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INSIGHT: Bahrain Uprising – Three Years In, Still No Way Out

Three years after Bahrain joined the Arab Spring uprisings in the Middle East, human rights defenders are left wondering when the Obama Administration will put action behind its flamboyant 2011 rhetoric about rights, freedom and the rule of law. Those who took to the streets in the small Gulf kingdom on February 14 that More »

QUICKTAKE: Syria Extremists Restricting Women’s Rights

In Syria’s now nearly three-year-old conflict, certain armed extremist opposition groups are imposing strict and discriminatory rules on women and girls that have no basis in Syrian law, Human Rights Watch says in a new study. The findings have been drawn from interviews with 43 refugees from Syria in Iraqi Kurdistan and two in Turkey, More »

INSIGHT: The Government Cracks Down, and Egypt Shrugs

Egyptians say the mood is different now. Gone is the call of the revolution demanding justice for the brutal torture and killing of a young man and an end to the police abuse his case exemplified. In its place is a weary, national shrug toward brutal attacks, now that they’re directed against the Muslim More »

INSIGHT: Egyptian Women – Between Reports and Reality

I was not surprised by the contents of a report published recently by the Thomson Reuters Foundation on the status of women’s rights in the Arab world. Reactions to the report among Egyptians, however, were interesting, ranging from support to opposition to complete dismissal. Egypt was found to be the worst state for Arab More »

INSIGHT: Why the Narrative You’ve Heard About Syria Is Wrong

In the Za’atri refugee camp in Jordan, Syrian women are afraid to go to the restrooms at night, using the desert-like conditions around their homes rather than risk sexual assault. In neighboring Lebanon, since August, numerous Syrians have been turned back from the border, forcing them to return to dangerous conditions where their lives are More »

INSIGHT: Saudi Women Jump-start Driving Rights Campaign

On October 26, Saudi women are expected to answer their sisters’ call to support women’s driving rights by driving cars in the kingdom – an act that can lead to detention, a fine, and in the worst case scenario, imprisonment. The campaign has garnered significant support on the internet, with an online petition attracting More »

INSIGHT: Rights Groups in Egypt Face Withering Assault

Human rights groups are routinely tarred in today’s Egyptian media – including social media – as either “traitors supporting terrorism” or “mercenaries selling their services to the highest bidder.” They are being denounced for treachery despite their utter dedication and consistency in standing by the principles of human rights and democracy through all the More »

INSIGHT: 4 Things the US Should Do to Regain Credibility in Egypt

Last week, Egyptian Interior Minister Mohamed Ibrahim was the target of an assassination attempt that took place just steps from where protesters gathered last month in support of ousted president Mohamed Morsi. The bomb blast – reported to have injured 10 policemen and 11 civilians, including a child – is the latest in a More »

QUICKTAKE: Complexities of Providing Aid to Syria’s Refugees

According to the United Nations, earlier this month the number of Syrian conflict refugees topped two million, putting an enormous strain not only on the people affected but also the host countries which have absorbed the vast majority of Syrians fleeing their homeland. Among the organizations providing assistance to the refugees – both to the More »

INSIGHT: Syria Conflict Refugees Top 2 Million – How Many More?

It is difficult not to feel overwhelmed by the scale and brutality of the conflict in Syria, the massive displacement and deep suffering it is causing countless human beings. António Guterres, the U.N. High Commissioner for Refugees, has described the Syrian conflict as “the great tragedy of this century – a disgraceful humanitarian calamity with More »

INSIGHT: At Stake in Syria – the Chemical Weapons Taboo

Syrian opposition activists allege government forces launched a devastating poison gas attack this week that killed hundreds of civilians in suburban Damascus. If true, it would be the war’s worst atrocity – and would mock the “red line” warning that U.S. President Barack Obama issued to Syria’s Bashar al-Assad exactly a year ago. The claims More »

VOICES: Bahrain’s Lost Boys

Mahmood has not slept at home in eight months. His younger brother has not slept there in a year. But armed riot police continue to raid their family home monthly, breaking down bedroom doors searching for them. Mahmood and his brother are wanted by the government of Bahrain. They have been charged with various forms More »

INSIGHT: Syria’s Humanitarian Blackmail Is a War Crime

The recent battle of Qusair, close to Syria’s border with Lebanon, could be a case study in future training courses on international humanitarian law and action. While fierce fighting raged between Syrian government forces supported by Hezbollah fighters and Syrian armed opposition groups, civilian residents found themselves under siege. While many civilians were able More »

VOICES: Women’s Rights in Egypt – Re-examining a Revolution

In the past two years much has been said about how Egypt’s popular uprising has affected women. All too often Egyptian women have been portrayed in absolute terms, as victims of a revolution that is in itself still a fluid work in progress. But as the one-year anniversary of Mohamed Morsi’s ascent to the More »

INSIGHT: Is There Cause for Hope After Iran’s Presidential Election?

As recently as two weeks before Iran’s June 14 presidential election, it seemed as if the issue of human rights was being swept neatly under the carpet. But then, surprisingly, the issue bubbled up; Hassan Rowhani, the man who ultimately won the election, made a number of promises relating to human rights, to address More »

VOICES: Egypt – Convicted for Trying to Help Build a Democracy

It’s not easy being a convicted felon. The fact that if I ever step foot in Egypt, or visit any of the countries with which it has extradition treaties (a long list by the way), I might be shoved into prison for five years is daunting, to say the least. What was my crime? Teaching More »

INSIGHT: NGO Verdict Revives Calls for Reevaluating US Assistance to Egypt

After a lengthy year-and-a-half long trial, Egypt’s court sentenced 43 Egyptians, Americans, and other foreign nationals to up to five years in prison. The trial, infamously known in local Egyptian media as the ‘Foreign Funding Trial,’ has come to a distressing end and is yet another test for U.S.-Egypt relations, as well as a More »

INSIGHT: Egypt’s NGO Convictions Demand Assertive Response

Yesterday, an Egyptian court convicted 63 employees of pro-democracy NGOs – including 19 Americans (all but one in absentia – MEV) – on charges of receiving illegal foreign funding. The decision is not only a giant leap backward for Egypt’s dwindling democratic prospects, but also a fundamental assault on American interests, which include protecting U.S. More »

QUICKTAKE: Former Bush Official Says No Viable Alternative to Guantanamo

A  hunger strike by Guantanamo Bay detainees has now passed the 100-day mark, increasing pressure on President Barack Obama to shut down the controversial detention facility – something he promised to do even before he took his first oath of office.  During an April 30 press briefing,  Obama reiterated that promise, telling  reporters that More »

INSIGHT: Copts and the Future of Egypt

The celebration of Coptic Easter this week sheds light on a significant political problem awaiting Egypt. While Coptic Christians are in the midst of celebrating a major holiday, prominent Islamists are debating whether or not it is a sin to greet Copts on their holiday. This is a far cry from the Egyptian tradition More »