Filed under Culture

Hijabs, Burkinis, and Assumptions

Hijabs, Burkinis, and Assumptions

A quick word to not judge by appearances, or to make assumptions about religious values. Our family took a vacation to the Red Sea recently, at a hotel with a healthy mix of European speedos and Egyptian burkinis. It was quite the contrast. From what we could tell, everyone behaved respectfully and enjoyed themselves. While … Continue reading

The Importance of ‘Nizam’

The Importance of ‘Nizam’

This quote is taken from an Iranian, but I think the sentiment — and language — would be the same for many Arabs: On July 4, Mahmoud Esmaeili, a 33-year-old software engineer, became an American citizen. Here’s why: “I like the system here. I like the rule of law. You know what to expect and … Continue reading

Ramadan Diversity

Ramadan Diversity

Today is the end of Ramadan, the month of fasting. In order to help our Western friends understand this month, here are a few stories that reveal a wide scope of Ramadan diversity. It may be surprising to some that in Egypt, many churches host iftar, the fast-breaking meal at sunset. I attended two, which … Continue reading

Ballerinas of Cairo

Ballerinas of Cairo

Al-Monitor highlights a new effort to get art to the street. Ballerinas of Cairo has some great pictures, combining cultural physique with iconic cityscape. By taking to the streets of Cairo, the young artists have succeeded in breaking the stereotype that ballet is an art form for the upper class only. Despite the dangers of … Continue reading

Creative Solutions to Sexual Crime

Creative Solutions to Sexual Crime

Official Egyptian statistics departments have recently published sobering numbers concerning domestic violence: At least 18 percent of adult Egyptian women have reportedly experienced physical or sexual violence at the hands of family members or close acquaintances in 2015, according to official estimates by Egypt’s Economic Cost of Gender Based Violence Survey (ECGBVS), published in June … Continue reading

Ramadan Balderdash

Ramadan Balderdash

In Egypt, Ramadan is not only highly anticipated as month of spiritual fasting, but also as a month of television entertainment. It is estimated that 80% of original content is released during the month, broadcast after sunset when family gathers to eat, socialize, and watch the hottest stars in action. One of my favorite party … Continue reading

The Mural in the Garbage: An Artist’s ‘Perception’ of Cairo’s Coptic Slum

The Mural in the Garbage: An Artist’s ‘Perception’ of Cairo’s Coptic Slum

This article was first published at The Media Project: In 2013 the French-Tunisian eL Seed became the first Arab artist to collaborate with fashion mogul Louis Vuitton. His unique “caligraffiti” style emblazoned their classic Foulards d’Artiste monogram scarf, and embellished their iconic Alzer luggage case. Blending traditional Arabic calligraphy with street-style urban graffiti, his reputation … Continue reading

Muslims are not Islam is not Muslims

Muslims are not Islam is not Muslims

From an article at the Zwemer Center, written by a philosopher fed up with popular coverage of Muslim issues: One philosophical distinction that may help navigate this discussion is between essentialism and nominalism. Don’t stop reading, he makes it simpler, distinguishing between Islamic religiosity and Muslim religiosity. Ok, that still sounds complicated, but here is … Continue reading

Inshallah for the Foreigner

Inshallah for the Foreigner

The Arabic literally translates as ‘if God wills’, but it conveys a whole lot more – usually to the foreigner’s frustration. In this article for the New York Times, Wajahat Ali explains: It’s similar to how the British use the word “brilliant” to both praise and passive-aggressively deride everything and everyone. It transports both the … Continue reading

From Garbage to Glory

From Garbage to Glory

From my new article for Christianity Today’s Behemoth publication: The Pyramids of Giza used to be in the middle of the desert. Eventually Cairo’s urban sprawl pushed right up to the Sphinx. The Citadel of Saladin towers over the city. The southern approach requires an overpass straddling the City of the Dead. In Tahrir Square, … Continue reading

India through Egyptian Eyes

India through Egyptian Eyes

This article was first published at The Media Project. Early Saturday morning, with a heavy heart Mohamed Abla traced his whimsical silhouettes with only a few looking on. Everywhere along his stretch of the 150 foot wall surrounding the famed Khan Market in New Delhi, folk art inspired images of children, animals, and birds burst … Continue reading

Healing Grace for Upper Egypt

Healing Grace for Upper Egypt

Umm Peter stood with dignity in the corner of her simple, cinderblock home. With an appearance weathered over the years, in grandmotherly fashion she spoke of the men of the village and the difficulties of life. Half, she estimated, work in the Red Sea resorts of Sharm el-Sheikh or Hurghada. There is little opportunity in … Continue reading

Q&A with an Expert in Customary Reconciliation Sessions

Q&A with an Expert in Customary Reconciliation Sessions

This article was first published at Arab West Report. For many Christians in Egypt, customary reconciliation sessions (CRS) represent one of the most visceral symbols of discrimination against their community. Existing outside the scope of formal law and justice, CRS offer a quick alternative to the lengthy judicial process as village elders and religious leaders … Continue reading

Getting Around in Egypt

Getting Around in Egypt

Everyday Egypt is a Facebook page featuring the images of photographers active in the country. Many thanks to Egyptian Streets for collecting these great photos showing the reality of daily transportation for millions of Egyptians. Please enjoy, and visit their pages also for regular updates that go beyond the sometimes distorting headlines. 1. The daily … Continue reading

Convergence

Convergence

A few days ago I stood in the center of a crowded metro car. It was around 95 degrees, hotter inside. Strangely enough with the open windows and rotating ceiling fans, the temperature was tolerable. Sometimes it can be preferable in the aisle, rather than squeezed five across a four person bench. But generally it … Continue reading