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Islamism is a highly militant mobilizing ideology selectively developed out of Islam’s scriptures, texts, legends, historical precedents, organizational experiences and present-day grievances, all as a defensive reaction against the long-term erosion of Islam’s primacy over the public...

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The process resulting in the definition of one’s own identity – hence an “us” – in an oppositional manner by, explicitly or implicitly comparing ourselves with “others”, is considered a universal movement in every society.

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Civil Society

From the mid-1980s to the present, civil society has been a key category of democratic politics, increasingly in a genuinely international setting.

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The city is an artefact.

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The Honor Code

Appeals to personal honor often seem to belong to the past, conjuring images of gentlemen in wigs dueling at dawn; or worse, of blood-soaked Achaeans storming the walls of Troy.

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A month of ideas.
Giancarlo Bosetti Editor-in-chief
Association for dialogue and intercultural understanding

Defining Family and Citizenship
An Old Story or a New Phenomenon?

Family is one of the most "natural" and fluid social constructs of human history and can be easily affected in different ways by social, cultural and religious changes. So why does the pluralisation of ways of forming a family seem to be a new phenomenon, and such a radical one, that to some it appears to be a risk as far as social cohesion is concerned? This question inspired the conference organized by Reset-DoC on "Family regulations in a society with fluid borders", from which the following papers were drawn. Here, we are trying to understand new ways of conceiving and creating family in our globalized world, as well as the transformations occurred in the definition of citizenship and the legal framework behind new "types" of families.   


Egypt: too long the trail of blood.
Revolution is only a memory

Gianni Del Panta

Just a couple of weeks ago, writing for Reset, Azzurra Meringolo wrote about how it is becoming increasingly difficult to celebrate the date of January 25th, in Egypt. The symbolic anniversary of the beginning of the revolution that five years ago led to the fall of Hosni Mubarak, following 18 days of unprecedented protests, has increasingly become the symbol of the new regime’s repressive brutality and the weakness of opposition movements. It is also an anniversary that, in recent years, has left a long trail of bloodshed: a balance worsened in the last days by the news of the death and terrible abuse suffered by young Italian national PhD researcher Giulio Regeni. 


The Yazidis: Myth and Reality of a Religious Group of Proud Anti-IS Fighters

Fabrizio Federici

A new tessera seems to have recently been added to the intricate Middle Eastern puzzle; that of the Yazidis (or Yezidis) fighting Islamic extremism and often mentioned by the press, especially since August 2014, when, while facing Kurdish anti-ISIS resistance in Kobane, the "Stalingrad of the Middle East”, the so-called “Islamic State” started to seriously persecute the Yazidis. IS did this with an emblematic event, trapping about 30,000 Yazidis on the Sinjar mountains (an area in northern Iraq about 50 km from the Syrian border and close to Iraqi Kurdistan). This was followed by airlifts to release them organised by the United States, Australia and France. But who are the Yazidis, and what is their position on the religious geopolitical chessboard that stretches from the Caucasus to the Mediterranean?

Freedom and Democracy

Shifting the language borders. The case of contemporary Poland

Karolina Wigura

Poland is a country with a traditionally confrontational public debate. As a result, many messages are formulated in a particularly expressive way, especially when compared with the relatively peaceful political process. But in the last 18 months one could observe a process of radicalization of Polish public debate, as well as shifting the borders of what is permissible in public pronouncements.  

MENA - In depth

Algeria: Does Bouteflika’s Illness Signal the End of an Era?

Gianni Del Panta

Algeria is a complex country, but should one state the three key elements needed to understand the current dynamics, they would most certainly be clan, oil revenue and civil war. Having obtained independence from France in 1962 after colonial domination that lasted over 130 years and a ferocious war of liberation that last for almost eight years, led by Houari Boumedienne, Algeria embarked on a process of accelerated industrialisation financed by oil sales.

freedom and democracy

Ukraine: what is the current condition of ethnic-territorial minorities?

Alessandro Milani, University of Trieste

When describing the situation in Ukraine, the media almost always reports the dichotomy between the nationalist centre-west and the Russian-speaking southeast. They always seize the significant aspects of a multi-faceted, identity-based image. In a multi-ethnic state like Ukraine, the concept of minorities assumes various meanings. In an attempt to sketch a brief outline, it is, first of all, necessary to unravel the Gordian knot of the Russian role in Ukrainian events.  


Fatema Mernissi: The Pride of Islamic Feminism in Modern Times

Mohammed Hashas

Fatema Mernissi (b. 1940, d. 30 November 2015), the Moroccan sociologist and novelist, and the pioneering scholar of Islamic feminism of world-fame, has left us today, and left behind her a great legacy for the Arab-Islamic world, and not only, to be proud of and on which to build for a better egalitarian world. With her sociological and theoretical works, along with her narrative-fiction writings, Mernissi has become an icon among Muslim reformists and egalitarianists for the last four decades.


The Tunisian terrorist attack that did not make the front page in Europe

Marco Calamai

On November 24th, in a follow up to the two attacks against foreign tourists this year, Tunisian terrorists struck the centre of the capital killing 12 soldiers and police officers. The only mistake they  unintentionally made was from a publicity point of view. The attacks in Paris and the Russian fighter jet shot down by the Turks took place on the same day of the Tunis attack, pushing the news back to fourth of fifth place. This shows how little importance, for many information outlets, is attached to events taking place in “other” countries when the news, at first glance, concerns situations happening in “distant” places. They did achieve one goal; the declaration of a state of emergency.

IT After the Arab Spring

Egypt: Rafiq Habib and Muslim Brotherhood-Coptic relations

Azzurra Meringolo

It may surprise some to discover that the vice president of the Freedom and Justice party, the Muslim Brotherhood’s most important political party obliged for decades to exist underground, is a Coptic Christian. And yet it is true. Professor Rafiq Habib, an academic who has for some time been studying Islam, is a Christian who has accepted to work with the new Islamic party, believing that at this time the Freedom and Justice Party represents the main nucleus of Egyptian society. “At the moment the Muslim culture can be a way of finding shared values, capable of strengthening a society pulverised in recent decades by a regime wishing to keep people divided. Its fundamental values are shared by the majority of the Egyptian people,” explains Habib.


Nobody wants to be a refugee

Seyla Benhabib interviewed by Slawomir Sierakowski

The current crisis is generating the myth of borders as controlled, says Seyla Benhabib. But this is only a myth. It is a fact that states are escaping their obligations under international and European law; while migrants themselves may be helping to keep the social peace between classes.

In depth

Patriotism: Russian foreign policy’s new paradigm

Daniele Fattibene

When reading the Russian press one can deduct that patriotism has become a fundamental key for understanding the Russian Federation’s foreign policy. It is interesting to study the different analyses of this phenomenon, from the most conservative to those most critical of the regime. What does Russian  patriotism consist of? According to Andrej Il’nitskij – a political analyst and a member of Putin’s “United Russia” party - there is now a “democratic patriotism” in Russia. It is a peculiar ideology that starts with a negation of what the country is not – neither a fascist government like Kiev’s nor plutocratic liberalism following the Western model – and protects the state’s traditional values. Russian patriotism is “democratic” – since it is supported by the majority of the country, but also “creative” because it is free from the impediments typical of the liberal ideology. Its pillars are the educational system, the army, the media and the Russian intelligentsia.

History and Politics

Turkey, Beyond the Armenian Genocide Debate

Verda Özer

“Prime Minister Erdoğan’s statement of condolence to the Armenians was a milestone in Turkey’s history.” This was the first sentence of my column in daily Hürriyet on April 26 last year. The then Prime Minister Erdoğan had made an unprecedented move in Turkish history by issuing an official statement offering condolences to Armenians on April 24, the 99th anniversary of the Armenian massacres. This year, however, April 24 arrives in Turkey in a totally different atmosphere. The declaration of Pope Francis last Sunday that “the Armenian Genocide is the first genocide of the 20th century” and the resolution adopted by the European Parliament last week urging Turkey to recognize the genocide have rekindled the longstanding genocide debate in the country.

In depth

Iran. The Silent Revolution That (still) Frightens Power

Marina Forti

The Iranian monthly magazine Zanan-e Emruz (“Today’s Women”) had barely reached its tenth issue when it was forced to stop publication following a ruling by the Tehran courts’ Office of Press Control. The announcement was made in April and the news itself is nothing new; over the past fifteen years dozens of newspapers have had authorisations issued and then revoked on the basis of changing internal political events. In the past two years, following the election of President Hasan Rouhani, the social and political atmosphere has certainly changed drastically. Books once censored are now given an imprimatur, banned films have returned to theatres and new newspapers are published. Censorship, however, has not disappeared although the ‘red lines’, the boundaries of what is permissible, have been moved.

Syrian playwright

Saadallah Wannous or The Elephant Era is Over

Brahim El Guabli

Saadallah Wannous is unlike any other playwright or intellectual. He is of a unique type “governed by hope.” He belongs to the brand of intellectuals who relish challenging difficulties and do not surrender despite successive defeats. The defunct invented the most beautiful shelter for anyone who tried to make change and felt overtaken by despair. This wide open, borderless space is hope.

In depth

Turkey’s Fateful Election

Seyla Benhabib, Yale University

On the streets of Istanbul, it seems a typically democratic election season, with multicolored flags and posters of more than 6 parties, each hoping to pass a 10% -of-the-vote hurdle to obtain seats in the National Assembly. But when Turks go to the polls this Sunday, they will either accelerate or put the brakes on their 93-year old republic’s departure from its founder Kemal Ataturk’s vision of the secular, democratic, Western-facing polity toward a more authoritarian, neo-Ottoman regime that President Recep Tayyip Erdogan and his ruling Justice and Development Party (AK-Parti) have been engineering ambitiously for several years. This election is as fateful as the Gezi Park demonstrations that first alerted millions of Turks and roiled much of the rest of the country.


Greece, What is Left of Popular Sovereignty

Giancarlo Bosetti

What remains of the sovereignty of the people in next Sunday’s referendum in Greece? Something of course remains, something important. We are, however, far from what those words meant when nation-states defined with certainty the future of their political, economic, military and legal order. The Greeks will announce an apparently clear nai or oxi, a “yes” or a un “no”, addressed, however, at very different national, European and international orders of “sovereignty.”

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