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Te Doy Una Cancion, Fidel Castro.

In a bar in Mexico City, Diego Fonseca learns that Cuba’s longtime strongman has finally died. A meditation on the passing of adolescent dreams, on revolution gasping out its life on a hospital ventilator, on how Fidel became Castro.

Now as an adult that song of my youth still makes the hair on the back of my neck stand up and makes me bite my lip and makes me raise my eyebrows and kick back with my hands behind my head as if it were not just a song, but all the Romantic revolutions that I could ever fight for.

There Is No Light to Lead Us Out of this Dark Place

Saint John Chrysostom in Damascus, 2013. Youssef Abdelke.

Freed from prison, prominent Syrian artist and opposition figure Youssef Abdelke has little hope for the future of his country. In this interview with Lebanon’s Al-Safir, he remains convinced that the first mistake of the opposition was its eagerness to take up arms, and suggests that the foreign backing of the armed factions is at the root of the divisions among the Assad regime’s armed opponents.

After 36 days in prison, Syrian artist Youssef Abdelke was released by Syrian authorities last month.

Tunisia: Do Not Murder Our Democracy

Tunisia, cradle of the Arab Spring, is in deep trouble: a series of shocking political assassinations of important figures of the leftist opposition, a violent salafi movement opposed to the conservative Islamist government, plunging public support for the institutions of the state. In nearby Egypt, military officers and the old civilian elite have just seized back power via canny manipulation of public opinion and savage violence, though they appear to be leading the country toward civil war. Here, a pair of Tunisian intellectuals call for a national effort to save Tunisia’s embryonic democracy before it tears itself apart.

It has been six months since the assassination of Chokri Belaid.

‘Okay, Let’s Grab Her, But Then Take Turns, Guys’

In this blog post addressed to other victims, a woman describes in excruciating detail her rape at the hands of a huge mob of men at a revolutionary demonstration. Cairo’s Tahrir Square, the central stage of the country’s ongoing revolution, has been the scene of numerous mob rapes and sexual assaults.

This is my story, one like many other women's stories. It is the story of what happened to me-and what happened to you. You and I know how it was: death came near, though it didn't arrive.

On Patrol With The Free Syrian Army

A wounded Syrian man in a northern Lebanese hospital. Photo Al Akhbar.

The ongoing bloodbath in Syria seems in some ways a recurrence of the violence which wracked the country a generation ago, and which ended in the massacre at Hama in 1982. One difference is the emergence this time of the shadowy “Free Syrian Army”, which has rallied defectors from the military and others to an apparently nationwide armed revolt.

In this series of articles, a reporter from Lebanon's Al-Akhbar provides a searching account of the Free Syrian Army from the inside: wracked by factionalism, poorly disciplined, and remarkably sectarian in outlook.

Egypt’s Faceless Candidates

Author of Sketch, Mounaqaba with a flower

The first free elections in the history of Egypt are taking place, and among the candidates are thirty women who wear the niqab – the religious veil that conceals the entire body including the face. Niqabi women campaigning for office can seem a paradoxically feminist decision, despite the fact that some in Egypt have accused them of being puppets.

Fatma is a munaqaba, running as an independent candidate for a parliamentary seat from Cairo. Running for public office "is twice a challenge," she says. "On one side, the liberals actively fight my presence and, on the other side, the salafis want me to go back home because they think that a woman

A Nation of Policy Geeks?

Demonstrators in front of the Tunisian Assembly. Photo CC.

Elected bodies were stagnant places under deposed dictator Ben Ali, but post-revolution elections have breathed life into Tunisia’s Constituent Assembly. The assembly’s televised debates have awoken the political wonk in many Tunisians.

Recently, while I was out getting some exercise with a friend of mine, I was startled when he suddenly decided to abandon me for the sole purpose of going home to watch the Constitutuent Assembly debates on television.