A Fractured Life, Made Whole on the Page

Cartoonist Hani Abbas’s life traces a map of the spiral of war and displacement that has defined so much of the Arab east: born to a Palestinian family pushed into Syria by the creation of the state of Israel, and later successively fleeing to Lebanon and Europe, where he has settled in Switzerland. His best work, he says in this International Boulevard interview, was done in Syria in the early days of the revolt against Bashar al-Assad.

You are Palestinian, born in a refugee camp in Syria; you then became a refugee from there in Lebanon, and are now a refugee in Switzerland..

After the Knife in the Back, Saudis Extend a Hand to the Brothers

Just two years after helping orchestrate the coup which brought down the Muslim Brothers in Egypt, Saudi Arabia’s rulers are turning to the movement’s international affiliates for help in constructing a ‘Sunni front’ against the Shi’ite clients of Iran. A peculiar alliance, but explicable, writes Alain Gresh in Orient XXI.

In early February 2014, the Saudi press published a royal decree announcing a punishment of between three and twenty years in prison

Basra: the Song of the Marooned Fisherman

Take a taxicab ride with Abu Sejad, an Iraqi fisherman shipwrecked like so many of his countrymen by all these evil years on the shoals of war and jihad and geopolitics; his boat is gone, along with all of his fellow fishermen, and most of the vast marshes that sustained their way of life at the mouth of the Tigris river. Still, he dreams of the sea:

Though he had to abandon the sternpost of his boat many years ago, the taste of salt and the spray of the waves has refused to leave his lips.

Dakar: The Fine Line Between Gay and Homo

Sweeping through the Senegalese press these days is one of those periodic outbreaks of hysterical denunciation that social scientists call a moral panic. Everyone, it seems, is writing alarmed screeds about the fashionable clothing being affected by Dakar youth. Anna Louise Sarr here, writing in Sud, takes a deeper dive than most, trying to hear, through the generation-gapped buzzing in her ears, the actual voices of Dakar’s young trendsters.

Tchekelma, pinw, bodys in v-neck or crewneck, bright, floral colors:

Laughing All the Way to Tyranny

Guatemala’s election last week was full of surprises, not least of them the first-round winner, a TV comedian who had been written off as a bit player.

It has become quite clear that what the supposed non-politician Jimmy Morales really represents is an electoral bid by a group of military men who took the failed 2011 candidate for mayor of Mixco, and presented him as a political outsider

Fishing for Refugees East of the Rhine

A fabricated media spectacle of compassion: Daniel Schneidermann on the mixed French reaction to the refugee crisis of last week(previously on IB), and on the mixed refugee reaction to France as well. The refugees are not particularly eager to come to France, and unlike Germany and England, there have been no spontaneous French welcoming parties either. Finally, even the nice rooms being prepared for the refugees on camera this month are pure show, as should be clear from the grim refugee shantytown the French state has ordained for long-term asylum seekers at Calais.

Well, this takes the cake.

Resettle in France? ‘Non, Merci’ Say Refugees

On TV news, refugees are grateful and passive recipients of the noble generosity of European countries who offer them sanctuary. This essay from Arret Sur Image is a reminder that international migrants make their own rational decisions about where they want to go:

What a welcome! What enthusiasm! In the wake of a German announcement that they would take in 800,000 refugees, France has committed to taking in…24,000.

A New Semester in Hell

In the wreck of Aleppo and the rest of Syria’s cities, children are still going to school. Ruins can be rebuilt, stones piled up again, the principal tells the teacher in this essay by an Aleppo schoolteacher; while we are alive there is hope. But the teacher looks at the ruins of his own students and wonders if there is any hope left.

I watch their faces, gone pale with terror, as I stand before them helpless and waiting for the roof to collapse on our heads, waiting for us all to die here together under the rubble. The clamor of artillery shells…

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