The Fall 2022 issue of Middle East Report, “Football—Politics and Passions,” examines the regional and global importance of the beautiful game in the lead up to the 2022 World Cup in Qatar. The authors of issue 304 reflect on the multiple ways football moves individuals and systems between South Asia, the Gulf states, Palestine, the Maghreb, Sudan, Egypt and Britain’s post-industrial North.
Women’s football in Sudan has grown significantly since the 2000s, with more than 720 players and 21 teams now participating in the women’s national league. Yet attitudes toward women’s play vary across the country, with many footballers facing religious condemnation, social stigmatization, police harassment and even arrest. Players also point to “gender washing” by the Sudanese Football Association, an organization that diverts funds dedicated to developing women’s football from international bodies like FIFA. Based on interviews with women football players in Khartoum, Sara Al-Hassan and Deen Sharp highlight the challenges to women’s pursuit of the beautiful game, and their tenacity in continuing to play.
COP27, Alaa Abd El-Fattah and the Dreams of the Revolution—A Conversation with Omar Robert Hamilton and Ashish Ghadiali
On November 6, 2022, COP27 will begin in Sharm el-Sheikh, Egypt, with the aim of delivering on the Paris Agreement and the intention to acknowledge the disproportionate effects of climate change on the Global South, through “Loss and Damage.” On the same day, British-Egyptian political prisoner and revolutionary activist, Alaa Abd El-Fattah, will escalate his over 200-day hunger strike and stop drinking water. In the context of these events, MERIP invited racial and environmental justice activist Ashish Ghadiali to speak with novelist, filmmaker and cousin of Abd El-Fattah, Omar Robert Hamilton, about the tensions that underpin “the African COP.’”
Recent protests mark a tectonic shift in the method and rhetoric of expressing dissent in Iran. For over four decades, the Islamic leadership has fostered a culture of debate without delivery, using student debate tournaments and TV programs as an outlet for narrow critique. Previous protest movements—like the Green Movement in 2009—argued with the Islamic Government, largely on its terms and with its terminologies. The 2022 protestors have given up on persuasion.
On September 27, 2022, Iranian musician Shervin Hajipour posted a song to his instagram compiled of tweets from Iranians detailing the reasons they are protesting. The song quickly went viral across social media. Within days of the video’s release, Shervin Hajipour had been arrested, and the original post was taken down. But like the Persian protest songs of the past, albeit in digital form, the video continues to circulate and resonate in digital and physical space. Zuzanna Olzsewska translates the song from Persian into English and discusses its significance amidst ongoing demonstrations in Iran. [Photo: Iranians protesting the death of Mahsa Amini on a street in Tehran, October 1, 2022. Getty Images.]