Twitter-Joke in Beirut: Sheikh Nasrallah says: Tell Obama, in case he is scared, we can start first!

Twitter-Joke in Beirut: Sheikh Nasrallah says: Tell Obama, in case he is scared, we can start first!

The "No" vote in the House of Commons against a strike on Syria is a triumph of parliamentary democracy.

LONDON. “I am ashamed to be British today”, my friend said this morning. “How can we vote against helping to stop chemical weapon attacks on Syrian children?” She was not the only one in London who woke up on Friday and could not believe that the House of Commons voted down a government motion to join the US in attacking the Syrian regime in response to its apparent use of chemical weapons against its citizens on August 21st.

 Maha Azzam is an Associate Fellow at Chatham House, an independent think tank on international affairs in London. Azzam specializes in Political Islam with particular reference to Egypt.

Profil: Is Egypt slipping into Civil war?

Azzam: We certainly see an escalation of violence, but not necessarily a civil war. The military is using violence against protesters. The full force of the army is spent in order to quell the protests. We will see growing resistance to the tactics of the army and the level of the violence might go up. And there is another level: The sectarian violence between Muslims and Copts is getting stronger as always in a situation like this. We saw this under Mubarak and Sadat. But all this is not a civil war. It is mainly one group – the army – cracking down on protesters.

Mona al Qazzaz is the spokeswoman of the Muslim Brotherhood in Great Britain.

She is a Phd student in Cambridge. Her brother Khaled al Qazzaz was an advisor to deposed president Mohammed Morsi and was detained with him on July 3rd.

Daughter Emma and niece Carla pose among Pawel Althamers "Venetians" in the Arsenale

Daughter Emma and niece Carla pose among Pawel Althamers "Venetians" in the Arsenale

A summer blog: The 55th Venice Art Biennale for kids.

VENICE - A limbless, giant, pink, pregnant woman perched on the lagoon greets us on our way into town. My children are not sure if they find Marc Quinn’s 11-metre-high statue - a variation of his 'Alison Lapper Pregnant' - fascinating or frightening. (They are not the only ones: http://www.theguardian.com/artanddesign/2013/jun/02/55th-venice-biennale-review.)

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Austrian impresario Paulus Manker celebrates Wagner's bicentenary by asking in “Wagner’s Twilight”: is a genius allowed to be a scoundrel ?

VIENNA - Paulus Manker, enfant terrible of the Austrian theatre scene, stands outside the old central post and telegraph building in Vienna’s inner city and welcomes the guests as only he knows how. Before I even get my tickets, he has coarsely insulted my family. Should I boycott him or treat his behaviour as part of the performance? I choose the latter. And now for the “Wagnerdämmerung” – “Wagner’s Twilight” - as Manker calls his spectacle in memory of the 200th anniversary of Richard Wagner’s birth.

Vienna's museums still hold paintings by Jewish artist Jehudo Epstein which were looted by the Nazis. Epstein's great-niece came to Vienna to find them.

The trip to Vienna started her smoking again: "I was a good girl for four months", Anne Starkey says and inhales, "but here in Vienna people smoke freely in coffee shops and restaurants and I could not resist it." Maybe it was more than nicotine cravings which prompted her to take up the habit again. The 63-year-old might need something to counteract stress. After all, she arrived in Vienna to look for paintings by her great-uncle which had been looted by the Nazis and might be hanging in various Viennese museums today.

Middle East expert Gilles Kepel does not believe in a happy union of Muslim Brotherhood and democracy. 

Gilles Kepel, 58, is one of France`s top experts on Islam and the Middle East. Kepel has followed the fate of political Islam in Egypt since the beginning of the 1980s when he wrote his thesis "Prophet and Pharaoh". A political scientist, he works at the "Sciences Po" university in Paris. His latest book, published in French in April 2013, describes his travels through the Arab Spring countries over the past two years: "Passion Arabe", for which he received the prestigious "Prix Pétrarque de l`Essai France culture/Le monde 2013" prize.

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Civil rights activists in the United States hope the Snowden affair will wake Americans up and start a debate about the anti-democratic behaviour of the state towards its citizens.

WASHINGTON DC - I have to say I kind of like being listened to. Even if it is by a secret service agent. You do get a feeling of a certain gravitas if a state makes the financial and infrastructural effort to tap your phone. In Moscow it was especially delicious. Whenever there was this special noise on the line, even Austrian correspondents could feel important. That does not happen so often. In Putin’s Russia, we lived in a real authoritarian state which considered foreign reporters to be enemies of the state.

Yoram Kaniuk died. He was 83. He had cancer. And he was by far the most pessimistic Israeli author I knew. We had dinner in a fish restaurant in the old port of Jaffa in 1992 on the day before the Israeli elections and he informed me that the left would never win and even if they did, nothing would change for the better because the religious nationalist right held the country hostage. The next day Yitzhak Rabin won the elections and embarked on a journey to peace via the Oslo accords. Kaniuk was not impressed. Looking back, it seems as if he was right. Rabin did not stop the Israeli settlements when it was still possible to do so.

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© 2018 Tessa Szyszkowitz