Friday, September 12, 2008

Divas and Politicians: the Dialectic of Body and Power

For a change, the subject of all conversations in the Arab world during the holy month of Ramadan was not the countless TV soap-operas aired at that time of the year, but the serialized novel of the murder of a well-known Lebanese singer, Suzanne Tamim.

Her body was found in her flat in Dubai and, a few days later, the police arrested the murderer, a former Egyptian cop. But, the real scandal came when it became obvious that Hishma Talaat, a famous Egyptian billionaire, leading member of the ruling Party and close friend of President Mubarak’s family, was charged with arranging the murder.

The Arab press (see this article in Elaph) has suggested many scenarios to explain the somehow unusual promptness of the Egyptian justice: rivalries among the ruling elite, the necessity of restoring the Egyptian Department of Justice reputation after various disputed decisions, the desire of calming things down considering the popular reaction, and also bearing in mind the fact that the Emirates authorities were urging for a quick and efficient elucidation of the case.

It is certainly not the first example, and the last one, of the "dialectic of power and body", to use Adnan Abuzeed's nice way to put it. After all, the famous Jahiz wrote in the IXth century his famous eulogy to the qiyans, a kind of Arabic variation of the famous Japanese geisha. Obviously, there is some sexual activity in the (supposedly) puritanical Arab world.

As another evidence of the many connections between sexual fame and politics, mention could be made to the famous Haifa Wehbe (see previous post). When she mentions, as she did more than one time, how fascinated she is by shaykh Hassan Nasrallah’s personality, we must ask ourselves if we are always right in using opposed categories like securalism and liberated sexuality on one side, and religiosity and moral uprightness on the other.

As usual, the link to the more developed post in French.

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