Press Clips

Below is a selection of articles Raed has written in the past seven years for the Los Angeles Times, Al-Ahram Weekly, the Daily Star, the Institute for War and Peace Reporting, the Progressive magazine and Al-Arabiya’s English website.


Young activists tout the Arab American in Brooklyn to vote in the 2012 presidential election. (Photo by Raed Rafei)


Despite disillusionment, Arab Americans gear up to vote

05 November, 2012 | Raed Rafei | Al-Arabiya

NEW YORK — As U.S. nationals prepare to elect their president on Tuesday, fervent public and media discussions continue on the way the two candidates will handle the economic crisis, address healthcare or affect policies related to social issues. However, foreign policy matters, especially towards the Middle East, have not been given much attention during this year’s election campaigns.

Among Arab Americans, there is a wide sentiment of disillusionment about how a new U.S. administration resulting from the next presidency will respond to the region’s challenges whether with regards to Syria’s civil war, the Arab Israeli conflict or the shift towards democracy in some Arab countries.

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Young Arab American activists mobilize community to vote

11 October 2012 | Raed Rafei | Al-Arabiya

New York — Looking slightly restless, a small group of young women stood in the shade of a white-stone Bay Ridge mosque with large arched windows. They were fidgeting with their pens or flipping through the forms in their clipboards as they waited for the end of the Friday noon prayer, a weekly occasion that brings together a mass of Arab and Muslim immigrants in this Brooklyn neighborhood.

In a matter of brisk minutes, men flocked out of the mosque exchanging niceties or rushing to meet their families for lunch. Outside the mosque, the women, most of whom wore colorful headscarves and fashionable accessories, pulled themselves together and swiftly intercepted them with a question: “Excuse me, are you a registered voter?”

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Demands for Radical Political Change in Lebanon

4 March 2011 | Raed Rafei | Institute for War and Peace Reporting

BEIRUT — The wind of change that has been sweeping through the Arab world has felt more like a gentle breeze in Lebanon. Many Lebanese have long been under the impression that their political system was more democratic than that of all other Arab nations.

But as Tunisians and Egyptians start pondering major reforms to ensure a more inclusive and just system, some Lebanese are starting to seriously question the worth of their own political structures.

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Arab TV’s Morality Tales Turned Upside Down

17 Februray 2011 | Raed Rafei | Institute for War and Peace Reporting

BEIRUT — Growing up in Lebanon, I relished watching Egyptian television series like millions of people in the rest of the Arab world. Many of these hyper-dramatic soap operas dealt with social issues such as injustice, corruption, lack of employment and problems of expensive housing.

The stories involved corrupt businessmen who end up paying the price for their fraudulent acts either by being caught by the authorities or by leading lives full of self-remorse and moral bankruptcy. They also teemed with young, hard-working men who refused to compromise their high moral standards in order to get rich quick – and were rewarded with decent lives by some heavenly power.

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Playing both sides

Lebanon’s president visits Iran in an attempt to bolster Lebanese unity.

27 November – 3 December, 2008 | Raed Rafei | Al-Ahram Weekly

BEIRUT — Following visits to a number of Western and regional capitals, Lebanese President Michel Suleiman held talks in Tehran on Monday with his Iranian counterpart, Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, continuing his international tour to promote an image of Lebanon as a stable and unified country.

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Back from the brink

Resolved for now, recent strife in Tripoli may be an indication of widespread trouble to come.

11-17 September, 2008 | Raed Rafei | Al-Ahram Weekly

BEIRUT — After several weeks of sporadic fighting in Tripoli, a high-profile memorandum for peace was signed Monday night to put an end to sectarian violence in the northern city between a Sunni majority, allied with Saad Al-Hariri’s Future Movement, and an Alawite minority with ties to Hizbullah. Despite this apparent reconciliation, instability continues to loom large in Tripoli with political tensions persisting on the national level.

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On Hezbollah’s TV channel, anti-U.S. news at 10, 11, 12…

Al Manar, popular in the Middle East and available online, uses its programs to slam American policies.

July 13, 2008 | Raed Rafei | Los Angeles Times

BEIRUT — Wearing a bright blue veil carefully wrapped around her head, the TV host smirked as she listened to her guest’s comments about the lack of U.S. strategies in the Middle East.

“The U.S. administration has no policies,” U.S. analyst and military expert Mark Perry said recently on the only English-language talk show on Hezbollah’s TV station, Al Manar. “It is not that it has bad intentions, but [that it] has no intentions.”

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Sunni Funeral Turns Violent

Two are killed and 15 hurt in a Beirut clash amid a highly charged procession for a victim of last week’s fighting.

May 11, 2008 | Raed Rafei | Los Angeles Times

BEIRUT — Louder than the sound of smashing windows and shouts of “God is great,” the shots rang out at the Saturday morning funeral procession. Within seconds, three young men lay moaning on the ground.

Mourners had come from a Sunni Muslim stronghold of Beirut to bury a young government supporter killed last week in the clashes between his group and Shiite Muslim militiamen led by Hezbollah.

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In show of might, Hezbollah takes control of West Beirut

Lebanon becomes yet another arena of open confrontation between U.S.-backed interests and pro-Iran forces.

May 10, 2008 | Borzou Daragahi and Raed Rafei | Los Angeles Times

BEIRUT — In one swoop, the Shiite Muslim militia Hezbollah took over a large section of Lebanon’s capital Friday, altering the country’s political balance and demonstrating a level of military discipline and efficiency that left the pro-Western government struggling to exert its authority.

Within 12 hours, the Iranian-backed group dispatched hundreds of heavily armed Shiite fighters into the western half of Beirut, routing Sunni Muslim militiamen, destroying opponents’ political offices and shutting down media outlets loyal to the government of Prime Minister Fouad Siniora and to Sunni leader Saad Hariri’s Future movement.

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Cola makers target Mideast

Coke moves into what had long been Pepsi territory, with both firms using pop-star appeal to reach young Arabs.

February 04, 2008 | Raed Rafei | Los Angeles Times

BEIRUT — In one commercial, Arab pop star Nancy Ajram hands bottles of Coca-Cola to a young couple quarreling, and instantly, the two lovers make up as colorful hearts and flowers flood out from the bottles.

In another, Haifa Wehbe, a model-turned-singer and Arab world sex symbol, turns heads as she walks confidently through a film set in a blue, figure-hugging dress, putting her cool can of Pepsi up against the face of a sweating technician.

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War is over, but no let up in battle

Lebanon’s army routed Islamic fighters months ago, but the country is beset by violence and political deadlock.

January 23, 2008 | Borzou Daragahi and Raed Rafei | Los Angeles Times

AMIOUN, LEBANON — The young man had been through a miserable few years. He had been rejected by the army and failed to finish his studies. Security officials kept summoning him for talks.

At 25, he left his parents’ home in the city, telling them he wanted to be a shepherd. They heard nothing more from him until newspapers reported that he was wanted in Germany for involvement in a plot to bomb a pair of trains.

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Attacks on eve of Bush’s Mideast visit stir tension

Two U.N. soldiers are injured by a roadside bomb in Lebanon. A rocket lands in Israel.

January 09, 2008 | Raed Rafei | Los Angeles Times

BEIRUT — Fresh tensions arose Tuesday along the volatile Israeli-Lebanese border as two attacks were launched hours before a visit to the Middle East by President Bush.

A roadside bomb in southern Lebanon struck a vehicle carrying United Nations troops assigned to keep the peace along the frontier with Israel, slightly wounding two soldiers. Meanwhile, at least one rocket allegedly fired from Lebanese territory landed in northern Israel, but caused no deaths or injuries.

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Despair, hope in ruined Lebanon camp

Palestinian refugee families driven out by summer battles between the army and militants get started on repairs.

November 18, 2007 |Raed Rafei | Los Angeles Times

NAHR EL BARED, Lebanon — When Mowaffak Akel first returned to his four-room home in this shattered refugee camp after almost four months away, he found shell casings and spent ammunition cartridges on the floor.

“My wife had a panic attack when she saw the photo of our late son lying on the floor covered with dirt,” Akel said. “We felt total despair.”

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His fluent Arabic was a handicap

A German Israeli man’s love for Lebanon and its people sours after he’s jailed on suspicion of being a spy.

November 01, 2007 |Raed Rafei | Los Angeles Times

BEIRUT — Daniel Sharon has spent years seeking out the little-known treasures of Lebanon, from the hip new Sky Bar nightclub to the peaceful, rocky beaches in Batroun.

A well-to-do German businessman, Sharon has vacationed in the country for more than a decade without incident, often in five-star hotels and artisan neighborhoods that are insulated enough from the strife and conflict that have consumed much of the country.

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Virtual state’s utopia clicks with young

A Lebanese composer and activist ‘fed up with the way the world is today’ sells an album to support his realm.

January 01, 2008 |Raed Rafei | Los Angeles Times

BEIRUT — His hand adorned with silver rings, the self-proclaimed emperor of Nowheristan struck his slim iron cane firmly on the table, quieting a group of twenty something Lebanese gathered around him.

“All great projects in history started this way,” he said, casting a piercing look at his audience while toying with his cane. “Any new, extravagant idea is always considered at first a hallucination.”

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Haunted by her songs of love, peace

July 15, 2007 |Raed Rafei | Los Angeles Times

Athens — MY memories are impregnated with sounds. First comes the noise of my childhood nights punctuated with the rumble of generators. And then there are the serene melodies of my mornings marked by the voice of one diva, Fairuz, singing from my mother’s radio.

It was a time of civil war. There were frequent power blackouts at home. Outside, the country was fractured. The news was often of assassinations and car bombs. Yet one singer brought us all together with her quaint songs of love and peace. Her words were as pure as her voice, always provoking an angelic smile on my mother’s anxious face.

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In Lebanon, homosexuality becoming less of a taboo

Amid factional feuds and political instability, a quiet cultural shift has taken hold.

June 24, 2007 |Raed Rafei | Los Angeles Times

BEIRUT — The Lebanese soldiers at the checkpoint peered through the barbed wire.

Across the street from these men in their fatigues and combat gear, another group of men had arrived — revelers in hip-hugging pants and tight shirts on their way to Acid, an openly gay nightclub in east Beirut.

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Islamists tied to bus attacks

Lebanese officials say four members of a group allegedly linked to the Iraq insurgency confess to bombings last month.

March 14, 2007 | Raed Rafei | Los Angeles Times

BEIRUT — Officials here Tuesday linked a pair of deadly bombings last month to a group they said was composed of Syria-backed Sunni Arab veterans of the Iraq insurgency.

Lebanese government officials said Tuesday that four Syrian nationals belonging to Fatah al-Islam, a self-proclaimed Sunni militant group, had been arrested and confessed to the bombings that killed three people in a mostly Christian district in the mountains overlooking the capital.

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Bus explosions put Lebanon on edge

February 14, 2007 | Raed Rafei and Megan K. Stack | Los Angeles Times

AIN ALAK, LEBANON — Bombs exploded on two commuter buses Tuesday as the vehicles rumbled through a rainy morning rush hour in this tiny Christian village, the blasts echoing like thunder and killing three people in the latest violence to rip through a rapidly destabilizing Lebanon.

The attacks rattled the country as people braced for today’s commemoration of the two-year anniversary of former Prime Minister Rafik Hariri’s slaying. Many people think Syria was behind the car bomb that killed Hariri, and they are pressing for an international tribunal to try those responsible.

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Decades later, some Lebanese can’t go home

Shiites’ return after ’06 war reminds Christians that they’re still waiting.

January 02, 2007 | Raed Rafei | Los Angeles Times

KFARMATA, LEBANON — As Hala Haddad watched thousands of families return to their towns and villages in southern Lebanon last summer after a devastating war between the Islamic militant group Hezbollah and Israel, she remembered the night she was forced to flee her home.

After bombing intensified over their village, her father summoned Haddad and her four siblings to leave everything behind and run away. An 11-year-old then, she had to walk for miles, as her tiny, slippered feet swelled with pain.

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Lebanese television has a politically split personality

December 08, 2006 | Raed Rafei | Los Angeles Times

BEIRUT — On Hezbollah’s Al Manar television, Lebanese are shouting in the streets for the fall of the U.S.-backed government. On government-linked Future TV, they are cheering it.

On Al Manar, Prime Minister Fouad Siniora is a puppet manipulated by the United States. On Future TV, he is a national hero standing firm against the schemes of Syria and Iran.

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Hariri assassination case has served to re-energize opponents of death penalty

September 07, 2006 | Raed Rafei | The Daily Star

BEIRUT: After years of struggle by human-rights activists, abolishing capital punishment is finally on the Lebanese political agenda. Ironically, the change comes not in response to concerns raised by civil society, but as the result of what has been described as the most “atrocious” assassination of the country’s modern history, the murder of former Premier Rafik Hariri.

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Stunned families return to shattered homes in devastated suburbs

August 15, 2006 | Raed Rafei | The Daily Star

BEIRUT: “Incredible. All this destruction is incredible.” Salwa Hammoud, 37, was looking from her balcony in Haret Hreik at a neighborhood that has been almost wiped out by a month-long Israeli onslaught. “I can barely recognize my neighborhood,” she said a few hours after the cease-fire went into effect, pointing at flattened buildings where people she knows – or knew – once lived.

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