VOMENA: March 18, 2015

Rijin Sahakian On the Destruction of Archeological Sites in Iraq

Assyrian siteMarch 19th marks the 12th anniversary of the invasion and occupation of Iraq.  Today, Iraq is back in the headlines because of the brutality with which ISIS has been trying to destroy what is left of Iraq’s diverse cultural and human landscape.  Since ISIS has moved into Northern Iraq, they have displaced over a million people and gone after the cultural heritage that make Iraq such an irreplaceable locus of world history. They have destroyed mosques, burned thousands of books in the library at Mosul and, in the past few weeks, desecrated some of the country’s most significant ancient archeological sites. (Photograph: Alamy, The Guardian)

This week, Malihe Razazan speaks with Rijin Sahakian, Iraq American International curator, about the incredible human and cultural losses that Iraq has endured as a result of more than a decade of sanctions, occupation and sectarian violence. Rijin Sahakian is an international curator and the Founding Director of Sada, a non-profit organization whose mission is to support the generation, presentation and preservation of contemporary art in Iraq. You can visit Sada’s website here.

This week’s program also features award winning Iraqi poet and novelist Sinan Antoon reading his poem “A Letter to Al-Mutanabbi Street,” from the book, Al-Mutanabbi Street Starts Here, a project of Beau Beausoleil and Sarah Bodma.

Additional Information

The New York Times on the ISIS attack on Nimrud

Article on the Burning of Ancient Manuscripts at Mosul

Poems By Sinan Antoon

VOMENA: March 11, 2015

Lynsey Addario: The Experience of a Female War Photojournalist

PhotojournalistIRAQADDARIO024-1 Lynsey Addario has spent the better part of the last fifteen  years in war zones, taking the photographs few are brave enough to capture. She has covered the effects of wars and natural disasters on civilians from Iraq to Libya to the Philippines.  She has been taken hostage twice while working on assignment. This year, she turned the lens around and released a memoir about her life and career titled It’s What I Do: A Photographer’s Life of Love and War.

In our first segment, Lynsey Addario speaks to Malihe Razazan about her work and life as a female photojournalist. She is one of the recipients of the 2009 Pulitzer Prize for International Reporting, for her photographs in ‘Talibanistan’ (The Photo Society). You can see her work on her website (here). Photograph: Lynsey Addario, lindseyaddario.com

Sid Patel on the Stanford Student Senate Divestment Resolution

On February 17th the Stanford Student Senate passed a resolution by a super-majority of 10-4-1 urging the university to divest from companies “maintaining the illegal infrastructure of the Israeli occupation”.  Stanford is the latest of more than 20 universities nationwide to pass divestment resolutions.

Josh Wilner spoke with Sid Patel, a co-facilitator for Students for Justice in Palestine at Stanford University, about the specifics of this historic resolution and the development of the Palestinian justice movement at Stanford and universities across the country. You can read the resolution here

Additional Information

Read reviews and purchase It’s What I Do: A Photographer’s Life of Love and War.

Lynsey Addario interview with Time Magazine

Stanford Out Of Occupied Palestine website

Information about the UAW BDS vote

BDS information

Vomena: March 4th, 2015

Dave Zirin on Corruption and Forced Labor to Bring the World Cup to Qatar

The 2022 FIFA World Cugrieving-parents-Nepal-007p is already marred with controversy after The Guardian released a report on the conditions of Nepalese and other immigrant workers in Qatar. According to the report, young Nepalese workers were dying at rate of nearly one per day and were subject to deplorable living conditions. The workers’ pay is often withheld for months and the employers are refusing to give them documentation, which would allow them to seek other work. Director of Anti-Slavery International Aidan McQuade called the report “a clear proof of the use of systematic forced labor in Qatar.”
In our first segment, Shahram Aghamir speaks with The Nation’s sportswriter Dave Zirin about corruption in FIFA and the use of forced labor in Qatar to complete the more than 100 billion dollar construction of infrastructure for the 2022 World Cup. He is the author of Brazil’s Dance with the Devil: The World Cup, the Olympics, and the Fight for Democracy. You can read his article on Qatar here. ( Photograph: Peter Pattison/guardian.co.uk )

TehranNoirSalar Abdoh on His Award Winning Anthology Tehran Noir

In his new anthology, Iranian-American novelist and essayist Salar Abdoh has brought together 15 Iranian writers to reflect on Tehran and its many social and political contradictions. In the  introduction of the anthology, he writes “most writers around the world are inclined to think that their own sprawling metropolis is the capital of every imaginable vice and crime, of impossible love and tenderness and cruelty and malice in measures that seldom exist anywhere else. For me, Tehran’s case is no different—except that there really is a difference here. The city may be a hothouse of decadence, a den of inequity, all that. But it still exists under the watchful eye of a very unique entity, the Islamic Republic.”

Malihe Razazan talks to Salah Abdoh about the genesis of Tehran Noir and the unique landscape of Iran’s mega-city capital. In addition to being the editor and translator of Tehran Noir, he is the author of several books and short stories, including his most recent novel Tehran at Twilight. You can read reviews and purchase Tehran Noir here.

Additional Information

The Guardian report on forced labor in Qatar

FIFA Corruption in Choosing Qatar for the 2022 World Cup

Salar Abdoh’s latest novel Tehran at Twilight

Salar Abdoh’s Bay Area Events

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

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