What is up in Egypt? In Cairo, Mustafa Bakri, was deposed as editor-in-chief of al-Ahrar following the failure of the mutiny he led in the halls of the Liberal Party to depose of its leader, Mustafa Kamal Murad. Bakri stormed the party headquarters with 600 armed followers and had himself voted president. For a few days, two versions of al-Ahrar competed for space on the newsstands. Bakri’s paper made a vain stab at seeking Mubarak’s support by turning even more obsequious than the state-run press. Meanwhile, deposed party head Murad published his own loyalist edition attacking the Bakri cult of personality before the police finally moved in and ended Bakri’s short reign. What triggered the coup?
Yousry Nasrallah’s new documentary film, On Boys, Girls and the Veil, touches on a paradoxical aspect of Egyptian filmmaking. Despite the ubiquitous hijab — the neo-Islamic “veil” — in Egyptian life, covered women are quite rare in the cinema. The reason for this is that both filmmakers and Islamists conflate the hijab with political discourse on the role of religion in politics and modern life in general. The topic of politicized religion — or religion in any manifestation that intersects with modernity — is not high on the agenda of the Egyptian film industry, and one therefore sees few covered women in Egyptian films.
Nouri Bouzid, Bezness (1992).
What happens when a poor Arab country with a high birth rate, an enormous youth population and endemic unemployment bases a significant part of its development strategy on attracting European tourism? In Nouri Bouzid’s film, Bezness, the Tunisian coastal town of Sousse is the site for just such an experiment, with disastrous consequences for the local population.
In the summer, when thousands of young Gulf Arab men flee heat and boredom in their native land, airport posters warn them of a life-threatening danger lurking abroad, symbolized by a skeleton and four red letters: AIDS. Radio talk shows urge Gulf tourists to be chaste when they visit foreign cities portrayed as infested with the disease, especially in the West. Religious scholars tell audiences at Friday prayer meetings and at the AIDS conferences now held regularly in the region that only the teachings of Allah can save believers from the modern-day scourge knocking at the Middle East’s door.
Sporting bleached blond hair, black stockings, heavy mascara and mauve-tinted lenses, some 30 homosexuals from Istanbul began a hunger strike at Taksim Park on April 27, the first day of Ramadan. Nearly all of them transvestites, and all proudly wearing bright pink boutonnieres, they said they would continue “until arbitrary police violence ends.” Eighteen of the strikers claim to be recent victims of police violence, and they have medical certificates to back them up.