Ahdaf Soueif

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This month, we reached a new level in the spiral we’ve been living through in Egypt since January 2011. On June 11, state security agents cleared the public from the area around the Parliament building here in the capital: The parliamentary debate about Egypt ceding its Red Sea islands, Tiran and Sanafir, to Saudi Arabia was about to begin. Three days later, Parliament voted to give up the islands.

The vote was preceded by arrests across the country. These arrests — both of known activists and others — had started some weeks before and were stepped up as the vote approached.…  Seguir leyendo »

A Palestinian man cries after bringing a child, wounded during fighting between Israeli forces and Hamas militants, to the emergency room room. (Lefteris Pitarakis / AP)

By the time you read this, who knows how many people will have been killed in Israel's latest onslaught in the Gaza Strip? As I write, some 1,400 mostly civilian Palestinians have been killed, including hundreds of children. Also, 59 Israelis have been killed, 56 of them military personnel.

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu complains that the media show pictures of “telegenically dead” Palestinians. It's true. My Facebook feed looks like a perverse beauty contest for dead babies and traumatized kids. There are the “before” shots: Essam Ammar, 4, from Gaza City wears a yellow check shirt and holds a somewhat bedraggled flower; Hind Shadi abu Harbeid, 10, from Beit Hanoun has clearly been playing with her mother's nail varnish — she rests her chin on paint-tipped fingers and gazes away from camera, a small smile lighting up her eyes.…  Seguir leyendo »

After the presidential elections there's a subdued air about Cairo. Flag-sellers wave their leftovers at passing traffic: half-price flags, but nobody stops. In the Tahrir wilderness, unrecognisable now from the swirling, buzzing, gallant place it was three years ago, a man stands alone at the edge of the central island. He is old and silent, and he carries a banner with a picture of the new president and the legend: "Congratulations Egypt!"

A camera stands on a tripod with nothing much to film. A knot of people is gathered nearby. They are in a kind of rugby scrum, and it's impossible to make out what they're doing.…  Seguir leyendo »

On Wednesday the Egyptian police moved in to break up the Muslim Brotherhood sit-ins. Cairo and many other cities are divided: some neighbourhoods are weirdly empty, the shops shuttered, no cars in the streets. Others are seeing pitched battles with guns and armoured personnel carriers and teargas. Once again we're watching images of bodies piled up on field hospital floors.

None of this is unexpected. The road that has led us here was chosen, deliberately and over time. For almost three weeks, since Abdel Fatah al-Sisi demanded a mandate to deal with "the security situation", the country has been edging closer and closer to crisis.…  Seguir leyendo »

If you click here, you can listen to the Israeli attacks on Gaza. You can hear explosions, drones and ambulances. This is the soundtrack of the lives of Palestinians there now. They're recording it and transmitting it, and their friends all over the world – particularly the Arab world – are listening to it live.

We are also reading the tweets and blogs the young Gazans are putting out, and taking a good look at the images they're posting – like the one of Ranan Arafat, before and after. Before, she's a pretty little girl with green eyes, a green halter-neck top and green ribbons in her hair.…  Seguir leyendo »

On Sunday, when my laptop wasn't talking at me from a kitchen counter, it was cradled open on my arm. We waited for the results of the presidential elections. They were late – days late. Then they arrived, and the figures droned on to screaming point. But Judge Farouk Sultan was right to do it this way; he had to blow away all the suspicions and prove his committee's results beyond reproach.

The people had once again surprised them(our)selves: in the last few hours of the second round what had looked like a 15% turnout was transformed into 52%. We can assume that everyone who voted for either candidate in the first round went out and did it again – but then Mohamed Morsi got an additional 8m votes and General Ahmed Shafiq an additional 7m.…  Seguir leyendo »

An old man, obduracy etched on every feature, lies on a hospital bed in the dock of a courtroom. He wears shades. His hair is well dyed. His hands are folded over the bed-covers and the cuffs of his pyjamas peep discreetly from beneath the sleeves of his dressing gown. His two sons, also on trial, take up bodyguard positions meant to shield him from the cameras.

This is Hosni Mubarak: president of Egypt for 30 years, and deposed and on trial for one. Will this mafia boss image be the last one we have of him?

In the year since his removal the mood of the country has grown more harsh.…  Seguir leyendo »

The Egyptian revolution of 25 January, as we all know, had no leaders. But in the course of its unfolding, and in the months since, a number of people have emerged who are pushing it forward, advocating for it and articulating its principles. Alaa Abd El Fattah, the activist and blogger (and my nephew) who has been jailed by the military prosecutor in Cairo pending trial, is one of those. And in his character and the role he's adopted, he embodies some of the core aspects of the Egyptian revolution.

Alaa is a techie, a programmer of note. He and Manal, his wife and colleague, work in developing open-source software platforms and in linguistic exchange.…  Seguir leyendo »

You could say our revolution has stalled. Or you could say a revolution is not an event, but a process – and that our process needed a push. As I write the revolution is once again gathering pace in Tahrir Square in Cairo, Arbaeen Square in Suez and Qaed Ibrahim in Alexandria, and streets and squares across Egypt. A march has been called for 6pm, and various escalatory activities are under consideration.

With hindsight, we left the streets too early. We were victorious, and yet we left with nothing. When we managed to push out Hosni Mubarak and the army took over, we should have stayed and demanded that power be vested in a government of the revolution.…  Seguir leyendo »

Writing from Cairo — Was it ridiculous that I was perched on top of a ladder hanging curtains before going out to join the revolution in Tahrir?

I don't know. I know I had taken my bedroom curtains down and they'd been laundered and needed hanging — otherwise they'd get creased and have to be ironed again. So I took 10 minutes to hang them and half a minute to take pleasure in their soft, billowing whiteness. Then I slung my bag over my shoulder and left.

We live in Zamalek, a leafy residential neighborhood that is a 5-minute drive from the bridge that connects it to downtown.…  Seguir leyendo »

This will count. A flotilla of relief boats attacked in international waters. Armed commandos boarding a vessel carrying supplies for a besieged civilian population. More than 10 peace activists reported killed. This has to be made to count.

The dead have joined Rachel Corrie, Tom Hurndall and James Miller in giving up their lives for the Palestinians. None of these young men and women went out to die or wanted to die or was accepting of death. Each and every one of them ultimately believed that they were safe; that there was a boundary – call it a boundary of legality, a boundary of civilisation – that Israel would not cross.…  Seguir leyendo »

None of us really thought he'd die. Our loss is great, we tell each other. In our minds we think of Edward Said, of Haider Abdel-Shafi, of Faisal Husseini, and even - yes - of Yasser Arafat. The "big men" of Palestine. And now, Mahmoud Darwish.

He was seven when - in the Nakba of 1948 - he fled from Birweh, his village in the Galilee. At the age of 12, living in Deir el-Asad, in what had become Israel, with a reputation as a precocious child poet, he was asked to compose a poem for a public reading. The occasion was the celebration of Israel's "Independence Day" and the poem he read described the feelings of a child who returns to his town to find other people sleeping in his bed, tilling his father's lands.…  Seguir leyendo »