Articles Archive for April 2011
SAMAR YAZBEK 40 years old, blue eyed gentle cosmopolitan. Watching her at first, it is impossible to tell from which part of the world she is. But then it takes little to realize how deeply a daughter of Syria she is. How delighted she is with her language, Arabic, to which she has dedicated her studies, and which has accompanied her work as a feminist and political activist, as a journalist, screenwriter for cinema and TV, and especially a writer. It also takes little to realize that this soft aspect of hers hides an immense courage.
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(April 1, 2011) Security patrols swarm through the streets; they are everywhere I go. Cars coming and going; speeding then slowing down. Huge buses of security men wearing helmets and military uniforms are spreading through the markets, squares, major intersections and places where there might be demonstrations. Men in civilian clothes are gathering; their heavy presence exposes them. How did I learn to tell the difference between a security officer and an ordinary man in Damascus? It’s hard to tell when I first started to play this game; when my instincts first outpaced questions and words. I know them from their eyes. From the way their wear their clothes. From their shoes. There are more security men than ordinary people on the streets today, in the alleys, in front of stalls, in the squares, in front of schools. Everywhere I go, the security men are there.
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An Egyptian cartoonist who was arrested and had his graphic novel banned under Hosni Mubarak’s regime is to be published in English. Magdy El Shafee wrote the graphic novel “Metro” in 2008. It was banned in his home country and El Shafee was convicted of offending public decency after a lengthy trial.
“Crossroads of Civilization“ is the name given to the annual Venetian International Literary Festival that annually brings many writers from around the world for four days of immersive discussion. This year’s edition will be held from the 13th until the 16th of April 2011.
The festival occupies some of the city’s most prestigious locations, from the Auditorium Santa Margherita, Teatro Malibran to Querini Stampalia Foundation, Cinema Giorgione, AteneoVeneto and Casino. Even the extraordinary Palazzo Ducale and Punta della Dogana lend their amazing spaces to host some of the events.
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I won’t say that I am calm now. I am truly silent. I listen to the beats of my heart like the echo of a distant explosion that is clearer than the sound of the bullets, than the shouts of the young, than the wailing of mothers. Clearer than the tremor in my mother’s voice when she implores me not to go out onto the street.
By Samar Yazbek