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Tuesday, September 22, 2009

Morning news roundup

Arab humorists in the territories are starting to make fun of the division between Gaza and the West Bank, both in cartoons and on TV. A popular Ramadan program's theme song satirically said "we have spoken of one people, we have spoken of two peoples." A cartoon showed young boys from each area asking how 'Eid is celebrated in the other one.

A bomb exploded in front of a beauty salon in Gaza a couple of days ago.

An Egyptian op-ed ridicules the idea of Egyptian Farouk Hosni as the next head of UNESCO:

His multiple terms as culture minister was also marred by book censorships and an overall decline in the quality of Egypt’s cultural output whether in the world of literature, art or cinema. According to UNESCO statistics, in 1974, Egypt published 1,765 books, which went up to 3,108 in 1993, then down to 2,215 in 1995. A little over 10 years later and the number could not have gone higher by more than just 500 books at the most, which puts Egypt far below Israel for example at 7,414 new titles in 2008, according to the Legal Deposit Department’s Israeli Book Statistics.

In fact, it’s shameful that in 2009 no such information about how many books are published in Egypt annually is available online. If it proves anything, it’s how little attention the culture minister has given the Egyptian General Book Organization.

What small steps achieved in theater, art and cinema have also been the fruit of the great efforts of dedicated individuals like Mohamed El Sawy, who has revolutionized the dynamic of cultural access both for the creative artists and audience through El Sawy Culture Wheel – all with very little help from the ministry. The numerous visual art spaces that have cropped up and gained a devoted following over the past decade or so have also been privately-funded and managed.

Egypt censored some episodes of a Ramadan drama for mentioning things like Viagra and drugs.

Ahmadinejad gave a speech at a military show, saying how Iran would cut off the hands of anyone on the planet who wants to attack Iran before they even squeeze the trigger. He then insisted that Iran's military was purely defensive. And then a plane in the show crashed, which was reported by IRNA before the story disappeared.