POP-UP SHOP and Opportunity to Meet the Harakat Sisters

Photos by the Harakat Sisters from the Harakat Sisters’ website

The Harakat sisters will be opening  a pop-up shop at the Middle East Now Festival this Friday, April 7th 2017. Born to a Moroccan father and a Lebanese mother, Nasrine and Sara Harakat have been designing jewellery from a young age. Sara and Nisrine, aged 24 and 20 respectively, study architecture and design in France. With the support of friends and family, they posted their jewellery creations on social media, generating a following that allowed them to sell their collections. Read more

Last Men in Aleppo showing tonight at Cinema La Compagnia

This week, on Tuesday, Last Men in Aleppo will be showing at the Middle East Film Festival in the Cinema la Compagnia on Via Cavour 50r at 8:45 pm tonight. The film is a documentary directed by Firas Fayyad (co-director and editor: Steen Johannessen) about the life of three “White Helmets,” members of a volunteer civil defense group working in Aleppo– Khaled, Mohammed and Subhi. The film follows the volunteers as they rush towards recently bombed buildings to search for survivors and recover the dead. However, as the situation in Aleppo edges towards a full siege, these three men must decide whether they will stay and continue helping those remaining in Aleppo, or whether they will flee before Bashar Al-Assad’s army closes in on the city. The film recently won the Grand Prize at the prestigious Sundance Film Festival in Park City, Utah, and both directors will be present at the screening. The film was released on March 16th, roughly four months after the city of Aleppo fell to Al-Assad’s army in mid-December of last year following a protracted battle and siege. The siege of Aleppo was the subject of much international criticism after the alleged war crimes perpetrated by Assad’s army that took place during the assault on the city garnered the attention of the mainstream media. However, following the end of the siege, it seems the spotlight has been taken off of the situation in Aleppo. Hopefully, this movie will help remind people of the ongoing challenges faced by those still living in Aleppo, now suffering under Assad’s rule.

The Rebellious Images: Representation VS Revolution

Today we are witnessing the return to the idea of revolution in art, the media and public discussion. But how does our contemporary understanding of Revolution differ from the past? Join Professor Almira Ousmanova, from European Humanities University (Vilnius, Lithuania), for a discussion on the convergence of theoretical discourses on revolution, the new forms of political activism and contemporary aesthetic praxis. The event will take place at Villa Sassetti, starting from 12:30pm.

Middle East Now Festival 2017

The Middle East Now Film Festival (MEN) will be returning this week, April 4th to 9th, for its 7th annual celebration of Middle Eastern and North African cinema, art, and culture this April. Taking place at the new Compagnia Theater in downtown Florence, the festival will investigate the theme of the Urban Middle East.

This year’s festival looks at the city as a metaphor for life. Cities are inherently cultural hubs, where people from all backgrounds and experiences come to create and share with others. MEN uses the city as a vehicle to understand in a fuller sense what constitutes the contemporary Middle East.

MEN will be bringing in documentary, narrative, and animated films from Afghanistan, Algeria, Bahrain, Egypt, Iran, Iraq, Israel, Jordan, Kuwait, Lebanon, Morocco, Palestine, Qatar, Saudi Arabia, Syria, Libya, Tunisia, Turkey, UAE and Yemen.

Outside of film, artists of all types including, musicians, chefs, and other contributors of culture will look at the varying breadth of what constitutes the urban Middle East. This diverse collection of art will help facilitate a dialogue on the contemporary Urban Middle Eastern identity.

In addition to the festival screenings and prizes, MEN will also have an array of special events. This includes a screening of “The Last Man in Aleppo”, a Sundance award winning documentary about the humanitarian crisis in Aleppo, a special feature on Female Directors in the Middle East, photography by Tasneem Alsultan, and cooking classes in contemporary Iranian Food from Philip Juma of Juma Kitchen.

Saudi Tales Of Love by Tasneem Alsultan

We look forward to seeing you April 4th – 9th! NYU Florence students will be jurying the “NYU Best Short Film” prize and presenting the award at the closing ceremony on April 9th, come show your support!

If you would like more information about the festival contact Kira (kbg280@nyu.edu), who is interning at the festival this semester.

A European Adventure: The EU Working Group takes a trip to Brussels

Day 1: The Value of Compromise: A Visit to the Parlamentarium

Fresh-faced and eagernot exactly the best way to describe the EU working group students at 4:00 a.m. on the way to the airport, ready for our flight to Brussels. However, as the day progressed, that would soon change. After one transfer in Munich and, for those of us less comfortable flying, a somewhat hair-raising flight through heavy turbulence to Brussels, we arrived at our hotel at midday. We had a couple of hours to settle ourselves before a short walk to the EU Parlamentarium, where we participated in a role-playing game on the legislative process of the EU Parliament. Our group was divided into four parties across the political spectrum, ranging from environmentally conscious greens to more conservative traditionals, and tasked with coming up with legislation on distribution and access to water as well as on regulating microchip implants in people.

Read more

Day 55 of the Trump Administration

FBI Director James Comey, who is set to appear before the House Intelligence Committee

Day 55 (3/15/17)—President Trump faces a challenge that may come to define the early trajectory of his administration. His (in)ability to save the Republican healthcare bill will demonstrate his ability to wield influence in Washington. Multiple Republicans say that Trump’s attempt to guide the bill, which is facing opposition on many fronts, through Congress is becoming an important test of his command of political savvy. With tougher tasks ahead, a win for Trump on such a divisive issue like healthcare would represent a rallying cry for the GOP (Grand Old Party). Republicans are relying on repealing and replacing the Affordable Care Act in order to free up budget to deliver on the administration’s other promises, such as the border wall (to be paid for by Mexico through visa and port entry fees), a new system of tariffs to encourage companies to manufacture within the United States, and a crackdown on immigration. During the campaign, Trump promised to work with Congress to cut taxes and inject $1 trillion into national infrastructure projects to bolster bridges, roads, and highways across the nation. Thus arises the importance to the administration of successfully navigating Trump’s American Health Care Act (AHCA) through Congress. Read more

A Brief Introduction to the Syrian Civil War and the Kurdish Female Fighters Battling ISIS

During the Kurdish Liberation Movement of the 1970s and 1980s, female Peshmerga (a Kurdish word meaning “facing death”) guerrillas in Iraqi Kurdistan established a reputation as fierce fighters. The women of the YPJ (an acronym which translates to “Women’s Protection Units”) are continuing in the tradition of Kurdish female fighters as they challenge ISIS in Syria. The YPJ is the female brigade of the armed forces of the Syrian region of Kurdistan. Formed in 2012, the YPJ has amassed an army of over 10,000 volunteer troops and has become vital in the fight against ISIS. The women of the YPJ recognize that ISIS targets women and fight for their own freedom first, then for the freedom of their people and their land, according to one of the fighters who spoke with Patrick Cockburn at the Independent. They know that, if they are captured, they will be raped and murdered, so the soldiers fight with the awareness that losing is not an option. They say that ISIS fears them, because the men believe that if they are killed by a woman in battle then they are disgraced and will not go to heaven. Although they use this fear to their advantage, the Kurdish female fighters believe their womanhood is not the only thing that ISIS should be afraid of. In recent months, the battle between ISIS and the YPJ has gotten incredibly tense. The “Wrath of Eupherates Operation”, an initiative led by Rojda Felat of the YPJ to remove ISIS from its self declared capital Raqqa began at the end of 2016, and Felat vows that the mission will be over by the end of the year. In January, Felat told KurdishQuestion.com, an online platform for news, context and insight about Kurdish Matters, “We assure that 2017 is the year of ISIS’ annihilation…The people of Raqqa should be ready, as the sun of freedom will be shining soon in their skies.”

Aleppo Before and After: Photo Gallery

Since 2011, the Syrian Civil War has devastated the region and displaced thousands. The past five years brought immense damage to Syria and its fate remains uncertain. Prior to the conflict, however, the city of Aleppo stood as a cultural and economic hub. It was Syria’s most populous city greatly noted for its history – it was first mentioned in records dating to around 3000 BC. Today, the streets tell a much different story. Scroll through the photo gallery below to discover Aleppo before and after this terrible crisis.

For more information on the Syrian conflict, join us for “Women on the Front Lines: Kurdish Female Fighters Battling ISIS,” tonight in Villa Sassetti.

Women on the Front Lines: Kurdish Female Fighters Battling ISIS
Featuring Imma Vitelli, International Correspondent for Vanity Fair Italy
March 29, 2017 6:00pm
Villa Sassetti

The 13th Century Citadel of Aleppo was previously marked one of the oldest, largest and most iconic castles in the world. Today, it is marked with post war bullet holes.
Previously these open freeways in Aleppo served as major passageways for many citizens to travel between school and work. Today, they are covered with ruins and demolished buildings.
The Umayyad Mosque was also known as the Great Mosque of Damascus; it was one of the world’s largest and oldest mosques and is often considered the fourth-holiest place in Islam. Today, it is no more a place of peace, but a place of turmoil.
Previously a city known for its beautiful sites and rich culture, Aleppo is now a post-war zone.