From the Editors

by The Editors
published in MER147

At the beginning of June, a new, heavily armored Mercedes arrived in Cairo. It had been ordered for the new US ambassador to Egypt, Frank Wisner. Just a week earlier, in the heart of the crowded capital, a group calling itself Egypt’s Revolution had ambushed a car carrying three US Embassy staff, including the chief of embassy security. The attackers raked the car with automatic gunfire. Some good defensive driving allowed the Americans to escape with only superficial wounds. Security experts dispatched from the US described the attack as “very professional” and “well-planned.”

Insurrectionary Women

Women and State in Nineteenth-Century Egypt

by Judith Tucker
published in MER138

The study of women and politics has usually focused on the participation of women in the formal political arena -- that is, in politics as practiced by political parties, by people holding political office or, at most, by political opposition movements. In the Middle East context in particular, the modern history of women in politics has been limited, by and large, to study of the role women played in the various nationalist movements in the region.

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Prison, Gender, Praxis

Women's Prison Memoirs in Egypt and Elsewhere

by Marilyn Booth
published in MER149

Do you, too, believe that I betrayed my motherhood when I left you, against my will, to go to prison?…. I have read an article by the Moroccan writer Hadiya Sa‘id…she expressed a point of view maintained by some of our friends who love me and are concerned about you. She says that I must cease my political work and leave it to Husayn, for the sake of you children…. [1]

So writes Farida al-Naqqash to her daughter in 1981, during her second confinement in the Barrages women’s prison just north of Cairo.

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"The Lion's Right to Roar in His Cage"

Nabil al-Hilali on Political Rights in Egypt

by Joe Stork
published in MER149

Nabil al-Hilali has been active as a labor and civil liberties lawyer in Egypt since the 1950s. He serves on the executive committees of the Egyptian Bar Association and the International Committee of Democratic Jurists. He ran as an independent in the parliamentary elections of April 1987. In 1986 he was acquitted after a long trail on charges of being a member of the illegal Egyptian Communist Party. His defense in that trial has been published in Beirut as a small book called In Defense of Liberty. Joe Stork interviewed him in Cairo in February 1987.

 

How long have you been engaged in this work of defending workers and political prisoners?

38 years, sometimes as a lawyer and sometimes as a defendant myself.

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Cairo's Long Summer

by Ben Rose
published in MER142

The current situation in Egypt has great potential for disaster. On the economic front, the government threatens to eliminate subsidies on food and other basic consumer commodities in order to reduce its current budget deficit of about $4 billion. The subsidies are currently costing $3.8 billion -- $1.5 billion for food and $2.3 billion for fuels -- and represent the largest single item in the $11.3 billion government budget.

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Egypt's Infitah Bourgeoisie

by Robert Vitalis
published in MER142

A recent story illustrates the political power of the bourgeoisie in contemporary Egypt: At the beginning of 1985, the Egyptian minister of economy, Mustafa al-Sa‘id, unveiled a set of new trade and banking laws. They aimed, among other things, at imposing a greater degree of Central Bank control over the foreign exchange operations of private banks. Such controls were urgently needed by the state, which is facing acute shortages of foreign exchange and mounting financial pressures.

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Sivan, Radical Islam; Kepel, Muslim Extremism in Egypt

by Michael Gilsenan
published in MER151

Emmanuel Sivan, Radical Islam: Medieval Theology and Modern Politics (New Haven and London: Yale University Press, 1985.)

Gilles Kepel, Muslim Extremism in Egypt: The Prophet and Pharoah (Berkeley and Los Angeles: University of California Press, 1985.) Translated from the French by Jon Rothschild.

 

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Egypt: A New Secularism?

by Andrew Flores
published in MER153

Arab political and social thought in the 1960s was dominated by secular conceptions, including Arab nationalism, Arab socialism and Marxism. Even after the 1967 war, when the attraction of these ideologies began to wane, the immediate “self-criticism after the defeat” (to cite the title of Sadiq al-Azm’s famous book) maintained a militantly secular and revolutionary stance. [1] The emerging Palestinian resistance movement put forward slogans of armed struggle and people’s war.

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Sinai for the Coffee Table

Birds, Bedouins and Desert Wanderlust

by Smadar Lavie
published in MER150

Dani Rabinowitz, Ru’ah Sinai (The Sinai Spirit) (Tel Aviv: Adam Publishers, 1987). [Hebrew]

Ever since Israel occupied the Sinai desert in 1967, that piece of earth has consistently made Israeli headlines. Its media presence was only enhanced after Camp David and Israel’s withdrawal in 1979 and 1982. The public’s insatiable interest in the Sinai is today reflected in copious newspaper articles, books both popular and scholarly, expensive coffee-table books, top 40 pop tunes and diverse television programs. Central to this preoccupation is the Israeli fascination with the Bedouins.

The Egyptian Left After the Debacle

by Mohamed Sid-Ahmed
published in MER150

The debacle suffered by the Egyptian left at the polls in 1987 -- 2 percent of the vote as compared to 4.5 percent in the 1984 parliamentary elections -- provoked a soul-searching debate in Tagammu‘, the legal party of the left.

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