face to face with tunisia, libya & egypt
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Correspondents' Diary
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The following three phrases summarize the first day of the constitutional amendments' referendum on January 14, 2014: "a popular event," a "Mawlid" (a celebration of the birth of the Prophet) and a "dancing party."   Many people did not care much about the many video clips posted on social networking sites of women dancing to the rhythm of "Tislam el-Ayadi" (May God Bless these Hands). Some viewed these dances as a type of entertainment,...
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Egypt has become uniquely famous for its season of political as well as personal outbidding among all political activists. Such outbidding was evident by the disputes and accusations exchanged among those who were initially part of the revolutionary movement.  A few days ago, the political outbidding season reached its peak when a group of female leaders – known for their patriotism and belief in the civil state, including Shahenda Muqallad...
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"Here you are," the fight attendant said, so I took my window seat ticket and started a journey towards my chosen destination, thinking of a thousand scenarios. In Libya Airport, everything is possible. Someone might ask: "Are you flying alone?" I imagined a scenario that led to throwing me with my suitcase out of the waiting area. I then imagined another scenario: a militia opens fire at someone or drives toward the runway in a vehicle loaded...
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Today, many men now wear a jubba and a small white cap and have grown beards. And many people now run their own businesses; some with their wives standing behind a screen wearing a black aba, burqa/black mantilla and gloves, let alone those who have monopolized pulpits only for the followers of their thoughts. Prior to the February 17 Revolution, our twenty-something neighbor used to rob houses, drink alcohol, smoke hashish and curse all the...
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When I first saw the black cloud hovering over my city, I first thought it was God's punishment for our sins because Derna has only witnessed murders and revenge since the revolution ended. But it turned out that the cloud came from a fire in the Derna industrial zone, which led to four burned factories and loses in the millions. The fire lasted 30 hours because our city has no fire engine. Eventually, citizens and officials brought fire trucks...
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Every day, before going to bed and while trying to sleep, we, the people of the city of Derna in eastern Libya, wait carefully, wondering where the blast will take place this evening. Will it be far away or nearby? Will the house and the adjacent buildings shake? Will the glass be broken? Will we feel panic as we do  after every explosion? This scene is repeated in my city where blasts take place almost every day. The target is the only...
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I did not expect to be next.  I went out at night on Tuesday, September 24, only to find a thief inside my car. I thought at first he was trying to plant an IED, a commonplace practice against most media figures in Libya. Helped by some young men from my family and the neighborhood, I managed to tie him up. Then, I yelled at him: "Why do you want to kill me?"  The terrified thief replied: "I swear, I am just a thief!" A large number of...
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I take a cab at eight o'clock every morning to my job in Fwehat Street in Benghazi. However, I have to get out at the beginning of the street and walk for 300 meters due to the congestion. This morning's ride, which takes twice the supposed time, has become an inevitable part of my commute. Going to work on foot might be faster, less tense and safer in such overcrowded streets, especially those where schools are. From 7 to 9 o'clock in the...
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"If you are one of them, I will arrest you," said a noncommissioned officer, threatening me while I was taking photos of the court complex in Ismaïlia, following a fire that broke out at the premises a week ago during the demonstrations of pro-Morsi supporters. The threat by the informal officer was not out of his fear of me being a supporter of the Muslim Brotherhood. Nor was it because I did not have a permit from the officer in charge of...
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