JFYI I wrote this review of “Eshtebak” (Clash) for 7iber. (Originally published here on May 6). TL;DR: Watch this film immediately.
In August 2013, Egyptian security forces raided a sit-in camp in Cairo filled with hundreds of protesters supporting ousted President Mohamed Morsi. According to Human Rights Watch, the ensuing clashes between the army and supporters of the Muslim Brotherhood at Raba’a Square left at least 817 civilians dead.
It’s near-impossible to imagine — let alone depict — the chaos and hatred that must have permeated the air in the weeks that led up to that horrific massacre. And yet, Mohamed Diab, the talented director of “Eshtebak” (“Clash”), somehow manages to do just that, in a superb 97-minute film that’s expertly shot in and from one location: the back of a run-down police van.
In the few hours after Omar Mateen shot dead 50 innocent people at Pulse in Orlando a week ago, dozens of politicians and heads of states around the world rushed to condemn the grotesque hate crime.
The “condemnations” trickling in from the Middle East were particularly interesting and unique when placed in the context of these countries’ track records on LGBT rights and their mistreatment of homosexuals (Russia could potentially be added to this list, too, but for the sake of this post, we’re focusing on the Middle East).
To illustrate the stark contrast between the condemnations and the countries’ respective policies on homosexuality, Florence of Arabia has put together the below listicle featuring Iran, Saudi Arabia, Kuwait, Egypt, Jordan and Lebanon. (Please do send in more if I’ve missed any.)
[To jump straight to the listicle, click here.]
The contrast is quite humorous and hypocritical, but on a more serious level, it reaffirms just how rampant state-sponsored homophobia is in the region. It’s worth noting that the condemnations were similarly worded and omitted any mention of the attacks occurring at a gay club or targeting homosexuals.
The condemnations are inherently problematic in that the states are essentially players that enable or fuel the sort of hatred which motivated the very crime they appear to have condemned.
Scholar and writer Samar Habib in this piece for the Washington Post argues that the condemnations are a “start,” whilst acknowledging they are somewhat troublesome. Continue reading
Lebanese-British barrister Amal Clooney attended a FrontLine talk on press freedom in London on Wednesday night with a journalist who was imprisoned in Egypt for doing his job, distracting people from the fact that she was wearing a belted, £4,200 Burberry soft-suede, ombre trench-coat, teamed with a structured charcoal grey knee-length* dress. Clooney, married to an attractive albeit older actor named George whose 2000 film O Brother, Where Art Thou is one of my favourite Cohen Brothers’ movies (second only to Raising Arizona), most definitely had her silky black hair blow-dried into bouncy, loose curls. Continue reading