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News & Politics

Al Jazeera World

Updated 2 months ago

News & Politics
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A weekly showcase of one-hour documentary films from across the Al Jazeera Network.

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A weekly showcase of one-hour documentary films from across the Al Jazeera Network.

iTunes Ratings

38 Ratings
Average Ratings
25
6
1
4
2

iTunes Ratings

38 Ratings
Average Ratings
25
6
1
4
2
Cover image of Al Jazeera World

Al Jazeera World

Updated 2 months ago

Read more

A weekly showcase of one-hour documentary films from across the Al Jazeera Network.

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Rank #1: Kashmir tensions: 'War is not a solution' | Talk to Al Jazeera

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There is brewing conflict between nuclear-armed rivals India and Pakistan, once again at loggerheads over the territory that lies between them: Kashmir.

The neighbours have fought two out of their three wars over Kashmir and the latest crisis has once again highlighted 72 years of failure to find a solution.

After the two countries gained independence from British rule in 1947, the Maharaja of Muslim-majority Kashmir decided to join India. That did not sit well with the population in Pakistan, and the two countries had their first war over Kashmir.

A 1948 United Nations resolution, and later mutual agreements, formed a ceasefire line along what is now called the Line of Control.

On August 5 this year, Prime Minister Narendra Modi's government made a dramatic decision to revoke the partial autonomy of Indian-administered Kashmir. To stem anticipated protests, India locked down the region with additional troop reinforcements and imposed a full communications blackout.

"India has committed aggression in the recent weeks against the people of Jammu and Kashmir," Masood Khan, president of Pakistan-administered Kashmir, tells Al Jazeera. "Everybody knows that Indian-occupied Kashmir has been under occupation for the past 72 years and India has made this fresh move to colonise the territory of Kashmir."

The move also caused an expected uproar in Pakistan, with Islamabad strongly disagreeing with New Delhi's insistence that the constitutional changes are an internal matter. In response, Pakistan's parliament decided to cut trade with India, downgrade diplomatic ties and suspend bus and train services.

On the possibility of tensions escalating into conflict, Shah Mahmood Qureshi, Pakistan's foreign minister, tells Al Jazeera: "There are two nuclear-armed states and we think war is not a solution, it is mutual suicide and has never been our option."

"We are going to articulate our case diplomatically, politically and we will look at the legal options," he says.

However, India's move in Kashmir has also revealed internal divisions inside Pakistan's political system as to how to respond.

"We see that the government of Pakistan is following, not leading," says Bilawal Bhutto Zardari, chairman of the opposition Pakistan Peoples Party and a vocal critic of both the Indian and Pakistani government.

"I think that the people of Kashmir are looking to leadership. And they are looking for the Prime Minister of Pakistan to speak to their emotions and to speak to the crisis and take concrete actions, not react, not five days later decide to take any reciprocal action with India - which is unfortunately what we saw in this situation."

However, he adds: "As far as domestic politics is concerned, the various political parties obviously have their differences. But when it comes to the issue of Kashmir, we all stand united."

Although some Kashmiris feel Islamabad should do more, Khan expresses thanks to Pakistan for its response thus far.

"It is natural that the people in the street should expect more," he says, "but I've heard from other government officials that Pakistan firmly believes that there should be a diplomatic and political solution. We do not go down the path of war-mongering, we do not want to stoke war hysteria as India has done. So Pakistan has shown restraint and responsibility."

The UN has urged all sides to refrain from changing the status of Kashmir. Pakistan plans to take the issue to the UN Security Council with the help of its ally China, which also has a claim on a different part of the disputed Himalayan region.

"They [China] completely understand and endorse our point of view," says Qureshi. "They have considered the Indian action as unilateral, unlawful, and they feel the matter should be resolved under the UN charter and according to the applicable Security Council resolutions."

"What matters is what is right," Zardari says. "And what is right is that for 70 years the people of Kashmir have been promised that they will be able to decide their own destiny. It's for 70 years we have been told that the people of Kashmir will have a referendum and they will choose. We are saying allow for people to exercise their democratic rights. If the world believes in democracy, if the world believes in the freedom of choice, then the world should support the people of Kashmir."

As the tough political talk on Kashmir has a direct impact on the lives of millions of people on both sides of the line of control, we sit down with three important people on the Pakistani side and ask: Will Pakistan be able to neutralise the Indian move; can diplomacy diffuse tensions; and will other powers like China get involved, and if so, what could this mean for Kashmiris?

-

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Aug 20 2019
24 mins
Play

Rank #2: Sudan: Hassan Al-Turabi's Life and Politics - Part 2, Fall from Favour | Al Jazeera World

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Note: This is part two of a two-part documentary. Watch Part 1 here: https://youtu.be/AGEnhSHo2P0
Sudan has a troubled history and has been in almost constant turmoil since the 1950s.

Regime change, coups, street protests, famine, war, political division - and in April 2019, the toppling of President Omar al-Bashir.

The history of modern Sudan is punctuated by several coups, including in 1989, the seizing of power by al-Bashir, whose regime would last for three decades.

In the background was Hassan al-Turabi, the power behind the leadership, and the man many call the architect of modern Sudan.

"Al-Turabi was a successful politician, not in the sense of political achievements on the ground but in his capacity for mass mobilisation, creating an organisational structure and ensuring continuity," says Dr Al Nour Ahmed, a researcher, academic and Sudanese opposition member.

"No politician had ever created a cohesive organisational body in Sudan as al-Turabi did."

Al-Turabi was enigmatic, a learned Islamic scholar, the founder of Sudan's religious political party and an arch-politician. His followers revered him as a scholar, diplomat, spiritual leader and strategic thinker, with an uncanny knack of backing winners.

"Thanks to his quite diverse experience, he combined traditional Islamic culture with modern European thinking," says political analyst Dr Mohamed Mokhtar al-Shanqity.

But to his many enemies, he was Machiavellian, ruthlessly ambitious and sought power on his own terms.

"Al-Turabi was known for his intellectual and political flexibility. Political shrewdness is one of his greatest strengths and at the same time one of his major weaknesses," al-Shanqity says.

As al-Bashir's attorney-general, al-Turabi was at the heart of power and also at the centre of Sudan's religious ideologues who controlled the executive, the military and the judiciary.

When al-Turabi set up a General Assembly to discuss a worldwide Islamic revolution, he attracted people like Osama bin Laden who, as a then-Saudi entrepreneur, set up businesses in Sudan. However, relations with the West deteriorated and Sudan's exiled community, antagonistic to al-Bashir's authoritarian rule, grew.

In the 1990s, al-Turabi came under increasing pressure. Soon a rift developed with al-Bashir who dismissed al-Turabi in 1999. He spent the rest of his career in opposition, and spent many years in prison. His loyal following gave him continued support until his death in 2016.

Throughout al-Bashir's regime, al-Turabi was a key background figure. His political sway and his avowed mission to establish a religious state in Sudan, both formed and later challenged al-Bashir - even from his prison cell - and hold weight even in events unfolding today.

In the current power struggle enveloping the country, al-Turabi's influence is still felt - not least among some of the protesters vying with the army for civilian rule in the post al-Bashir era.

In this two-part series, we trace the rise and fall of Hassan al-Turabi, and explore the vast influence he had over five decades of Sudanese politics.
-

More from Al Jazeera World on:

YouTube - http://aje.io/aljazeeraworldYT
Facebook - https://www.facebook.com/AlJazeeraWorld
Twitter - https://twitter.com/AlJazeera_World
Visit our website - http://www.aljazeera.com/aljazeeraworld
Subscribe to AJE on YouTube - http://aje.io/YTsubscribe
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- Check our website: https://www.aljazeera.com/
Aug 14 2019
46 mins
Play

Rank #3: Iran's Zarif: 'We are not seeking war' | Talk to Al Jazeera

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As the United States maintains its "maximum pressure" campaign against Iran, tension is on the rise in the Gulf, raising concerns over a full-blown military escalation.

While the US has beefed up its military presence in the region, the administration of President Donald Trump has been seeking allies for an international naval coalition to "combat Iranian aggression" in the Strait of Hormuz - one of the world's busiest and most important shipping routes.

Iran's government meanwhile says the naval build-up could destabilise the entire region and has called for US vessels to leave the area.

"We believe that the best the US can do for the protection of maritime navigation is to just leave people alone; don't interfere," Iran's Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif tells Al Jazeera.

"This is basically a hostile act against Iran and I do not believe it will have any impact other than insecurity."

He also warns against US weapons sales in the Middle East, saying, "if you are talking about threats coming from the region, the threats are coming from the US and its allies who are pouring weapons in the region, making it a tinderbox ready to blow up".

The crisis between the two powers escalated last year when Trump pulled out of a landmark nuclear agreement signed between world powers and Iran in 2015, saying it was a bad deal. He has since reinstated sanctions targeting Tehran and countries trading with it - a move Zarif calls "economic warfare".

"The Americans are not in a position to draw red lines for what we do for our defence," he says.

"I think the United States is the source of instability in this region. I think US allies, unfortunately, have been the source of instability," he says, referring to countries including Israel and Saudi Arabia.

"What is very clear - extremely clear - is that we are not seeking war, we do not want confrontation, we want development for our people, we want development for our region," he says.

"We need stability here, but stability should be for everybody. We cannot have stability for some and instability for others. We need to have stability for all countries in the region and we are prepared to protect stability for all countries in the region, and for those who depend on our region."

On Iran's continued commitment to the nuclear pact and its viability, Zarif says he believes "it is the best deal that was possible", even though he admits that it encountered opposition.

"It wasn't the best deal for everybody because you cannot have the perfect deal. There is no perfect deal," he says. "And if President Trump is given correct advice, he will be able to basically accept the reality that this is the best deal possible and we can move forward."

However, Zarif feels the deal can proceed even without US involvement, as long as the remaining participants agree to fulfil their own commitments. "What we want them to do and what we expect them to do is stay committed. And we will stay committed as long as they are," he says.

So far the European Union is still sticking to the deal, offering a mechanism to bypass US sanctions.

"I think it's an important signal that the United States is getting more and more isolated - not because of anything we have done but because of what they are doing," Zarif says.

"They are violating the law, they are breaking the law, they are breaking every international treaty they have been a member of. They have broken not only the nuclear deal with Iran, but the Paris convention, the Trans Pacific Partnership - basically everything they could break they are breaking. So they are the source of instability globally and this type of behaviour will lead to further global disorder. And I think that is dangerous for everybody and everybody is realising that."

On Iran's ties with its neighbours in the Gulf, Zarif says the country hopes to achieve normalisation of relations.

"What we have called for, and repeat, is that our neighbours - all of us - belong to this region, we cannot leave this region. Others will leave this region; others will not secure us; others will not provide us with the security umbrella that we need. We can provide each other with that security umbrella. We extend our hand, and our hand remains extended, to all our neighbours."

Zarif admits he is "certainly concerned" about the the potential for a war in the region. "But as a diplomat, I always need to look for a peaceful way out. And that's what we are trying," he says.
--

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Aug 12 2019
38 mins
Play

Rank #4: Sudan: Hassan Al-Turabi's Life and Politics - Part 1, Rise to Power | Al Jazeera World

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Note: This is part one of a two-part documentary.
Sudan has a troubled history and has been in almost constant turmoil since the 1950s.

Regime change, coups, street protests, famine, war, political division - and in April 2019, the toppling of President Omar al-Bashir.

The history of modern Sudan is punctuated by several coups, including in 1989, the seizing of power by al-Bashir, whose regime would last for three decades.

In the background was Hassan al-Turabi, the power behind the leadership, and the man many call the architect of modern Sudan.

"Al-Turabi was a successful politician, not in the sense of political achievements on the ground but in his capacity for mass mobilisation, creating an organisational structure and ensuring continuity," says Dr Al Nour Ahmed, a researcher, academic and Sudanese opposition member.

"No politician had ever created a cohesive organisational body in Sudan as al-Turabi did."

Al-Turabi was enigmatic, a learned Islamic scholar, the founder of Sudan's religious political party and an arch-politician. His followers revered him as a scholar, diplomat, spiritual leader and strategic thinker, with an uncanny knack of backing winners.

"Thanks to his quite diverse experience, he combined traditional Islamic culture with modern European thinking," says political analyst Dr Mohamed Mokhtar al-Shanqity.

But to his many enemies, he was Machiavellian, ruthlessly ambitious and sought power on his own terms.

"Al-Turabi was known for his intellectual and political flexibility. Political shrewdness is one of his greatest strengths and at the same time one of his major weaknesses," al-Shanqity says.

As al-Bashir's attorney-general, al-Turabi was at the heart of power and also at the centre of Sudan's religious ideologues who controlled the executive, the military and the judiciary.

When al-Turabi set up a General Assembly to discuss a worldwide Islamic revolution, he attracted people like Osama bin Laden who, as a then-Saudi entrepreneur, set up businesses in Sudan. However, relations with the West deteriorated and Sudan's exiled community, antagonistic to al-Bashir's authoritarian rule, grew.

In the 1990s, al-Turabi came under increasing pressure. Soon a rift developed with al-Bashir who dismissed al-Turabi in 1999. He spent the rest of his career in opposition, and spent many years in prison. His loyal following gave him continued support until his death in 2016.

Throughout al-Bashir's regime, al-Turabi was a key background figure. His political sway and his avowed mission to establish a religious state in Sudan, both formed and later challenged al-Bashir - even from his prison cell - and hold weight even in events unfolding today.

In the current power struggle enveloping the country, al-Turabi's influence is still felt - not least among some of the protesters vying with the army for civilian rule in the post al-Bashir era.

In this two-part series, we trace the rise and fall of Hassan al-Turabi, and explore the vast influence he had over five decades of Sudanese politics.
-

More from Al Jazeera World on:

YouTube - http://aje.io/aljazeeraworldYT
Facebook - https://www.facebook.com/AlJazeeraWorld
Twitter - https://twitter.com/AlJazeera_World
Visit our website - http://www.aljazeera.com/aljazeeraworld
Subscribe to AJE on YouTube - http://aje.io/YTsubscribe

-
- Subscribe to our channel: http://aje.io/AJSubscribe
- Follow us on Twitter: https://twitter.com/AJEnglish
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- Check our website: https://www.aljazeera.com/
Aug 07 2019
48 mins
Play

Rank #5: 'Trump is on a collision course with himself': Robert Malley on US policy in the Middle East | Talk to Al Jazeera

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"The Middle East is both the most polarised region in the world - meaning you have all these divisions, all these axes - but also the most integrated, which means that what happens in Syria matters to Saudi Arabia, matters to Iran, matters to Israel," says Middle East analyst and former Obama-administration adviser, Robert Malley. "And so you cannot have an uprising that simply lives on, on its own."

Formerly a White House coordinator for the Middle East, North Africa and Gulf Region, Malley now heads leading think-tank, the International Crisis Group (ICG).

Under Barack Obama, Malley was part of the team that crafted the Iran nuclear deal - the one Donald Trump's White House then withdrew from in 2018, calling it "defective".

"His [Trump's] criticisms are either deliberately dishonest, or he hasn't read the deal or he doesn't know what's in it," Malley tells Al Jazeera.

He says Trump decided to withdraw from the deal to get a better deal and to curb Iran's behaviour in the region. But "what have we seen a year later? Iran is now itself moving away from the deal, so its nuclear activities are worse than they were under the deal."

"It could well lead to a war that I am profoundly convinced the president doesn't want," he says. "But I think he [Trump] is on a collision course with himself because his policies - whether he is aware of it or not - are leading towards the possibility of military confrontation that his instincts oppose."

Under the Obama administration, the US also got involved in Saudi's war in Yemen. In April, Malley wrote in the Atlantic: "For an American who had a hand in shaping US Mideast policy during the Barack Obama years, coming to Yemen has the unpleasant feel of visiting the scene of a tragedy one helped co-write."

He tells Al Jazeera that despite the US having "huge reservations", they agreed to get involved in the Yemen conflict in 2015 to support an ally, Saudi Arabia. "The feeling was we can't afford another rupture with Saudi Arabia - which could be a major one - after coming in the wake of the Iran negotiations. So the president [Obama] had this view of, we can help Saudi Arabia defend its security, defend its borders, defend its territorial integrity while trying not to get too involved in the war with the Houthis," he says.

"But in a way that was getting half pregnant. Because once you support Saudi Arabia - once you support the Saudi-led coalition - support is fungible. And the US became complicit in what today the United Nations says is the worst humanitarian crisis we face. So this is a case of tragedy in which US fingerprints are very present."

On US interests elsewhere in the region, Malley feels "the world is spending too much time talking about this 'deal of the century'" that Trump has proposed to solve the Israel-Palestinian crisis.

"We know that if and when this is put on the table, the Palestinians will say no," he says."Because even if it's slightly better than people expect, it's going to be far less than what President Clinton proposed to the Palestinians in 2000, less than what was on offer during the George W Bush presidency, less than what was on offer for the Palestinians during the Barack Obama presidency, so there is no way they are going to say yes.

"The gaps between the parties on the central issues of identity, of territory, of refugees, of security, of settlements, all those gaps are very wide. And it will take ... a very strong third party to try to get the parties where they need to go," Malley says.

Although he believes the two-state solution is "still the best possible outcome" for the region, he concedes that it's becoming harder to see it as the most realistic option.

"It's pretty easy today to say that the two-state solution is more and more a thing of the past," he says. "It's not very easy to say what's a thing of the present or the future."

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Aug 03 2019
25 mins
Play

Rank #6: Bahrain: Playing With Fire | Al Jazeera World

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Did the Bahraini government collude with al-Qaeda members to target Shia opposition figures during the 2011 unrest?

In February 2011, following unrest in Tunisia and Egypt in the early days of the so-called Arab Spring, opposition demonstrators took to the streets of the Bahraini capital, Manama.

The protests quickly gathered momentum, with demonstrators demanding greater democracy and an end to discrimination against the majority Shia Muslim community by the Sunni regime.

But in March, the protests were quelled. The king declared a state of emergency and brought in the Peninsula Shield Force, the military wing of the Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC).

The government called the unarmed protesters and activists "terrorists". Civilian demonstrators were teargassed, beaten and shot.

Now, allegations have surfaced suggesting that the Bahraini government made attempts to coerce members of al-Qaeda in Bahrain to target key figures in the Shia Muslim community during the unrest.

In leaked secret video recordings, former members of al-Qaeda say that the Bahraini government and intelligence officials cracked down on and tried to assassinate key Shia opposition figures.

The recordings say that Bahraini intelligence officers recruited al-Qaeda members to form a cell to murder Bahraini opposition activists, on orders from the king.

In one recording, former al-Qaeda member Mohammad Saleh says: "A state security officer and another officer ... paid me a visit. They said they'd come on behalf of His Majesty the King of Bahrain at a time when the country was having a difficult time. He said that we, as fighters and members of al-Qaeda could help quell the Shia."

In a different recording made at the same time, Hisham Hilal al-Balushi - who was later a known leader of a Sunni armed group in Iran, before being killed in 2015 - talks about being detained by Bahraini security services and then recruited to infiltrate another group in Iran.

In this film, Al Jazeera Arabic reporter Tamer Almisshal examines the video testimonies and speaks to former intelligence officers, diplomats, human rights activists and security experts about the allegations.

The Bahraini government has strenuously denied the allegations made in this film. The foreign minister called them "lies and fallacies against the state of Bahrain".

The minister of information said there were "attempts made by Al Jazeera channel to contact him and other officials, through unidentified telephone numbers, to record their conversations without their knowledge or official consent and to provoke them by using despicable methods".

Al Jazeera also wrote to the office of the royal family, the Ministry of the Interior and Ministry of Foreign Affairs to ask them to respond to the allegations but has not yet received any replies.

After an Arabic version of the film aired on Al Jazeera Arabic, Mohammad Saleh and Jamal al-Balushi (the brother of now-deceased Hilal) appeared on Bahraini television, saying that although they did make the recordings in 2011, what they said was false.

Mohammad Saleh said "they all agreed to make the recordings and to include several false allegations in order to give them weight that would help international human rights groups build pressure on Bahrain's government and security agencies", the state Bahrain News Agency reported.

According to John Kiriakou, a former CIA officer, Bahrain "thought they could divide their own opponents by having their opponents attack each other".

"The Bahraini government believed it could pit Sunni fundamentalists against the Shia population and keep both sides divided that way, and that is not what happened," he tells Al Jazeera. "What happened was it further angered the Shia population and at the same time encouraged fundamentalism among the Sunni."

More from Al Jazeera World on:

YouTube - http://aje.io/aljazeeraworldYT
Facebook - https://www.facebook.com/AlJazeeraWorld
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Visit our website - http://www.aljazeera.com/aljazeeraworld
Subscribe to AJE on YouTube - http://aje.io/YTsubscribe
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- Check our website: https://www.aljazeera.com/
Jul 27 2019
48 mins
Play

Rank #7: Inside India's water crisis: Living with drought and dry taps | Talk to Al Jazeera In the Field

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This year, large parts of India have seen the worst drought in decades.

The monsoon, which usually provides some relief, was weeks late and when it finally arrived, it was once again deficient, with less rainfall than expected.

Despite India's economic growth in recent years, it remains one of the most unequal societies in the world. And that inequality can be seen in people's access to life's most basic necessity: water.

A government report found that 600 million Indians - nearly half the population - are facing acute water shortages.

While swimming pools in luxury hotels remain full, three quarters of the population do not have drinking water in their homes.

The effects of the drought are seen most clearly in rural India. About 300,000 Indian farmers have killed themselves in the past 25 years, and many more have deserted their crops to move to cities in search of work, leaving behind the elderly.

In the state of Maharashtra is one of the worst-affected regions.

Villagers there sometimes wait for days before government tankers carrying water trucks, where they desperately need them. But the trucks only provide about 20 litres per person a day, which people ration for everything including drinking, cooking, bathing and house work.

"Life is very hard because of the water situation," says Sitabai Gaikwad, a school teacher in Ahir Wadgaon village. "We have water when the tanker comes. People who can't manage to put their pipes in the tanker don't have water that day."

"There are older people who don't manage to get water. Everyone's worried about themselves because of the water situation," she says.

In Maharashtra, more than 6,000 tankers supply water to 15,000 villages every day - 1,000 of these are government tankers which provide water for free.

The others are private operators who sell water to people and businesses. Villagers say the cost of buying water from them has escalated since the drought.

"People buy water according to their finances," says Gaikwad. "Some buy it, but that is difficult because it costs us 900 rupees ($13) for a month."

"When we don't have money to feed ourselves, when we don't have food and water, how can we pay that much for water?" she asks.

Although the government tankers are meant to deliver water every day, villagers complain that this doesn't always happen. GPS tracking devices have been installed on all government trucks to monitor and ensure the water arrives.

Meanwhile, across Maharashtra, many farmers are leaving their land and villages because of the lack of water, which in these farming communities, often means a lack of work.

Panduram More, a labourer, left his 40,000 square metre cotton farm to move to the city of Aurangabad.

"There is no work, so I had to migrate here and live in this small room," he says. "There is no rainfall, so the land is of no use. We can't grow anything."

Talk to Al Jazeera In The Field, went to India's Maharashtra state to look at the effect the drought is having on the lives of ordinary people.

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Jul 27 2019
24 mins
Play

Rank #8: Rajasthan's Snake Dancers | Al Jazeera World

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For generations, the Kalbelia tribe of Rajasthan in northwest India moved constantly from one place to another - the men catching snakes and trading venom, the women begging for charity.

But in 1972, the Indian government introduced the Wildlife Act, forbidding snake possession and hunting, forcing a fundamental tribal re-think.

With a key part of their way of life - their centuries-old practice of snake charming - effectively banned, the Kalbelia had to find new ways of making a living. Some became subsistence farmers, while others have reinvented themselves as public performers.

Festivals and culture are an important part of local life in Rajasthan - and of its vital tourist industry.

Kalbelian dance, with its distinctive twirling movements that resemble those of the snake, is both source of income and acclaim, within and outside India.

I was born into a community that preferred not to have girl children ... Any extra girl child was killed soon after birth. Now that our girls learn Kalbelian dance, parents are happier with a female child.

Gulabo, Kalbelia dancer

"This song and dance, this art, it is our tradition," says one Kalbelia man. "During the royalty era, we were invited to palaces; kings and emperors called on us to perform for their guests."

The Kalbelia have brought considerable prestige to Rajasthan. They have now become famous – regionally, nationally and internationally - and in 2010 gained a place on UNESCO's Intangible Heritage list.

Dance is a key part of Kalbelian cultural identity and has also had a marked social impact on the lives of women and girls.

"I was born into a community that preferred not to have girl children ... Any extra girl child was killed soon after birth." says Gulabo, a Kalbelia dancer who was buried alive the day she was born, until her mother saved her.

"Now that our girls learn Kalbelian dance, parents are happier with a female child because girls can dance and that's a very good thing for us," she says.

Gulabo now teaches Kalbelian dance and has a reputation as an international performer.

Kalbelian songs and dances are part of an oral tradition, handed down from one generation to another. There are no real organised training systems, schools, manuscripts or texts to help teach the art. Many songs are taken from stories based on folklore and mythology - and singers also have a reputation for improvising during performances.

"We don't practice or attend music lessons," says Mohini Devi, singer in a Kalbelia dance band. "Songs are made spontaneously, while sitting at home."

In this film, we meet Rajasthan's Kalbelian dancers and musicians and hear the striking story of a community adapting from a nomadic way of life to meet the challenges of 21st Century India.

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Jul 17 2019
45 mins
Play

Rank #9: 'I felt I was going to die': Battling domestic violence in Iraq | Talk To Al Jazeera In The Field

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Iraq is emerging from more than a decade of intermittent conflict. People are rebuilding their cities and institutions. At the same time, they are also pursuing reconciliation and trying to reconstruct their national identity.

Women hope they will be given more of an expanded role in the political sphere and that they will be given greater rights. But it has been an uphill battle.

Iraq's penal code allows husbands to discipline their wives, and there is currently no law criminalising domestic violence. For almost a decade, women's rights groups have been pushing parliament to pass a law that would change that - but it has always stalled.

"The law in Iraq doesn't give women their rights," says Lena, a domestic violence survivor whose abuse left her with physical and psychological ailments.

We don't have laws in our society to prevent men from hurting women, and to protect women, and to put red lines for men not to cross.

Lena, domestic violence survivor

"I tried so many times to leave [my ex-husband] ... At the end of the day, I felt that I was going to die," she says.

But the abuse was just the beginning of her ordeal. After she left her husband and filed a police report, he turned the tables against Lena and her family, accusing them of kidnapping him.

At the end of the day, Lena was found guilty and spent 16 months in prison.

Lena blames the wide-reaching corruption in the judicial system, "from the lowest clerk to the highest judge."

She says Iraqi women who are unemployed or not well educated, especially those who have children, are forced to "bear everything".

"We don't have laws in our society to prevent men from hurting women, and to protect women, and to put red lines for men not to cross," she says.

There are no updated national figures for domestic violence in Iraq; the most recent data available, from 2012, estimated that one in five women were victims.

Civil society groups say, based on the growing number of women seeking assistance, they believe the figure is much higher today.

"The life, the traditions, is so hard on the woman, on the girl," says Hanna Edwar, a longtime activist and founder of a non-profit social services group called al-Ammal.

She calls domestic violence "a national crisis" and attributes the increase to a number of factors, including political instability, poverty, conflict, outdated traditions and lack of rule of law. She says corruption also makes it difficult for victims and survivors to get justice.

Edwar has taken the lead on the effort to raise awareness about domestic violence and is pushing to pass the law offering victims greater protection.

"This year we are really very optimistic about it [passing]," she says. "Because it's not only our demand as civil society. It is now the demands of the government [as well]."

In the meantime, many women like Lena are still awaiting recognition of the crimes committed against them.

"When I talk about what happened to me, people dismiss it as just a story ... I have not been able to convince anyone in our government to change our laws to protect women," Lena says. "I have never received justice."

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Jul 13 2019
24 mins
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Rank #10: Senegal: Wrestling with Reality | Al Jazeera World

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In Senegal, traditional wrestling has its roots in the culture and community of rural villages, particularly among the Serer people.

What began as tribal preparations for battle developed into village ritual and soon a form of entertainment. Men traditionally fought at village festivals after the harvest season as a way of attracting women, proving their virility and bringing honour to their communities.

But in the past 50 years, traditional Senegalese wrestling has grown exponentially to become a major national sport for both men and women - with celebrity fighters competing for big prize money, in large stadia and in front of thousands of fans.

"We can say that it is not just a sport," says sociologist Aly Tandian. "It has always been a socially stimulating factor in the Senegalese society."

"Today, there are villages that have become well known in all of Senegal because they have given birth to great wrestlers," he adds.

Today, the professional wrestlers at major events - like "Bombardier" and Eumeu Sene - are household names, winning over $80,000 a fight.

Up-and-coming fighters like "Lacrymogene", who we meet in this film, win more modest sums - from a few to a few hundred dollars. But the winnings mean that for some of the poorest Senegalese, wrestling can genuinely represent a means of clawing their way out of poverty.

Traditional wrestling is part of a wider phenomenon of combat sports in West Africa, including in countries like Gambia, Guinea and Gabon. In Senegal, the sport has attracted both genders, with the women's game now popular and well respected in its own right.

Olympic fighter Isabelle Sambou has won the African Championships nine times. Safiato Biola has competed in women's events in Europe and North Africa, and Anta Sambou says winning three golds at the 2017 Francophone Games has built her confidence and transformed her life.

"Wrestling is part of our culture," says Isabelle.

"If you wrestle when you're young, you can wrestle through your whole childhood, and as an adult you can still wrestle. Especially the girls, don't be afraid of a wrestler."

"I love my achievements so much that it has made me stronger," she says. "I also represent a force in my village, and that has made me reach the top."

In this film, we explore the popularity of traditional wrestling among Senegalese fighters and fans alike, men and women, urban and rural - from small village festivals to arena events in the capital, Dakar.

We look at wrestling as an expression of pride and cultural identity but also to show how sport - at even the lowest levels - can mean the difference for some between modest, local success and a miserable existence on the margins of society.

As Tandian says, "There are certain places, like the suburbs of Dakar, where young people only have two options: wrestling or leaving the country."

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Jul 10 2019
47 mins
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