Discover more from Sa'alouni El Nas
Guest Feature: Ghada Alsharif
Before we dive in here, I want to give a quick plug to my friend (and illustrious guest feature) Farrah Berrou and all the incredible work she’s doing with B for Bachus and Aanab, an 8-page biannual mini-newspaper designed by her. Each issue features a long-form essay by Farrah and commissioned work by other talents from the region.
Every Bacchus member receives a printed copy of Aanab twice a year in their seasonal mailers as part of the Bacchus membership, but limited print/digital copies are available for purchase for non-members. So check it out and pre-order the third edition of Aanab (trust me, you do not want to miss out!)
This past weekend, Lebanon held its first parliamentary elections for the first time since 2018, and the first time since the Beirut blast in 2020. The balance in power shifted slightly, as some incumbents entrenched in the sectarian government were unseated by independents — many of whom have been active on the ground in civil society. Cautious, very cautious, optimism.
For an overview of what happened in the elections, check out these incredible data visualizations done by the team at L’Orient Today, along with these stories from tireless reporters who worked nonstop during the elections:
Lebanon elects a new Parliament: A breakdown of divisions, winners and losers - L’Orient Today Staff
To parents of toddler killed in Beirut blast, Lebanon's vote 'means everything' - Maya Gebeily, Reuters
Hezbollah and allies lose majority in Lebanon’s parliamentary elections - Sarah Dadouch and Nader Durgham, The Washington Post
Lebanon's emboldened opposition goes from protest to parliament - Timour Azhari and Maya Gebeily, Reuters
Lebanon election monitors complain of violations, attacks - Kareem Chehayeb, Al Jazeera
MPs charged over Beirut blast re-elected, troubling families of victims - Timour Azhari, Reuters
Elections in Lebanon, does political change stand a chance? - Kareem Chehayeb, Al Jazeera
After Lebanon’s Collapse, Can an Election Fix the Country? - Ben Hubbard, Hwaida Saad, and Asmaa al-Omar, The New York Times
This week’s newsletter won’t be a “Lebanon” section under “What I’m Reading” as there typically is, mainly because these stories are here above! Next week, we’ll go back to the usual layout.
Okay friends, let’s get right into it. I am so excited to introduce this week’s guest feature: Ghada Alsharif!
Ghada is a reporter for the Toronto Star covering COVID-19 and climate change. Before that, she was based out of Lebanon for three years where she covered the Beirut Port explosion and the ongoing legal investigation, the economic collapse and the Oct. 2019 mass uprising for L’Orient Today and The Daily Star. Ghada completed a Fellowship in Global Journalism at the Munk School of Global Affairs at the University of Toronto and has written for several publications including CBC News and Quartz.
Ghada’s reporting in Lebanon brought nuance to the conversation and contextualized each development within the grand scheme. Truly a phenomenal reporter, and now Ghada continues that with her crucial coverage in Toronto. But, as y’all know, life is more than just your career. Ghada’s empathy is what shines in her storytelling. And that empathy translates to her go-to songs as well:
1. What is your favorite song right now?
I can’t get enough of this song. It’s almost 10 minutes long and I feel like I discover a different layer every time I listen to it. I can completely zone out to it or have an aggressive solo dance party. There are very few songs that make me feel the way this one does. I would recommend listening to it with good noise-cancelling headphones or on a late-night drive.
2. What’s your go-to song for all your feels?
“Wild Is The Wind” by Nina Simone. It’s an all-consuming tornado of piano and vocals. It’s a perfect song.
Also, “A Case of You” by James Blake, a Joni Mitchell cover. I grew up playing the piano so I’m a bit of a sucker for a gut-wrenching piano ballad.
3. Name a song that reminds you of home.
Anything Fairouz and Um Kulthoum, of course. “Zahret el Madaen” by Fairouz is one of my mom’s favorites. Her family is from Jerusalem and the song reminds me of her and my aunts humming along to it, sitting around the kitchen table rolling grape leaves late at night.
“Allah Ya Zein” by Rashed Al-Majed is full of joy and always reminds me of my dad and dancing with family in Saudi Arabia.
4. Name a song you know all the words to.
“Baby Got Back” by Sir Mix-A-Lot. Also, every song from the musical Chicago. Anytime my best friend and I take a road trip we sing the whole musical through at least once. Don’t ever get in a car with us.
5. Name a song that gets you really hype and ready to go.
“212” by Azelia Banks. And almost anything by Kendrick Lamar or Missy Elliott.
Big shout out to Ghada for joining and sharing her song selections! Most of Ghada’s songs are available on Spotify and will be included in this week’s playlist, so be sure to take a listen. Make sure to check out Ghada’s work at the Toronto Star, and go follow her on Twitter!
What I’m Listening To
🎧 Flows by Middle Eastern, North African, & Diaspora Artists 🎧
Zero - VLI WEEZY
Aqab - Wezza Montaser
Khod - Lil Shadz
Alright - May Elghety
Papillon - L’morphine
Lwess - Samara
Mazdiri - Tamman
Askim - Soolking featuring Reynmen
Elli Fet - Ÿuma
Araseek - Dareen
🎤 Vibes by Latinx & Hispanic Artists 🎤
Protagonista - Tania Matus featuring Obed Calixto
Gogo Dance - El Alfa
Amante - Cassandra Paz
Tití Me Preguntó - Bad Bunny
Noche De Teteo - Sech
La Tierra del Olvido - Aymee Nuviola
Sigue y Sigue - Jenn Morel
Nazareno - Farruco
TAJIN - Becky G featuring Guaynaa
Otra Noche - Goyo
🎼 Other Good Music 🎼
Soul - Tekowa Lakica
Apollo - Victony
Downright - Pip Millett
Je M’appelle - Benzz
Purple Hearts - Kendrick Lamar featuring Summer Walker and Ghostface Killah
Blü Moon - THEY.
This Hell - Rina Sawayama
22 Carats - Headie One featuring Gazo
Forever - Andi K featuring Shizzi and WurlD
Hyasynth - Léa Sen
What I’m Reading
🌍 Middle East, North Africa, & Diaspora 🌎
My friend Shireen Abu Akleh told the stories no one else wanted to tell - Dalia Hatuqa, CNN
“Covering what Amnesty International and others call clear human rights abuses in the occupied Palestinian territories never broke her. It never stopped her from appreciating and enjoying life.”
The ‘Spider-Man’ of Sudan: masked activist becomes symbol of resistance - Kaamil Ahmed, The Guardian
Dressed in red and blue, ‘Spidey’ is a fixture at protests against the military regime.
Iraqi merchants struggle on amid series of strong sandstorms - Samya Kullab, Associated Press
“There have been at least eight sandms in Iraq since April, according to officials. They have landed thousands of Iraqis in hospitals with severe breathing difficulties and at least one person died, according to Iraq’s Health Ministry, which declared a state of emergency.”
The Imprisoned Egyptian Activist Who Never Stopped Campaigning for His Country’s Future - Yasmine El Rashidi, The Atlantic
Alaa Abd el-Fattah’s writings reveal where the revolution lost steam, and how to rebuild its momentum.
Thousands in Tunisia protest against president, demand democratic return - Tarek Amara, Reuters
Thousands of Tunisians protested on Sunday against President Kais Saied, demanding a return to the normal democratic order and rejecting his replacement of the independent electoral commission with one he named himself.
🎶 Music, Arts, & Culture 🎶
The Country That Doesn’t Call You Home - Film by Isabelle Mecattaf, Text by Yasmine AlSayyad, The New Yorker
The short film “Beity,” written and directed by Isabelle Mecattaf, explores the dynamics of Lebanese families spread thin around the world.
The hip hop musical 'Little Syria' tells a mostly forgotten NYC story - John Schaefer, Gothamist
Rapper and poet Omar Offendum tells the story of NYC's Little Syria neighborhood, which flourished between 1880 and 1940, in a three-performance run at the Brooklyn Academy of Music.
Warda Al-Jazairia: the timeless Algerian rose - Moataz Rageb, The New Arab
On the 10th anniversary of the death of iconic singer Warda Al-Jazairia, Moataz Rageb reflects on her life and impact during the golden age of Arab music, as well as her continued role as a nationalist symbol for Algerians.
Telling stories through words and music: meet the NYT editor and her band - Joanna Socha, W Insight
An editor at the New York Times and a musician, Sara Aridi manages multiple projects every day. During the pandemic, she launched the alternative music project Everstill, where she is a songwriter, bassist, guitarist and vocalist, among other functions. With W Insight, Sara discusses her journalism path, growing a music career after hours and coping with New York City loneliness.
Moon Knight’s Layla: Finally, an Arab superhero - Ahmed Twaji, Al Jazeera
It is a breath of fresh air to see an unapologetically Arab character, an actual superhero from Egypt, in a popular Disney production.
📚 Other Reads 📚
ICE rushed to release a sick woman, avoiding responsibility for heath. She isn’t alone - Andrea Castillo, Los Angeles Times
Documents offer a rare look into one of several known instances in which ICE detainees were discharged as they were on the edge of death.
American Racism and the Buffalo Shooting - Keeanga-Yamahtta Taylor, The New Yorker
The gunman seems motivated by a vision of history, pushed by the right, in which American racism never existed and Black people are undeserving takers.
Recording my grandmother before she died was the best thing I could’ve done - Clarissa Wei, Los Angeles Times
“In a world where almost everything can be recorded, documented and photographed instantaneously, sometimes we forget to record the very people and noises we take for granted because we assume we’ll always have more time.”
The "Great Replacement Theory" Was Never "Fringe" - Tanvi Misra, Harper’s Bazaar
The racist ideology that white Americans are being replaced by immigrants—and the deadly violence that idea has led to—was home-grown in the United States and continues to be fueled by some of the most powerful figures today.
After a lifetime of learning, a 92-year-old Newton woman earns her college degree - John Hilliard, The Boston Globe
“I came here because that is what I was interested in — I wanted to continue my education,” Elly Pollan said. “It’s wonderful, actually. It keeps you alive, and keeps you interested.”