Sunday, February 27, 2011

Photo of the Month

"Pictures of protesters killed in Benghazi adorn the walls outside the courthouse." (Getty Images)

Wednesday, February 16, 2011


"Migrants arriving on Sunday on the island of Lampedusa. More than 3,000 Tunisians have landed there in recent days. One Italian official called it an 'unprecedented biblical exodus.'" (Francesca Ferretti/New York Times)
Upheaval Opens the Exits in Tunisia
By Thomas Fuller
The New York Times, February 14, 2011
"A dozen young men left this village of olive groves and whitewashed houses near the Mediterranean coast last week, bound for the Italian island of Lampedusa aboard an overcrowded fishing boat. They were part of a flotilla of would-be migrants that has created a humanitarian crisis and stirred a political furor in Italy. But unlike the more than 5,000 Tunisians who have successfully reached Italy’s shores, this group’s trip ended in failure and death. On Monday, villagers buried one of the men, Walid Bayahia, who was killed when the fishing boat collided in the frigid waters with a Tunisian National Guard patrol vessel and sank, according to four of the villagers who survived. 'Four buried and two missing -- it's a disaster,' said Tarak Bahyoun, a house painter who attended the funeral. 'Nothing like this has ever happened here.' The fall of Tunisia’s autocratic president, Zine al-Abidine Ben Ali, on Jan. 14 brought euphoria and hope to this country of 10 million people. But the revolution, as Tunisians call it, also created a power vacuum. After battling protesters for weeks, the police, fearing retribution, fled their barracks. It suddenly dawned on the young and underemployed that there was no one standing in their way if they wanted to leave for Italy -- and the prospect of a good-paying job in a European Union country. ... Tunisia's caretaker government said Monday that it had set up military checkpoints at several ports to try to halt the flow of migrants amid growing tensions with Italy. Franco Frattini, the Italian foreign minister, was expected to meet with Tunisia's interim prime minister on Monday evening after the Tunisian authorities turned down an Italian request to send its own police officers to help patrol the coast. More than 3,000 Tunisians have landed in Lampedusa, which is just off Sicily, in recent days, leading the Italian government to declare a state of humanitarian emergency. One Italian official called it an 'unprecedented biblical exodus.' Italy has also called on the European Union for help in dealing with the migrants. In Zarzis, a small group of soldiers patrolled the port on Monday. 'We are being very, very strict now,' said a security official who stood guard at the entrance and declined to give his name. 'We want to be sure that this phenomenon stops.'

Sunday, February 6, 2011


Pictures of the Dead Rise in Egypt's Tahrir Square
By Ned Parker and Doha Al Zohairy
The Los Angeles Times, February 7, 2011
"They carry posters with photos of young men killed in the last two weeks in demonstrations around their country. Appearing daily in Tahrir Square, those commemorating the deaths blame President Hosni Mubarak's government, and they demand justice. Although it is unclear how many people have died, a United Nations official estimated that as many as 300 people had been killed in clashes with police and Mubarak supporters before Wednesday, and, according to Human Rights Watch, about a dozen more since. Those who walk the crowded downtown square do not want to forget their lost friends and loved ones. They want them remembered amid the cheers and songs demanding that Mubarak leave office immediately. To them, it is an unhealable wound, a reason they believe a compromise will not suffice in their uprising against Mubarak. Nasser Shabaan, 37, comes to the square almost every day, carrying a portrait of his nephew, Mohammed Sayed Abdul Latif, who was shot in the neck late last month during a demonstration in his neighborhood of Imbaba. Details of the killing could not be verified independently. Shabaan, a member of the Muslim Brotherhood, said he received a call about the shooting while in Tahrir Square, and when he reached the nearby neighborhood, his nephew was lying on the street bleeding. Police threatened to shoot anyone who tended to Latif, he said, but they finally let him drive his nephew to a hospital. Latif died soon afterward. The poster of Latif, 24, shows a smiling young man with moussed hair and black eyes. Fellow protesters stopped to look at the image, in a jarring reminder of what has been lost since the demonstrations began. [...]"


"The stronger sex ... girls on their way to school in Shillong, which has a strong matrilineal tradition." (EPA/Corbis)
Where Women of India Rule the Roost and Men Demand Gender Equality
By Julien Bouissou
The Guardian Weekly, January 18, 2011
"Kaith Pariat is sick of housekeeping and even more so of being bossed around by his mother-in-law. He has put up with this situation since he was married. 'Can you imagine the shock of leaving your family home and suddenly becoming a dogsbody in your mother-in-law's house?' he asks. 'She gives the orders and you become a good-for-nothing servant.' The Khasi, who number about 1 million in India's north-eastern state of Meghalaya, carry on the matrilineal tradition. The youngest daughter inherits, children take their mother's surname, and once married, men live in their mother-in-law's home. 'Only mothers or mother-in-laws look after the children. Men are not even entitled to take part in family gatherings. The husband is up against a whole clan of people: his wife, his mother-in-law and his children. So all he can do is play the guitar, sing, take to drink and die young,' Pariat concludes gloomily. Men are the weak sex in Meghalaya, but Pariat hopes the Syngkhong Rympei Thymai (SRT) campaign [roughly 'a wedge to shore up a shaky table'] will promote reform of family structures. Indeed he wants to achieve more than mere equality. 'Men are endowed with natural leadership. They should protect women, who in return should support them,' he says. According to Valentina Pakyntein, an anthropologist at Shillong University, the matrilineal system goes back to a time when Khasis had several partners and it was hard to determine the paternity of children. But SRT members have another explanation, claiming that their ancestors were away from home for too long fighting wars to be able to look after their families. As members of an official ethnic minority, Khasis have many privileges: the Khasi Hills Autonomous District Council protects their laws, taxation is lower than elsewhere in India, land is set aside for their use in tribal zones, and a quota system operates for higher education and civil service jobs.


"An activist carries a picture of slain businessman Khaled Said with Arabic words that read 'Why was Khaled killed?' in Cairo on June 19." (Nasser Nasser/Associated Press)
Facebook Page Helped Catalyze Egypt Unrest
By Jennifer Preston
The New York Times on, February 5, 2011
If there is a face to the revolt that has sprouted in Egypt, it may be the face of Khaled Said. That 28-year-old Egyptian businessman was pulled from an Internet cafe in Alexandria last June by two plainclothes police officers who beat him to death in the lobby of a residential building after they learned that he had posted a video on his personal blog showing them with illegal drugs. The Egyptian police and security services have a well-earned reputation for brutality and snuffing out political opposition. But in Mr. Said, they unwittingly chose the wrong target. Within five days of his death, an anonymous human rights activist created a Facebook page -- We Are All Khaled Said -- that posted cellphone photos from the morgue of his battered and bloodied face, the video of the corrupt police officers and other YouTube videos contrasting his corpse with pictures of his bright and smiling face from happier days. By mid-June, 130,000 people joined the page to get and share updates about the case. It became and remains the biggest dissident Facebook page in Egypt, even as protests continue to sweep the country, with more than 473,000 users, and it has helped spread the word about the demonstrations in Egypt, which were ignited after a revolt in neighboring Tunisia toppled the government there. 'There were many catalysts of the uprising,' said Ahmed Zidan, an online political activist marching toward Tahrir Square for a protest last week. 'The first was the brutal murder of Khalid Said.'

Friday, February 4, 2011


"Tunisian riot police stop protestors along Avenue Bourghiba on January 20, 2011 in Tunis, Tunisia."
(Christopher Furlong / Getty Images)
A Tunisian State Police Officer Shares Harrowing Inside View
By Borzou Daragahi
The Los Angeles Times, February 3, 2011
"He glances over his shoulder. Not here, he says. In the shopping center across the street, there's a cafe downstairs. He picks out a table in the far corner, behind a pillar, to shield his face from security cameras, as jumpy as a fugitive. Except that Najib, 32, is a member of Tunisia's state security forces. During the protests that toppled President Zine el Abidine ben Ali, he was ordered to put on a helmet, hold up a shield and baton, and stand against his own people. He went through the motions, but in the end he didn't have the heart to raise his baton against them. Even with Ben Ali gone, he is reluctant to talk about life as a policeman in a police state. His commanders at the Interior Ministry don't know that he failed in his duty, and they have ordered officers not to talk to reporters. Still, Najib decides to risk it, on the condition that only his first name will be published. With gentle encouragement from his wife, a 30-year-old schoolteacher named Dhekra, he tells his story, the words pouring out. 'The dictator is gone,' he says, speaking quickly and in hushed tones. 'But the dictatorship is still here.' ... Najib says he joined the ministry's forces seeking financial security. His father, a bus driver, was always short of money, and Najib wanted to do better. He went through a year of police training that he describes as abusive and humiliating. After 12 years on the job, his salary is $67 a week, less deductions for his uniform and other expenses.

Tuesday, February 1, 2011


"In a poor section of the city of Suez, young Egyptians take up arms to protect their neighborhood." (Carolyn Cole/Los Angeles Times)
Fear and Desperation Grip Egypt Port City of Suez
By Jeffrey Fleishman
The Los Angeles Times, February 2, 2011
"Abdel Ibrahim waited in the alley with an ax. Boys gathered around him with clubs and knives. His brother held a gun made of lead pipe and a trigger. Building fires smoldered and the dead had been buried, but Ibrahim's small, ragged army suggested new graves may soon be dug. There were no police officers in sight. Their headquarters had been burned. So had the fire department. In this port city of salt air and factory smoke, where resentment over President Hosni Mubarak has been ingrained over decades, the government is the enemy. 'This cleaver's not enough to protect us from the police,' said Ibrahim's brother, Yusef. 'That's why I invented this gun.' The protests sweeping Egypt have been particularly bloody in Suez. At least 30 people have been killed here. Years of repressed hatred over police corruption, beatings and intimidation have turned the city into a storm, gusting, turning strangely quiet and gusting again. Many of the rich have fled, the workers have taken to the streets, the poor hurry to market before curfew. 'Mubarak is a murderer,' reads a wall of graffiti. 'We will not forget the martyrs of the revolution.' Like much of the country, Suez has become a place of eerie twilights and tense mornings. Small fires burn at vigilante roadblocks guarded by men with sticks and swords and cutlery pulled from kitchen drawers. Boys stand watch too, their slender bodies tilted by the weight of their lead pipes.