The Gaza war and Egyptian civil society
The war in Gaza has opened up deep rifts between Arab human rights organisations and Western donor nations. And it's not just the credibility of Western governments that is at stake
Sofia Alaoui's film "Animalia"
Aliens land in Morocco
Moroccan terrain has long proved a popular backdrop for American film productions. In "Animalia", director Sofia Alaoui highlights Morocco's scenery from a local and personal perspective, focusing in particular on the Atlas Mountains
"Iraq's Invisible Beauty"
Pictures, not words
"Iraq's Invisible Beauty" is a documentary film depicting the journey of the late Iraqi photographer Latif al-Ani, who gained international acclaim as one of the pioneers of photography in Iraq and the Middle East. By Shady Lewis Botros
Tunisian films about the Arab Spring
Rage, hope and desperation
Tunisian filmmakers are addressing the subject of the Arab Spring and its failure in Tunisia in their films. Shady Lewis Botros watched three of them for Qantara.de
Netflix series "Queen Cleopatra"
Controversial patchwork history
The decision by Netflix' latest documentary series to portray Cleopatra as an Egyptian and thereby an African ruler is partly aimed at rehabilitating her as a historical figure. But good intentions don't always produce good results, as Shady Lewis Botros argues
Scotland's first Muslim First Minister
How should we rate Humza Yousaf's appointment?
The first Muslim to lead a major political party in Scotland; Humza Yousaf is also the first Muslim to head a government in Western Europe. But the picture is not all rosy, and what happens at the level of the political elite does not necessarily reflect realities on the ground. Commentary by Shady Lewis Botros
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
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
Cairo Conspiracy a.k.a. Boy From Heaven
Al-Azhar, a Catholic monastery...and the Dalai Lama
Palme d’Or winner "Boy from Heaven" is a classic crossover film in which cultural elements are mixed together in haphazard and random fashion. Shady Lewis Botros bemoans the director’s use of various formulaic and cliche-ridden templates dominant in global mass culture
Cancelling "The Lady of Heaven"
Why the fuss over the Prophet's daughter?
Written by the controversial Kuwaiti Shia preacher, Yasser Habib, the film's plot pursues two threads: one from the Islamic past, the other from the present. The narratives meet when Islamic State seizes vast areas of Iraqi territory. By Shady Lewis Botros
Egypt's Ramadan series "El-Ekhteyar 3"
At Abdul Fattah al-Sisi's expense
In the third series of "El-Ekhteyar", actor Yasser Galal delivers a remarkable performance in the role of Egyptian President Abdul Fattah al-Sisi, attracting admiration and ridicule in equal measure. By Shady Lewis Botros
Taha Hussein, a biography
Modern Egypt's great pioneer
Taha Hussein (1889-1973) is considered one of Egypt's most influential intellectuals and cultural politicians. With his biography "The Last Nahdawi", historian Hussam Ahmed provides a profound insight into the contradictions in the life of the great pioneer of Egyptian modernity. By Shady Lewis Botros