“I must say that the Tunisian constitution was not only the work of the National Constituent Assembly, but really an achievement shared by the whole of society.” The jurist Yadh Ben Achour made a significant contribution to the drafting of Tunisia’s new constitution, celebrated worldwide as a document of openness and tolerance. Here he talks to Romain Faure and Manuela Lenzen about the path set out by Tunisia in the Arab Spring.
Horror in Paris. A massacre against a European symbol of freedom
After the tragic attack in Paris that killed twelve people and injured many others in the Charlie Hebdo offices in Paris, Reset-Dialogues is offering its readers op-eds by our authors followed by a selection of articles, interviews and videos published on this website in recent years and months. Ranging from 9/11 to the Danish cartoons affair, from the reactions inflamed by the offensive “Innocence of Muslims” film to very different events such as the Utoya killings and the Boko Haram kidnappings, these articles and their authors tackle fundamental questions and issues raised once again by a violent incident that troubles and questions democracies and liberal thought at the heart of their commitment to tolerance, freedom of speech and openness.
The outrageous murder of innocent citizens in France by militant Muslims left everyone around the world, including the vast majority of followers of Islam, with a number of questions. Among these, the most fundamental coming from the non-Muslims: Is Islam incompatible with free thinking? Let us not hide behind the conveniently general opinion that Islam is a religion of violence and the only way to save the West is to put an extreme pressure on Muslims living in Europe and North America. This path does not lead to any solution and is perceived only as a new form of intolerance and barbarity.
Last Sunday, three months after they were sworn in, Afghanistan’s President Ashraf Ghani and almost “prime minister” Abdullah Abdullah announced their list of candidate-ministers. In order to discuss the prospects of the national unity government and the many challenges it will have to face over the coming years - ranging from Taliban guerrilla warfare to the fragile economy, from external interference to corruption and including the consequences of the partial withdrawal of foreign troops - we met in Kabul with Thomas Ruttig, co-director of the Afghanistan Analysts Network, the country’s most authoritative research centre.
Twenty years ago Yasser Arafat, President of the PLO, and Yitzhak Rabin, Israel’s Labour Prime Minister, were jointly awarded the Nobel Peace Prize for the brave choices they had made a year earlier in Oslo, agreeing to reciprocally acknowledge each other’s country as an independent nation with a right to statehood, to start the process involving the division of historical Palestine and forever renouncing war.
Philosophical investigations in Delhi: about moral choices, intellectual honesty and political freedom
Delhi - In the weeks just before and after the new year, when the overall atmosphere of the capital was vitiated on account of the government’s attempts to override Christmas as a Christian observance and an official holiday, replacing it with a so-called “Good Governance Day” and the birth anniversaries of Madan Mohan Malaviya and Atal Bihari Vajpayee, brief visits by two eminent philosophers provided some relief. The visitors were the Bengali philosopher, Arindam Chakrabarti, who teaches at the University of Hawaii in Manoa, and the Iranian philosopher, Ramin Jahanbegloo, who teaches at York University in Canada. Both lectured at public fora, met with students and scholars, and brought to the denizens of beleaguered Delhi a much-needed reminder of the importance of philosophy as the core of humanistic intellectual inquiry and democratic dissent.
On the occasion of his birthday (b. 27 December, 1936, in Figuig, eastern Morocco, d. 3 May 2010), this piece is an homage to a towering figure in modern Arab-Islamic thought, a figure that any serious scholar in the field cannot do without. One has either to build on the heritage he has left, or overcome it with a more challenging one. In both cases, one cannot escape reading him. In the age of Arab turmoils, al Jabri must be in the library of every Arab house for one simple reason: he genuinely managed to classify Arab-Islamic thought, a thing that is still missing from Arab socio-political life.
The round-up of journalists, the anniversary of the worst corruption scandal in the history of the Turkish republic and the beginning of court cases involving supporters of the Beşiktaş football team, mingled in a week from hell both for Turkish society and for President Racep Tayyip Erdoğan’s government.
Emma Bonino, Italy’s former minister of foreign affairs, has returned from Iran, where, with a group of European and Arab experts on Middle Eastern affairs organised by the European Council on Foreign Relations, she attended a two and a half hour long briefing with Foreign Minister Zarif. However, returning from the country from which, as Italy’s Foreign Minister, she was the first to sense a strong signal of political change when the reformists won, Emma Bonino has brought a warning: “Should negotiations on nuclear issues fail, the only real chance of beginning a stabilisation process for the entire region would be lost.”
This article was published by the Italian daily newspaper La Stampa on November 12th, after the 4th edition of Reset-DoC’s Venice-Delhi seminars held in Italy on 6-8 November 2014.
What if Islamic State’s contemporary terrorism, so clever at using the communication devices of affluent societies, were nothing more than a variation – an atrocious one – of populism? And what if modern western societies, gripped by deviant nationalist egoisms and the xenophobic particularism of “small homelands” shared this kind of danger with the democratic reawakening partly affecting the Arab world?
“The first to pay with their lives are those who profess this religion in a peaceful, calm and respectful manner.” With those words the Italian Speaker of the House Laura Boldrini commented on her meeting with the secretary of Italy’s Islamic Cultural Centre, Abdellah Redouane, and the faithful who were meeting for Friday prayers at Rome’s Great Mosque. This was an encounter that the Islamic community had wanted and requested and addressed at Italians and Muslims in order to say “no to terrorism” and reiterate that “Islam is a religion of peace.” Those words were part of the clear and explicit appeal read at a table at which the Italian state’s third highest ranking official sat next to authorities of the largest mosque in Europe.
This year the awarding of the Nobel Peace Prize was greeted everywhere with a chorus of approval. It could not have been otherwise when the award was assigned to two very different people (Malala Yousafzai, a 17-year old Pakistani girl, and Kilash Satyarthi, a 60-year old Indian, she is a Muslim and he is a Hindu), but united by one of the most noble and undisputed causes; the right of all children, poor and wealthy, boys and girls, to receive an education. The Nobel Peace Prize certainly needed this consensus, allowing one to set aside certain past decisions which were legitimately criticised and had tarnished its prestige.
The hypothesis of a stabilization of the Ukrainian crisis into a frozen conflict presents serious dangers. As mentioned, an unrecognized republic would come into existence on a fluid border that could be an ulterior cause of additional instability in the future. Like other unrecognised republics, it could transform itself into a hub of illegal trade, an aspect that is decidedly worrying seeing the potential size of Novorossija compared to the other small and isolated unrecognised republics. It would certify the West as impotent when faced with the revisionist designs of other powers in the international system, with subsequent effects on other geopolitical situations. And yet, the alternatives risk being less attractive than yet another frozen conflict.
The publication of a posthumous book has obliged us to once again address the case involving Jacques Dupuis, the Belgian Catholic theologian of religious pluralism, treated and “notified” as a heretic by the then Prefect of the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith, Cardinal Ratzinger, all in 2000, the same year and days of the publication of the Declaration “Dominus Iesus”, the most criticised pontifical document of recent decades, acclaimed only by “devout atheists.”
This text is drawn from a lecture held at Harvard University (HILR) on October 31, 2014.
I spent over half of my forty-year diplomatic career as a so-called sovietologist, including during four years at the Italian embassy in Moscow in the second half of the 1970s. Even after my subject-matter, the Soviet Union, disappeared, I continued being interested in Russia, in spite of being busy, professionally, with other areas of the world, and in spite of my absorbing experiences as ambassador to Iran and to India. What I saw, however, is that, starting from the last decade of the XX century, interest in Russia, attention to Russia, study of Russia, have sharply dropped in the West, and especially in this country. It was as if the Russian file had been moved from the desk to the archives. Today it seems to me that we are realizing that doing that was not a good idea, and that the file is back on our desk. The reason has to do mainly with the actions and the personality of one leader, Vladimir Putin.
They say he has not changed, that his ideas are the same as when he lived in exile in London. However, his influence over his country is totally different. Rashid Ghannouchi, is post-revolutionary Tunisia’s strongman, the president of Ennhada, the party with a relative majority in the current legislative assembly. The October 26th general election and the November 23rd presidential election are approaching, but from September 28th to October 1st he found time to spend a few days in the United States.