Kholoussy, For Better, For Worse

by Ziba Mir-Hosseini
published in MER257

Hanan Kholoussy, For Better, For Worse: The Marriage Crisis That Made Modern Egypt (Stanford, 2010).

Please Subscribe to access the full contents of this article.

A State of Sectarian Denial

by Mariz Tadros | published January 11, 2011

On the afternoon of January 6, a number of youths found a suspicious-looking cardboard box inside the Church of St. Antonious in the Upper Egyptian city of Minya. From its appearance, the box seemed to contain explosives, so the youths slowly removed it from the church, placing it in the middle of the street. They then phoned the police, who arrived immediately and whisked the box away.

The Liquidation of Egypt's Illiberal Experiment

by Mona El-Ghobashy | published December 29, 2010

The Egyptian parliamentary elections that ended on December 5 defied expectations, not because the ruling National Democratic Party again dominates Parliament but because of the lengths to which it proved willing to go to engineer its monopoly. Official and unofficial ruling-party candidates garnered 93.3 percent of the seats in the national assembly, while marginal opposition parties received 3 percent and the Muslim Brothers got a lone seat to be occupied by a member who would not abide by the Brothers’ boycott of the runoff. While these results are identical to the outcome of the 1995 elections, the reaction this time has been much more severe.

Interventions

Interventions is a feature in Middle East Report Online offering critical reviews of important Middle East-related books, films and other cultural production. Click here for past Interventions articles.

The Fiction (and Non-Fiction) of Egypt's Marriage Crisis

by Hanan Kholoussy | published December 2010

In August 2006, a 27-year old pharmacist started blogging anonymously about her futile hunt for a husband in Mahalla al-Kubra, an industrial city 60 miles north of Cairo in the Nile Delta. Steeped in satirical humor, the blog of this “wannabe bride” turned into a powerful critique of everything that is wrong with how middle-class Egyptians meet and marry. The author poked fun at every aspect of arranged marriage -- from the split-second decisions couples are expected to make after hour-long meetings about their lifetime compatibility to the meddling relatives and nosy neighbors who introduce them to each other. She joked about her desperation to marry in a society that stigmatizes single women over the age of 30. She ridiculed bachelors for their unrealistic expectations and inflated self-images while sympathizing with the exorbitant financial demands placed on would-be husbands. Thirty suitors and four years later, the pharmacist remains proudly single at 32, refusing to settle for just any man.

Behind Egypt's Deep Red Lines

by Mariz Tadros | published October 13, 2010

For six weeks, Egypt has been sitting on top of a sectarian volcano. Protesters, men and women, have been exiting mosques following prayers almost every single Friday since the beginning of September to demand the “release” of Camillia Shehata, a Coptic priest’s wife who they believe has converted to Islam and is now incarcerated by the Coptic Orthodox Church.

The Dynamics of Egypt's Elections

by Mona El-Ghobashy | published September 29, 2010

No one thinks parliamentary elections in Egypt are democratic or even semi-democratic. The elections do not determine who governs. They are not free and fair. They install a parliament with no power to check the president. The government National Democratic Party (NDP) always manufactures a whopping majority, never getting less than 70 percent of the seats. The opposition is kept on a tight leash, restrained by police intimidation, rampant fraud and severe limits on outreach to voters. And citizens know that elections are rigged, with polling places often blocked off by baton-wielding police, so few of them vote.

Egyptian Labor Activists Assess Their Achievements

An Interview with Kamal Abbas and Kamal Abu Eita

by Lauren Geiser
published in MER256

On August 3, the AFL-CIO presented its Meany-Kirkland Human Rights Award to the workers of Egypt. It was the first time in the award’s 20-year history that the recipient was from an Arab country. In its award resolution, the American labor federation cited the remarkable burst of Egyptian worker activism that began in late 2004, with wildcat strikes in the textile sector. The ensuing strike wave crested in 2006 with militant actions in the Delta town of Mahalla al-Kubra, and culminated in the April 2009 formation of the first independent trade union in Egypt in more than 50 years, the Independent General Union of Real Estate Tax Authority Workers.

Please Subscribe to access the full contents of this article.

Dictatorship Remains OK for our Allies

by Chris Toensing | published February 18, 2005

President George W. Bush likes to associate his administration’s goals with the will of the Almighty. Witness the stirring coda of the 2005 State of the Union address: “The road of Providence is uneven and unpredictable yet we know where it leads: It leads to freedom.” As in many previous speeches, Bush lingered on the way stations of this divinely lit pathway in the “broader Middle East,” the region stretching from Morocco to Afghanistan.

Hear Out Muslim Brotherhood

by Joshua Stacher , Samer Shehata | published March 25, 2007

On a quiet, one-way street in Cairo’s middle-class Manial district, two bored security guards sit idly sipping tea. The building behind them houses a small apartment that serves as the main offices of the Muslim Brotherhood, the oldest Islamist group in the Middle East. In Egypt, the Brotherhood is the country’s largest opposition group and its best-organized political force. No one would know it from the headquarters’ modest appearance, but the Brotherhood is likely to be the dominant force in Egyptian politics in the future. Yet the United States stubbornly refuses to deal with the Brotherhood, taking its cue from the sclerotic and hopelessly corrupt regime of Hosni Mubarak.

Egypt Stifles Debate in the United States

by Bayann Hamid | published August 27, 2008

The Egyptian regime has once again succeeded in stifling freedom of speech, this time not in Egypt, but in the US. Earlier this month, an Egyptian court convicted a prominent Egyptian-American activist for his outspoken criticism of the regime’s poor human rights record in American public fora. The court accused Saad Eddin Ibrahim, of "tarnishing Egypt’s image" abroad. The conviction referred primarily to writings he published in the foreign press; most notably among them an August 2007 op-ed in the Washington Post in which he criticized Egypt’s human rights record and questioned the reasons behind US aid to Egypt.