VOMENA: February 25th, 2015

Sheila Carapico On The unfolding Political crisis in Yemen

carapicoOn February 5, the Houthi rebels in Yemen ousted the government in the capital Sanaa and dissolved the parliament. The Houthis announced that they were forming a five-member presidential council that would replace President Hadi for an interim two-year period and appointed  a “revolutionary committee” would be in charge of forming a new parliament with 551 members. As the Houthis tighten their grip on power, the political turmoil, which has engulfed Yemen for that past four years, appears to continue. Is the Houthi advance evidence of Yemen’s imminent collapse? What hope is there for the country?

This week, Shahram Aghamir speaks with University of Richmond political scientist Sheila Carapico about the situation leading up to  the Houthis’ march into the Yemen’s capital and takeover of the government. She is the co-author of “The breakdown of GCC Initiative”, published in the Middle East Research and Information Project. You can read her article here.


 Additional Resources:

Reflections on the political situation in Yemen

President Abdrabbuh Mansour escapes house arrest

Analysis of Houthi government isolation

Vomena: January 21, 2015

tugal_profileCihan Tugal on Turkey’s shifting alliances

The power bloc which has ruled Turkey since 2002 is undergoing a battle between its two main components: President Erdogan’s AKP and the Hizmat movement of Fethullah Gülen, a United States-based Islamic preacher. What are the consequences of this split for the so-called Turkish model of Islamism, which has been described as a marriage of “Islamic liberalism” in politics and neoliberal capitalism in the economy? Is the Turkish state about to become more authoritarian? And how have President Erdogan’s domestic and regional policies contributed to the rise of different and dormant Islamist forces inside the country?

This week, Shahram Aghamir speaks in depth with UC Berkeley sociologist Cihan Tugal about the rift between President Erdogan’s Justice and Development Party (AKP) and the powerful Islamist Gülen community, as well as about the general political landscape in Turkey. Cihan Tugal’s focus includes mobilization, socioeconomic change, and the role of religion in sociopolitical projects. He is the author of Passive Revolution: Absorbing the Islamist Challenge to Capitalism. Click here to read Professor Tugal’s latest articles on Jadaliyya.

Additional Information

Turkish government replaces dozens of police chiefs

Towards the End of a Dream? The Erdogan-Gulen Fallout and Islamic Liberalism’s Descent

Who is benefiting from the Erdogan-Gulen split? 


Vomena: January 14, 2015

Cartoonists Slim and Khalil Bendib on Charlie Hebdo tragedy

Last Wednesday’s fatal shooting of several cartoonists at French satirical magazine Charlie Hebdo in Paris has renewed debates and concerns about the right to freedom of expression as well as about Islamophobia in western Europe and the United States.

In our first segment, Khalil Bendib speaks with prominent Algerian political cartoonist Mnawwar Merabtene, known as Slim, about his colleagues who were murdered in Paris last week. Khalil did the interview and the voiceover for this segment. Then, we hear from Khalil, himself an Algerian-born political cartoonist, paying tribute to the victims and sharing his thoughts about what this latest mass murder means in terms of the ongoing debate about the roles and responsibilities of political satire.

Nabil al-Raee and Alia Alrosan on The Freedom Theatre in Jenin

What is the role of theatre and artistic expression within zones of violence and conflict? For more than a decade, The Freedom Theatre, located in Jenin Refugee camp in the north of the occupied West Bank, has empowered Palestinian youth and fostered a community of artists committed to  social and political change.

Artistic Director Nabil Al-Raee and theatre student Alia Alrosan explain the unique role of art and theatre in confronting the difficult realities of life under occupation for Palestinians living in Jenin Refugee Camp and beyond.

Additional Info

Learn more about Slim and other exiled African cartoonists in Europe in Scan: Journal of Media Arts Culture 

Slim compared to and praised by Georges Wolinski, one of the twelve murdered Charlie Hebdo cartoonists

Arna and Juliano Mer Khamis, and the history and legacy of The Freedom Theatre

The Freedom Bus Project and the 2015 Freedom Ride

Vomena: December 17, 2014


Richard Falk on Palestine: The Legitimacy of Hope

This week, Khalil Bendib is joined in the studio by Professor Richard Falk, who speaks about his former position as United Nations Special Rapporteur on Palestinian human rights. His new book, entitled Palestine: The Legitimacy of Hope, discusses what he describes as a legitimacy war, similar to the anti-apartheid campaign of the late 1980s and 1990s. He argues that Palestinian non-violent civil society movements, such as the 2005 call for Boycott divestment and sanctions of Corporations and Institutions that support Israeli occupation policies, have shifted the world’s political and moral imagination. Professor Falk calls the Palestinian struggle for self-determination “the greatest international moral issue of our time”.

Richard Falk is professor emeritus of international law at Princeton University and a Visiting Distinguished Professor at the University of California, Santa Barbara.

Vomena: December 3, 2014

Habib Ayeb on parliamentary elections in Tunisia

Compared with some other Arab Spring countries, such as Egypt and Libya, Tunisia seems to have weathered the aftermath of revolution relatively unscathed so far. This week, we speak with Tunisian-born Professor Habib Ayeb about Tunisia’s recent parliamentary elections and the evolving loyalties of the Tunisian electorate.

Habib Ayeb is a geographer and researcher at the Social Research Center at the American University in Cairo.

Zohreh Soleimani’s, To Kill a Sparrow

Today, hundreds of women accused of so-called moral crimes are in prison across Afghanistan. Zohreh Soleimani’s award-winning documentary, To Kill a Sparrow, tells the story of Soheila, one of these women. In our second segment, Malihe Razazan speaks with Zohreh Soleimani about the documentary and Soheila’s refusal to accept forced marriage.

Zohreh Soleimani is a Tehran-based Iranian photojournalist.


Additional information

Read about Soheila and view To Kill a Sparrow at NY Times

BBC coverage of women accused of “moral crimes” in Badam Bagh, Kabul’s only women prison

Human Rights Watch report urging Afghan government to end wrongful imprisonment of women 

Vomena: November 12, 2014

 Seda Altug on clashes in Kobani

Since mid-September, intense fighting between Kurds and ISIS has moved Kobani — a small town on the Syria-Turkey border — to the front pages of major media outlets.This week, In the second part of the interview:

Shahram Aghamir speaks with Seda Altug,  assistant Professor at The Ataturk Institute for Modern Turkish History at Bogaziçi University.

imagesNadine Naber on the trial of Rasmea Odeh

On Monday November 10, after less than two hours of deliberation, a Detroit federal courthouse jury reached a guilty verdict in the government’s case against Rasmea Odeh — prominent 67 year old activist, community organizer, and now political prisoner. The government’s indictment stated that she unlawfully gained U.S. citizenship by allegedly falsifying answers to some questions on her visa application in 1995 and on her citizenship application in 2004.

Malihe Razazan speaks with Nadine Naber, associate Professor in the Department of Gender and Women’s Studies and Asian American Studies at the University of Illinois.


The full show



Additional Reading
A great rundown of the case from The Chicago Monitor

Open letter of support for Rasmea from feminist scholars 

Electronic Intifada on the promise to appeal the guilty verdict against Rasmea


Syrian Kurds and the Student BDS Movement

ISIS massacres the Syrian town of Kobani

We spoke with Seda Altug about the significance of the violence in the Syrian town of Kobani, and international attention on it. She tells us how Kobani has become a “metaphor of resistance” for people of many different ideologies and groups against all sorts of barbarism, manipulation, sectarianism and authoritarianism. It is because it provides an alternative example for the political imagination in the Middle East that Kobani has become so starkly targeted by ISIS. You can hear the rest of this two-part series on Syrian Kurds on the upcoming edition of VOMENA.

Seda Altug is assistant Professor at The Ataturk Institute for Modern Turkish History at Bogaziçi University.

In our second segment, we discuss the Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions movement with Nora Barrows-Friedman, journalist and author of the new book In Our Power: US Students Organize for Justice in Palestine. In recent years, Students for Justice in Palestine and other Palestine solidarity groups have campaigned tirelessly, calling upon their universities to boycott and divest from companies and institutions that profit from the Israeli occupation of Palestine. We speak with Barrows-Friedman about why Israeli Zionists are so acutely threatened by student activists, and

Nora Barrows-Friedman is an editor at the Electronic Intifada, and author of the new book In Our Power: US Students Organize for Justice in Palestine. She discussed the book on Thursday November 6, 7pm, at La Peña Cultural Center in Berkeley.

Recommended Readings

Why are Westerners fascinated by “badass” Kurdish women?

A look at another Syrian town under siege

Why the West’s coverage of Kobani is lacking

Smuggling blood and batteries into Kobani

Kurdish politician explains why Kurdish perspective is integral to a solution violence in the Middle East

An excerpt from Nora Barrows-Friedman’s new book, In Our Power: US Students Organize for Justice in Palestine

Libya’s Future and Iranian-American Protest Art

One of Azin Seraj's banknotes from Taraneh Hemami's Fabrications exhibitOne of Azin Seraj’s banknotes from Taraneh Hemami’s Fabrications exhibit

Last Friday, September 19, has become known as “Black Friday” for Libyans — and not because of shopping. A series of assassinations in Benghazi on Friday, including those of two teenage activists, shook a nation already rocked by violent tensions. As world media attention has focused once again on deepening tragedies in Syria and Iraq, another country transformed by the 2011 uprising has been rapidly descending into chaos. The situation in Libya has become increasingly unstable. Rival militias have been openly fighting on the streets of Tripoli, Libya’s capital. As scores of activists and political figures have been assassinated, those who are able have been fleeing to Tunisia and Egypt. With so many factions fighting, it is unclear who is responsible for these killings, and often just plain difficult to understand who the various forces vying for power in Libya are, and what motives they have.  

To unravel the tangle of militant players in Libya and understand what lies in store for the country’s future, Khalil Bendib spoke with Patrick Haimzadeh, a former French diplomat in Libya, political analyst, journalist, and author of In the Heart of Gaddafi’s Libya

Bay Area-based Iranian-American artist Taraneh Hemami has always tried to be a bridge for creative exchange between multi-generational artists. Her new exhibition, Theory of Survival: Fabrications, is a pop-up bazaar featuring the works of 12 local Iranian-American artists who explore revolution, repression, and cultural representation before and after Iran’s 1979 revolution. The artists transform, appropriate, and comment upon the commodification of protest culture imagery

The exhibition opened at San Francisco’s Southern Exposure Gallery on September 5 and runs through October 25.

Additional Readings …

On Libya:

Two Teenage Libyan Activists Killed On September 19; additional details from The Guardian

News from Libyan Youth Voices

Libya asks a global chemical weapons watchdog to ship its stockpiles out of the country

Oil output still climbs

Leaving Libya and violence proves difficult and dangerous

Good news: Libyan poet and translator living and teaching in the U.S. wins a MacArthur Fellowship

Iranian-American Artists Featured in the Exhibit:

Ala Ebtekar; Ali Dadgar; Sanaz MazinaniMorehshin Allahyari; Amir H. Fallah; Arash Fayez; Gelare Khoshgozaran; Hushidar Mortezaie; Amitis Motevalli; Haleh Niazmand; Azin Seraj; Taravat Talepasand

More on the Fabrications Project, from Creative Capital

Salaita vs University of Illinois and global sex trafficking

Photo by John Dixon for The News Gazette/AP

Continuing our coverage of Professor Steven Salaita’s case with the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign, we spoke this week with UIUC professors Behrooz Ghamari-Tabrizi and Linda Herrera. On August 1st, the University rescinded its offer to hire Professor Steven Salaita. The University President and Board of Trustees claimed in an open letter that his Twitter presence, where he is highly critical of Israel’s massacre of Gaza, represents “disrespectful and demeaning speech that promotes malice.”

Professor Tabrizi speaks to the question of external political influence on university decision making processes. Letters made public by the Freedom of Information Act show that the University President Robert Easter, Chancellor Phyllis Wise, and Board of Trustees reveal that a number of influential donors threatened to stop funding the university, and even threatened to pull their children out of the school. Professor Herrera discusses the way that online footprints via social media (and the culture of social media) have contributed to a neo-McCarthyism and has made Salaita and other figures the subjects of lampooning and intimidation.

Lynda Herrera is a Social Anthropology professor at UIUC specializing in the Middle East and North Africa. She is also a contributor at Jadaliyya.  Behrooz Ghamari-Tabrizi is a Professor of Sociology at UIUC, and is currently completing a book manuscript called Foucault, the Iranian Revolution, and Enlightenment.

We also aired the second part of our revealing interview with photojournalist and documentary filmmaker Mimi Chakarova. In this interview she discusses why it was necessary for her to pose as a prostitute in order to reveal what happens to women forced into the global sex trade industry. The industry’s continued existence is fueled by a combination of greed, corruption, supply and demand, and male desire. “Just because this girl comes from another country does not mean that she is an other,” she says, adding that it is possible to halt the sex trade cycle by shifting the psychology of demand.

Mimi Chakarova is  one of 10 world renowned photographers whose work is showcased in the UC Berkeley Human Rights Center’s Envisioning Human Rights Photo Exhibition which kicked off on Thursday, August 28th and is running through October.


Recommended Readings

On the Salaita case, freedom of speech, and anti-semitism:

Letters to the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign released via the Freedom of Information Act

“Antisemitism and Salaita” – A letter from UIUC English Department head Michael Rothberg to Chancellor Wise

A look at the legal issues and implications of Salaita’s hiring and firing via Al Jazeera

The American Historical Association to Chancellor Wise

A general overview

On Global Sex Trafficking

Five things you didn’t know about human trafficking via Rolling Stone


8.27.2014 – Academic freedom in the US and global sex trafficking

Earlier this month, University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign rescinded its offer to hire Professor Steven Salaita. The University President and Board of Trustees claimed in an open letter that his Twitter presence, where he is highly critical of Israel’s massacre of Gaza, represents “disrespectful and demeaning speech that promotes malice.” He is by no means the first professor who has come under attack for criticizing Israel’s colonial policies. In 2009, UC Santa Barbara sociologist William Robinson came under attack for his commentary on Israel’s attack on the Gaza Strip. Professor Robinson discusses the Israel lobby’s organized attacks on academic freedom in the United States.

William Robinson is professor of sociology, global and international studies, and Latin American studies at UC Santa Barbara. His latest book is Global Capitalism and the Crisis of Humanity.

Photo by Mimi Chakarova

In this week’s second segment, Malihe Razazan spoke with award winning investigative photojournalist and filmmaker Mimi Chakarova about her decade-long investigation into the world sex trafficking industry. In this interview, which will be continued on next week’s show, Chakarova discusses the importance of her photojournalism work. In order to gain access to victims of the sex trafficking industry for her documentary, The Price of Sex, Chakarova posed as a prostitute herself. In this way, she was able to present these women from a perspective of empathy; something that, she says, male journalists posing as clients could not do. In the interview, she explains why it is nearly impossible for women to escape once they have been enslaved in the industry and gives us a more in-depth understanding of how underlying systems of corruption and capitalism make Turkey and Dubai have become hubs for women subjected to sex trafficking.

Mimi Chakarova is  one of 10 world renowned photographers whose work will be showcased in the UC Berkeley Human Rights Center’s Envisioning Human Rights Photo Exhibition which kicks off on Thursday, August 28th and it runs through October. The exhibit features photos from Bosnia, Guatemala, Bolivia, Brazil, Angola, Uganda, Tanzania, Burma, Vietnam, Moldova, Iraq, and the United States


Recommended readings

On the Steven Salaita case and the Zionist impact on academic freedom:

University of Illinois defends pulling job offer over tweets critical of Israel

Letter from over 350 Holocaust survivors, descendants of survivors, and victims condemning Israel’s assault on Gaza as Genocide

On Mimi Chakarova and her work on global sex trafficking:

on ‘The Price of Sex’

Photographs by Mimi Chakarova

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