Arab Spring

Tickling Giants
Tickling Giants

Many Americans, if they’ve heard of the Egyptian Dr. Bassem Youssef, first learned about him on Jon Stewart’s Daily Show a few years ago. Youssef left his gig as a heart surgeon to launch a comedy show that soon got caught up in the turmoil and authoritarianism of the Middle East during the Arab Spring and its aftermath. That’s the subject of Daily Show senior producer Sara Taksler’s documentary Tickling Giants. The film is screening on Tuesday in cities across the U.S., including at The Spectrum in Albany at 7 p.m., as part of what Taksler is calling “Meet A Muslim at the Movies.”

In the new book The Fires of Spring: A Post-Arab Spring Journey Through the Turbulent New Middle East author Shelly Culbertson, Middle East analyst at the Rand Corporation, looks to shed light on the Middle East after the Arab Spring. 

   President Barack Obama gave an address this morning about the drone strike in Pakistan that killed hostages from U.S. and Italy.

To discuss that and other topics we welcome James Ketterer – the director of international academic initiatives at Bard College. He previously served as AMIDEAST country director in Egypt and has worked in government, academia and international development.

  In January 2011, in Cairo’s Tahrir Square, a group of strangers sparked a revolution. Basem, an apolitical middle-class architect, jeopardized the lives of his family when he seized the chance to improve his country. Moaz, a contrarian Muslim Brother, defied his own organization to join the opposition.

These revolutionaries had little more than their idealism with which to battle the secret police, the old oligarchs, and a power-hungry military determined to keep control.

In Once Upon A Revolution: An Egyptian Story, Thanassis Cambanis tells the story of the dreamers who brought Egypt to the brink of freedom, and the dark powerful forces that—for the time being—stopped them short.

Yesterday’s violent protests in Egypt and Libya that led to the deaths of four U.S. State Department diplomats, including U-S Ambassador Chris Stevens, in the Libyan city of Benghazi were spurred in-part by a film that portrayed the Islamic Prophet Muhammad as a fraud and a womanizer.

This isn’t the first time those in Middle East have taken up arms against those who ridicule their pre-dominant religion, but it is one of only a few times in modern history that American diplomats have been killed as a result of protests.