The top ten most-read articles on

Refugees carry their belongings as they make their way ashore through the waves from a boat on the coast of Aceh, Indonesia, 16 November 2023
Migration in all its forms and how to deal with it was a major issue in many countries around the world. According to the UNHCR, there were 110 million forcibly displaced people worldwide in mid 2023 (image: Rahmat Mirza/AP/picture alliance | Rahmat Mirza)

As 2023 draws to a close, the team at once again takes a look at the stories that really stood out over the past year. Here is a list of the ten articles published in 2023 that piqued your interest most over the past twelve months. Happy New Year to all our readers!

The year 2023 was marked by a number of key anniversaries, including the 100th anniversary of the foundation of Turkey, 20 years since the invasion of Iraq and the 750th anniversary of Rumi's death, which marked with a special four-part series.

There were also a number of major natural disasters in the region we report on, including the devastating earthquakes in Morocco and Turkey and the flooding in Libya.

Key elections (Turkey and Egypt) and debilitating economic crises (Turkey, Egypt, Lebanon) in the Islamic world also grabbed the headlines over the past year.

Migration and climate change remained high on the political agenda around the world. Protests continued in Iran (in response to the 2022 violent death of Jina Mahsa Amini), Israel (controversial judicial reform), France (Nahel riots) and around the world (Koran burning in Sweden). 

And while the wars in Sudan, Syria and Ukraine dragged on, news in the final quarter of the year was unquestionably dominated by the Hamas terrorist attacks in Israel on 7 October and Israel's retaliatory strikes in the Gaza Strip.

Qantara's Top Ten in 2023

1          Economic crisis in Egypt: Debt on the Nile 

For leading economist Yazid Sayegh, the cause of Egypt's current economic and financial crisis lies primarily in the government's policy of excessive borrowing. He also criticises the way German and European politicians handle the Sisi regime. Interview by Mahmoud Hussein

2          The origins of the Maghreb: Was the Arab Maghreb a French invention? 

The book "The Invention of the Maghreb: between Africa and the Middle East" prompts us to review basic terminology. This includes terms that we use almost every day as if they are definitive by virtue of geography, history and culture, such as "the Arab Maghreb", "North Africa", "the Middle East" and "sub-Saharan Africa". Shady Lewis Botros read the book 

3          Iran protests 2023: Why Iran's revolutionary process will persist 

Despite demonstrations waning during winter, the revolutionary process is poised to gain renewed momentum. After all, the regime is unable to address the combination of socio-economic and political crises driving the current unrest. Essay by Ali Fathollah-Nejad

4          Language and language acquisition: How the brain processes German and Arabic 

Language develops in different areas of the brain. Researchers have been able to show that the way these are linked varies according to the respective native language – knowledge that could prove useful. By Katrin Ewert

5          Narendra Modi and Hindutva: Why violence towards India's minorities is increasing 

To what extent is Narendra Modi's Hindu nationalist government endangering India's founding principle as a secular state? Sonja Hegasy spoke to social anthropologist and political analyst S. M. Faizan Ahmed in Delhi 

Two young Palestinians push a wooden cabinet on wheels and several bags along a road. In the background are piles of rubble from destroyed buildings, Rafah, Gaza Strip, 5 December 2023
News in the last three months of the year was overwhelmingly dominated by the Hamas terrorist attacks in Israel on 7 October and Israel's retaliatory strikes in the Gaza Strip. Pictured here: two young Palestinians flee the Israeli ground offensive in Rafah, Gaza Strip (image: Hatem Ali/AP Photo/picture alliance | Hatem Al)

6          750th anniversary of Rumi’s death: Seeking the essence of life 

Seven-and-a-half centuries after the death of Muslim mystic poet Rumi, his verse has lost nothing of its profundity and transformative power. By Marian Brehmer 

7          Exiled artist Forouhar: 'A country in turmoil' 

Visiting the country of her parents, murdered by the Iranian regime in 1998, German-Iranian artist Parastou Forouhar finds a changed society: hopeful, strong and courageous, despite all the repression. By Parastou Forouhar 

8          Israel-Palestine conflict: Muslim sceptics, the West and democracy 

Events unfolding in the Middle East will have long-term consequences for world politics. Analysing perceptions is crucial to predicting the fallout. So how does the global Muslim community perceive Western governments' support of Israel's siege and aerial bombardment of Gaza? By Ahmet T. Kuru

9          Racism in Arab societies: It all depends on your origins 

Criticism of prevailing religious and social conventions is still taboo in Arab discourse. But that urgently needs to change, so that we no longer judge people by their origins in future, but rather based on what they have achieved, says Egyptian writer Khaled al-Khamissi in his essay

10        Hieroglyphs exhibition at the British Museum: Museums with guilt complexes 

To celebrate the bicentenary of the deciphering of the Rosetta Stone, the British Museum is running an exhibition entitled "Hieroglyphs: unlocking ancient Egypt" until February 2023. While Shady Lewis Botros welcomes the museum's effort to broaden the Eurocentric focus of the exhibition, he says that it "lays bare a critical approach and a potential for revisionism" and remains largely decorative

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