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A weekly podcast focused on long-form interviews on history, pop culture and society affecting the MENA region and diaspora communities. It aims to inform and illuminate the region through a non-newsy lens, exploring the MENA region's past, present and future and its people. Each episode begins with a question and an introduction to an expert who will attempt to answer it.
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Why are Western societies so fearful of Islam and Muslims? One can answer this question by examining history, particularly that of European colonial powers, and the ways in which they justified their actions in the Global South by painting its peoples and religions as alien and in need of reformation. Another answer can be found in the murky ties b…
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How deep does racism run within the Labour Party? Since the start of the Gaza war, there's been a growing anger within British Muslim communities at Labour's perceived lack of leadership on the Palestinian issue, and on the calls for a ceasefire. Under Sir Keir Starmer, the opposition party has towed the government line, publicly supporting Israel'…
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This week on the Big Picture, we speak with British political activist, author and deputy chair of the Stop The War Coalition, Chris Nineham. Nineham was instrumental in organising the historic anti-war demonstrations in 2003 against the invasion of Iraq - which saw millions flood the streets in major cities across the globe - and is considered the…
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It is impossible not to feel overwhelmed by the ongoing war in Gaza - the death toll, the horrific footage, the world’s inability to bring it to an end. That is compounded for Palestinians, many with family members directly impacted, who feel they’ve always been seen through a racist and islamophobic lens, and that speaking out is a political act w…
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What does it take to shift the UK’s position on Palestine? One lawmaker, Layla Moran, has a deeply personal drive to fight for change. Her relatives have been trapped in a Gaza Church for days, surrounded by Israeli snipers and tanks and running out of food and water. Moran has been fighting to change the position of her Liberal Democrats Party for…
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Can Western leaders be held to account for their role in the Gaza war? This week on The Big Picture Podcast, we sit down with one lawyer determined to do just that, and who has already put many of them on public notice. Tayab Ali is Solicitor Advocate, a partner at the London Law firm Bindmans LLP and the director of the International Centre of Jus…
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Joe Biden has pursued a ‘no red lines’ policy in his support for Israel’s war in Gaza, despite it being deeply unpopular among his own voters. The growing anger in Arab and Muslim American communities in key swing states has pushed many to vow they won’t vote for him in the 2024 Presidential elections. While only making up 1% of the population - it…
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Josh Paul created a big stir when he resigned from the US State Department in protest of the sale of weapons to Israel. In a highly publicised letter, he said the rush to arm Israel’s war in Gaza was “shortsighted, destructive, unjust and contradictory” The former arms trade expert, who helped the US train the Iraqi police and the Palestinian Autho…
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Is there a path back from the brink for Israel and Palestine? Under the blinding influence of fury and revenge after the October 7 attack, Israel has waged a relentless war in Gaza which killed more than 11,000 Palestinians and displaced more than 1.5 million people. But beyond its stated aim to eliminate Hamas, there seems to be no plan for what h…
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Are there Hamas tunnels under hospitals? Did Israel give up Gaza in 2005? Did the Palestinians reject their own state? This week on The Big Picture, we examine a widely shared interview with Hillary Clinton, praised as informative and illuminating. Except most of what she says about Gaza isn’t true - so why is she misleading the public? It could be…
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Are Western leaders sleepwalking into a disaster in the Middle East? As regional tensions surge amid Israel’s devastating war in Gaza, its allies in the US and Europe have refused calls to de-escalate the conflict and prevent the staggering toll on human life from spiralling further. Western countries vowed to stand by Israel as it responds to the …
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On Wednesday, the world woke up to newspapers plastered with a horrific headline about ‘40 Israeli babies decapitated by Hamas’. But was the story true? We dig into the dizzying, circular debate around the darkest story of an already devastating week and ask whether journalists fulfilled their duty to fact-check it, or instead helped Israel justify…
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The history of Palestinian liberation movements is paved with setbacks, betrayals and bitter rivalries. What began as an attempt to unify the resistance against Israeli occupation has over time been undermined by regional and global political interests, ideological differences and disagreements over the justification, and use, of guerilla tactics. …
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What is the fate of Imran Khan? After more than a year of political turmoil following his ousting, the embattled former Pakistani leader is in prison, fighting dozens of charges from corruption to sedition to selling state secrets. He’s also been barred from taking part in the country’s upcoming elections, and his party, Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf, i…
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Ireland’s fight for independence from British rule has defined how it sees itself in the world - as a liberated people compelled to fight against oppression everywhere. This sentiment formed its proud stance of ‘neutrality’, which saw it refuse to engage in World War II, and defines its strong and vocal support for the fight against Apartheid - fir…
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How far would you go to protect a client? When Muhammad Rabbani, a human rights advocate, was stopped and interrogated on his way back to the UK after working with a high profile client, it was an experience he was familiar with. As a Muslim and an activist, he'd been stopped at the airport many times before. This time however, when he refused to g…
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Has the Labour Party turned its back on the Left? Following the disastrous election loss to Boris Johnson in 2019, the party emerged from the ashes promising to shed itself of its past and the image of one man - Jeremy Corbyn. His successor Sir Keir Starmer has instead defined his leadership directly in opposition to Corbyn, leaning towards the cen…
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How do you challenge the might of the Chinese state? For decades, the Uyghur Muslims have fought to preserve their culture, their language and their religion in the face of China’s rising power and control. Since 2013, sweeping crackdowns have turned the once-autonomous region which calls itself ‘East Turkestan’ into a heavily militarised zone, whe…
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Can we trust the AI to watch over us? Artificial intelligence and machine learning technology have entered into a new era, advancing at a rate none of us can comprehend or keep up with. Tech companies, governments and police forces are racing to own and turn these advances into cutting edge security and mass surveillance systems, while legislators …
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For thousands of years, Jewish communities lived and thrived in the Arab world, and were integral to shaping its history, culture and economy. But when Israel was established, more than 260,000 Arab-Jews fled their homes, and their history has largely been forgotten. So what happened in the 1950s that forced the vast majority of them to leave? This…
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Putin, NATO and the threat of nuclear war - has the world entered a new reality? More than a year and a half ago, Russia’s invasion of Ukraine shocked the world, destabilising energy markets, food security and diplomacy. But attempts by the US to rally the world behind Ukraine have failed, with many former allies choosing instead to sit on the side…
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What happens when a dictator uses drug trafficking as a tool of diplomacy? The psychoactive drug known as Captagon has exploded across the Middle East and Europe, leading many countries to clasify it as an ‘epidemic’. The highly-addictive pill used to be made in Turkey and Latin America, but that slowly changed after the Syrian Civil War. Today, 80…
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Could the BDS movement soon become illegal in the UK? Under a new bill, the Economic Activity of Public Bodies (Overseas Matters) Bill, boycotting foreign countries will become illegal for public bodies, which would include councils, unions and student organisations. The law specifically protects Israel from being targetted, and bars public bodies …
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Are we witnessing the beginning of a new Palestinian uprising? The Israeli raid on Jenin this week marked a sudden escalation of violence in an increasingly tense West Bank, with calls for armed insurrections in several Palestinian cities. 12 people, including three children, died in Jenin, adding to the toll of more than 100 Palestinians that have…
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On the frontlines of technological leaps are often people in power - governments, police, intelligence agencies and militaries - trying to use new research to advance the ways in which they operate. But what happens when these powers aren’t used for good? Who can keep the powerful in check in a global digital age? In this episode of The Big Picture…
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Kurdish political groups and militias have been fighting for independence for more than a century, pitting them against the governments of four countries: Turkey, Iran, Syria and Iraq. These groups rallied around the idea of a ‘Greater Kurdistan’, though critics say this romanticised homeland never really existed and that modern Kurds should accept…
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Do Muslims have a place in the so-called ‘cultre war’? In many Western countries, a battle has waged between progressives and conservatives jostling in the political sphere and online. Many young Muslims have found themselves embroiled in these same conversations on gender, sexuality and tradition, creating a schism that threatens to divide their c…
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Four years after the Christchurch terror attacks, Aya al-Umari is fighting to change her brother’s story from ‘victim’ to ‘hero’.Hussein al-Umari was killed on 15 March in an act of white supremacy that claimed the lives of 51 Muslim worshippers in New Zealand. Despite local and international attention shifting elsewhere, the survivors and families…
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After nearly four years of delay, the independent review into the UK’s counter-terror programme ‘Prevent’ has been published. The highly controversial strategy has been slammed by Muslim groups for creating an environment of fear and suspicion around ordinary citizens, who have been questioned in their workplaces, schools and medical facilities as …
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Andrew Tate’s sudden and meteoric rise as a men’s rights influencer has captivated the attention of young men all over the world and shocked many others, including teachers and parents, about why their children are drawn in by his mix of misogyny and self-help guruisms. Despite his arrest on sex trafficking charges by Romanian authorities, his loya…
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Syrian activist, revolutionary and filmmaker Waad al-Kateab gave birth to her daughter Sama under siege in Aleppo, sheltering in a makeshift hospital while Bashar al-Assad’s forces bombed the city around them. As a new mother, she decided to pick up her camera and document what she imagined were her last moments alive. Three years after her landmar…
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After four years of political turmoil, Israel's far-right Zionist agitators have emerged victorious, seeking to expel Palestinians, implement Jewish loyalty laws and tear up the peace process once and for all. With the help of Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, Itamar Ben Gvir and Bezalel Smotrich have dominated Israeli politics and are set to take…
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In our first in a series of long-form interviews with great minds, we speak with human rights advocate Dr Kat Eghdamian on why the fight for women's liberation in Iran is not about religion but control. Dr Eghdamian explains how the death of Mahsa Amini, a Kurdish woman, inspired a nationwide movement built on Kurdish traditions and slogans and wha…
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This week we talk about the dangerous ‘game’ played by Bangladeshi migrants finding themselves on Libya’s shores, an investigation into British intelligence uncovers a campaign of propaganda in Syria, and 72 years after what Palestinians call ‘The Nakba’, we examine the history of discriminatory Israeli land policies. We’re joined by MEE journalist…
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In this episode, we talk about what the global crash in oil prices will do to Saudi Arabia’s economy, how North African countries are tackling the coronavirus outbreak in Ramadan, and the sudden death of a young filmmaker jailed in Egypt for mocking the president. We’re joined by MEE Chief Editor David Hearst, North Africa editor Melanie Materese a…
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In this episode, we talk about the violent clashes in Lebanon as protesters defy lockdown, the mysterious death of a young Palestinian inmate sparks anger, and successionists declare governance in south Yemen, throwing months of peace negotiations into disarray. We’re joined by MEE journalist Heba Naser, Palestine correspondent for Mondoweiss Yumna…
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This week we talk about the media war raging between Saudi Arabia and Turkey, Morocco’s government urged to release jailed activists as coronavirus hits its prisons and Israel’s new unity government paves way for the annexation of the Jordan Valley. We're joined by roving journalist Amandla Thomas-Johnson, Turkey correspondent Ragip Soylu and award…
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This week we talk about Lebanon’s flailing economy that can’t seem to get a break, New York’s immigrant neighbourhoods in the eye of the coronavirus storm and Boris Johnson returns from the brink of death with a change of heart.
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Welcome to the first episode of Dispatch, a weekly podcast looking at the biggest stories in the Middle East and beyond. This week we talk about Israel's clampdown on ultra-orthodox communities in a bid to curb the spread of coronavirus, the sudden resignation of Iraq's third Prime Minister nominee in less than 10 weeks, and the UK government's tur…
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