Egyptians pay for democracy in blood

By Emad Shahin, American University in Cairo

Emad Shahin

Dr. Emad Shahin

The violent deaths of hundreds and the injury of thousands of peaceful pro-democracy protesters in a few short hours yesterday is tragic. What is the more tragic is that it could have been avoided.

In past weeks, foreign mediators and domestic sides have presented sound initiatives to resolve the ongoing crisis in Egypt peacefully. None was headed by the leaders of the military coup that repeatedly rejected these initiatives in “substance and in form” and insisted on superimposing their own road-map that toppled a freely elected civilian president, Continue reading


The State or the People: who’s to blame?

people300We often like to put people into categories: liberals and conservatives, doers and thinkers, Islamists and secularists, those who like dark chocolate and those who favor milk chocolate, those who like cats and those who prefer dogs, and so on. It is very often two antipodal partitions and no middle ground. It is a simplistic analysis for it makes it simpler for people to have a quick take on things. People are just not interested to dwell upon confusing gray areas. To this list of opposing attitudes, I recently discovered one more differentiation: Continue reading

Jeûner ou ne pas jeûner, est-ce la question?

de-jeuneursEn Algérie, les jeunes d’aujourd’hui posent des fois des problèmes pas facile à résoudre. Ainsi quelques jeunes de Kabylie se sont regroupés récemment en plein publique et en plein jeûne du Ramadan pour montrer à tout le monde qu’ils ne font pas le jeûne et qu’ils n’ont pas peur de le montrer. Bien sur j’étais surpris d’apprendre que le système légal algérien avait une disposition contre les gens qui n’observaient pas le Ramadan en publique. Par rapport aux bons musulmans que nous sommes, ça peut choquer plus d’un de voir ces jeunes, que tous espère voir grandir en bon musulmans, s’écarter du bon chemin. Mais surtout, ça ne plairait pas au bon Dieu, spécialement en ces derniers dix jours bénis de Lailat El Qadr. Mais je ne pense pas que ces jeunes aient délibérément choisi ces jours particuliers, sinon ça aurait été trop savant de leur part. Continue reading

Translating ‘Sharia’ for a Contemporary American Audience


Recently, I interviewed Joseph Lowry, formerly a practicing attorney and now translator of al-Shāfi‘ī’s The Epistle on Legal Theory (the Risālah), part of the growing Library of Arabic Literature. Lowry talked about translating “sharia” for a contemporary audience:

ArabLit: How do you think your new translation of al-Shāfi‘ī’s Epistle, a ninth-century text, fits into a twenty-first century debate on the place of “sharia” law in US courts?

imagesJoseph Lowry: For a variety of reasons, Islamic law is something that has wandered into the popular consciousness. It’s something many people seem to have heard of, and about which people have various ideas. Most of them, not surprisingly, are inaccurate. But some of these mistaken impressions of Islamic law are impressions that are understandable based on the world we live in.

So maybe what I should say is this: There’s a long tradition of highly technical and also intellectually very interesting legal…

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