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Last updated: 24 July 2015

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Sharif-HamamaOmar Sharif: Actor without borders

July 2015 – The late Omar Sharif was living, breathing, walking proof that there is nothing inherently irreconcilable between the Middle East and the West.

Photo: ©Khaled Diab

Photo: ©Khaled Diab

One year on: Gazans feel the pain of being abandoned by Egypt

July 2015 – Although the Israeli siege of Gaza hurts more materially, the Egyptian blockade is more painful emotionally. It is also counterproductive.

IMG_4429The poverty epidemic in Greece

July 2015 – “They may have the money, but we have each other,” insists the cook who feeds Athens’ poor. “This is not philanthropy, this is the natural human state.”

Ramadan with a handicap

July 2015 – As a disabled person, there is no shame in admitting that you can’t fast. I will not lie or hide it to satisfy people’s prejudices.

One year on: Gaza, life with hard labour

Young Gazans dream of escape across the sea to Europe. Photo: ©Khaled Diab

Young Gazans dream of escape across the sea to Europe. Photo: ©Khaled Diab

July 2015 – With rubble Gaza’s only growth industry, people are unable to pick up the pieces of their broken lives, face psychological ruin and dream of escape.

Haret al-yahoudEgyptian Jews and love triangles

July 2015 – Despite outlandish conspiracy theories, a Ramadan TV drama about Egypt’s lost Jewish community is not a missive to Israel but an ode to pluralism.

Gaza is on the verge of psychological ruin. Photo: ©Khaled Diab

Gaza is on the verge of psychological ruin. Photo: ©Khaled Diab

One year on: Gaza’s hidden psychological ruins

July 2015 – It is not just the landscape that is scarred and devastated, Gaza is an emotional and mental wreck teetering on the verge of psychological ruin.

Defusing the social media timebomb

July 2015 – Countering the “weaponisation of the internet” with top-down initiatives are unlikely to succeed. What we need are true grassroots efforts.

Circassian ladyCircassian beauties and the ugly face of race

July 2015 – The curious cases of Rachel Dolezal and the Circassian ladies show just how meaningless race is, while Dylann Roof underlines the dangers of racism.

Zaatar chicken: ©Joudie Kalla

Zaatar chicken: ©Joudie Kalla

Putting Palestine on the culinary map

June 2015 – The most delicious way to a society’s soul is through its stomach, believes the creator of Palestine on a Plate.

Photo: ©Boštjan Videmšek

Photo: ©Boštjan Videmšek

Greek islands: No holiday in the sun for Syrian refugees

June 2015 – Kos is straining under the influx of Syrian refugees.  Though locals are hospitable, the refugees are desperate to move on but where or how eludes them.

The Hagia Sophia when it was a mosque.

The Hagia Sophia when it was a mosque.

Hagia Sophia: A symbolic bridge or wedge?

June 2015 – The Hagia Sophia must not become a mosque. If its status must change, it should become a space of tolerance, where both Christian and Muslim worship.

The empire must not strike back

June 2015 – Nostalgia for empire in the Middle East misses two points: we’re not witnessing the “final end of imperialism” and imperialism did not bring order.

Image: AUC Press

Image: AUC Press

A Riche chapter of Egyptian history

June 2015 – For a century, Café Riche was a microcosm of Cairo’s bewildering contradictions, and a “refuge from the pain of loneliness”  for intellectuals.

Father Damien, shortly before he too succumed to leprosy. Photo: Sydney B Swift

Father Damien, shortly before he too succumed to leprosy.
Photo: Sydney B Swift

The leper priest who lost his marbles

June 2015 – Father Damien’s dying wish of marbles for his children may seem odd, but this saint’s caring for lepers can teach us a lot about selfless sacrifice.

The death of sanity in Egypt

May 2015 – The sentencing to death of former president Mohamed Morsi is the latest chapter in Egypt’s comedy of terrors that could push the country over the edge.

The occupational handicaps of being Palestinian

May 2015 – Living with disability is always a challenge but if you’re a Palestinian living under Israeli occupation you are doubly handicapped.

The tip of Egypt’s snobbery iceberg

May 2015 – The replacement of one snobbish justice minister in Egypt with another who believes judges are lords and masters shows how deep elitism runs.

A ‘War on Error’ against radical anti-Islam

May 2015 – Given how many New Atheists, Christian fundamentalists and neo-cons share a distorted view of Islam and Muslims, it’s high time for a War on Error. 

Enslaved by history

May 2015 – Failing to acknowledge the legacy of slavery on all our modern societies makes the present an unnecessary slave to history.

Painting from Qajar Iran, 1850-1885. http://www.islamicpersia.org/2012/09/qajar-erotic-watercolor-art.html

Painting from Qajar Iran, 1850-1885. http://www.islamicpersia.org/2012/09/qajar-erotic-watercolor-art.html

Making halal sexy

May 2015 – Though halal sex may sound as logical as kosher bacon, it does make ts own sense. Some Muslims are utilising the concept to break the taboo around sex.

afrah nasserSmashing the Arab world’s glass ceiling

May 2015 – Arab women are not waiting for others to empower them, they are doing it for themselves. Over 40 are on the list of the most influential young Arabs.

Like today's refugees, Belgians fleeing World War I often took to the sea in overcrowded boats.

Like today’s refugees, Belgians fleeing World War I often took to the sea in overcrowded boats.

War and peace in the Middle East and Europe

April 2015 – Europe’s history of total war and mass displacement can help create more sympathy for today’s refugees and keep hope alive in the Middle East.

The EU is torn between criticising and cheering China

EU-China 1April 2015 – At 40, EU-China relations are going through a midlife crisis. Is Europe living up to its human rights values or focusing on the value-added of trade?

Young and futureless in Iraq under ISIS

April 2015 – Mosul’s youth are desperate, disillusioned and terrified because “ISIS will never let us have a future, we could die any second.”