Cairo's Poor

Dilemmas of Survival and Solidarity

by Asef Bayat
published in MER202

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Men, Women and God(s)

by Persis M. Karim
published in MER203

Fedwa Malti-Douglas, Men, Women and God(s): Nawal El Saadawi and Arab Feminist Poetics (California, 1995).

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"Nothing More to Lose"

Landowners, Tenants and Economic Liberalization in Egypt

by Karim El-Gawhary
published in MER204

Economic liberalization is now hitting the Egyptian countryside. After decades of Nasserist regulations favoring small land tenants, a new law will “reform” the relationship between landowners and tenants in favor of the first. It will more fully integrate the Egyptian countryside into the global market because it gives owners the right to dispose of their land as they see fit. These rights constitute a precondition for modernizing production methods in the countryside and planting more risky export crops. With agrobusinessmen able to invest and extract more income from the land, economists hope that Egypt will be able to decrease its annual agricultural deficit of $2.7 billion.

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Modernization and Family Planning in Egypt

by Kamran Asdar Ali
published in MER205

In the last decade, the Egyptian state in collaboration with international donor agencies has embarked on an ambitious population control program. According to this program, Egypt’s rapid population growth is the prime obstacle to the development goals set by Egyptian authorities. Between 1980 and 1992, the program increased current contraceptive use among couples, primarily in the form of IUDs and birth control pills, from 24 percent to 47 percent. At the same time, it reduced the total fertility rate from above 5 to 3.9 percent. [1]

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Unlocking the Arab Celluloid Closet

Homosexuality in Egyptian Film

by Garay Menicucci
published in MER206

Images of same-sex love and sexual dissidence from the heterosexual norm have long been portrayed in literature, theater and cinema in the Arab world. While the explicit depiction of homosexual acts in film has been the subject of strict censorship, cinematic references to gays and lesbians abound, if often in heavily coded forms.

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AIDS Hotline in Cairo

Breaking a Social Taboo

by Karim El-Gawhary
published in MER206

“AIDS is God’s punishment for all those who pollute the country with their sins,” writes the Egyptian weekly newspaper al-Liwa$rsquo; al-Islami (The Islamic Banner) under the headline: “To Follow the Path of Islam Is the Best Way Not to Get Infected.”

In the Egyptian media, attacks on people with HIV are common. Those, however, who do not want to sweep the issue of AIDS under the carpet are ready to deal with the 600 officially registered Egyptians who have been “punished by God” since the disease first appeared in Egypt more than 11 years ago. The World Health Organization puts the figure at ten times the official estimate.

Power and Sexuality in the Middle East

by Bruce Dunne
published in MER206

In early 1993, news of President Clinton’s proposal to end the US military’s ban on service by homosexuals prompted a young Egyptian man in Cairo, eager to practice his English, to ask me why the president wanted “to ruin the American army” by admitting “those who are not men or women.” When asked if “those” would include a married man who also liked to have sex with adolescent boys, he unhesitatingly answered “no.” For this Egyptian, a Western “homosexual” was not readily comprehensible as a man or a woman, while a man who had sex with both women and boys was simply doing what men do.

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Transgressing Patriarchy

Sex and Marriage in Egyptian Film

by Walter Armbrust
published in MER206

There is a general perception in Egypt today, shared by fans and many critics, that “old” Egyptian films depicted sex more tastefully than recent films. The following passage by critic Hisham Lashin is typical:

Until approximately the middle of the 1960s, the Egyptian cinema treated the subject of sex with extreme caution, without frankly depicting it. There was an exaggerated delicacy, an excessive romanticism, in the way such films as Salah Abu Sayf’s Shabab Imra’a (A Woman’s Youth) dealt with this type of sensitive relationship. [1]

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Taking Out the Trash

Youth Clean Up Egypt After Mubarak

by Jessica Winegar
published in MER259

On February 12, 2011, thousands of Egyptians flooded Tahrir Square to celebrate the previous night’s ouster of Husni Mubarak, their country’s dictator of 30 years. It was an unusually bright and clear-skied Cairo Saturday, full of promise of a new Egypt. From atop the October 6 bridge that spans the ‘Abd al-Mun‘im Riyad portion of Tahrir, where just nine days earlier government-paid attackers had rained down ammunition upon pro-democracy demonstrators in the most brutal battle of the revolution, one could see dozens of crews of young people cleaning the square.

Sectarianism and Its Discontents in Post-Mubarak Egypt

by Mariz Tadros
published in MER259

The complex Muslim-Christian relations of post-Mubarak Egypt are perhaps best glimpsed through five distinct reactions to the May 7, 2011 attacks on two churches in Imbaba, a poor quarter of Cairo, that left 15 dead and over 200 injured. The Supreme Council of the Armed Forces announced that those responsible would be tried in special security courts.