Every person sees news through their own local and national reality, filtered through religion, culture, local politics, and unique personal perspectives. Every town, city, region, nation, and region has its own story, and every news story has a thousand different perspectives.
Our "Letters From..." series brings you the experience of current events with local perspective, providing richer detail than a top-down news organization ever could. Written entirely by our Citizen Reporters all over the world, this growing series of blog posts provides focused glimpses into the news and stories that are merely printed words and pictures for the rest of the world.
- Published on Wednesday, 09 February 2011 12:42
- Category: Letters From Egypt
This post was originally written before the events of Feb 11, 2011
Our family has lived in the Cairo suburb of Maadi for the past 5 years. Maadi is a normally quiet area with some old houses and newer apartment buildings. These past week, for the first time in those five years, we felt unsafe.
Life in Maadi is normally pretty easy with lots of activities available. Most of the kids can walk to school. Our week normally includes a fair amount of activities with our local church - St. John's Episcopal. If people want more insight on what life is like as a Christian in Cairo feel free to check out our church website (www.maadichurch.org).
- Published on Tuesday, 12 April 2011 20:00
- Category: Letters From Morocco
A few weeks ago, on a train ride from Rabat to Fes, a magical, imperial city in the north of Morocco, I sat across from a young man who was reading the latest edition of TelQuel, a French-language Moroccan weekly magazine that is known for its unabashedly candid criticism of the Moroccan government. Sprawled across the cover was a picture of King Mohammed VI flanked by the country’s bright red flags and a bold headline that read, Il l’a Fait!, or in English, “He did it!”
Referring to the king’s recent speech in which he outlined a series of sweeping constitutional reforms, the magazine captured the same sense of excitement and disbelief that many Moroccans feel.
Just weeks after protests rocked the country from Tangier to Agadir, the 47-year-old monarch announced that he would deliver a state address, and deliver he did. Offering a seven-point proposal of reforms that would ultimately limit his power and give citizens more control of government, he seemingly answered the call of youth activists who have been swept up in the winds of change blowing across the region.
- Published on Tuesday, 15 March 2011 20:00
- Category: Letters From Oman
MUSCAT- Protests broke out in Oman a few weeks ago, though one would never know it by looking at local newspapers. Like most of its Gulf neighbors, the Omani press is tightly monitored by the government, reporting mostly on the King’s greetings to foreign nations and his royal decrees. Such scant local coverage, in addition to a general ignorance about the country, has resulted in limited information floating around major news networks. Through a combination of bits and bites from Internet media, official articles, and several well placed sources inside the Omani government, I hope to explain exactly what is going on in Oman. And it’s probably not what anyone expects.
Though it has been crowned the latest participant in Arab world protests, Omani popular resistance, like many other aspects of the country, takes on its own distinct flavor. In comparison to Egypt and even its Gulf neighbors, demonstrations have been relatively small, ranging in size from about 40 to 4,000 people, and nowhere near as explosive, with only eight recorded deaths in two weeks of protests. Most importantly, the protesters’ demands are also nowhere near as radical, remaining quite distant from neighboring calls for removal of heads of state.
- Published on Friday, 17 June 2011 06:00
- Category: Letters from Turkey
The Turkish proverb, “the Turk has no friend” (Turk’un dostu yoktur) has become popular in Turkey's capital, Ankara. Washington thumbs its nose at Ankara’s surging strength in the Middle East. Europe continues to slam the door on Turkey’s aspirations to join its EU. Israel accuses its erstwhile ally of siding with terrorists. Perhaps this is what makes Turkey’s bombastic and confrontational prime minister, Recep Tayyip Erdogan even more adamantly focused on his country’s foreign policy.
Alhough Erdogan’s Justice and Development Party (AKP) won a third of the seats in last Sunday’s election, the AKP now has fewer seats (326) than before the election (330). At the same time, Erdogan’s popularity increased, from 47% to 50%.
That could be because of Turkey’s increasing role in global affairs. Certainly foreign policy was on Erdogan’s mind as he stood on the balcony of AKP’s headquarters in Turkey’s capital Ankara. “Today,” he shouted to his jubilant supporters, “Sarajevo won as much as Istanbul. Beirut won as much as Izmir. Damascus won as much as Ankara. Ramallah, Nablus, Jenin, the West Bank, Jerusalem won as much as Diyarbakir.”
- Published on Tuesday, 14 June 2011 20:00
- Category: Letters from Turkey
His Justice and Development Party (AKP) won a whopping 50 percent of the country’s vote and an overwhelming 326 parliamentary seats. Still, Recep Tayyip Erdogan, AKP’s leader and Tukey’s bombastic prime minister, forsake his usual swagger for an apologetic tone during his victory speech on Sunday night.
“Today is not a day of reckoning,” he said to a cheering crowd of several thousand at AKP headquarters in Turkey’s capital Ankara, “Today is a day of reconciliation.” Perhaps they were words prompted by the admitted loss of four seats. Nonetheless, they were, along with his appeals for consensus building with those that oppose him, uncharacteristic words for Erdogan, who has prided himself for being and representing the “outsider.”
Yet with a third and what is his largest victory yet, Erdogan and the AKP have become a Turkish institution. It is an institution with lots of money and influence. That was apparent by the number of billboards and signs boasting Erdogan’s image that lined the several mile highway between Istanbul’s Ataturk airport and the city’s main square, Taksim.
- Published on Monday, 26 September 2011 10:15
- Category: Letters From the UK
I confess to being a fan of Nihal, a DJ and a radio presenter on BBC Asian Network, where he presents a phone-in show in the afternoon that deals with social and political issues. Sometimes I even speak with him live on air.
There was a show on a recent Wednesday, that was inspired by the Bollywood film industry. Two Bollywood stars are planning on getting married after several years of courtship. “What’s the big deal?” I hear you ask. There is none. But when the actors are both of different faiths (she’s a Hindu and he’s a Muslim) then the gossip mill start churning away.
The question for that session was “Are Hindu-Muslim marriages in Bollywood making it more acceptable for everyone else?” Apparently Bollywood, that shining beacon of hope and morality for the South-Asian Diaspora, which churns out tall, fair-skinned Amazonian women, is that influential in our daily lives. Many a time, nestled up with a hot mocha in the local Costa Coffee (they do the best coffee – sorry Starbucks) while considering lifestyle changes, I’ve said to myself: What Would Aishwarya Rai Do? On a more serious note, I’ve yet to hear one person say in my presence that a lifestyle decision they have made was influence by a Bollywood star.