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Area Studies -- Middle East and North Africa

Titles Available as of July 2022

This is a selective list of streaming video holdings in the American University Library. Streaming guides are created by doing multiple keyword searches in the library catalog to capture as many titles on a topic as possible. For complete up-to-date streaming holdings, please refer to our streaming catalog.


Africa's East Coast

Beginning at Port Said, Egypt-a busy gateway from the Middle East into Africa-this program explores the many national and cultural identities found along the eastern face of the continent. Journeying down the Suez Canal, through the Red Sea, and into the Indian Ocean, the program documents apparently healthy relations between Sunni Muslims and Orthodox Christians in Massawa, Eritrea; khat distribution and addiction in the Republic of Djibouti; the ins and outs of the booming tea industry in Mombasa, Kenya; and day-to-day survival on the streets of Durban, South Africa-which some see as the New York of the continent, a city where dreams come to flourish or die. Portions are in other languages with English subtitles. 

Al Jazeera: Voice of Arabia

Founded in 1996, Al Jazeera was the first 24-hour news channel in the Arab world. This documentary, shot on location in Qatar goes behind the scenes of this Arab independent satellite TV channel. Combining news footage, excerpts from various Al Jazeera programs, and interviews with executives, anchors and journalists, the film explores the paradoxes that emerge between the apparent orthodoxy of Arab societies and the journalistic freedom flaunted by Al Jazeera in a dictatorial culture which does not know the meaning of dialogue.

Alyaa: The Naked Revolutionary

Twenty-year-old Alyaa Elmahdy is undaunted by the death threats she receives from her fellow Egyptians. "I don't care about your rules," she tells Islamists. The furor began when Alyaa posed nude on her blog to protest the assumption that men have the right to control her behavior and her body. In a country where most women wear headscarves and females who are arrested endure routine virginity tests, Alyaa's provocative act set off a national scandal that spread to the rest of the Arab world. The Egyptian media called her a whore who deserved to die, and while some Muslim women joined her in new protests, others denounced her. In this program, Alyaa Elmahdy talks about her life and why rebelliousness is so important to liberty. "You can overthrow a government," she says, referring to the 2011 Egyptian Revolution, "but changing a society is a lot harder. 


Documents one woman's fight to have her sham marriage recognized and her daughter legitimized by the Moroccan judicial system. It is also a complex and compelling portrait of Moroccan society and its attitudes to women, female sexuality, their position in society and access to education. Through Rabha's story, the Moroccan judicial system is laid open and the contemporary issues facing Islamic women are exposed as they seek to reconcile their desire for increased independence with religious and family traditions.

The Battle of Durban II: Israel, Palestine, and the United Nations World Conference Against Racism

The 2009 Durban Review Conference, or Durban II, was a follow-up to the UN Human Rights Council's disastrous 2001 World Conference against Racism in Durban, South Africa, where Palestinian sympathizers denounced Israel as racist, and supporters of Israel charged the UN with "demonization" of Israel. But Durban II proved to be even more divisive than its predecessor, marked by a controversial speech by Iranian president Mahmoud Ahmadinejad and boycotted by Israel and the U.S., among several other countries. This important program examines how the longstanding conflict between Israel and Palestine dramatically disrupted two successive UN conferences - overshadowing discussions about human rights issues elsewhere - and the attempts to come to an official consensus amid protests and counter-protests. Featuring interviews with UN officials and representatives from Human Rights Watch, the Simon Wiesenthal Center, and others, it presents a balanced look at the difficulties the UN faces in progressing towards peace worldwide. 

Ben Barka: The Moroccan Equation

Ben Barka was the founder of the Moroccan left who went on to be one of the leaders of his country's struggle for independence. After his death, the "Ben Barka Affair" became the center of attention, while Mehdi Ben Barka was forgotten. The film combines first-hand testimony with archival records in order to trace the extraordinary development of this "Medina" child with a passion for mathematics and politics, and one of the leaders of the 1960s Third-World Movement.

Crimes of Honour

This is the story of women in Islamic culture who are killed by their male relatives because they are thought to have dishonored their families by engaging in unacceptable relationships with men or running away.

Egypt, North Africa: Don't Forget Your Passport

Host Ross Shimmon visits the magnificent tombs of the ancient pharaohs at Abu Simbel. He sails the Nile River on a traditional felucca at Luxor, and explores the ruins of the world's greatest archeological sites at the Valley of the Kings and pyramids of Giza. At the Red Sea, Ross learns the healing powers of salt water and goes sport tubing at a desert resort. 

Enemies of Happiness

In September 2005, Afghanistan held its first parliamentary elections in 35 years. Among the candidates for 249 assembly seats was Malalai Joya, a courageous 27-year-old woman who had ignited outrage among hard-liners when she spoke out against corrupt warlords at the Grand Council of tribal elders in 2003. ENEMIES OF HAPPINESS is a revelatory portrait of this extraordinary freedom fighter and the way she won the hearts of voters, as well as a snapshot of life and politics in war-torn Afghanistan. Amidst vivid, poetic images of Joya's dusty Farah Province, the film tracks the final weeks of her campaign, when death threats restrict her movements. But the parade of trusting constituents arriving on her doorstep leaves no doubt that Joya is a popular hero. Among her visitors is a 100-year-old woman who treks two hours to offer loyalty and herbal medicine. King Solomon-style, Joya acts as folk mediator and advocate, adjudicating between a wife and her violent, drug-addicted husband and counseling a family forced to marry off their adolescent daughter to a much older man. Protected by armed guards, Joya heads to poor rural areas to address crowds of women, pledging to be their voice and 'expose the enemies of peace, women, and democracy.


"You are hereby permitted to all men" is the very prosaic wording of the Jewish divorce document named gett, from which the name of the film is derived. Gett: The Trial of Viviane Amsalem is the story of an Israeli woman struggling with the religious courts to quit her disrespectful husband. Our documentary gives unique behind-the-scenes insight, which is complemented by original footage from the film and interviews with the filmmakers Shlomi Elkabetz and Ronit Elkabetz (who also plays the leading role) as well as other crew members. It is more than a just another "making-of" film; it is an essential guide to the original movie, and it will open the discussion on archaic marriage laws in modern Israel.

Ghosts of Abu Ghraib

What mental and ethical lapses led average American soldiers to use torture at Abu Ghraib? What roles did "group think" and blind obedience play? How did the scandal impact America's credibility as a global defender of freedom and human rights? This program investigates how and why the atrocities took place as well as their long-term implications. The program features the voices of Iraqi victims-interviewed in Turkey after arduous attempts to meet with them-and now-penitent guards directly involved in torture at the prison. In addition, the film traces the events and decisions that created the political and psychological climate in which torture occurred, beginning with the attacks on the World Trade Center and the Pentagon on Sept. 11, 2001.

Hijacking the Arab Spring?: The Rise of the Islamists

For decades, the Muslim Brotherhood was an outlawed organization, marginalized and persecuted. Today, along with the Salafists and other Muslim groups, they are the principal winners of the Arab revolutions. They believe in a "Turkish model" of Islamic rule, and their speech is well-crafted to avoid scaring away the West. But what kind of policies do they want to introduce? Should political Islam be feared? Abdel Hakim Belhadj, leader of the Islamic al-Watan Party in Libya, has long been on the CIA's radar. In Morocco, radical preacher Sheikh Mohamad Fizazi is enjoying a comeback. And in Syria, insurgents are fighting to introduce Sharia Law. From Libya to Morocco to Syria, this program investigates the new parties jostling for power. 

In Tahrir Square: 18 Days of Egypt's Unfinished Revolution

hey took over a city square - and in 18 days, they brought down a regime. Shot in the center of Egypt's Tahrir Square from the beginning of the battles to the climax of the celebration, In Tahrir Square: 18 Days of Egypt's Unfinished Revolution brings viewers into the streets of Cairo to share the sights, sounds and passion of a modern day revolution. On January 25, 2011, thousands of Egyptians began gathering in Cairo's Tahrir Square to peacefully demand the end to President Hosni Mubarak's 30-year rule. Bolstered by similar protests in other Arab countries and mobilized in part by social media, Egyptians from all walks of life and every social class took over Tahrir Square for 18 days - eventually leading to a jubilant celebration on February 11, when it was announced that Mubarak would finally step down. 

Inside Mecca

Each year millions of travelers flock to Mecca, undertaking the Haj, or pilgrimage, required of all devout Muslims. Few people outside of Islam, however, have seen this ancient and sacred city. This program offers an unprecedented look at the birthplace of Mohammed and the rituals that bring together the followers of the world's fastest-growing religion. Photographer Reza Deghati, himself a Muslim, gained unparalleled access to the "Sacred Territory" of the Haj last year and brought back still images of the event never before seen by most Westerners. Now he ushers viewers back to Mecca to capture the exclusive story of the city's traditions and holy places.

Iran: The Hundred Year War

Iran's sensitive geographic position and its oil reserves have made it the object of foreign interest since the beginning of the 20th century. This penetrating documentary traces the impact of these factors on the past 100 years of Iran's political history, helping viewers understand why the country has had such a complicated relationship with the West. The program gives a particularly eye-opening account of Cold War-era maneuvers by the U.S.-the 1953 coup, the introduction of nuclear reactors under the "Atoms for Peace" program-and examines the backlash from traditional Islamists that culminated decades later in the 444-day hostage crisis. 

Israel Can Live With a Nuclear Iran: A Debate

Can Israel live with a nuclear Iran, or could the time be near for a preemptive strike? Is deterrence of a nuclear Iran possible? And if so, is there substantial danger of an escalation to a nuclear war nobody intends? Panelists debate these questions. 

Laïcité, inch'Allah!

This film is a cinematic exploration of secularism in the Muslim country of Tunisia before and after the deposition of dictator Ben Ali. Made at the height of the 2010-2011 revolutions in North Africa, the film has proven so controversial that it has made the director a target of extremist death threats. Officially, Tunisia is not an Islamic nation. But over and over, [director] El Fani meets Tunisians who mistakenly believe that it is illegal to serve alcohol to Arabs, break the fast during Ramadan, or practice a religion other than Islam. In these encounters, she sees troubling signs that Tunisia may be becoming less tolerant of non-Islamic beliefs. This film documents Tunisians resisting religious ideology and fighting for a secular state in their everyday lives. 

Leila Khaled, Hijacker

In 1969 Palestinian Leila Khaled made history by becoming the first woman to hijack an airplane. As a Palestinian child growing up in Sweden, filmmaker Lina Makboul admired Khaled for her bold actions; as an adult, she began asking complex questions about the legacy created by her childhood hero. This fascinating documentary is at once a portrait of Khaled, an exploration of the filmmaker's own understanding of her Palestinian identity, and complex examination of the nebulous dichotomy between "terrorist" and "freedom fighter".. 

Love and Sex in North Africa

This documentary explores the taboos in the North African, Maghreb society regarding love, sex, and the oppression of women. Interviews with ostracized single mothers, couples imprisoned for showing affection in public, and even a doctor who specializes in hymen reconstruction surgery paint a vivid picture of the reality of policing sexuality in North Africa. 

A Mansourah, tu nous as separes

During the Algerian war of independence, Mansourah was one of thousands of communities the colonial French rulers turned into resettlement camps for the more than 2.3 million Algerians forcibly displaced by the French military. This film tells the story of some of these deportations.

A Matter of Time: The Jews in North Africa in WWII

These two films tell, for the first time, the story of the Jewish communities of North Africa (Libya, Tunisia, Algeria and Morocco) during World War II. Extensive archival footage brings the history of this period to life. Stories from the survivors, now elderly, reveal how, had fate not intervened, it was only "a matter of time" until they would share the fate of their co-religionists in Europe.

Morocco: The Past and Present of Djemma el FNA

This is the story of women in Islamic culture who are killed by their male relatives because they are thought to have dishonored their families by engaging in unacceptable relationships with men or running away.

The Not-So-Secret Iran-Israel War

Former Iranian president Mahmoud Ahmadinejad called Israel "a cancerous tumor that must be eliminated from the pages of history," and prime minister Benjamin Netanyahu dubbed Ahmadinejad "a reincarnation of Adolph Hitler," stating that Israel may attack Iran unilaterally in the near future. Behind the open hostility though is a history of cooperation between the two nations, beginning with Cyrus the Great's establishment of a Jewish community in Persia, through to mutually-beneficial economic and political alliances, and ending with Ayatollah Khomeini's coup against the Israel-friendly Shah in 1979. This program examines the fraught relationship between Israel and Iran, which includes the assassination of Iranian scientists and cyber-attacks on its nuclear program, and violent rhetoric from Ahmadinejad about the destruction of Israel. With Moshe Ya'alon, vice prime minister of Israel, and Iran's former Mossad chief Eliezer Tsafrir. 

A Road to Mecca: the Journey of Muhammad Asad

The story of Leopold Weiss, a Viennese Jew who converted to Islam in the 1920's and became the Muslim scholar Muhammad Asad.

The Square

The people demand the downfall of the regime! The Square is one of the most awarded documentaries of the past decade, nominated for a 2014 Academy Award for "Best Documentary Feature" and winning 3 Emmy Awards, as well as multiple film festival awards including the Audience Awards at the 2013 Sundance and Toronto Film Festivals. The film is an in-depth firsthand look at the Egyptian Revolution, chronicling the fall of two presidents in a row.

Syrian Diaries: Women of the Uprising

Over a period of seven months in 2012, a group of Syrian women created video diaries to let the world know what living under Bashar al-Assad's rule is like. In this documentary, the six tell how revolution and war transformed their lives. "At first I was for the reforms," says Sima. "When did I change my mind? When there was blood." Although most support the anti-government revolt and have paid for that stance-Ayat's house was bombed, Khawla was imprisoned-Yara, a reporter for the official news agency SANA, explains why she still supports the regime. Viewers also meet Maria, a member of the Christian opposition, and Maya, a filmmaker who is deeply involved in the pro-democracy movement.

Thirsting for War

Water, one of life's necessities, is becoming a source of conflict on a global scale, much like oil. This film takes a comprehensive look at the struggle for control of water in the Middle East, specifically in Turkey, Syria and Iraq. Thirsting for War explores the political and economic dimensions of the growing tension in the region with great clarity. It is also sensitive to the personal dimension of these problems, including interviews with the displaced and suffering.

The Trials of Spring

When 24-year-old Hend Nafea is arrested and tortured for demonstrating peacefully in Cairo's Tahrir Square, her pursuit of justice reflects post-revolution Egypt at an uncertain crossroads. 

Shorts tell the stories of nine women who played central roles in the Arab Spring uprisings and their aftermaths in Egypt, Tunisia, Libya, Syria, Bahrain and Yemen. 


Tunisia's "Jasmine Revolution" sparked the Arab Spring in the Middle East and North Africa. Tunisia is transitioning to multi-party democracy. 

Veil of Dreams: Women's Soccer and Islamic Tradition in Iran

Exploring a clash between sacred customs and contemporary athletic aspirations, this program follows an Iranian women's soccer team daring to push traditional limits and pursue victories both on and off the field. Interviews with players and their families are combined with commentary by supporters of the sport as well as cultural leaders in the wider region who convey various opinions about its prospects. Specific topics include: what it's like to play soccer (or football) with a chador or headscarf; the team's rigorous preparations for an overseas trip; the construction of sports facilities in the Middle East; perceptions of female athletes within male-dominated Iranian society; and more.

Women of Hamas

While the most prominent members of the controversial organisation Hamas are men, most of its field work is carried out by cadres of women supporters. These women of Hamas are the most powerful women in the Palestinian territories. Focusing on three such women, this film probes at their ideological commitment to the movement and gives us an insight into the work of those who remain in the shadows. 


Dance of Outlaws

This is a story of modern-day outlaws, children of prostitutes, abandoned child brides and those who have had to escape to the fringes of patriarchal Moroccan society.

Deserted Station

In this lyrical and intimately nuanced story conceived by Abbas Kiarostami and starring Leila Hatami (from Dariush Mehrjui's Leila), a photographer and his young wife are stranded in a remote Iranian village after their car breaks down. The only adult inhabitant leaves with the photographer to find help, while the woman takes over the duties of teaching the village children, whose parents are nowhere to be found. 

Zero Degrees of Separation

Zero Degrees of Separation breaks with the sensationalistic media coverage of the violence in the Middle East by documenting the everyday lives of two mixed gay Palestinian-Israeli couples. Faced with modern injustices of work visas, checkpoints, harassment and prejudices, these courageous and outspoken individuals resist attempts at oppresssion and take small steps each day to build a sense of peace, mutual respect and hope.