The Long and Winding Road

Higher Committees and such are nice, but grassroots organizing is better.

Like everyone else, we’ve been focusing on ElBaradei, and the steadily climbing number of supporters he’s attracted on the “ElBaradei for President” Facebook page (up almost 40,000 since his interview with Mona al-Shazly on Sunday). This has led us to thinking about the logical next steps for the campaign mobilizing around ElBaradei.

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Remember Rappin’ Gulf Capital?*

First, a dedication to our readers…

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Snap of the Week: Cet Obscur Objet du Désir

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Arts and Leisure

Recently it seems that Barely adei has gone by without us obsessing over a certain recently-returned betortoise-shelled could-be hero. So today, or at least until Mona Shazly comes on at 10, we’re takng some time off to highlight several arts (mostly typography and graphic design) and literature blogs and sites we’ve recently had the pleasure of adding to our RSS reader or bookmarks bar.

These are topics about which we know relatively little, but please don’t allow our paucity of knowledge and the sins of omission it may have inspired get in the way of your visual or leitory pleasure.

ARTS

Khatt Foundation Center for Arabic Typography

Dafter Tajreebi

Blog Ganzeer

Bidoon Sukkar

29 Letters

Arabesque: Graphic Design from the Arab World and Persia

Tarek Atrissi

Arabic Art & Design Flickr Group

LITERATURE

Ahmed Khalifa

Arabic Literature (in English)

Laila Lalami

Youssef Rakha

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Baradei’s Now

Alaa al-Aswani catches a lot of flack for being the official go-to person for lazy Western reporters seeking comment on whatever has seized their inane fancy that week. As we’re in no position to judge whether this is due to grievous acts of self-promotion or the aforementioned lassitude in dogged pursuit of stories, we tend to give the good dentist the benefit of the doubt.

Also, we like his writing in this piece, urging his fellow citizens to welcome Muhammad ElBaradei upon his arrival at Cairo Airport, which gains its power not from stylistic flourishes but rather from its very direct appeal and the heartstrings tugging towards the end that is his specialty.

We promise, our “Al-Baradei, All the Time” phase will end soon, if only because we’re running out of suitable puns…

From al-Shorouk’s Tuesday, February 16 edition:

Why Are We Going to Welcome ElBaradei?

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Homecoming Dance

We haven’t translated anything in a while, and we’ve got a mild case of bloggers’ block, so we decided to translate an op-ed by Professor of Political Science at Cairo University (and possibly department chair) and prominent anti-inheritance activist Hassan Nafaa wrote in today’s al-Masry al-Youm, about the impending return of Dr. ElBaradei, and the excitement he has engendered amongst the politically active segments of Egypt’s young population.

In the piece, Dr. Nafaa announces his intention to attend a mass welcome for Dr. ElBaradei upon his arrival at Cairo International Airport this Friday at 3 PM, while also calling on all opposition forces to attend, regardless of whether they would support a hypothetical (at this point) ElBaradei candidacy.

From al-Masry al-Youm’s Sunday, February 14 edition:

Will Egypt’s Youth Succeed in Organizing a Mass Welcome for ElBaradei?

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No Real Estate Taxation Without Representation?

Some Background

Something potentially important just happened in Egypt. President Hosni Mubarak personally announced that a planned new real estate tax, expected to come into effect this year, would be postponed until after upcoming elections. This came after the bill had provoked a furious outcry in both parliament and the press. While the decision has garnered plenty of hot air and a fair amount of righteous indignation, we haven’t seen much analysis of the decision’s longer term implications, which is what we aim to provide.

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TBE Assignments Editor

The Muslim Brotherhood's favorite bank?

Dear Foreign Correspondents,

It’s a journalistic and academic commonplace to maintain that the Muslim Brotherhood derives some (or a lot) of support by providing social services for the poor-middle classes.

It’s also a journalistic and academic commonplace to maintain that the government is heavily involved in licensing and generally sticking its nose in everything. And it’s not exactly possible to run a medical clinic or whatever in secret, even if you’re totally deمحظورة out like مظاهر محظورة . (That’s a Kriss Kross reference.)

Where these two common places overlap lies an interesting story angle.

Bonus incentive: Al-Baradei will return on the 19th, and you’ll surely get a story out of it. But between now and then nothing is likely to happen that will get your name in the newspaper/magazine.

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The Mazloom Files

In these dark days, (Muhammad) Mazloom Street is living up to its name. A series of unfortunate and strange events have plagued the street, making locals wonder whether the street is cursed, writes our correspondent.

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Time For A Journalism Ethics Panel?

TBE doesn’t usually engage in journalism, much less (open source) investigative journalism, but sometimes we decide not to simply pass a story on to someone else, as we usually would.

This tale begins with our catching up on some reading. We were looking at some neglected feeds on our RSS reader and came to Stephen Walt’s FP blog. Innocently scrolling down we came to a post about an Iran conference convened by the Israel Project, a US propaganda outfit that toes the “stopping settlements is “a kind of ethnic cleansing”” line, according to J Street. Not having attended the conference, we don’t know what was said. But if the materials on the group’s website are any indication, it was probably quite similar to a little ditty sung by former presidential candidate John McCain in one of his more unguarded moments. None of this is altogether shocking in a US context.

What did surprise us, however, was a panel, “How to Get Published and Write a Letter to the Editor with journalist and Reuters Editor Alan Elsner.” Why, we wondered, would an editor at Reuters, which, as far as we know, hews to US journalistic standards of objectivity, lead a panel at a conference run by a group that is almost certainly attempting to influence the coverage of the news organization for which he works? A quick google news search indicates that he is an editor at Reuters’ Washington, DC bureau. Past postings, according to his personal website, have included stints as Jerusalem correspondent (1980-85) and chief political correspondent (1994-2000).

With those facts in mind, and lacking any contact information for Mr. Elsner himself, we contacted Reuters’ public relations department. After a little back-and-forth, we received the following email:

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