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Issue 86 – February 2012

Thursday 23 February 2012 by Diyana Yosifova

In this issue:

(JPG) What Arabs Read and the Myth of Six Minutes

Earlier this year the English-language edition of the Arabic Al Akhbar newspaper came up with an article on reading in the Arab world, quoting Next Page’s What Arabs Read report along with other verifiable sources such as reports by UNESCO and UNDP. In the article entitled The Arab Reader and the Myth of Six Minutes Leah Caldwell tries to trace back the origins of the “pithy catchphrase” that “Arabs read six minutes a year on average”. An extremely high number of think tank reports, mainstream media outlets, NGOs, and celebrated public speaking platforms like TED Talks have used the “statistic” making references to UNESCO, UNDP and other sources, but the journalist’s investigation shows there is no such number in any of the official reports. What Arabs Read also falls victim in this chain of fake references being cited in an article by UAE-based Gulf News as a source of the “six minutes” statement. The article by Leah Caldwell gives credit to Next Page’s findings and further on states that the report explains its methodology clearly and does not contain any conclusion even vaguely resembling the so popular and sought after “six minutes”. Overall, the article is an interesting and thorough investigation, which raises the issue of the danger of misusing statistics but also of the importance of sound quantitative data for public debates and public policy making.

New Books Published

Lanckorońska, Karolina, Michelangelo in Ravensbrück: One Woman’s War against the Nazis, transl. from English into Arabic by Hanaa Abd Al-Fattah,(Sphinx Agency, Cairo 2011), supported by Next Page Foundation’s South-South Translations Project

(JPG) Michelangelo in Ravensbrück: One Woman’s War against the Nazis is a memoir book by Countess Lanckoronska, who died in 2002 at the age of 104 – a wealthy countess, a professor of art history, a devout Catholic, a fervent anticommunist and a member of the Polish underground. In September 1939, the Countess watched the Soviet army march into Poland and after joining the resistance she was arrested, sentenced to death, and held in Ravensbruck concentration camp. There she taught art history to other women who, like her, might be dead in a few days. This brilliantly written memoir records a neglected side of World War II: the mass murder of Poles, the serial horrors inflicted by both the Soviet Army and Nazis, and the immense courage of those who resisted.

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