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Political Parties, Elections, and the Illusion of Opposition in Morocco

[Foreign Minister Saad-Eddine Al-Othmani of Morocco during a meeting with U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton at the Department of State in Washington, D.C. on March 15, 2012. Photo taken by the US Department of State and uploaded via Wikimedia Commons]

Introduction For the last several months, Moroccan politics has been dominated by the results of the October 2016 parliamentary elections, the subsequent blocage in the Islamist Justice and Development Party(PJD) creating a governing coalition, and the announcement of a new government.  Pro-state media narratives blamed the PJD’s former leader, Abdelilah Benkirane, and his inability to form a coalition. After more than five months of stalled talks, King Mohammed VI relieved Benkirane of his position and nominated former foreign minister and number 2 in the PJD, Saadedine Othmani, as the head of government.  Othmani quickly formed a coalition of parties, ...

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An Open Letter to Kwame Anthony Appiah, President of the Modern Language Association

[Summer art class in an UNRWA school. Image by Kristian Buus.]

The Modern Language Association (MLA) will be voting on a resolution calling for a boycott of Israeli academic institutions at its upcoming convention, to be held 5-8 January 2017 in Philadelphia. The vote represents the culmination of a three-year process that began in 2014. The organizers describe the process in the following way: In Fall 2014, David Lloyd and Rebecca Comay submitted to the Organizing Committee of the Delegate Assembly a resolution and supporting documents calling upon the MLA to endorse the boycott of Israeli academic institutions. The resolution was proposed for discussion at the 2015 meeting of the Delegate Assembly. At that same time, two other ...

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Media on Media Roundup (October 27)

[Iraqi army tank and personnel outside Mosul during an offensive to retake the city from ISIS. Image from Tasnim News]

This week, Jadaliyya's "Media on Media" roundup offers a variety of news and opinions on the way the media have been operating in the region. Why is the truth on Syria so difficult to decipher? International media have become a playing field for the war in Syria, with each outlet pushing a preferred narrative that is reflective of the convoluted conflict on the ground. On the other hand, the battle of Mosul has been gaining so much media coverage that it is somehow exaggerating the facts on the ground. Meanwhile, the Syrian regime continues its "tourism" campaign using state-media to advance an image of the war-torn country that is glamorous and ...

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The Facade of Jordanian Reform: A Brief History of the Constitution

[Image by TheBlueJett4 via Wikipedia]]

In a matter of days this past month, the Jordanian legislature moved rapidly to substantially concentrate official government power in the institution of the monarch. The cabinet introduced a set of constitutional amendments on 18 April 2016. On 27 April and 2 May, the lower and upper houses of the Jordanian parliament respectively passed the amendments with overwhelming majorities. King Abdullah II issued a royal decree on 4 May approving the amendments. How was it that the legislature had passed the most significant changes in the country’s separation of powers in such a short period? The formal debate, in both the upper and lower houses had taken only three days ...

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Showing Up From Palestine to Ferguson

[Image from video below.]

On the ground in Ferguson, Missouri exactly one year after the fatal shooting of Michael Brown, a team assembled by an American human rights organization and hosted by the St. Louis Palestinian Solidarity Committee (STLPSC) comprised of 50 Shades of Black Creator, Carlton Mackey and a human rights lawyer advocating for the rights of Palestinian citizens of Israel was assigned to chronicle the journey of a father, Siam Nowara, who had traveled all the way from Palestine to bear witness to a powerful movement and to lend his voice to the thousands of others who united to proclaim that Black Lives Mattered.  In 2014 Nowara, too, had tragically lost a son, ...

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Call for Submissions: BBC Arabic Film and Documentary Festival 2017

March 30, 2016 // BBC Arabic invites film and documentary-makers to submit works to the 3rd BBC Arabic Festival. The work must have been made after January 1, 2015, and reflect on current situations in the Arab world. Now in its 3rd year, the BBC Arabic Festival has successfully brought live audiences ground-breaking films, with selected films further being shown on BBC Arabic TV which has an international, Arabic speaking audience of 28 million people. The official selection, along with the winner in each category, will be decided by a panel of judges made up of experts and practitioners in the field of journalism and film.  They will seek originality, ...

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التعليم العالي في الجزائر: قراءة في ثنايا نظام الأل أم دي

[صورة بعدسة عادل هاشمي ]

لا يزال اكتشاف المعارف الجديدة و نشرها وتفعيلها في المجتمع الإنساني في طليعة ما يدفع بعجلة التنمية نحو الأمام، و يظل التفكير المنهجي، الناقد والمبدع مفتاح نجاح هذه الأنشطة. و من الواضح اليوم أن مؤسسات التعليم العالي قد اكتسبت وكادت أن تنفرد تماما بذلك الدور الحيوي الذي يكمن في تكوين ورعاية مثل هذا النوع من التفكير. أما في بلد كالجزائر، حيث تُقوَّض استقلالية مؤسسات التعليم العالي عبر سياسات مركزية، لا بد أن تقع مسؤولية الرعاية تلك على عاتق سياسات الحكومة في إدارة و تسيير التعليم العالي. فما هي إذن وضعية هذه السياسات في بلدنا الجزائر؟ إصلاحات الأل أم دي اتسم قطاع التعليم العالي في الجزائر بإصلاحات عديدة إعتمد أغلبها على سياسات التضخيم كاستراتيجية أساسية للتنمية بما ...

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الكهرباء في الحقبة الأولى للاستقلال في لبنان

[هذا الجزء الثاني من مقابلة أجراها المركز اللبناني للدراسات مع محرر جدلية والباحث زياد أبو الريش، وهي  تركّز على قطاع الكهرباء ومسائل تتعلق بمؤسسات الدولة في بداية عهد الجمهوريّة اللبنانيّة. وتجدر الإشارة إلى أنه تم إجراء هذه المقابلة قبل انطلاق الحراك الكبير في بيروت في شهر أيلول 2015. أما الجزء الأول فناقش خلاله تاريخ مؤسسات الدولة في بدايات الاستقلال في لبنان وبعض الموروثات التي خلفتها. يمكن قراءة الجزء الأول هنا] *** تحدث المركز اللبناني للدراسات مؤخّرًا مع الدكتور زياد أبو الريش لمناقشة تاريخ مؤسّسات الدولة خلال المراحل الأولى للاستقلال في لبنان، واستقاء المعلومات والاستفادة منها في التحاليل والنقاشات الحاليّة المتّصلة بالخدمات التي تقدمها الدولة في ...

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Social Dialogue Under The Gun in Tunisia

[Image of graffiti in El Mourouj, Tunisia. Image by Wael Ghabara/Wikimedia Commons]

Tunisia’s democratic transition has been idealized as the bright light of the Arab Uprisings. In addition to avoiding the bloody crackdowns of Egypt, Libya, and Syria, the country held the promise of making real gains on the issues of social justice—low wages, unequal development, and crony neoliberal capitalism—that triggered the uprising. Led in part by the country’s powerful trade union, the democratic transition was supposed to provide a re-energized economy, tripartite negotiation on wages and work conditions, and possibly a new model of social pacts. Instead, the country finds itself struggling to restart the social dialogue that held so much promise in 2012 and ...

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Against Terror, No Way Forward Without Respect for Human Rights

[Cairo Institute for Human Rights Studies logo]

[The following is the text of a presentation given by Bahey Eldin Hassan, Director of Cairo Institute for Human Rights Studies (CIHRS) during the EU Parliament Human Rights Subcommittee Session of 28 May 2015 in Brussels] Last week the student union at Ain Shams University’s School of Engineering issued a statement announcing their resignation in protest at the killing of Islam Atito, one of their peers, by security forces. The Interior Ministry had just claimed Islam was suspected of having killed Colonel Wael Tahoun in April 2015, and had been hiding in the desert of a Cairo suburb; he had allegedly opened fire at security forces who had killed him in the ...

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In the Service of the Whole Community? Civic Engagement in Saudi Arabia (1950s-1960s)

[Dammam, Saudi Arabia. Photo by Dorothy Miller, Saudi Aramco World, SAWDIA. Image used with permission]

Civic engagement in Saudi Arabia has been viewed mostly from the angle of labor, nationalist, or sectarian activism that evolves in phases of political or social tension.[1] In this essay, I examine civic engagement in the 1950s and 1960s through the lens of the city. I argue that the above stated categories are too rigid,[2] and furthermore that civic engagement in the 1950s and 1960s appears as a "practice of the everyday." In the Saudi oil towns of Dammam and al-Khobar, actors with different social and sectarian backgrounds (re-)appropriated their life space through multiple forms of activism, and even cooperation on a daily basis. These actors repeatedly ...

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المفكرة" : قانون حق السكن بدلا من قانون تحرير الايجارات في لبنان"

[رسم رائد شرف]

منذ اقرار قانون الايجارات، سعت المفكرة الى الاحاطة بالاشكاليات الناشئة عنه، خصوصا على صعيد التوازن المناسب بين حقّي السكن والملكية. واذ هي تنوي مع شركاء آخرين انشاء فريق متعدّد الاختصاصات لبدء العمل على مسودة مشروع قانون حول حقّ السكن، يهمّها أن توضح المنطلقات التي توجّهها في هذا الصدد مخضعةً اياها للنقاش العام. وبالامكان اختزال موقفها في هذا المكان بنقاط خمس 1- حق السكن لا يعني المستأجرين القدامى وحدهم..    أن أهم ما أسفر عنه النقاش العام الحاصل تبعا لقانون الايجارات وخصوصا قرار المجلس الدستوري الصادر في 6-8-2014 هو تكريس حق السكن، أي حق التمتع بمسكن لائق، كحق دستوري(1). وقد تم ربط هذا الحق بمجموعة من الأهداف الوطنية "ذات القيمة الدستورية" ...

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Media on Media Roundup (April 19)

This week’s Jadaliyya “Media on Media” roundup covers important stories affecting the MENA mediascape. In Turkey, a historic referendum resulted in the expansion of President Erdogan’s powers, which many journalists and professionals fear will increase authoritarianism in the country. In an exclusive interview with AFP, Syrian president Bashar al-Assad stated that allegations of chemical attacks in Khan Sheikhoun, Idlib, are false and fabricated by Western media to justify US attacks on a Syrian ...

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New Report: UNDP's Arab Human Development Report 2016

The sixth Arab Human Development Report by the United Nations Development Programme is entitled “Youth and the Prospects for Human Development in a Changing Reality.” The report provides an evidence-based overview of youth challenges and opportunities since 2011. The report is organized in eight chapters: the first on youth and human development, the second on values, identities, and civic participation, the third on education and transition to work, the fourth on inclusion and women empowerment, the ...

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New Texts Out Now: Jonathan Wyrtzen, Making Morocco: Colonial Intervention and the Politics of Identity

Jonathan Wyrtzen, Making Morocco: Colonial Intervention and the Politics of Identity. Ithaca: Cornell University Press, 2016. Jadaliyya (J): What made you write this book? Jonathan Wyrtzen (JW): This book was deeply influenced by my experiences over the course of a decade that began in 2001. A few weeks before the attacks of 11 September, my wife and I moved to Morocco to teach at Al Akhawayn University, up in the town of Ifrane in the Middle Atlas Mountains. That initial period shaped a set of ...

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Jeremy Corbyn Hasn’t Got an “Anti-Semitism Problem,” His Opponents Do

Labour has a “Jewish problem.” Or so it has been widely alleged. Headline after headline in recent weeks has claimed that the party, in whose last-but-one leadership election both front-runners were Jewish, has become infested with anti-Semitism. The outbreak has been blamed on the veteran socialist Jeremy Corbyn and the mass influx of new members who were inspired by his leadership to join. With a long-time Palestine solidarity campaigner at the helm, the party is now said to be attracting “anti-Semites ...

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Art as Interruption: On 'Homeland,' Revolutionary Utterances, Surveillance - A STATUS/الوضع Conversation with Heba Y. Amin

In this interview with STATUS/الوضع host Adel Iskander, artist Heba Y. Amin discusses and reflects on her most jarring works, which include hacking the set of televions series Homeland with subversive graffiti, a videographic documentation of long-lost online audio messages from the Egyptian revolution (Speak2Tweet), and how birds relate to surveillance, the Bible, and the British takeover of Jerusalem.  Heba Y. Amin is an Egyptian visual artist, researcher and currently, visiting assistant ...

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Islamic Reformation?

We keep hearing calls for an “Islamic Reformation,” assumed to be the remedy for a fundamentalist Islam behind the conservative Salafi brand as well as the Jihadist. Islam, under these assumptions, generates problems because it had not been “reformed.” The assumed model is the Christian Reformation of the sixteenth century, the Protestant reformers, Luther, Calvin, and their followers. Informed writers on religion and history have pointed out the problematic nature of these suppositions, with regard to ...

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The Impeccable Narrative Around Tunisian Workers' Syndicate

[The below piece was written before the current wave of protests in Kasserine in the marginalized southern region of Tunisia. The protests, which soon expanded to the whole country, started after a young unemployed man climbed an electric power tower and was electrocuted. He was protesting in front of the local governorate after his name was removed from a list of possible jobs in the public administration. Five years after the ousting of Ben Ali, unemployment rates had risen especially in the South. In ...

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ICGG Endorses Academic Boycott of Israel

Forging Solidarity, taking a stand on Palestine  International Critical Geography Group votes by an overwhelming majority to endorse Academic Boycott of Israel in its seventh conference PRESS RELEASE   13 October 2015 – This past summer the International Critical Geography Group (ICGG) convened its seventh conference in the occupied city of Ramallah, Palestine. Following a two-decade tradition and nearly three years of preparation, ...

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سلام فياض: المجتمع المدني يحصد ما زرعته يداك

ترددت في نشر هذا المقال، وخفت أن يُفهم أنه اصطفاف مع الرئيس واجراءاته ضد سلام فياض، وللأمانة أنا ضد سياسات الرجلين الذين تحالفا لسنوات وأوصلانا لما نحن فيه! لماذا ألوم سلام  فياض ولا ألوم الحمدلله؟ سلام فياض قدم نفسه صاحب رؤية ومشروع وفوق ذلك لديه أيديولوجية وفكر ليبرالي (بعيداً عن اقتصاد السوق المفتوح) يؤمن بالحريات والتعددية والديمقراطية.  في حين أن الحمدلله لم يقدم نفسه إلا موظف عمومي ينفذ ما تم خطه لحكومته من مهمات أربع ليس عليه الاجتهاد ليضيف لها مهمة خامسة. الحمدلله- رئيس جامعة عريقة- ...

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The Falah School in Jeddah: Civic Engagement for Future Generations?

Beginning in 1869, the Ottoman state attempted to build a state education system, largely in reaction to the establishment of foreign missionary schools throughout the empire. During this period, education also became a prominent field of civic engagement, understood as ways in which citizens participate in shaping community life.[1] Local initiatives like the Falah school in Jeddah—largely financed through the time-honored tradition of religious endowment or waqf, itself a form civic ...

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Quick Thoughts on the Saudi Transition and Beyond: A STATUS/الوضع conversation with Toby Jones

With the death of King Abdullah of Saudi Arabia, there is much press speculation about change in the Kingdom. In this Quick Thoughts interview for Status, Toby Jones parses through these debates and highlights the more salient points, identifying how this transition should be analyzed beyond hyperbolic prognostication. Toby C. Jones is an associate professor of history at Rutgers University. He has lived and worked extensively in the Middle East, including several years in Saudi Arabia and Bahrain. ...

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The Quest for a Way Out of Tunisia’s Constitutional Quagmire

Successfully passing the tests of democracy while the whole region seems to be doomed to a chronic state of turmoil, Tunisia is considered to have set a good example for the “Arab Spring” countries and is expected to prove that a happy ending is actually possible. In fact, Tunisia has come a long way from the shadows of the police state to the perspective of a sustainable democracy. And it is Tunisian political life that has witnessed the biggest shift from a vegetative state to an interesting and ...

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