Located on a narrow street in a quiet neighbourhood in Kabul, the Sanga Amaj Women’s Treatment Centre is the only one of its kind in Afghanistan: named after the 22-year-old journalist who was assassinated in 2007, the facility caters exclusively to Kabul’s massive population of female drug addicts.
Ela, a young Tunisian woman whose face is barely visible behind her niqab, says she has spent five months protesting a university ban against the religious garment in the classroom “to no avail”. On the other side of the capital Tunis, a group of students decked out in djellabas and keffiyehs (traditional Tunisian costumes) with the Tunisian flag wrapped around their shoulders, perform the Harlem Shake: a dance form that originated in the United States in the early 1980s but has recently gone viral online as a popular meme.
Tunisian families have begun to dread knocks on their doors, or late-night phone calls, fearing that the messenger will bear the news that their son has been smuggled out of the country to join the “jihad” in Syria.
As the Arab Spring continues to rage across the Middle East and North Africa, the gaze of the international media has largely passed over a country that was once known for its restive population, its long and bloody decolonisation struggle and revolutionary zeal.
The on-going hunger strike of nine Algerian court clerks, coupled with the government’s indifference to their demands for an independent labour union, have stirred debate about Algeria’s role in the Arab Spring, which many see as an incomplete attempt to overturn a deeply flawed political and economic system.
"Is that your photo on the poster?" a policeman asked a woman standing in front of an electoral campaign board in Algiers. "Why do you ask?" she inquired. "Because only the candidates are interested in these elections," he replied.
Afghanistan is quickly becoming one of the deadliest countries in the world for foreign and local journalists. In the last decade alone, 16 journalists have been killed on the job and so far no one has been brought to justice for these murders.
Though the United States’ announcement to pull its troops from Afghanistan by 2014 was celebrated by most Afghans as the imminent end of a protracted and controversial foreign occupation, there are lingering questions about the outcome of such a withdrawal.
Mursal, a beautiful 19-year-old girl who has run away from home to escape a mentally ill husband, is just one of many Afghan women and girls who are now considered criminals under the country’s laws on ‘morality.’
Tunisian women poured into the streets armed with the vote, their latest weapon, when the country voted in its first democratic election since a popular uprising unseated former president Zine Abidine Ben Ali, ending his 27-year- long stronghold on the country.
The fundamentalist Ennahda party seems poised to take advantage of a chaotic situation ahead of general elections in Tunisia. Ennahda and other Islamist parties are taking advantage of the Aug. 2 deadline for registration for elections coinciding with the start of the holy month of Ramadan, when there is better attendance at mosques.