with the prevailing ‘woke’ mindset are disinvited from speaking engagements, reading lists are censored, publishing contracts are cancelled, reputations are trashed and ‘safe spaces’ are created where nothing but the prevailing view is permitted to be heard. Disagreement with the ‘woke’ view is labelled ‘offensive’ and, by extension, oppressive… A familiar refrain from those of the ‘woke’ persuasion if their point of view is disagreed with (which is normal in a democracy) is often to claim that those in disagreement with them have ‘invalidated their life experience’ – thus, one hasn’t just disagreed with them, one has oppressed them. A truly ‘woke’ society would be one in which the diversity of how one looks is celebrated, whereas the diversity of how one thinks is ruthlessly crushed.’ And it all comes down to statues, I think I’m right in saying. If you attack my statues, then you attack my past. These thinskinned, snow flaky, mortally offended recruits of the woke ideology (as it is colloquially known by hardly anyone) came for the slave traders and the empire-builders first, but in time they will topple even the statue of Nelson in Trafalgar Square – who could forget the menacing views of Afua Hirsch on that topic? – and everyone will forget all the good this country ever did, which the statues alone reminded them of, replacing past glories with woke’s nightmare of history. For, like Anglophobes within, like a miserable, self-loathing fifth column of ingrates and quislings, they are unable to perceive a single redeeming virtue in what has gone before: 20/05/22
‘In modern day Britain, this amounts to attacking the historical concept of Britain by reinterpreting British history in a slanted and de-contextualised manner, using modern viewpoints and value judgements. Thus, the British Empire is no longer seen as a modernising, civilising force that spread trade, wealth and the rule of law around the globe – instead, it is a racist, colonialist, oppressive force that invaded sovereign foreign countries, plundered them and enslaved their people en masse…’ And so, they tear down this, an adornment of great beauty and dignity:
Marc Quinn’s statue of Jen Reid, Black Lives Matter demonstrator
Then, when tried in a court of law and asked by the prosecution whether, like the toppling of Saddam’s statue in Baghdad, it was a violent act to forcibly remove a notorious oppressor of black people from his plinth, they have the ingratiating hypocrisy to declare that, on the contrary, it was ‘an act of love.’ Love! I ask you, what codswallop. Thank God there are a handful of cleareyed commonsensicals in this country who refuse to accept such patent, er, nonsense. 14 March 2022.
Edward Colston, slave trader and philanthropist
And replace it with this, an unauthorised cast by some dismal, self-righteous Young British Artist of the woman who stood and saluted with her fist after the in-no-way-historic removal of Bristol’s great benefactor:
Note on that column in central London: Just a few months before his death at Trafalgar, Nelson declared that he would always be “a firm friend” to slaveholders, for “I was bred in the good old school and taught to appreciate the value of our West India possessions; and neither in the field, nor in the senate, shall their just rights be infringed, whilst I have an arm to fight in their defence, or a tongue to launch my voice against the damnable and cursed doctrine of Wilberforce, and his hypocritical allies.” Oh, how we sniggered, here at the back, when he mentioned his arm. But is it any wonder he ended up on such a tall column? It was one in the eye (sorry, now I’m doing it) for the abolitionists. I guess Afua Hirsch had a point. Footnote: In January 2022, the ‘Colston Four’ accused of toppling the statue of Edward Colston were acquitted.
Mohamed Bin Zayed Al Nahyan: UAE’s 3rd President, People’s Leader By Majalla Illustration by Jeannette Khouri After remaining for years the de facto ruler under his brother Khalifa bin Zayed Al Nahyan, Sheikh Mohammed bin Zayed ascended to power in the United Arab Emirates after he was the international face of his country in the region and the world, where he was behind making unprecedented decisions in its history to participate in the Yemen war and normalization with Israel. The 61-year-old leader will be the country’s third president, succeeding his brother Sheikh Khalifa bin Zayed Al Nahyan, who passed away on May 13, at the age of 73. His Highness was born on March 11, 1961, and has played an active role in the development of the emirate of Abu Dhabi for more than three decades, during which time it has witnessed rapid economic and social transformation. His Highness is known, and has been for a long time, to be the driving force behind many initiatives that have contributed to the emirate of Abu Dhabi’s security and economic growth and diversity. Sheikh Mohammed bin Zayed graduated from the Royal Military Academy at Sandhurst. His training included a basic armour course, a basic flying course, helicopters and tactical planes, and a parachutist course. His Highness has piloted the Gazelle helicopter armour and fleet, as well as attended fly school and air college.
Before becoming Armed Forces Chief of Staff in 1993, His Highness held two positions: Commander of the UAE Air Force and Air Defense and Deputy Armed Forces Deputy Chief of Staff. A year after graduating, he was promoted to General. Following the death of the late Sheikh Zayed (may he rest in peace) in 2004, and the election of his elder brother, His Highness Sheikh Khalifa Bin Zayed al Nahyan, as President of the UAE, His Highness Sheikh Mohammed was assigned as Deputy Supreme Commander of the UAE Armed Forces in 2005, and was promoted to LT General. In addition to His Highness’s military responsibilities, His Highness Sheikh Mohammed bin Zayed was a key security advisor to his late father, Sheikh Zayed Bin Sultan Al Nahyan – may he rest in peace. In November 2003, he was also appointed Deputy Crown Prince of Abu Dhabi. His Highness in November 2004, Sheikh Mohammed bin Zayed was appointed Vice President of the Executive Council and later Chairman. His Highness Sheikh Mohammed bin Zayed is a member of the Supreme Petroleum Council, which oversees the oil and energy industries. His Highness has received numerous decorations and medals from the UAE and other countries including the Kingdom of Bahrain, Qatar, Kuwait, Oman, Jordan, Morocco, Pakistan, the United States, the United Kingdom, France, Germany, Spain, Italy, China, South Korea, Malaysia, and the United Nations. Economic diversity is regarded as one of His Highness Sheikh Mohammed’s priority issues in his ef-
forts to achieve the emirate of Abu Dhabi’s overall growth. His Highness was the Chairman of the UAE Offset Program Bureau (Offset), which works on executing investments by establishing feasibility projects in various sectors to aid in the diversification of the UAE’s economy. Mubadala Development Company was established in 2002 to become one of Abu Dhabi Government’s main investment entities, with the goal of achieving long-term social and economic benefits for the emirate. His Highness Sheikh Mohammed bin Zayed has always prioritized education, whether public or private, from elementary school to secondary school and higher education. His Highness served as the Chairman of the Abu Dhabi Education Council, which was founded in 2005. Since its inception, the Abu Dhabi Education Council has overseen and developed the emirate’s education sector by conducting studies and involving students and parents in assessment processes, as well as communicating with high international educational institutions to exchange innovative initiatives aimed at developing the education sector. Under Sheikh Mohammed bin Zayed’s leadership, the UAE constructed the region’s first peaceful nuclear power reactor, the Barakah nuclear power plant. The UAE and the United States signed a bilateral agreement for peaceful nuclear cooperation, which raises international nuclear non-proliferation standards. Mohamed attended the 2012 and 2014 Nuclear Security Summits, which were hosted by South Korea and the Netherlands, respectively.
Political scientist Christopher Davidson has characterized Mohamed’s tenure as de facto UAE leader as entailing a “a marked and rapid intensification of autocratic-authoritarianism.” Democracy indicators show “recent and substantial efforts to tighten up almost all remaining political and civic freedoms”. According to Andreas Krieg, Mohamed’s political ideology holds that strongman authoritarianism is the optimal governance system
for the UAE. Krieg writes: “MbZ envisaged the creation of a new Middle Eastern state... Statecraft would be the prerogative of the autocratic, centralized ruler whose transactional relationship with his subordinates was supposed to be governed by both means of accommodation and repression. The ideal strongman, from MbZ’s point of view, was in control of the security sector, both military and law enforcement, and
governed over a society emancipated from religious conservatism and empowered by capitalist market structures... Abu Dhabi’s paranoia over political dissidence was further fuelled by the developments of the Arab Spring to which MbZ internally reacted by further curtailing the freedom of speech, thought and assembly in the country... MbZ’s fierce state has moved against any civil society activism in the country outside state control.”
Get a Helping Hand for Pain Strategies to Manage Hand Osteoarthritis By Maureen Salamon Your hands work hard from the moment they pick up your toothbrush in the morning to the time they pull your covers up at night. If you’ve got osteoarthritis in the joints of your hands, all those daily tasks can become more of a challenge. Osteoarthritis is a common condition that occurs when the cartilage between the bones begins to break down. Cartilage acts as a smooth padding, cushioning the bones and allowing the joint to move freely. When it deteriorates, the bones may start to rub together, triggering inflammation that causes pain and stiffness. Osteoarthritis of the hand is not only a common cause of hand pain, but occurs more often in women than in men, says Dr. Barry Simmons, associate professor of orthopedic surgery at Harvard Medical School. The condition also has a strong genetic component. While osteoarthritis in the hands can be debilitating, there are a number of strategies you can use to manage it, he says.
interphalangeal joints, which are the joints in the middle of the fingers, and the joint at the base of the thumb, known as the first carpometacarpal joint. Less commonly, the problem occurs in the joint where the finger meets the hand, called the metacarpophalangeal joint, says Dr. Simmons. While many people are most affected by the pain and stiffness caused by osteoarthritis, some people are also bothered by the physical changes that osteoarthritis may cause. These include the appearance of cysts or bony nodules on the fingers, crooked finger joints, and swelling.
TREATING OSTEOARTHRITIS The primary goals of osteoarthritis treatment are to relieve pain and improve function, says Dr. Simmons. This may require a combination of approaches, such as the following: Splinting. Your doctor may recommend immobilizing the joint with a splint. “Splinting is solely for pain relief, but
JOINTS MOST AFFECTED BY OSTEOARTHRITIS Osteoarthritis affects four types of joints in the human hand, but most often strikes those closest to the fingertips.
THE ORIGINS OF STIFFNESS AND PAIN Osteoarthritis affecting the hands most commonly occurs in the joints closest to the fingertip, known as the distal interphalangeal joints, says Dr. Simmons. People might notice that the end of their finger looks a little knobby or has started to bend toward the pinky finger. The joint may also feel stiff when you move it. Other hand joints commonly affected include the proximal
Photo credit: (TNS)
Photo credit: (TNS)
you’ll only have pain relief when the splint is on,” says Dr. Simmons. Splinting will not correct a joint deformity. The finger will revert back to its former position when the splint is removed. Ice and heat. Another strategy to soothe sore joints is to use heat or ice. Icing a joint may reduce inflammation and using methods to warm up a joint, such as soaking in warm water, might help ease stiffness. Medication. Some people effectively manage mild to moderate osteoarthritis pain using topical pain relievers, which come in many forms, including creams, patches, and gels. They are available in both prescription and over-the-counter formulations. Oral pain medications, particularly nonsteroidal antiinflammatory drugs (NSAIDs) such as ibuprofen (Advil, Motrin) and naproxen (Aleve), can help ease osteoarthritis pain and reduce inflammation. But they will not cure the underlying problem, says Dr. Simmons. Injected medications, called corticosteroids, may grant temporary relief. However, many doctors use them sparingly because they may worsen osteoarthritis in the long run, by hastening damage to the bone and cartilage. Exercise. Building strength and endurance through regular exercise can help reduce hand pain and improve function. Working with a specialist trained in hand therapy can ensure that your efforts are on the right track. A hand therapist will typically help you set goals and design an exercise
While many people are most affected by the pain and stiffness caused by osteoarthritis, some people are also bothered by the physical changes that osteoarthritis may cause. plan, says Dr. Simmons. Lifestyle adjustments. A hand therapist may also advise you on ways to change your everyday routines to minimize pain--for instance, by structuring activities to avoid pain flare-ups, or by using tools and assistive devices to ease certain tasks, such as opening jars. Surgery. Surgery is typically saved as a last resort after other strategies to manage arthritis pain have failed. Options include joint replacement (arthroplasty), which involves removing damaged bone and tissues and replacing them with a prosthetic joint, and joint fusion (arthrodesis) to permanently immobilize the joint. This article was originally published by Harvard Health.
Working in the Metaverse What Virtual Office Life Could Look Like By Sam Gilbert In the context of work, the digital divide has become less about access to devices and connectivity and more about skills and mindset. Many experienced professionals have never learned more than the rudimentary basics of email, web
search, and Microsoft Office. Instead, they lean hard on nearby colleagues or the IT help desk when things go wrong. By contrast, young people have already demonstrated a competitive edge in the virtual workplace. They come equipped with a more intuitive
Academic studies have found that collaborative work among colleagues suffers when they work remotely. Exchanges over email or Slack increasingly replace real-time in-person conversations, hampering communication. enforcement, surgery, and manufacturing. When it comes to specialist machinery or complex locations, the relative safety and cost advantages of training virtually are obvious. But it is in knowledge work, from software engineering to law to design, where the changes will be most profound.
HOW VIRTUAL WORKPLACES CAN IMPROVE COMMUNICATION For most people, remote working during the pandemic has been characterized by alt-tabbing between communications apps and videoconferencing platforms such as Slack, Teams, and Miro. And there is certainly a lot of room for improvement there. Photo credit: (TNS)
grasp of digital technology and the initiative to troubleshoot problems via YouTube tutorials, social media, and subreddits. As a generation, they’re also bigger gamers. As more and more work takes place in virtual reality—and one does not have to share the somewhat eccentric vision of the metaverse Mark Zuckerberg articulated last year to believe that it will— being familiar with massively multiplayer online games (MMOs) like Fortnite and Roblox, not to mention the ability to manage multiple digital identities, is set to make that edge keener still. Much of the metaverse is still to be built. VR, of course, has long been used in training for certain physical jobs, from astronauts and pilots to law
Academic studies have found that collaborative work among colleagues suffers when they work remotely. Exchanges over email or Slack increasingly replace real-time in-person conversations, hampering communication. Google itself has claimed that informal chats at coffee machines and lunch tables in its campus were responsible for innovations such as Street View and Gmail. But with remote working, this kind of serendipitous encounter all but disappears. And of course there are costs to remote working, in terms of individual well-being too. Stanford University researchers have found that so-called Zoom fatigue is driven by a combination of intense eye contact, lack of mobility, self-con-
sciousness about one’s own video feed, and the cognitive demands of needing to give exaggerated feedback to signal understanding, agreement, or concern. Technological advances mean solutions to these problems related to remote working are becoming possible. Collaboration software such as Meta’s Horizon Workrooms and Microsoft Mesh, which allow colleagues to meet as avatars in VR or take part in a real-world meeting as a photorealistic hologram, are already available. The metaverse 1.0 will no doubt see organizations creating persistent VR workplace environments, in which employees can interact in real time as embodied avatars. VR versions of office spaces can be designed to encourage chance encounters and corridor chats. Imagine, for example, if going from one remote meeting to another involved leaving the conference room and crossing a bustling virtual atrium. That might sound far-fetched but bear in mind that Korean PropTech company Zigbang has already opened a 30-floor VR office called Metapolis. Employees choose an avatar and navigate to their desks via elevators and corridors. When they meet a colleague’s avatar, their webcam and mic are activated so they’re able to have a conversation. The webcam and mic then turn off Meanwhile, the ability to use and read body language and actively participate in group discusautomatically as their avatar walks away. sions by scribbling Post-it notes or drawing on a virtual whiteboard should make remote meetings in VR more engaging and less sedentary. They require much more active use of the neck, shoulders, arms, and hands than a typical hour on Zoom.
The metaverse 1.0 will no doubt see organizations creating persistent VR workplace environments, in which employees can interact in real time as embodied avatars.
HOW TO WORK AS AN AVATAR It seems likely that a new set of workplace norms will emerge as the metaverse develops. Team games, including virtual bowling nights and virtual ping-pong tournaments, might supplant Zoom drinks as the default remote working social event.
VR offers up new possibilities for extracurricular team activities. (naratrip/ shutterstock)
When it comes to hiring, meanwhile, VR could bring distinct benefits. “Blind” auditions have been shown to significantly increase the representation of female musicians in symphony orchestras. It follows that interviewing as an avatar might diminish the effect of bias—unconscious or otherwise—against people on the basis of their gender, age, or appearance. Just as custom “skins” (outfits) are a feature of many MMOs, in the virtual world of work there may well be demand for creativity in virtual fashion and accessories too, as people seek to express their personal brand within the constraints of professional dress codes for avatars. Gucci has already sold virtual hats, handbags, and sunglasses on the MMO platform Roblox.
Young people have been the worst affected by the disruption COVID-19 has caused to the job market. While some struggled with working productively from a shared house or their parents’ homes, others were scammed into joining companies that did not even exist. Nonetheless, the pandemic has also brought exciting glimpses of how remote working might evolve. Due to public health concerns and climate pressure, the latter is here to stay. As it develops into the metaverse, it will continue to bring capabilities that are concentrated among younger people to the fore. This article was originally published by Fast Company.
Palliative Care Trying to Find New Purpose When Life Suddenly Overturns You in their everyday needs (washing, dressing, meals) – extending support to family and caregivers – supporting advance care planning (documentation of wishes and preferences when the illness progresses). Many people would wonder if palliative After the first shock and disbelief you care is equivalent to death. No, it is not. may start to fight, to find new ways to Palliative care can no longer cure symptoms, but will try tirelessly to alleviate live with this new reality. them. This distinguishes palliative care But what happens, when someone reach- from curing and healing illnesses. It is es the end of a medically curable possi- advised to seek professional support as early as possible. However, ultimately it bility? comes down to when someone is ready Palliative care (deriving from the Latin and in acceptance with the progression of root ‘palliare,’ or to ‘cloak’) is an inter- their illness. disciplinary medical holistic approach, meaning it focuses on the patient as a Most people receiving palliative care are ‘whole.’ It is about the comprehensive being treated at home as an outpatient or care of people with an incurable, progres- during short hospital admissions. Some sive and far advanced illness. Palliative hospitals have highly specialized palliacare is mostly designed for people who tive care departments. Some patients preare suffering from a chronic, incurable fer to be admitted to a hospice for their illness with a short or limited life expec- last journey. Every single person is treated according to their needs, abilities and tancy. circumstances. Their care is totally perThe goal of palliative care is to allevi- sonalized and always aiming to improve ate symptoms such as pain, mitigating their quality of life in the best possible fear and anxiety and enabling a dignified way. life by improving the patient’s quality of life. These are the main tasks of pallia- End-of-life care is usually provided durtive care and include - managing physical ing the last stage of palliative care, when symptoms – managing ongoing treatment the illness is so far advanced, and the of the illness – providing emotional and patient is believed to be in his last 12 spiritual care – providing daily support months of life. Imagine, you have built your life according to your wishes and values. You are in the middle of a fulfilling life, when suddenly a diagnosis brings everything to a standstill.
By Luisa Markides
It seems that Deborah James is very tragically approaching the final stage of her illness .
One of the most well-known public figures fighting cancer in the United Kingdom is Dame Deborah James. She is a London based journalist who got diagnosed with Stage 4 bowel cancer in 2016 at the age of 35. Her life suddenly was thrown upside down with two young children and a husband. She has become well known as she is documenting her journey and illness progression with bowel cancer on Instagram, where she has more than 719k followers. She created her own blog “Bowelbabe” and presents the BBC podcast “You, Me & the Big C.” Since then, she also wrote a book called “F**K You Cancer (2018)”. Deborah has set up a fundraising page on “Just Giving,” where she has raised over £6m. The money donated will go towards funding clinical trials and research that could find a cure for cancer. On Friday 13th of May, Mrs. James became a Dame, after Prince William, Duke of Cambridge, visited her in Woking, Surrey, where she is receiving end-of-life care at her parents’ house. Prince William personally handed over the honorary title. Under a post on Instagram she wrote on the same day “Prince William actually came to our family house today!! I am utterly honoured that he
joined us for afternoon tea and champagne, where he not only spent a generous amount of time talking to my whole family, but also honoured me with my Damehood.” It seems that Deborah James is very tragically approaching the final stage of her illness. She is now receiving hospice care at home, where she is being cared for with palliative care during her end-of-life care trajectory. What is the most touching is the strength she is still finding despite being in the most difficult time of her life. She wrote on Instagram “My family are amazing and as emotional as it all is, we are finding so much to smile about in the sadness. I may be getting weaker and more tired having run off pure Adrenaline, but I always said I wanted to slide in sideways when my time is up, with a massive smile, no regrets, and a big glass of champagne! Still my intention.” Dame Deborah James is truly a legend. A hugely powerful personality, an inspiring example of how to live life to the fullest, despite the deepest tragedy. How not to despair, but to find a new alternative, a new purpose, new ways to live, by including destiny into her daily life… reaching out for the light with a hopeful smile.
The goal of palliative care is to alleviate symptoms such as pain, mitigating fear and anxiety and enabling a dignified life by improving the patient’s quality of life .