Mid-East Junction


A monthly look into the different political, social and cultural events affecting the region.






A monthly look into the different political, social and cultural events affecting the region.




Why Female Genital Mutilation must end

The practice of Female Genital Mutilation, FGM, is so deeply ingrained in some cultures that it has only recently been brought into question. But what are its origins? Where is it practiced? And why does it need to stop? This month's edition of Mid-East Junction looks into Female Genital Mutilation, through its history and impact on women, telling the stories of two victims who explain why the practice must be brought to an end. You can read more here. *two pieces of music provided by Adam...


What Tunisian olive oil and its history means to the Middle East

The rising star in the world of olive oil, or liquid gold to some, is not found in Europe but in North Africa in the small and often overlooked country of Tunisia. Here olive trees are intertwined with its culture and history for thousands of years. Production in Tunisia is considered to be the second most important in the world. It is also one of the most underrated country's compared to the big names like Italy, Greece, Spain, Palestine, Israel, Syria and Jordan. But how did the olive tree...


Capturing Mosul's liberation through a lens

In October 2016, Iraqi Special Forces launched an operation to take back Mosul and parts of Iraq from the Islamic State armed group. Since 2014 they had subjected the Iraqi people to their extreme and harsh interpretation of islam. But the operation to liberate them proved equally dangerous as those caught in the middle of the fighting had no where to go. One photographer met those caught in the cross fire and told their stories through his camera lens in this edition of Mid-East Junction....


The lasting legacy of Ayotollah Khomeni 30 years after his death

Iran is again in the headlines in an increasingly tense spat with the US and a number of other western countries. This is nothing new, however. The Islamic Republic of Iran has been involved in almost continuous diplomatic rows since its creation in 1979. Sayyid Ruhollah Mūsavi Khomeini drove the revolution of 1979 that drastically changed the country. Better known in the west as Ayotollah Khomeni, he put an end to the corrupt constitutional monarchy of the Shah and created a theocracy that...


How women's football has evolved inside and outside the Middle East

Even though no Middle Eastern countries qualified for this year's Women’s World Cup , the sport is alive and growing across the region. In this edition of Mid-East Junction, we meet Honey Thaljieh, the woman behind the first women's national Palestinian team. Click here to read the full article, or click the 'play' button above to listen or subscribe to the podcast by searching 'RFI Mid-East Junction'


Where vegans have been leading the way for centuries

In this month's Mid-East Junction, we delve into the culinary delights across the region that have been miles ahead of the vegan trend for decades, even centuries in some cases. Click here to read the article. Click the 'play' button above to listen or subscribe to the podcast by searching 'RFI Mid-East Junction'


Oud for thought

In this month’s podcast, we’re going to take a break from politics. And social anxiety. And uprisings and laws. Because the Middle East doesn’t just make headlines. It also has a sensitive musical soul. And this side to the region often comes out in the musical instrument the oud. Or the oriental lute. Find out all about it in this month's podcast of Mid-East Junction or read about it here. Click the 'play' button above to listen or look for 'rfi mideast junction' in your favourite podcast...


The power of radio during British-mandated Palestine

On 30 March 1936, the Palestinian Broadcasting Service hit the radio waves. The new service, referred to as PBS, catered to the growing population in British-mandated Palestine that included Palestinian Arabs, Palestinian Jews and the British. In this month's Mid-East Junction, we take a look at the short life of the PBS and the role it played in airing culture, news and social programmes aimed at all the three different audiences. Click on "Play" above. You can also subscribe to this...


Freedom at any cost: Saudi woman escapes to France

In this week's Mid-East Junction, we meet Julia*, a young woman who escaped her life and marriage by force in Saudi Arabia to find freedom in France. She, like hundreds of others of women caught in the oppressive male guardianship system in the kingdom, are choosing to risk everything for a life where a woman is respected and ultimately free to make her own decisions. *Her name has been changed for security reasons You can read more about it here


Retracing Bahrain's activism

On December 31st, Bahrain’s high court upheld a five year jail sentence against human rights activist Nabeel Rajab.His sentence was in response to posts he made on social media in February of 2018 accusing the government of torture and criticising Saudi Arabia’s air strikes in Yemen. Campaign groups around the world called his sentencing "political persecution” and “utterly outrageous". For a small country, however, his case is not exceptional. In this week's Mid-East Junction we take a look...


Egypt's arms fair boosts military's image as regional superpower

Earlier this week, Egypt’s President Abdel Fattah al-Sisi opened the country's first international security and defense expo. The event, which took place over three days, featured more than 350 contributors from 40 countries. By anyone's standards it was a big show, but does it really mean anything for Egypt? The short answer is yes. The reasons for this lies in its recent history. The glory days of modern Egypt In 1952, a revolution in Egypt overthrew the British-backed monarchy and pushed...


Why defining security in Israel is such a challenge

Over the weekend of 11 November, tensions between the Gaza strip and Israel peaked once again, when the Israeli Defense Forces, the IDF, led a botched raid in Gaza. It was the first known time the IDF had set foot in Gaza since the war of 2014. This has raised questions within Israel about the challenges faced by its defence forces. News of the incursion was met by rocket fire from Gaza towards Israel. And that in turn was met by Israeli fire. The IDF later said the operation "was not...


Female and atheist in Saudi Arabia

Saudi Arabia, the birthplace of Islam, remains one of the most conservative and rigid countries, particularly for women, and for anyone who goes against Islam. Rana Ahmad knows all too well those constraints as she fled her home country after declaring herself an atheist and after having endured the hardships of a woman under the strict control of her family and government. Although the country appears to be going through reforms at the behest of the Crown Prince Mohamed Bin Salman, such as...


Peeling back the layers of Yemen's civil war

For nearly four years now, the civil war in Yemen has raged with no end in sight. Civilians have fallen victim to the fighting with some 15,000 killed or injured, while a humanitarian crisis spreads and threatens to claim more lives. Yemen, is located on the southern tip of the Arabian peninsula. It has often sat in the shadow of its eccentric and rich neighbour Saudi Arabia. Unlike its other regional neighbours, Yemen does not have a monarchy , says Adam Baron, a visiting fellow at the...


Escape from Aleppo: one man's journey

From Aleppo to Paris. A freelance journalist who posted a video of the evacuation of the Syrian city as Bashar al-Assad's forces took control of it recounts his journey from a war zone to the French capital. In December 2016 the government of Syria’s Bashar al-Assad agreed to a mass evacuation of Aleppo city, which had been under siege for months. The Free Syrian Army and other opposition groups were effectively squeezed out and the United Nations requested that remaining civilians and...


Iranian women go online to protest forced wearing of hijab

In Iran, it has been obligatory for women to wear a head scarf, or hijab, since 1983, in the wake of the 1979 revolution. Since then, women have been forced to wear the long, loose-fitting chador, and the hijab. To make sure the law is respected, morality police patrol the streets. But two major online movements are showing people -- inside and outside the country -- that Iranian women want to choose. The movements are known as #MyStealthyFreedom and #White Wednesdays. The women in the...


How a group of artists based in Egypt tried to change society

Can art change society? It's not clear whether it can or not, but a group of artists in Egypt believed it could and set off to create such a vision hidden in the oasis governorate of Fayoum, just south of Cairo. Rfi's Anne-Marie Bissada has this report from the village of Tunis in the Fayoum. Just a two hour’s drive south of Cairo, away from the Nile, one comes across the governorate of Fayoum, an oasis in the middle of the desert. As Egypt modernized, Fayoum lagged behind and remained one...


Israeli band Orphaned Land spreads message of peace across Middle East

Heavy metal music with a middle eastern twist is not common place, but since 1991, the pioneers of such a genre, the Israeli band Orphaned Land has been using its music to spread the message of peace and tolerance across the often tense Middle East. In this month's Mid-East Junction, RFI's Anne-Marie Bissada speaks with Chen Balbaus, the guitarist of the band, just before their show in Paris.


What lies behind Mosul Eye

"What happened after 2014 is another chapter of what happened to this city" say Omar Mohammed, when speaking about his home city of Mosul, the second largest city in Iraq. Mohammed was born in Mosul during some of the worst moments of the Iran-Iraq war in the 1980s. “I was born on 8 April, the Baath party was born on 7 April, and the fall of the regime was on 9 April. I turned 17 when I saw the [US] invasion ... 2014 changed everything in my country," he explains. Mohammed was in Mosul under...


What is Sufism and why does it bother some Muslims?

When a mosque in Egypt’s Sinai region was attacked by affiliates of the Islamic State armed group in November leaving over 300 people dead the attackers said they were targeting what they described as 'heretics of Islam', known to the wider world as Sufis.Who are the Sufis and why have they been singled-out by some other Muslims? The term ‘Sufi’, will, for many, conjur up images of poets like the Persian Jalāl ad-Dīn Muhammad Rūmī from the 13th century, or the Abū 'Abdillāh Muḥammad ibn 'Alī...