Arab World: Turn of an Era?
Arab and European Perspectives on the Current Situation in North Africa
Simultaneous translation in German, English, French and Arabic
An event jointly organized by the HKW and the Allianz Kulturstiftung
The successful 'Jasmine Revolution' in Tunisia, the ousting of the president in Egypt, the demonstrations across the Arab World, from Jordan to Syria, from Bahrain to Yemen – it’s still too early to gauge the far-reaching repercussions of this wave of protests. New youth movements, organized via Facebook and unconnected to the old guard or to political Islam, ambivalent armies, alliances between different religious groups: these events caught many western professional observers by surprise. The goals of the new, extremely diverse alliances in Arab countries remind us of the 1989 revolution, which brought with it the abolition of corrupt elites, democratic self-determination and realistic prospects for peoples’ own lives. Yet, is this designation of the unrest as an “Arab Spring” not merely a reflection of our immersion in a western approach to history? Does this designation do justice to conditions on the ground? The reactions of western politicians have been met with incomprehension not just by regime critics and opposition leaders, but also by Tunisian and Egyptian exiles in Europe.
Journalists, artists and academics from Tunisia, Egypt, Algeria and Europe exchange their views on the latest developments and the prospects for the future. With Dalila Alloula, Khaled Al-Khamissi, Huda Lutfi, Aida Eltorie, Volker Perthes, Hisham Matar, Boualem Sansal and Noureddine Ben Redjeb. Moderation: Amira El Ahl
Dalila Alloula, a specialist in gynecology in Oran, Algeria, is Chair of the national NGO "Médecins Algérienne Femmes" (FAM) and a member of the Algerian Association for the prevention of violence against women. She is also involved in on-site promotions for the right to health and the symposium "Albert Camus, l'Algérie, la Méditerranée"
Khaled Al-Khamissi was born in Cairo, Egypt, in 1962. He studied politics at Cairo University and at the Sorbonne in Paris. Al-Khamissi worked as a journalist for various Egyptian newspapers, making himself a name as a critical observer of social conditions. He was also active as a producer, director and scriptwriter of documentary and feature films. In the beginning of 2011, his first novel “Taksi. ON the road in Cairo”, a bestseller throughout Egypt, was published in German.
Noureddine Ben Redjeb has been a radio activist since the early days of the famous German radio station “Radio Multiculti” where he moderated the popular music program "A la Carte". In the 90s, he organized legendary concerts and parties at the Café Global, Haus der Kulturen der Welt and broadcasted regularly for the “Herbstradio”. At present, Nouri presents international guests and their work at the internet station reboot.fm each Friday fom 8-9 pm. Besides his regular broadcast activities, he works in the department of performing arts of the Haus der Kulturen der Welt.
Amira El Ahl was born in Kassel as the daughter of an Egyptian father and a German mother. After studying at the American University of Cairo and finishing her Bachelor degree at the School of Oriental and African Studies, London, she reported as a foreign correspondent for the german magazin “DER SPIEGEL” for two years. She now works as a freelance correspondent and expert on the Middle East. Her travels took her to Lebanon, Algeria, Jordan, Syria and the United Arab Emirates, as well as to the United States, Canada, South Africa and Western Europe.
Aida Eltorie, born in Cairo, is an independent producer and director of the organization Finding Projects.Org, a nonprofit international network designed to realize new and unconventional project plans across the Middle East and Mediterranean regions. She was also Editor-in-Chief for Contemporary Practices Journal Volumes 4, 5, and 6, and has worked with The Townhouse Gallery of Contemporary Art, Cairo, The Brooklyn Museum, The International Museum of Women, Christie's auction house (New York), and independently produced a number of international projects with artists and cultural practitioners from the Middle East and Europe. She holds a Bachelors of visual arts and mass communication from the American University in Cairo and is completing her Masters degree in Islamic Art and Architecture.
Huda Lutfi, trained as a cultural historian and, with her second career as an artist, Huda Lutfi emerged as one of Egypt’s contemporary image-makers. She received her doctorate in Islamic culture and history from McGill University, Montreal, in 1983, and has been teaching since then at the American University in Cairo. Born in Cairo, Lutfi has worked both as a visual artist and cultural historian since the early nineties until 2009, when she opted to take up art as her full time practice. Drawing upon the historical, cultural and local experiences and traditions of Egyptian society, she began exhibiting her artwork in the mid-1990s. Lutfi works like an urban archeologist, constantly digging up found objects, ready-mades and images as loaded fragments of history and culture. She then re-packages them in order to communicate her interplay with the social context. She was awarded second prize in the Biennial for Women Artists of the Mediterranean in 1997, and has exhibited in Egypt and internationally with solo exhibitions in Cairo, France, Germany, Netherlands and the USA.
Hisham Matar was born in New York in 1970 and spent his childhood in Tripoli and Cairo. In the 1990s, his father was arrested in Libya, his fate is still unknown. Matar has lived in London since 1986 where he worked as an architect, mason, actor, lecturer, and bookbinder. His first novel “In The Country of Men” has been translated in 22 languages and was nominated for the Man Booker Prize 2006 and The Guardian First Book Award. In 2007, he has been awarded the Royal Society of Literature Ondaatje Prize, the Commonwealth Writers' Prize and the Arab American Book Award, among others. Just recently he published his new novel “Anatomy of a Disappearance”.
Volker Perthes, political scientist and Middle East expert, is the Director of the German Institute for International and Security Affairs and Executive Chairman of the Board of SWP. From 1992 to 2005, he was head of the research unit “Middle East and Africa” at the German Institute for International and Security Affairs and became known worldwide through his numerous publications on the Middle East. He has taught at the Universities of Duisburg, Münster, Beirut, Munich and Berlin and is a member of several scientific advisory boards. In autumn 2008 he released his latest book on Iran. His inside knowledge of the Arab world has today made the researcher a much sought-after political adviser.
Boualem Sansal was born in the Algerian town of Téniet el Had. He published his first novel, »Le serment des barbares« (1999; t: The oath of the barbarians), at the age of fifty. Owing to his playful handling of the French language, Sansal has since been admired for his linguistic innovation worldwide and continued to focus on politically explosive subjects in his satirical and poetic novels. Sansal’s latest novel »Le village de l’Allemand« (2008; t: The town of the German) deals with the participation of former Nazis in the Algerian struggle for independence. The author’s numerous awards include the Prix du Premier Roman, the Prix Tropiques and the Prix Michel Dard. In 2008 Sansal was awarded the Grand Prix de la francophonie and the Prix Nessim Habif and in 2011 the Peace Prize of the German Book Trade.
The discussion is part of the series "Mittelmeer vor Ort" of the German network of the Anna-Lindh-Foundation.