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This week's editor

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Rosemary Bechler is openDemocracy’s Editor.

Constitutional conventions: best practice

Right to the city


In the years that have passed since the "Arab Spring", dreams of monumental change have evolved into a robust counter-revolution, of which the predominant feature is the restructuring of urban space. By looking at the built landscape, new power dynamics come into the spotlight.

These articles shed light on how the interactions between state and citizens in this region, and their social and political struggles, shape public (and sometimes private) spaces. People's access to and navigation of these spaces in their daily experience reveals the evolution of their relationship with the state and each other, as both parties fight for their right to the city.


Pink buses and race politics

To ally campaigns for women’s rights with racism is to accept the very logic that, at its ideological core, feminism seeks to destroy.

Jerusalem: securing spaces in holy places

There are actors involved in all sides of this dispute who must now encourage enduring dialogue for conflict prevention. Jerusalem should remain the city of peace not conflict.

Mental help: the story of Gaza’s trauma unit

Palestine has the highest rate of mental health disorders in the MENA region. Even though resources are limited, there are incredible people fighting for mental health in Gaza. 

Who will defend Egypt’s human rights defenders?

NGOs play an essential role in local communities; the government’s reckless, repressive actions will jeopardize the country’s future.

Ruminations on the political in post-referendum Turkey

Despite the state’s attempts to know and manage, there remain illegible elements, as exemplified by the people who support the No campaign or the women who join the Women’s Rally.

The new apathy: emotional break-off from Turkey

Young people are experiencing a numbness and profound disconnect from Turkey. Strict policies of repression and totalitarian changes in the country's constitution threaten to undo Turkish society altogether.

الحركة العمالية: صعود جديد يدفعه الإفقار ويعوقه القمع

محاولة عاملات المحلة الإضراب في مطلع فبرايريمكن اعتبارها أحد إرهاصات وبوادر صعود جديد للحركة العمالية في مصر.

Egypt without Egyptians: the story of the Red Sea islands

Egyptian nationalism, as an ideology nurtured by the military elites and embraced by the middle class, marginalizes the mass of Egyptians.

Book review: "The Battle for Home: The Memoir of a Syrian Architect" by Marwa al-Sabouni

If we can no longer recognise our surroundings as a shared home it becomes easier to contemplate their destruction.

Iraq 13 years on

As life goes on in Baghdad, plans need to be put in place to make people’s lives more bearable. Planning should not wait until the war ends, because in Baghdad, as in much of Iraq, war is now the new normal.

Who is afraid of the urban poor?

Maged MandourIn Egypt, both the ruling elites and the urban middle class cling to the military regime, in the hope that they will be protected from a seemingly inevitable tide of social unrest.

Government failure to upgrade informal settlements in Egypt: a brief history

Is civil administration and planning in Egypt being run professionally according to research and analysis, or is it as ‘random’ as the housing it claims to improve?

Cairo landscapes: a battle over history

The reworking of urban spaces embodying the collective memory of the January 25 uprising is not a novelty, but part and parcel of the state's attempt to rewrite the history of the revolution.

A frightening vision: on plans to rebuild the Alexandria Lighthouse

If modern Alexandrian history is any indicator, rebuilding the lighthouse will become a symbol not of communal spirit but of excess, and a visible target of rage. 

Homage to deformed cities

Gaza. Is there a city beyond the slogans?

Jerusalem: a city on edge

The old city of Jerusalem is the singular most contested city in human history.

The right to neighbourhood: way out of a sectarian quagmire

In Damascus there are no direct routes linking Jaramana to Mhajirin, or the Yarmouk camp to Sayyida Zayneb - each home to different communities stratified along lines of class and religious belonging. Isolation and distance is reinforced; and in so doing serves to reproduce the Other.

Film review: the architecture of violence

The Architecture of Violence, part of AJE's Rebel Architecture series, explores the use of architecture as a central component of the Israeli occupation of Palestine, focusing on the work of Eyal Weizman.

E-1, or how I learned to stop worrying about the two-state solution

The development of the E-1 area is seen as a ‘doomsday device’ that can make or break the Israel-Palestine two-state solution. Despite its significance, however, it is merely one of many factors indicating that, for all the self-deception, it might already be too late.

Cairo: a history of people’s right to the city

A social and historical introduction to people’s struggle over the right to the city in Cairo, Egypt.

The heavy presence of Jerusalem Light Rail: why Palestinian protesters attacked the tracks

The destruction of tram stations during the protests in East Jerusalem is much more than vandalism, it shows that Palestinians are not quietly acquiescing to the ‘unification’ of the city, which they understand as the annexation of occupied land.

Making it flow, somehow

This is not a film about the Egyptian revolution. This is a film about Cairo - and traffic. Film review.

Taming Tahrir (Part 2): re-appropriating Al-Midan and co-opting memory

By replacing the cement block with gates, the regime is not only curtailing the infrastructure of protest and dissent, but it is also destroying many of the meanings that Tahrir stood for: freedom, justice, and citizens’ reclamation of public space.

The (anti-) protest law: no more public space in Egypt?

The battle for dominance over public space in Egypt will continue, determining the future relationship between state and society.

Angels caught in a tightening noose

Many disregard the recurrent stories of prison deaths, police torture and rape because - on the other hand – Egypt's streets are empty after curfew and the walls are freshly painted; surely a clear indication that the state has succeeded in restoring security and defeating terrorism.

Taming Tahrir (Part One)

Tahrir has witnessed five milestones that have eventually resulted in a mixed reality which paves the way for the sidestepping of the January revolution.

On strategies of spatial resistance in Palestine

The recent international coverage of the Bab Al-Shams camp depicted the demonstrators as mirroring Israeli settler tactics by creating ‘facts on the ground’. Whilst the comparison is not unfounded, it fails to contextualize the broader politics of space operating in Palestinian struggles against Israeli occupation.

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