No one can write the history of the last four decades of Lebanon without devoting an in-depth chapter to the political and intellectual contributions of George Hawi. He was at the forefront of every struggle. The chapter begins in 1938, in the village of Btighrine, where George Anis Hawi was born, and ends in 2005, when he was buried in the village of his birth.
A few months ago, a private Syrian television company began shooting a 30-segment television series about the life of the great poet Nezar Kabbani. The television company plans to air the program during the month of Ramadan. The series has been creating much tension between the production company, Sharikat al-Sharq Lil Intage Alfani, and the heirs of the poet, who refuse to relinquish Kabbani's copyright to the production company. The family has turned to the courts to stop the filming, which continues nonetheless in more than one country in the Arab world and abroad.
Many Arab intellectuals responded to the awarding of the 2001 Nobel Prize in Literature to V. S. Naipaul with dismay. Criticism of the Trinidad-born British writer, an often abrasive chronicler of the postcolonial Third World who has long argued that Islam has been as "calamitous" for the world as imperialism, is nothing new, but the timing of the prize opened the floodgates of speculation and debate.
Being anchored by a sense of loss and longing is common for those who have experienced forced displacement. They live an unresolved existence, oscillating between the dangerously manipulative memories of a lost place and the difficulty of adaptation to new cultures and their accompanying space. It is a rich existence that defies stale comfort. Nothing is clearly understood.
The morning of September 18th, Syrian director and film producer Omar Amirlay drove from his home in Damascus to Amman, Jordan. Four months earlier he had begun a daring project to establish the first Arab school of cinema – the Arab Film Institute.
Author Salma al-Haffar Kuzbari, most renowned for her work on women activist and literary pioneer Mai Ziadeh, died in Beirut on August 11, 2006, at 83 years of age. Al-Haffar Kuzbari spent 17 years researching the early 20th century literary figure Mai Ziadeh, ultimately publishing three works on her life and accomplishments.
Like her early 20th century heroine, Haffar-Kuzbari was also at the forefront of defending women's rights and equality in what was a strongly patriarchal society.
Art has a tendency to become political fodder, especially when the subject coincides with politically significant events. This tendency was exemplified this year with the successful performance of the musical“Sah al-Noum” (Rise and Shine) by the legendary Lebanese diva Fairuz.
On February 9, the prestigious World Press Photo Award winner was announced. Founded in 1955, this year the World Press Photo Awards received 78,000 photos taken by 4,400 photographers from 124 countries. American photographer and journalist Spencer Platt’s picture of several young, affluent Lebanese in a shiny red convertible driving through the smoky ruins of an Israeli-bombed section of Beirut took the top prize.
Proponents of democracy have long championed its guarantee of individual liberties and civil rights as proof of its legitimacy. In 2003, democracy’s promises were used, along with other reasons, by the United States as a justification for overthrowing Saddam Hussein’s regime in Iraq. The Bush Administration was eager to support elections in Iraq and the Palestinian Territories and happy to see the same process occur in places like Bahrain. The administration embraced the neoconservative assumption that the region’s instability lies in the absence of democratic practices.
“Nashara al-Islam bi-khawafiq al-alam” [“Islam spread under waving banners”]. I could not believe my eyes as I read these words etched in Arabic on a church bell preserved in the Palacio de la Inquisición in Cartagena, Colombia’s foremost resort. It was dated 1317 A.D.