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VOICES: Inhumanity and the Moral Limit in Syria

At the start of the “Arab Spring,” I was so optimistic about the prospect of democracy in the Middle East and heartened by the uprisings in Tunisia and Egypt. On my mind was the oppression of millions of Syrians by the brutal Bashar al-Assad regime. Also on my mind was my experience during Lebanon’s More »

VOICES: Syria’s Children – the Lost Generation

A few minutes late, he wanders in to join the group. All the other children have started dancing to the music blaring from the iPod speakers.  He doesn’t have a name tag, so one of the volunteers takes his hand and leads him over to a table in the corner of the room. “What’s More »

VOICES: Bahrain – Sectarian Tensions and Foreign Misconceptions

I don’t know a single Bahraini who wouldn’t agree that the Bahraini government is in great need of reform. We need a governing system that is more representative and more responsive. However, it is only a very vocal and militant minority who believe this means that Bahrain needs a revolution – particularly as we More »

VOICES: Turkey’s Pivot Away from Democracy

For the second time in two months, Turkish Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan’s government is clashing with secularists and opposition forces. The latest clash brings to the fore the question of whether Turkey will remain democratic, or if it is descending into authoritarianism. While the ruling Justice and Development Party (AKP) rightly emphasizes that 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 »

VOICES: Egypt – What Next?

Regardless of whether July 3 was a revolution or a coup d’état against Egypt’s first democratically elected – president, Mohamed Morsi, the scene of millions of Egyptians taking to streets on June 30 shows that the revolution Egyptians started in early 2011 is still in the making. Though it has taken a dangerous slide 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 »

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 »

VOICES: Egypt’s Street Children – Victims of Political Instability

Egypt’s street children had a lot to gain from the country’s revolution. However, change has come slowly if at all, and in many ways, their cause has been pushed off course. Increasing poverty, a growing shadow economy, and continued political instability, have proven challenges to the safety of these children. The issue of street children More »

VOICES: Egyptian ‘Superhero’ Fights Sexual Harassment

Dressed in floral print clothing, he needs cinnamon chewing-gum to fight against his foes and a long rest after his encounters – it’s Super Makh! Reappearing this year in the Egyptian comic publication Tok-Tok, Super Makh is the Egyptian version of Superman in a popular cartoon where his main mission is to the help More »

VOICES: The Politics of Egypt’s Rape, Sexual Assault Epidemic

In a powerful scene from the 2010 Egyptian film “678,” a veiled woman boards a crowded public bus on her way to work, squeezing through a mass of passengers in search of a space where she will feel least vulnerable to attack. Inevitably, though, groping hands reach her and she has no choice but More »

VOICES: Forced into Hiding in Bahrain But Speaking Out

I’ve been in hiding for the past two years. The Bahraini government imprisoned me from August 2010 to February 2011, and it was obvious I would be rearrested; so I went underground. It’s not easy – I’m married with a 10-year-old son, and the risk of capture is always there – but I carry More »

VOICES: Non-violent Role Models for Egypt

It’s been more than two years since the start of Egypt’s January 25 revolution, and the country is still teetering on the edge. Most recently, clashes occurred between demonstrators and police forces when tens of thousands across the country took to the streets to mark the uprising’s second anniversary. It feels like no sooner More »

VOICES: Tunisia and Lebanon – a Tale of Two Assassinations

For some in Tunisia, the degree of resemblance between the assassination of Tunisian liberal opposition leader Chokri Belaid on February 6, 2013, and the assassination of former Lebanese prime minister Rafiq Hariri on February 14, 2005, is disconcerting. With the anniversary of Hariri’s death upon us, Tunisian politicians grappling with a solution to the More »

VOICES: Youth Will Define Yemen’s Future

Positive civil and political youth activism has been the most rewarding result of the Yemeni uprising of 2011. Individual activism, youth initiatives and the participation of youth in new political parties have introduced fresh approaches and perspectives to Yemen’s civil and political arenas. This youth involvement is already changing the landscape in Yemen. For example, in More »

VOICES: President Morsi’s Finger & Human Dignity in Egypt

When declaring a state of emergency in the canal cities in response to clashes in Port Said last week, President Mohamed Morsi finally showed Egyptians his “bad cop” side after months of “good cop” rhetoric filled with invocations of “hugs” and “love.” What quickly became viral from the announcement was the clip of the More »

VOICES: Syria’s Hunger Games

An intrinsic component of Syria’s ongoing civil war, the control and distribution of food is becoming a multi-faceted strategic tool used not only to punish foes but also to build patronage. Just as shipments of arms and other military equipment can sway the results of a conflict, the supply of food can be just More »

VOICES: Despite Gloom, Reasons for Optimism in Egypt

If you live in Egypt, there are many reasons to feel politically, socially and economically pessimistic. Political wrangling and polarization keeps the country on the edge of civil unrest. Unemployment and poverty grow amid a stagnant economy, insufficient investment and a fragile tourism industry in shambles in the post-revolutionary scare. However, as Egyptians celebrate More »

VOICES: Snow, With a Small Chance of Peace

Children building snowmen and palm trees sprinkled with snowflakes were just some of the many pictures that filtered through my Facebook news feed last week when Jerusalem experienced its heaviest snowfall in more than 20 years. As I clicked on photo after photo of the snow-covered holy city and its surrounding white-laced hilltops, I was More »

VOICES: A Bleak Future for Yemen’s Women Leaders

The participation of Yemeni women in the country’s uprising fascinated the world early last year. Yet the uprising also represented simultaneous opportunity and danger for women, especially female opinion leaders. An opportunity because women had the chance to be empowered. For instance, their parliamentary participation quota is under consideration to be increased from 15 to More »