Egyptian President-Elect takes oath in Tahrir Square
New TV - Egyptian president Mohamed Morsi took an oath before the Egyptian people in Tahrir Square, and vowed to respect the constitution and the law. In the evening, he took an oath to begin his term under the eyes of the Military Council; and away from formalities and the usual protocol, the Egyptian president-elect chose to address his opponents before his supporters. He went to Tahrir Square, which is packed with Egyptians denouncing military rule. Morsi began his presidential term from al-Azhar al-Sharif Mosque, where he performed Friday prayers amongst thousands of Egyptians. The holy mosque was packed with Egyptians who welcomed him in their own way. Al-Azhar’s courtyard held a demonstration giving their allegiance to the president-elect, on a Friday that Egyptians named "The Friday of Handing over Power."
Saudi women launch campaign to defy driving ban
BBC Arabic - The "My Right to Dignity" campaign, in which many Saudi women are active, continues to promote "The Friday of Women Driving". It is an attempt to urge the women in the kingdom, and those in solidarity with them, to drive in the streets of the kingdom today, in order to push for a lift of the driving ban imposed on them. It is a ban among many others, social and political, that are imposed on Saudi women. Advocates for women's driving rights insist that the key to the car may be the key to change in the kingdom.
Sudanese opposition fails to sign post-Bashir political charter
Dubai TV - International condemnation did not prevent Khartoum's government from waging a new arrest campaign targeting Sudanese opposition parties, especially since they started a new movement under the banner of "toppling the regime." But the meeting that was held to sign two proposed charters to manage the country during the transitional period following the regime's collapse, was postponed until next week after they failed to reach an agreement.
UN warns of rising sectarian killings in Syria as gunmen attack pro-Assad TV channel
BBC Arabic - Emad Sara, Director of the news channel Al-Ekhbariya, denounced the attack on the channel. He said the opposition has no desire to convey the opinions of others. He said "Three of our journalists were martyred, and of course, their only crime was conveying words; words that you all know well, words of truth, words that express the other point of view. They conveyed the message of their freedoms in their own way. As such, they were targeted". Human rights investigators in the United Nations released a report today that says the violence in Syria is spiraling out of control. According to the report, the Syrian government is using combat helicopters and artillery to shell residential neighborhoods. It points to the increasing number of sectarian attacks. The report adds that a number of Syrian regions have descended into civil war since the UN-backed ceasefire this past April.
Yemenis take to streets of Sanaa in a massive car rally
Al-Alam - The streets of the Yemeni capital, Sanaa, witnessed demonstrations that were the first of their kind, in the form of a procession of cars. Protestors chanted slogans demanding the ouster and trial of those loyal to former president Ali Abdullah Saleh, stressing the importance of continuing to mobilize the revolutionaries. Revolutionary youths say that it symbolizes the beginning of a new revolutionary mobilization with the aim of protecting the revolution through various methods.
Image: Egypt's Islamist President-elect Mohamed Mursi (R) delivers a speech while surrounded by his body guards in Cairo's Tahrir Square, June 29, 2012. Mursi took an informal oath of office on Friday before tens of thousands of supporters in Cairo's Tahrir Square, in a slap at the generals trying to limit his power. REUTERS/Amr Abdallah Dalsh
A special report from Future TV covered International Women's Day and gave background information on how it has become a global day to celebrate women and their importance in society and in the world: "On March 8, 1908, thousands of female textile workers protested on the streets of New York under the slogan 'bread and roses.' They carried dry bread and roses, demanding shorter work hours, voting rights and an end to child labor. This demonstration marked the start of the women's movement in the United States, especially after middle-class women joined the wave of demand for equality and justice. They adopted slogans demanding political rights, and particularly voting rights."
In 1977, the United Nations proclaimed March 8th as International Women's Day. The event was a socio-political movement that blended into the cultures of the United States, Europe and Russia. But for a lot of people, International Women's Day is linked to the illusion of celebrating a woman for being a woman. Lebanese journalist Joumana Hadad belives that International Women's Day is "a reminder of all the women, and even men, who fought for a better world for women, a more equal world. And for those who are still struggling today, it is a day to commend those people. It is the day of the woman to believe in her power, and take action."
The women of the Middle East commemorated International Women's Day by drawing attention to their struggles. Their rights are infringed due to a spectrum of different forces, but they are still standing strong and fighting to win their battles in the face of oppression.
Women in Afghanistan are still fighting for their right to receive an education, especially in the southern provinces of the country. Aljazeera reported on the city of Kandahar, "girls risk their lives to secure their future in an attempt to change the reality of women living in southern Afghanistan." The Taliban and foreign troops are not the only elements that as an obstacle and threaten for women, but also because of the dangerous security situation and the social norms of the country.
For years, women in Palestine have played a key role in the fight for freedom. Al Jazeera reported, "yesterday Palestinian women held a demonstration in solidarity with female prisoner Hana al-Shalabi, who is on her 24th day of an open-ended hunger strike, protesting her administrative detention in Israeli prison. Despite her deteriorating health condition, al-Shalabi remains firm to continue her hunger strike to fight the racism of the occupation forces' policies against Palestinians. The women protestors raised slogans to end the Israeli occupation and settlement construction."
In Egypt, women marched in the streets of Cairo to bring attention to their case especially after last year's attacks on women in demonstrations and also demanded that females be included in the political arena, which is currently male dominated. The female protestors chanted against the military that used excessive force against women in protests at the end of last year and even sexually assaulted them.
Photo: Women shout slogans against the Egyptian military council before marching with other women to mark International Women's Day in Cairo March 8, 2012. REUTERS/Mohamed Abd El Ghany
There are currently over 300 Palestinians in administrative detention. This means that prisoners are being held with no charge and without being tried. Hana al-Shalabi, a 29 year old from a village near Jenin enters her 15th consecutive day of hunger strike, protesting her administrative detention in the Hasharon Israeli prison. Hana took on the same method to peacefully protest her unjustified detention; similar to Khader Adnan, who successfully drew international attention to his case, and the case of many other Palestinian administrative prisoners. Adnan recently ended his hunger strike, which lasted for 66 days, after Israel agreed to release him on April 17th.
Although she was previously arrested in 2009, with no charge or trial and was freed in the Gilad Shalit prisoner exchange in 2011, after 30 months in captivity, she was not exempt from being rearrested. She is currently sentenced to six months in prison, and her sentence can be renewed indefinitely.
Many former female detainees gathered outside the Red Cross in Tulkarm this week to stand in solidarity with Hana and other administrative detainees, inside Israeli prisons. Solidarity campaigns and sit-ins in front of the Red Cross are continuing amid warnings of her deteriorating health condition, and the escalating situations inside the occupation prisons.
Israeli court officials say that Hana is a threat to Israeli security and they claim that she participated in planning actions after her release. The defense called for Hana's prompt release and held Israel accountable for her health.
On Thursday Hana al-Shalabi said that she will continue her hunger strike and that she will remain patient and steadfast despite her detention in the cold, her fatigue and weakness. Hana maintains high spirits and thanked people who support her and she assured that her hunger strike is open until her demands are met.
Photo: Badeeah Shalabi holds a placard depicting her daughter, Palestinian detainee Hana Shalabi, in the West Bank village of Birqin, near Jenin February 27, 2012. REUTERS/Abed Omar Qusini
If you read and watch entertainment news, you know that an Iranian filmmaker, Asghar Farhadiis, is racking up the Hollywood awards for A Separation even in a climate of US-imposed sanctions. And if you're paying attention to most media coverage, you're well aware of the nuclear issue. But other than that, do we have a lens into the lives and stories of Iranians? Does this kind of cultural lens matter as we settle into our perspectives about Iran? Yes. Without showing the lives, struggles and culture of everyday people living and working in Iran, we in the West have a potentially skewed image of Iranians.
In 2006, Link TV developed a documentary TV series, Bridge to Iran, to provide a window into the lives and struggles of everyday Iranians -- to respond to the cultural and political tensions that have developed between Iran and the US since the Iranian Revolution. Over the years, Bridge to Iran has covered a wide range of social and political issues in modern Iran, including the experiences of young girls facing womanhood and uncertain futures, religious pilgrims who risk their lives to visit a holy site in war-torn Iraq, rural life and political awareness, an exploration of Tehran as an urban metropolis, and Iranian women's participation in the election process.
The new season premieres on February 14. In each of the four episodes of Bridge to Iran, in-depth discussions between host Parisa Soultani and top Iranian filmmakers provide a unique lens into some of the challenges and realities facing Iranians during a time of increased instability -- including censorship, sanctions and safety concerns.
Here are the details about the films and when to catch the episodes, on Link TV or online:
Bridge to Iran offers a diverse perspective on a country on the receiving end of a torrent of media attention -- but with a lens that's inclusive of the people and the art found within Iranian borders. We hope you'll tune in and tell others.
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Caty Borum Chattoo is a producer and communication strategist with Link TV, assistant professor in the School of Communication at American University in Washington, DC, and media fellow with the AU Center for Social Media.
Link TV and ViewChange.org are proud to present the world broadcast premier of the documentary To Educate a Girl. Produced by Frederick Rendina and Oren Rudavsky, in collaboration with the United Nations Girls Education Initiative and UNICEF, this film explores the necessity of increasing access to education for girls in the developing world. Link TV's Caty Borum Chattoo has written an article for the Huffington Post expanding on these issues and giving background into the film and the monumental goal of achieving gender equality in education:
For millions of girls around the world, going to school is a life dream that's out of reach. Why? Early marriage, child labor, pregnancy, lack of access, violence. Solving the problem is a gauntlet deeply grounded in cultural traditions and the ripple effects of poverty -- seemingly impossible.
In 2000, then United Nations Secretary-General Kofi Annan issued the challenge: How can the nations of the world work together to stop the gender inequality around education?
His declaration, a formal recognition of the terrible tragedy of leaving an entire generation of girls behind, established the United Nations Girls' Education Initiative (UNGEI), a partnership that includes UNICEF and other organizations working around the world to provide equal access to education to girls by 2015. And as it turns out, educating girls is not just a moral duty or altruistic pursuit. As data from UNICEF and others now document, providing girls in the developing world with an education is a key link in the fight to alleviate global poverty and its many implications, including HIV/AIDs, challenges with sustainable development, and on and on...
Read the rest at the Huffington Post's Impact blog
On the latest Global Pulse episode, host Erin Coker talks about the evolving world of Islamic fashion. Watch the episode below and share your thoughts!
When I was studying in France a few years ago, I taught at a high school in a largely Muslim suburb. One of the most profound rituals of daily life at Voillaume high school happened during the few minutes immediately before and after the school day. Many Muslim girls would arrive at the school gate wearing the traditional Islamic head covering called the hijab, (Arabic for “scarf”). Seconds before entering the gate, they would whip off their hijabs, and they would just as rapidly reapply them as they exited through the gate when the school day ended. The speed and grace with which these girls would take off and put on their hijabs, within feet of the school entrance, fascinated me.
But, why did they have to take them off? Because restrictions passed in 2004 disallow religious head coverings in public schools in France. The French government argues that the wearing of hijabs in public schools is an affront to the concept of “laïcité,” and threatens secular government. The vast majority of Muslim youth I encountered in France, many recent immigrants, cherished the personal liberties that France gave them. In fact, students I spoke with who objected to the policy didn’t frame the headscarf controversy in terms of the government suppressing Islam, but rather as a kind of hypocrisy - the French government limiting the same personal freedoms it claimed to defend.
Nonetheless, they understood the secular nature of the French government and would find the idea of replacing it with an Islamic version as preposterous. Compare this to Iran, where the hijab is compulsory. A new generation of Iranians wants increased freedom from a stifling dress code that has been in place since the Islamic revolution. Simply put, many young women in Iran are sick of religious modesty laws and other limitations on their personal freedoms. Some women are fighting the dress code by following it to the bare minimum. As opposed to wearing the chador – a traditional loose garment covering the entire body (and still worn by Iran’s most religious women), many young Iranian women have adopted modifications that comply with the law but allow a degree of fashion and mobility. These modifications include jackets that sufficiently cover the body but are form fitting and stylish. Some wear hijabs in bright, lively colors instead of traditionally modest monotones. An Iranian journalist who has worked for increased rights for women in Iran, responded to these newer fashions by saying, "It signals that we obey the law, but nothing more than that."
The objectives of women who want to wear hijab in France, and those who would like to moderate it in Iran, are different. But the desire to have freedom to dress as one sees fit is essentially the same. When governments mandate how people can and can’t dress, they aren’t just trying to control what people wear, but how they feel. But does the Iranian government really think that easing restrictions on Islamic dress would instantaneously lead to a rise of Paris Hilton clones, promiscuous activity and the forsaking of Islam? Does the French administration really believe that allowing Muslim schoolgirls to wear the hijab will lead to a sort of “Franganistan,” where women lose all rights and Islam replaces secular governance?
The fact that many French girls reapply the hijab as soon as they leave the gates of school, and that many Iranian women see modesty laws not as a symbol of their relationship with God but as an imposed annoyance, shows the ultimate failure of the social engineering schemes in these two countries. While governments can dictate how people dress, they ultimately can’t change how people feel.