Tag Archives: Middle East

VOMENA 6.4.14 – Practicing Return and Voting or Not Voting in Egypt

Today we will discuss the recent presidential elections in Egypt.

Despite massive pro-military media propaganda in Egypt, and threats of large fines against those who did not vote, the election commission had to extend the voting for a third day in an attempt to draw more people to polling booths. As predicted, ex-army chief Abdel Fattah al-Sisi declared himself the president of Egypt with 96% of the votes. So was it apathy or an effective Egyptians boycott? What explains the lack of voter turnout when the military has been getting support from a huge sector of the Egyptian public?

Khalil Bendib posed these questions to Cairo-based activist and journalist, Hossam El-Hamalawy.

 

Later in the show, we discuss the creative ways Palestinians have used to practice their right of return over recent years.

We will speak with Samera Esmeir, associate professor at the department of Rhetoric at UC Berkeley about her recent article, “A Guide for the Perplexed: On the Return of the Refugees” published on the Middle East Research and Information Project. In this text, professor Esmeir focused on the the the return of some of the Palestinian refugees to their village Kafr Bir’im, located in northern Palestine in the Galilee, whose residents were expelled in 1948.

“Refugees no longer, we have returned!” a group of Palestinian youths declared in 2012 as they decided to practice their right of return by going back to their village of Iqrit in northern Palestine.A year later, some of the refugees from the neighboring village Kafr Bir’im declared their return to their village. Announcing that they were no longer refugees, to Israel’s consternation, they moved to live in the church and in the two-room school structure of the village, holding gatherings, parties, events and concerts.

Kafr Bir’im’s history and refugees struggle with the Israeli courts as they continued occupying their land. Samera Esmeir started taking us through the village which was declared by the Israelis a national park in the aftermath of the 1948 Nakba.

Read Samera Esmeir’s article, “A Guide for the Perplexed: On the Return of Refugees” here. 

VOMENA 5.28.14 – Coal mine tragedy in Turkey and correcting ancient Persian history in schools

On May 13th, a mine explosion in the western town of Soma, Turkey, triggered an underground fire which killed more than 300 coal mine workers. This was not the first coal mine disaster in Turkey but it’s the deadliest mining disaster in Turkey’s history. The tragedy has raised questions about the impact of neo-liberal and privatization policies of the ruling Justice and Development party (AKP) and its far reaching impact on the lives of millions of workers in Turkey.

On this edition of Voices of the Middle East and North Africa, we will have a conversation with Erdem Yörük, an assistant professor of sociology at Koç University in Turkey about the the impact of the politics of the AKP party on workers’ rights and safety in coal mines and other hazardous industries in Turkey.

According to a report on the BBC, mining safety incidents are not new to Turkey – Around 13,000 miners suffered accidents at work in 2013, according to the Turkish Statistical Institute. On average, for every million tons of excavated coal, more than seven miners die every year, according to a report by the Economic Research Foundation of Turkey (TEPAV).

Many blame these accidents on loose regulatory standards and privatization. Since the state leased the mine to the Soma Holding Company in 2005, the company has cut mining costs by up to 80 percent – most likely at the cost of worker safety.

“Work safety? There is no work safety. They cut corners wherever they can,” Veli Yilmaz, a coal miner in Soma for nine years, told the Guardian. “The foremen receive a bonus if we produce more coal than planned. So all they worry about is working faster and extracting more coal.”

Just weeks before the disaster, the ruling Justice and Development Party (AKP) voted against a motion in parliament calling for a thorough inspection of mines throughout the country.

“We are sick of going to the funerals of miners. We have to do something to stop these fatalities,” said Ozgur Ozel, an MP from the Republican People’s Party (CHP), who called for the inspection.

Five company officials, including the mine’s operating manager, Akin Çelik, have been arrested on charges of causing death by negligence as part of an investigation into the disaster.

 

Later in the program we will have a conversation with John Lee, Associate Professor of history at UC Santa Barbara and Dr. Jaleh Niazi of HistoryAdvocates, about a new campaign to bring radical change in the way ancient Persian civilization is being taught in California K-12 public education.

Jaleh Niazi is a member of the History Advocate campaign, an effort to correct California schools’ biased representation of ancient Persian civilization. You can learn about the campaign at historyadvoctes.com.

4.9.14 – “The Battle for Justice in Palestine” and MENA films at San Francisco International Film Fest

In this week’s show, Khalil Bendib speaks with Ali Abunimah, co-founder and director of website The Electronic Intifada about his new book, “The Battle for Justice in Palestine”. We’ll ask him about the movement for boycott, divestment, and sanctions against Israel and the future of Palestine.
Abunimah writes:
“Efforts to achieve a “two-state solution” have finally collapsed; the struggle for justice in Palestine is at a crossroads. As Israel and its advocates lurch toward greater extremism, many ask where the struggle is headed. This book offers a clear analysis of this crossroads moment and looks forward with urgency down the path to a more hopeful future.”
 Khalil speaks with Ali Abunimah about the main thesis of his book and the global BDS movement.

Later in the program, Malihe Razazan interviews Rachel Rosen, director of programming at the San Francisco International Film Festival about the annual festival, which will start on April 24th and it will run through May 5th. This year’s festival will feature 168 films, including 74 Narrative Features, 29 Documentaries, and a number of world and U.S. Premieres, including a number of films from the Middle East and North Africa.

Not featured in our show, but also of note: Jose State University Persian Studies is hosting for the first-ever “Cultures of the Iranian Diaspora”, a two-day conference featuring panels on visual arts, literature and film with Bay Area and nationally-acclaimed writers, artists and filmmakers.

The conference also features two special free events:

  • “Inja o Oonja: Stories from Iranian American Life” — a staged adaptation of three short stories from Tremors: New Fiction by Iranian American Writers on Friday, April 11. 7 pm, Le Petit Trianon Theatre, 72 N. 5th Street. Free and open to the public.
  • Filmmaking in the Diaspora– A Screening and Discussion Babak Sarrafan’s “Doosteh Hameshegy–Forever Friends” and Mo Gorjestani’s “Refuge” on Saturday, April 12. 7  pm, SJSU Student Union Ballroom. Free and open to the public.

For more information about the conference, visit: http://www.brownpapertickets.com/event/581896

 

4.2.14 – “Saudi Arabia’s Regional Ambitions and National Poetry Month”

On today’s show, we will explore Saudi Arabia’s regional ambitions in the Middle East and how US-Saudi relations are evolving.

Last week, amidst media reports of tension between the two countries, U.S. President Obama visited Saudi Arabia to meet with Saudi King Abdullah. Though Saudi Arabia has always been a staunch US ally, of late, foreign policy differences have arisen between the two countries. On this edition of VOMENA, we will explore Saudi Arabia’s regional ambitions in the Middle East and how US-Saudi relations are evolving. Shahram Aghamir interviews Toby Jones, a historian of the modern Middle East at Rutgers Univeristy. He is the author of Desert Kingdom: How Oil and Water Forged Modern Saudi Arabia.

April is National Poetry Month and this week we are bringing you some of the poetry of the Middle East’s most celebrated poet, Palestinian Mahmoud Darwish, translated by Iraqi poet Sinan Antoon, author of Baghdad Blues.

3.26.14 – “Tunisia’s New Constitution and Twitter Banned in Turkey”

Protesters hold placards reading “Do not touch my Twitter” during a protest against the Turkish government’s Twitter ban. [CNN]

Unlike its less fortunate neighbors to the east, since the fall of its long-time dictator Tunisia has so far managed to stay free of major violence and disorder. Host Khalil Bendib interviews Tunisian political scientist, Nadia Marzouki, a Jean Monnet Fellow at the European University Institute in Florence, Italy, about the recently passed Tunisian constitution.

Last week, Prime Minister Erdogan waged – as some have called it – a digital coup d’etat by banning the widely used social media network Twitter. On March 20th, during a campaign rally for the March 30th local elections, he said “We now have a court order. We’ll eradicate Twitter. I don’t care what the international community says. Everyone will witness the power of the Turkish Republic!”

On Thursday evening, Twitter users in Turkey were welcomed to their screens by the message “Twitter is blocked in Turkey by court order.” What was behind this daring move by the Turkish government and why has Prime Minister Erdogan decided to lash out primarily at Twitter? Host Malihe Razazan put these questions to Alexander Christie-Miller, a Turkey-based freelance journalist who writes for the Times of London and Christian Science Monitor.

A Turkish court just overturned the ban, and the government has 30 days to restore Twitter service to the country. Global news network, Vocativ, recently revealed that despite Erogdan’s dislike of the social media network, he has an “army” of fake accounts posting content supportive of the Prime Minister’s party and politics.

 

VOMENA 3.19.14 Why is the Dead Sea Dying and the 11th Anniversary of War in Iraq

Views of the Dead Sea in 1972, 1989, and 2011. NASA Earth Observatory / Wikipedia.

The famous Dead Sea, a salt lake between Jordan to the east and the occupied West Bank and present-day Israel to the west, has been shrinking at the alarming rate of 1.5 meters a year for the past 40 years. So why is the Dead Sea dying?

On this week’s show, Malihe Razazan talks to Palestinian environmentalist, Muna Dajani, about the Red Sea-Dead Sea Water Conveyance Project, a 10 billion dollar program attempting to revive the Dead Sea, sponsored by the World Bank. She says that 80% of the water from the Jordan River, which normally fills the Dead Sea, is being diverted by Israel for agricultural and domestic use.

The 110-mile pipeline, which will be laid on Jordanian territory, will pump 200 million cubic meters from the Red Sea, half of which will go towards the Dead Sea. The other half will be desalinated and sold by Israel to Jordan and Palestine.

However, the proposed plan is raising concerns among environmentalists – namely, how will mixing water from another sea affect the unique chemical and biological composition of the Dead Sea? The project would supply less than 100m of the 800m cubic meters of water needed each year to stabilize the Dead Sea – and doesn’t address the root causes of the declining water levels, according to Friends of the Earth Middle East.

Later in the program, we will mark the 11th anniversary of the war Iraq with Sinan Antoon reading from his book of poems, Baghdad Blues. He is an Iraqi poet, novelist, scholar, and an associate professor at the Gallatin School of Individualized Study, New York University and editor/cofounder at Jadaliyyah.

Libya’s Abu Salim prison massacre’s anniversary

Tomorrow Marks the 16th anniversary of the Abu Salim Prison massacre in Libya when, on june 28th 1996, more than 1,200 prisoners were shot and killed. Malihe Razazan speaks with veteran british journalist Lindsy Hilsum about her reporting from Libya and her new book, Sandstorm: Libya in the Time of Revolution.  Middle East Children Alliance‘s associate director Ziad Abbas talks about Israel’s plans to demolish the entire palestinian village of Susya in the West bank.

Last week’s Radio show

The Voices of the Middle East and North Africa show aired on Wednesday, April 25th 2012. Produced by Malihe Razazan.

Guests
Hossam El-Hamalawy – Egyptian journalist
Caveh zahedi – movie director “The sheik and I”

Mohsen Namjoo in concert at UC berkeley this saturday

Iranian musician singer and song writer Mohsen Namjoo and Ensemble will be performing at the Wheeler Hall at UC Berkeley (location details here) on Saturday April 28th at 7:30pm.

 

 

Vomena Team

Jaffar Panahi’s “this is not a film” in San Francisco

The SF film society will screen “This is not a film” from the prominent director Jafar Panahi. This coming friday (April 6th) to the 12th, you can watch the movie at the following adress 1746 Post Street (Webster/Buchanan)>

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