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The Kurds

An ethnic and linguistic minority in the Near East, the Kurds now live divided between Turkey, Iran, Iraq and Syria, in a region unofficially known as Kurdistan, where they have always been the object of persecution and oppression.

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Constitution is a key category, one of the most important, of modern political and legal theory.

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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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It is possible to participate in a brutal event – such as gang rape, lynching, an ethnic cleansing operation – or in a humanitarian event – fund raising, collective adoption, sacrificing oneself in an exchange of prisoners..

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A month of ideas.
Giancarlo Bosetti Editor-in-chief
Association for dialogue and intercultural understanding
ARTICLES for JULY 1 - 31, 2014

Intercultural Lexicon
What Does Toleration Mean?

Ever since the dawn of Enlightenment, toleration has been considered one of the most solid bastions of social peace in liberal and pluralist civilization. Acknowledging and protecting freedom of religion, ideas and speech, the modern rule of law can be considered as a political-institutional as well as juridical fulfillment of what previously was only a hoped-for virtue: toleration. What does tolerating those who are different, those who think or act differently, really mean? Is toleration a form of resignation and indifference regards to the mistakes of others? Or is it rather a synonym for respect for and interest in diversity? Who is called upon to be tolerant? Individuals or institutions?

The Changing Face of Toleration Susan Mendus, University of York
Discussing Toleration After Susan Mendus Roberta Sala, University of Milan San Raffaele
Meister Eckhart Prize Lecture

Human Rights and the Critique of “Humanitarian Reason”

Seyla Benhabib, Yale University

On February 16, 2014 The New York Times Magazine ran an article called “Container City.” “Container City” refers to the Kilis camp in southern Turkey housing 14, 000 refugees from Syria. Protected by high gates and surrounded by barbed wire, Kilis from the outside shares features with many refugee camps all over the world that make them indistinguishable from prisons or criminal detention centers. Kilis houses its population in 2,053 identical containers, spread in neat rows. The pictures that accompany the article remind one of shipping containers at a harbor. Each container is a 23 by 10 foot trailer with 3 rooms; and a color TV with close to 1000 channels, probably picking up programs from all the surrounding countries of the Mediterranean.

Culture and society in the United States

American Civic Republicanism: What Went Wrong?

Jim Sleeper, Yale University

A somewhat bleak survey of American democratic prospects for this year’s American Independence Day begins by reminding us what America was meant to be all about.
“By the rude bridge that arched the flood,
Their flag to April’s breeze unfurled,
Here once the embattled farmers stood
And fired the shot heard ‘round the world.”
Ralph Waldo Emerson, “Concord Hymn,” 1837  


Citizenship, Pluralism and Political Action

Michael Walzer, Princeton University

Reset-Dialogues is pleased to publish this essay by Michael Walzer, Professor Emeritus at the Institute for Advanced Study in Princeton, drawn from a lecture held during the series of conferences "For an inclusive citizenship", held in Milan at the Fondazione Giangiacomo Feltrinelli between autumn 2013 and spring 2014. Among other speakers, the conferences have hosted Giuliano Amato, Rainer Bauböck, Richard Bernstein, Anna Elisabetta Galeotti, Nilüfer Göle, Susan Mendus and Alain Touraine.

First World War

Sarajevo 1914-2014, When Memory Divides

Rodolfo Toè

SARAJEVO – Nowadays the body of the young man, who, a century ago, ended the lives of Archduke Franz Ferdinand and his wife Sofia sparking an escalation that was to result in World War I, lies in Ciglane, a suburb in central Sarajevo. The body lies in a small chapel with no markings, and is not even shown in tourist guides. The words on the grave written in Cyrillic read: “blessed is he who lives forever as he was not born in vain.”

From Dissent magazine

A Foreign Policy for the Left

Michael Walzer

Is there such a thing as a leftist foreign policy? What are the characteristic views of the left about the world abroad? When have leftists, rightly or wrongly, defended the use of force? The arguments about what to do in Syria have led me to ask these questions, but I am after a more general answer, looking not only at the left as it is today but also at the historical left. The questions aren’t easy—first, because there have been, and there are, many lefts; and second, because left views about foreign policy change more often than left views about domestic society. Relative consistency is the mark of leftism at home, but that’s definitely not true abroad.

After the Egyptian elections

Egypt seen from #Sisiwarcrimes. Cairo's anti-regime writers

Azzurra Meringolo

Cairo - He has put away his camouflage uniform with its insignia and is now wearing civilian clothes. Framed photographs of officers have been put away and replaced by those showing heads of state he met even before taking on the mantle of his country’s ruler. Egypt’s latest strong man , former general Abdel Fattah el Sisi, has become the successor, by plebiscite, of the man he overthrew in July of last year. The electoral plebiscite, taking 97% of the votes of 47% of eligible voters, is not reflected in the graffiti on the walls around the city of Cairo, which you can only see if you keep an eye out 24 hours a day before the authorities correct messages that threaten to disturb the upcoming patriotic festival. If you are slow, things are more boring and grey than usual.

Intercultural dialogues

Foreigners in my class. On “cultural” pluralism in Italian (and other) schools

Davide Zoletto, University of Udine

This paper is an elaborated version of the contribution that David Zoletto, a Researcher at the Department of Human Sciences, University of Udine, presented on December 12, 2013 in Milan, for the last meeting of the series of conferences "Words and ideas for a plural world. An intercultural lexicon" sponsored by Reset-DoC and Giangiacomo Feltrinelli Foundation. The 2014 edition of our Milan-dialogues, this year dedicated to the theme of "inclusive citizenship", begins April 17 with a lecture by Constitutional Court Judge Giuliano Amato on "A new season for citizenship in Europe."


Intercultural dialogue: the potential of emerging leaders

Lorenzo Kihlgren Grandi

In the last few years many international organizations have been implementing youth empowerment activities as a tool to achieve their own strategic objectives. One of most structured efforts in this field is represented by the Arab-European Young Leaders Forum (AEYLF), created in 2009 by the League of Arab States in cooperation with the Federal Ministry for European and International Affairs of Austria. At the centre of this initiative are emerging leaders representing the civil society, the academia, the media as well as the social and creative economy, carefully selected on the basis of their remarkable achievements and their potential as “multipliers”.

The New Constitution in Tunisia

Tunisia, when Islam chooses equality between men and women

Ferida Labidi talks to Francesca Bellino

Tunisia has surprised the world by approving the text of a new constitution in a climate of change and compromise, following lively debates and lengthy negotiations between the political parties and with civil society increasingly attentive and vigilant. The welcomed result is a progressive constitution that is unique in the Arab world. A mix of modernity and tradition that appears to be the result of an agreement between secularists and Islamists and approved with a significant 200 to 12 votes with 4 abstentions. The mist noteworthy points concern the absence of Shari’a law (albeit mentioning that Islam is the country’s religion), freedom of religion and conscience, a ban on accusations of apostasy, freedom of expression, freedom of the press and publication, freedom of association and the right to strike, equality of rights and responsibilities for men and women and equal opportunity within elective bodies (a novelty in the Arab world). Ferida Labidi, a member of the Ennahda Islamist party and of the Constituent Assembly also participated in the drafting of this text and fought for gender equality. She is a lawyer born in al Kef in 1968 and lives in Tunis with her husband and two children. She is the president of the Constituent Assembly’s Rights and Freedom Commission.

After the arab spring

Snares and promises in Tunisia’s new constitution, a conversation with Selma Baccar

Interview by Francesca Bellino

On the eve of the completion of Tunisia’s new constitution, film director, producer, activist with the left wing El Massar and member of the Constituent Assembly Selma Baccar is worried. “In spite of important battles won on many of the constitution’s articles, I have the feeling that the new constitution is a patchwork of linguistic traps, and the wealth of the Arab language provides a very fertile ground, that can result in legislative interpretations based on conformist and reactionary ideas.” At the moment her attention is concentrated on the revision of a number of articles, among them Article 38, which has, for a number of days, been at the centre of controversy. This article has already been approved with an amendment that is a serious threat envisaging the protection “of the roots of Arab-Muslim values” with no openness to the study of foreign languages, civilisations and sciences, and, in her opinion, this will be “a catastrophe” for the education of future generations.  

Open letter to President Obama and Secretary Kerry

Egypt, Reset-Dialogues Endorses Human Rights Campaign


In an unprecedented statement, over forty senior academics and career diplomats including more than a dozen former presidents of the most important professional association for scholars of the Arab and larger Muslim world, the Middle East Studies Association (MESA), have signed a letter to US President Obama and Secretary State John Kerry calling for the Administration to demand the immediate release of blogger Alaa Abd El Fattah and other political detainees in Egypt, for Egyptian officials to suspend the protest law of 2013 and end the repression of free speech rights guaranteed by the Egyptian Constitution and international law, and end the regime of violence, including torture and extra judicial execution, that still governs Egypt after the electoral victory of Field Marshal Abdel Fattah al-Sisi as President. Reset-Dialogues on Civilizations endorses this campaign and encourages readers to subscribe to it as well by posting a comment to this article in the designated section below. It is our hope that this cause will receive the attention it deserves through media across the world. The original letter was published by Jadaliyya.


Athens, the only European capital without a mosque

Matteo Tacconi

Omonia, a district in Athens is the place where the Greek economic crisis is more clearly evident. Shops have gone bankrupt and hotels have closed down while dozens of pawnbrokers, the only sector in which economic activity is increasing across the country, are opening. Omonia also has a high crime rate and is experiencing urban degradation as well as social alienation. Many immigrants, mostly from the Muslim world, live in this old district, once a bastion of commerce. They are Afghans, Iraqis, Kurds, Syrians, Bengalis, Pakistanis and people from the Maghreb who have fled wars or chronic poverty.

In depth

Eurosceptic parties will save Europe’s soul, despite themselves

Albena Azmanova, University of Kent

We must take seriously all the new parties in the European Parliament, not least because they might well be doing us a favour. The surge in the protest vote (in spectacular support for far-right, far-left, Eurosceptic and anti-establishment, ‘fringe’, parties) at the recent elections for the European Parliament has been bemoaned; we are warned that an increased presence of such parties in the European Parliament bodes ill for the European project and for the health of democracy in Europe. Yet, these parties might turn out to be Europe’s saviours. Here is why.

In depth

Turkey: forget Erdoğan for one minute, this is primitive capitalism

Nilüfer Göle interviewed by Cansu Çamlibel

A sociologist and an internationally known professor known for her studies on the relations between Islam, the public sphere and modernity, Nilüfer Göle visited Turkey shortly after the tragic events happened in Soma[1]. Professor and Directrice d’études at the Ecole des Hautes Etudes en Sciences Sociales in Paris, she coordinated a panel on the subject of “the resources and limitations of pluralism in today’s Turkey,” as part of the Istanbul Seminars that Reset-DoC organises every year in May at Bilgi University in Istanbul.

Egypt 2014 Presidential Election

Sabahi Challenges the Egyptian Regime: Spring Will Return


On May 26th, 27th and 28th Egyptians have voted to elect a successor to Mohamed Morsi, the Muslim Brotherhood’s president elected in 2012 and deposed by the army in July 2013. There are only two candidates; the now well-known general Abdel Fattah Al Sisi, and Hamdeen Sabahi, leader of the progressive Egyptian Popular Current, a pro-Nasser activist who opposed  Sadat and Mubarak, who had him imprisoned 17 times. In 2012, with 21.5 per cent of the votes, Sabahi came third behind Morsi and Ahmed Shafiq. He did not hesitate to criticise Morsi’s authoritarian shift, describing him as “a new Mubarak.” He has also expressed his disapproval of abuses of power by the transition government imposed by the army. Today, with the slogan “one of us” and a ‘left-wing’ election campaign, he is supported by important personalities in the world of culture such as Alaa Al Aswany and Khaled Youssef. The secular and ‘socialist’ Sabahi aims to obtain the votes of working class citizens and the young revolutionaries. However, few believe his liberal appeal has any chance at all of overcoming the electoral machine fielded by former general Al Sisi. Sabahi, however, is not giving up. He explains why in Azzurra Meringolo’s interview for Resetdoc.

Hamdeen Sabahi: My Long March Against Al Sisi

Interview by Azzurra Meringolo

Egypt: Al Sisi will certainly win, but then?
Azzurra Meringolo

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