Aida Alami is a freelance journalist and regular contributor to, among other publications, The New York Times, Foreign Policy, Financial Times, and Bloomberg. (June 2018)

Follow Aida Alami on Twitter: @AidaAlami.


Pandemic Journal, March 23–29

A running series of brief dispatches by New York Review writers documenting the coronavirus outbreak with regular updates from around the world, including Michael Greenberg in Brooklyn, Raquel Salas Rivera in San Juan, Aida Alami in Paris, Rahmane Idrissa in Niamey, Verlyn Klinkenborg in East Chatham, Tolu Ogunlesi in Lagos, Merve Emre in Oxford, Yasmine El Rashidi in Cairo, Keija Parssinen in Granville, E. Tammy Kim in Brooklyn, Adam Foulds in Toronto, Tom Bachtell in Chicago, Ivan Sršen in Zagreb, Sue Halpern in Ripton, Michael S. Roth in Middletown, Ben Mauk in Penang, Martin Filler in Southampton, Eula Biss in Evanston, Richard Ford in East Boothbay, George Weld in Brooklyn, Nilanjana Roy in New Delhi, Ursula Lindsey in Amman, Zoë Schlanger in Brooklyn, Dominique Eddé in Beirut, Lucy McKeon in Brooklyn, Yiyun Li in Princeton, Caitlin L. Chandler in Berlin, Nick Laird in Kerhonkson, Alma Guillermoprieto in Bogotá, Lucy Jakub in Northampton, Rachael Bedard in Brooklyn, Hari Kunzru in Brooklyn, Minae Mizumura in Tokyo, Jenny Uglow in Keswick, Sylvia Poggioli in Rome, and more.

Somali and American: Portrait of a Minnesota Community

Fosia Omar, a student at St. Cloud State University, enjoying conversation with friends as they waited for the sun to set so that they could break fast, Waite Park, Minnesota, May 25, 2018

Minnesota, a blue-leaning state, is by many standards exceptionally welcoming of immigrants; it has the country’s second-largest population of Vietnamese Hmong people and is home to more Somalis than any other state in the country. The 2018 election to US Congress of Ilhan Omar was a testament to how politically engaged the Somali community is. But an hour west of Omar’s Minneapolis-based district, a town like St. Cloud in central Minnesota—once known as “White Cloud”—is not such an easy place for outsiders to settle in, especially East African Muslims. Adjusting to its new demographic reality, the town finds itself poised uneasily between tension and accommodation.

The Impact of #MeToo in France: An Interview with Lénaïg Bredoux

Lénaïg Bredoux, 2011

Aida Alami: Many speak of the “séduction à la française” as a way of accounting for Denis Baupin’s alleged conduct toward women. Lénaïg Bredoux: This is something we have heard for decades; it’s completely outmoded. These arguments are the last remnants of an old world, a world that is disappearing. It’s a pretty gloomy conception of seduction and relationships. Women describe gestures—like the too-firm pressure of a hand on the back when men greet them—that can make one uneasy. We have all experienced that. I do think that there are still problems, but a counter-narrative has emerged.

The Soccer Politics of Morocco

The “ultra” fans of Raja Casablanca lighting torches at a game in the Mohammed V stadium, Morocco, November 25, 2018

During the second half of the game, the tension mounted. Raja Casablanca finally scored. The air smelled of smoke bombs set off in celebration. Then a revolutionary chant exploded in the stadium. In unison, they sang in Moroccan Arabic “Fbladi Dalmouni,” or “In my country, I suffered from injustice.” The lyrics are astonishingly controversial for a country where jails are filled with hundreds of prisoners of conscience. This defiance spoke of economic hardship, a lack of freedom, and an ardent desire for change.

Between Hate, Hope, and Help: Haitians in the Dominican Republic

The border gate on the bridge between Ouanaminthe, Haiti, and Dajabón, Dominican Republic

Dominican politicians have successfully manipulated anti-Haitian feeling for political gain. Radio shows discuss the Haitian “invasion” that must be stopped at all costs. There is a widespread belief that Haiti is a failed state, and that the world is conspiring against the Dominican Republic to force it to deal with its neighbor’s problems. There is a fear, too, of their country being somehow contaminated by Haiti’s ills. “When you peel back the first layer, the second layer,” said Matías Bosch, a grandson of the DR’s first democratically-elected president, “what you have left, in the end, is pure racism.”

World Cup 2018: Morocco’s Glimpse of the Possible

Noureddine Amrabat throwing aside his protective headgear during Morocco’s match against Portugal at the Luzhniki Stadium, Moscow, Russia, June 20, 2018

No matter how disillusioned you are with your country’s team or how frustrated with your country’s government, it still hurts to see a squad of players, dressed in the national colors, not succeed. But as that strong final game reminded me, it’s hard not to feel proud when they do. Between that opening loss to Iran and the second half against Spain, something changed. Maybe it happened sixteen minutes into the Portugal game, when our ebullient winger Nordin Amrabat, who had received a head injury in the game against Iran, tossed away his protective headgear and urged the team on. That won Moroccans’ hearts.