Links April 16th to April 17th

Links from my account for April 16th through April 17th:

London Palestine Film Festival

The Guardian writes on the occasion of the London Palestine Film Festival:

Perhaps Palestinian cinema cannot help but be ironic, when the most widely known cinematic images of Palestine are those that close Otto Preminger’s 1960 film Exodus and Steven Spielberg’s Schindler’s List. In Exodus, youthful Israeli forces win a decisive battle against the old-world savagery of Britain and Nazi Germany, before turning to fight the encroaching Arabs. In the Spielberg film, Holocaust survivors walk across a plain with Jerusalem in the background: a landscape that, given the location, can only be the Bethlehem wilderness. While Exodus reduces the life of the cities of pre-Israel Palestine to an image of marauding savages, Spielberg erases the local population entirely. These Hollywood histories depend upon their directors’ bullish confidence; Palestinian cinema, in contrast, is characterised by doubt and self-reflection.

This site appears to be the official home of the festival, which is held at SOAS and the Barbican.

Stacher report on Egyptian Muslim Brothers

Former Arabist contributor to the blog and all-around smart guy Josh Stacher has penned a report on Egypt’s Muslim Brothers for the UK’s Institute for Public Policy Research:

Within and between western governments, a heated policy debate is raging over the question of whether or not to engage with the world’s oldest and most influential political Islamist group: Egypt’s Muslim Brotherhood.

While British analysts have suggested that engagement with the Brotherhood could provide a valuable opportunity for challenging their perceptions of the West, the Bush administration has been far less open to the idea, arguing that it would be inappropriate to enter into formal ties with a group that is not legally recognised by the Egyptian government.

This paper offers the following recommendations for western governments in regard to their specific relations with the Egyptian Muslim Brotherhood:

1. Western policymakers should press the Egyptian government more firmly on its political reform commitments, and should be more consistent in their criticism when opposition figures, including Islamists, are the arbitrary targets of state repression

2. Representatives of western governments should seek more opportunities for dialogue with political opposition groups in Egypt, including the Muslim Brotherhood

I think this report — of the many on the group — perhaps most clearly advocates a policy of engagement by Western states towards the MBs, reflecting Josh’s long-held conviction that it’s worth talking to the Brothers. And since it’s put out by a British institution, it’s framed in the introduction by the controversy over the Foreign Office hesitant policy about reaching out to Islamist groups in the region. There’s a lot of interesting stuff there, even if you’re Ikhwanophobic.

Links April 15th to April 16th

Links from my account for April 15th through April 16th:

London Book Fair and Arab literature

The London Book Fair, which this year shines a spotlight on Arab literature, ends tomorrow. Here are selected links to related stories:

✯ PUBLISH AND BE DAMNED – On religion and censorship for Egypt’s independent publishing houses.

✯ Pigs raid Sharqawi’s publishing house; confiscate books خنازير الداخلية تداهم دار ملامح للنشر وتصادر كتب at 3arabawy – Hossam reports that blogger M. Sharqawi’s publishing house, which puts out among other the graphic novel Metro, was raided.

✯ Authors and critics on arabic literature | Review | Books – Ahmed Alaidy, Roger Allen, Amani Amin, Alaa al-Aswaany, Mourid Barghouti, Sulayman al-Bassam, Feisal al-Darraj, Sabry Hafez, Hala Halim, Denys Johnson-Davies, Hisham Matar, Amjad Nasser, Hanan al-Shaykah, Adania Shibli, Bahaa Taher, Hind Wassef, and Nabil Yassin on the state of Arab literature.

✯ British Council – New Arabic Books – Program to translate Arabic books

✯ Books | Cairo’s greatest literary secret – Profile of Bahaa Taher

✯ Is the Arab world ready for a literary revolution? – Features, Books – The Independent – Essay piece from the Hay Alhambra lit festival

✯ Arab book world challenges | – Amr Moussa promises “decade of education” to encourage literature.

✯ Arcadia and Haus launch Arab imprint | – London publishers launch project to publish Arabic lit in translation.

Hillary Clinton on Israel

From Hillary Clinton’s website, her position on the two-state solution:

Hillary Clinton believes that Israel’s right to exist in safety as a Jewish state, with defensible borders and an undivided Jerusalem as its capital, secure from violence and terrorism, must never be questioned.

The fact that the Clintons, after George W. Bush, are the worse thing that happened to US foreign policy in the Middle East must never be questioned.

25 senior MBs sentenced 3-10 years by military tribunal


Ikhwanonline has special front page for occasion. Some background in English from Ikhwanweb at “Final Session of MB Military Tribunal today” and “Journalists and MB Supporters Harrassed Prior to Military Verdict

Pending detail of who got what sentence, what many will be looking for is what the bigshots — Khairat al-Shater, Hassan Malek, Muhammad Bishr and others — got. Reuters says Khairat al-Shater is among those convicted, which is as expected. I am surprised at the 10-year sentence, most had been expecting sentences of 3-5 years, although it is not clear which charges were actually applied in the end. MB lawyer Abdel Moneim Maksoud is awaiting full details of verdict.

AFP says there is no right of appeal to verdict, but I am not so sure, didn’t Mubarak last year ask for the creation of a military appeals court?

AFP reports Hassan Malek and Khairat al-Shater got 7 years each – definitely worse than expected. Seven members tried in absentia got the maximum 10 years, and 16 others received sentences of between 18 months (which is the amount of time that has elapsed, more or less, since the original arrests in late 2006 and early 2007) and five years.

With Malek and al-Shater likely to serve their full 7-year sentence, the immediate questions will be 1) how does their sentence affect the MB’s fundraising ability, since these are two of the wealthiest members who own a variety of IT and engineering companies, among other things; 2) what does it mean for the succession of the General Guide, since al-Shater was a favorite to head the MB (and for some was already a de facto leader) after current guide Mahdi Akef, 80, should step down in the next few years? Also, who will fill al-Shater and Malek’s positions in the organization as well as in the Guidance Bureau?

Full list of who got what [Arabic]. Ikhwanweb has a summary in English. AFP also has a write-up.

Also, I can confirm that this verdict is appealable according to a law passed in mid-April 2007 that introduces appeals for the court, despite reports to the contrary. The appeal may provide another opportunity for negotiation between the MB and the regime, but is also potentially risky: a new verdict could be worse, particularly considering the uncertainty of the set(s) of charges against the defendants.

Hmmm I can imagine the press will have fun with the fact that the other verdict of the day exonerates a NDP bigwig in the worst public health scandal of last year.

AP report here, Akef reacts with typical vim:

Mohammed Mahdi Akef, the group’s supreme leader, slammed the verdict, describing Egyptian authorities as “corrupt” and a “bunch of gangsters.” Akef said there was “no evidence” against them and that he had “expected the court to acquit them all.”

(The above post has been updated continuously — newest paragraphs at the bottom)

Links April 13th to April 14th

Links from my account for April 13th through April 14th:

Links April 11th to April 13th

Links from my account for April 11th through April 13th: