Thursday, April 2, 2009

Indefatigable, I am going to pound out an entry before succumbing to the sandman's evil wiles. The highlights of today including lunch at the French cultural center with my Egyptian friend and colleague Reham, discussing the implications of polygamy and gay marriage on family reunification policy in my comparative migration law course, dinner at a Syrian restaurant in Mohandaseen with friends from AMERA, an excellent seminar given by Barbara Harrell-Bond, and tea and macaroons with my French friend Antoine on my balcony overlooking noisy and fluorescent Tahrir Street.
I took Falaki Street from Falaki Square all the way 'til it dead-ends next to the French cultural institute. Along the way I passed fully-veiled women buying two-piece bikinis alongside the road and then further down the widest selection of remote controls produce in the 1980s that one could ever want. School children were out en masse, making dodging uniformed rugrats and soccer balls quite the task. Once at the cultural center, I joined Reham, who was already being flirted with by the waiters, at a table in the courtyard. She seemed on the one hand to be annoyed by the attention, but on the other to be flattered by it. She decided she didn't mind, after reflecting, their winks or their calling out to her with Arabic equivalent of "hey, beautiful". I felt more like eating crêpes than analyzing what that meant about Egypt and so I did. I suspect they don't use Clément-Faugier crême de marrons there. Shame.
Reham and I headed to Greek Campus afterward where we met up with classmates to chat until it was time for class when an ever-effervescent Cameroonian from among our ranks decided to share with us that his first lady was the best-looking in all the world and that Cameroon was the best country in all Africa. His claims turned into a riotous discussion of the best and worst things about various African countries and whose country had the best looking first lady. Most Americans concurred that Michelle Obama won. We moved on to the more serious topic of family reunification, touching on the rights of refugees and migrants to be with their loved ones as well as the accompanying complicated citizenship rights a person has as the spouse or child of a citizen of a given country. We discussed the difficulties surrounding resettling to the West refugees who are in polygamous relationships, perfectly legal in many parts of the Middle East and Africa. Currently the restrictions on such resettlement has led to husband's lying about second wives or abandoning them altogether. We talked about whether there was any relationship among multiple wives to one another that would establish a right for any of them to sponsor each other to join the family in a country of resettlement and a number of other theoretical family configurations that might complicate questions of family rights.
After class, we went to hear Barbara talk frankly and with a perfect dash of dry humor about the state of refugee protection in the Global South. She's soon going to be unveiling a website to facilitate networking for those providing legal aid to refugees. A wealth of information is available here.
Following the lecture, a dozen or so of us headed to Mohandaseen to have a going-away meal for our friend Saba who is returning to the States tomorrow. I talked mostly with Canadians as it turned out. I got a lesson in Acadian history in French from one and discussed LGBT refugee claims (the topic of my thesis) with another who has a lot of experience with them from her work at AMERA. We're going to exchange notes and articles, so that should be productive as I finesse my proposal. My law professor agreed to join my thesis committee as well, so things seem to be taking shape.
Not too long after I came home, my friend Antoine came over bearing macaroons from Fauchon. I'd passed by it several times when in Zamalek before thinking it must be a knock-off at best, but when we passed by the other night (sadly, after it was closed), we discovered it was indeed an authentic branch of the famous French traîteur. Though they're not Ladurée macaroons, their geographical proximity to me and their significantly lower cost make them very appealing as a potential future purchase.
As I feel like my overly-detailed descriptions of my culinary experiences demand I add something weightier to my entry, I'll move on to the news:

New Israeli Foreign Minister takes conciliatory tone toward Egypt
Despite fears about far-right wing Avigdor Lieberman's appointment to the post of Foreign Minister, things don't seem as grave as they could be. Hopefully the willingness to cooperate with Israel's Arab neighbors expressed by FM Lieberman is genuine and representative of the approach he will take during his term.
Egypt to try and curb the flow of irregular migrants to Italy through vocational education
On the heels of the sinking of a ship carrying migrants to Europe, this effort should be expanded and supplemented with other initiatives to stem the tide of irregular migration because of the risk the migrants themselves face.
AUC denies supplying Pentagon with Egyptian state secrets
As the Egyptian media aren't the least sensational I've ever encountered, you can imagine that charges that AUC were supplying top-secret intelligence to the US military are largely trumped up. At any rate, I would find it hard to believe that the watchful Egyptian government would miss such espionage. As I understand it, it was a cooperative effort to study avian flu which is more prolific in Egypt than in any other country outside of southeast Asia. I suppose this conspiracy is less absurd than the nutty allegations that text messages arriving from abroad to the cell phones of Egyptians were causing brain hemorrhages and death.

No comments: