Bread and Politics
There were many root causes of the Arab Spring – but one of them might not be what you’d expect. Bread. In Egyptian Arabic, the word for bread is ‘aish’. It also means ‘life’. And life in Egypt has been tumultuous these past few years. When millions of Egyptians took to the streets in 2011, freedom and justice were cited as the main objectives. So where does bread fit into all of this? Bread was the first word in one of the most popular chants at the beginning of the revolution. For Akmad Maher, one of the most significant youth leaders in the revolution, “Bread and politics is one issue. Not two issues. Bread is our life in Egypt. “ Three years before the revolution, in 2008, when bread shortages helped to spark some of the first demonstrations against Hosney Mubarak, Maher was one of the organisers. “Back then, we…Continue Reading
Syrian drought
The world’s deadliest conflict is raging in Syria. Protests over government repression and widespread poverty in 2011 were the apparent causes of the conflict. But what if there is a lot more to this story that we’ve ever considered? Four years before the civil war started, Syria was hit by a drought that lasted until just before the revolution. A drought so devastating that it altered the lives of millions of Syrians. Before the civil war, refugees like Farrah Naseef had lived through another disaster – the drought.  For Naseef, year after year there was less and less rain, and the Syrian “government doesn’t try to help in any kind of way,” and that the governments response made people so angry that they were eager to take to the streets. For refugees like Naseef, you cannot understand the civil war if you do not understand the drought. “Most farmers moved from…Continue Reading
ISIS, Honour & Sexual Violence
Imagine yourself in a Shiite mosque in a city in Baghdad. A young woman turns to you and asks the question weighing on everyone’s mind – “have you got yourself a gun?” You ask her why she needs one. “One has to protect herself” she replies. “Once they get here, you know what they will do.” The context here is clear: rape. As the soldiers of the Islamic State of Iraq and Syria (ISIS) advance their way through the state of Iraq, blood pressures rise. The residents of Iraqi cities contemplate the atrocities that these men will commit after they arrive. One of the key concerns is the threat of sexual violence – a threat alluded to by many women and men who list protecting women as their key motivation behind taking up arms. The threat of this kind of violence has been declared by the Nouri al-Maliki government, the…Continue Reading
Misogyny didn't pull the trigger
Yes – Elliot Rodger had very little respect for women – but pinning his actions on a culture of misogyny neglects the underlining reasons why mentally ill, isolated young men turn to mass murder. The Californian stabbing-shooting appears to be a familiar pattern: a socially off the beaten track male, with severe mental health and anger issues, hits out against those who he thinks has wronged him. Both a 140 page manifesto, and a rehearsed, psychotic youtube clip, spell out a young man devoured by anger over his inability to successfully connect with women. Reports claim that Rodger’s family attempted to reach out and warn authorities prior to the attack, but not unlike other similar cases, attempts to warn authorities did not prevent this gruesome crime. Shortly after the crime took place, reports noted that the attack appeared to be specifically directed at women. This has sparked the speculation that…Continue Reading