This collection of essays gives teen readers a chance to hear about life in the Middle East and Africa straight from writers (all 25 years old or younger) who live there.
For more about AIC’s (American Islamic Congress) Dream Deferred Essay Contest, check out the contest rules & guidelines. The judges “are looking for essays that explore what ordinary citizens can do on the grassroots level to strengthen individual rights within Middle Eastern societies. These civil rights include, but are not limited to, free expression, women’s equality, minority rights, religious freedom, economic liberty, and artistic freedom.” So you can imagine what you will find among the collected pieces. There’s a table of contents on MacMillan’s webpage (scroll to the bottom).
For more about the AIC, take a look at their mission.
WEDDAY, Nasser, ed & Sohrab Ahmari. Arab Spring Dreams: The Next Generation Speaks Out for Freedom and Justice from North Arica to Iran. 235p. Palgrave Macmillan. 2012. pap. $17. ISBN 978-0-230-11592-7. LC 2011040448.
Adult/High School– Since 2005, the American Islamic Congress has sponsored an essay contest for young writers living in Arab nations. The entrants can select from a variety of questions, and write in English, French or Arabic; more recent contests also include a video option. Compiled here are some of the best essays from the last several years of the contest. By nature of the contest and the AIC, the essays support a basic political ideology – that of more civil rights in their region. To assist readers unfamiliar with the political nuances and history of the Arab nations, each essay has an introduction that sets the stage. The essays often echo Civil Rights struggles familiar to Westerners. Gay rights: the first entry in the book is a fictionalized account, written by an Egyptian woman, of a gay man trying to meet other men online; Women’s rights: “A Persian Grandmother in Tokyo” is by a young Iranian woman who witnessed the world through the eyes of her grandmother when they visited Japan together; Religious rights: “The Shredded Exam Card,” also from Iran, is about the fierce persecution against those of the Bahai faith, who are not even allowed to attend college. There are also essays regarding race discrimination, whether between Arabs and black Africans, or Arabs of different descent. Many of the entries were submitted anonymously, out of fear of persecution. However, some are not, including the Egyptian Dalia Ziada, who now runs the AIC office in Cairo which sponsors the Cairo Human Rights Film Festival. These essays make an excellent real-life companion to current Arab studies.–Jamie Watson, Baltimore County Public Library, MD