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Our Woman In Mahalla, Egypt.

In the last weeks we have been at once worried and excited about our friend Ghada AbdAal (IWP 2010), the Egyptian blogger/writer (and pharmacist) from the industrial city of Mahalla, whose intensely political atmosphere couldn’t be more different than that of Iowa City.

This past October Ghada was busy promoting her just-out book I Want to get Married (U Texas Press) based on her super-popular blog devoted to what she called ' the husband problem'. And only just a few weeks ago she happily forwarded news of her brand new Golden Pyramid for Best Comedy TV Script, awarded by the Arabic Media Association:


As of January 25th, though, Ghada's news have only been coming as Facebook posts, in Arabic, so with her permission we had a few translated even though, to paraphrase her, her updates 'don’t represent the majority position'. Clearly, with the situation changing daily, her quotes are a snapshot of a historical moment as much as anything. Here goes:

February 2, 12:54 am:
زفت ما يستاهلش نتحول لعراق تانية عشان خاطره.. قليل من العقل..الدنيا لا تتغير بين يوم و ليلة ..قليل من العقل ..إحقنوا الدماء..إحقنوا الدماء..إحقنوا الدماااءFebruary 2, 11:12 am إرجعوا بيوتكم و احقنوا الدماء.. أقعدوا في بيوتكم يوم الجمعة و إلا هتبقى كارثة محققة..مع الزفت فلان أو ضد الزفت علان ..أي زفت ما يستاهلش نتحول لعراق تانية عشان خاطره.. قليل من العقل..الدنيا لا تتغير بين يوم و ليلة ..قليل من العقل ..إحقنوا الدماء..إحقنوا الدماء..إحقنوا الدماااء Go back home, stop the shedding of blood…stay home on Friday, otherwise it is going to be a real catastrophe. No bastard deserves that we become another Iraq for their sake. Some wisdom: the world is not going to change between day and night, so stop the blood-shedding.


February 2, 8:38 am
إلى القابعين للآن في ميدان التحرير..أنتم لا تتحدثون بإسمي بعد اليوم..لم أنتخب أحد منكم..إسقاط نظام لا يستأهل أن تحرق من أجله البلد..إلي الذين ينتظرون أن تتطابق نهاية الفيلم مع نهاية فيلم تونس..الرجل تحت ضغط دولي و لن يسمح له بالتراجع..بلاش مراهقة و طفولية ..كفاية بأه To those who are no in Tahrir Square, you are not talking in my name anymore, I did not elect any one of you…ending the existing administration now does not justify that the country be burned for it. To those who are waiting for this episode to end like The episode of Tunisia,..the man is under international pressure and he will not be permitted to withdraw, enough of your childish actions.

February 2, 9:25 am
و الجيش واقف يتفرج ..و الجيش واقف يتفرج ..و الجيش واقف يتفرج..الإنقلاب العسكري شغال بالريموت من بعيد و إحنا كنا التروس في المكنة ..خلينا عايشين في ماية البطيخ..إرحموا البلد من عندكم..العند يولد الكفر..مش عشان نسقطه نولع في البلد .. و ياريتنا بنسقطه بجد ..إحنا بنلف و نرجع تاني لنسخة 23 يوليو بس موديل 2011..إرحمونا بأه حرام عليكم..إرحمونا.. The Army is standing watching… The Army is standing watching…the Military uprising is controlled by remote control from a distance and we were the gears of this machine. Let us stay living by the water of melons… have mercy on this country from your side, being stubborn will lead to God’s denial. It is not reasonable to burn the country for the sake of letting him fall…but we wish he falls we keep running in circles and come back to repeat July 23 but 2011 style …have mercy on us….please have mercy on us [….]

Among the scores of other interesting commentaries on to the situation in Egypt: those by the novelist Alaa Aswany (The Yacoubian Building, 2002/6), the indispensable daily parsing of original Arabic-press material by Juan Cole, a Middle East specialist at the University of Michigan, on his blog /Informed Comment/ and The Guardian’s survey of a score of Arabic-language writers on the situation in Tunis and Maghreb earlier this winter at

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