The world discovered the Yazidi people in August 2014, when the Islamic State, recently self-proclaimed by the “caliph” al-Baghdadi, brutally and violently attacked Sinjar, in the north-west of Iraq, inflicting murder, rape and kidnappings that led the community to flee en masse to Mount Sinjar. And while U.S. President Barack Obama dutifully exploited the siege to order the first attacks on Iraq, it was the Syrian YPGs, Kurdish people’s defence units, supported by PKK combatants, who opened a humanitarian corridor that allowed thousands to escape. The Kurdish-Iraqi peshmerga fighters who had earlier abandoned the area due to Islamists’ advance also took part in the liberation of Mount Sinjar.
At the end of a divisive, toxic and often deceptive campaign, UK voters chose to leave the European Union on June 23rd. The economic fallout from Brexit is already apparent, with the pound going through the floor and credit ratings agencies engaging in rather gloomy forecasts for the British economy. What happens next politically is everybody’s guess.
Goodbye to political Islam. From now on the Tunisian political party Ennahda will be a Muslim democracy, or at least that is how its leader Rashid Ghannouchi renamed it on the eve of the last party conference held, finally, in May on the beach at Hammamet. Seven provisions were voted on, ranging from the manner in which the party will be organised to financial issues. This tenth conference was marked by the adoption of a motion on the basis of which Ennahda’s political activities will be separated from religious work that was at the basis of the birth of this movement, condemned to work in secrecy for decades.
Defining Family and Citizenship
An Old Story or a New Phenomenon?
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.
Once upon a time there was a prince called Muhammad Dara Sikoh who belonged to the Moghul dynasty. In 1655, before embracing the Sufi confraternity of the Qadiriyya, Dara Sikoh wrote a treatise comparing Hinduism and Sufism, the beautiful Majma‘ al-bahrayn (The Confluence of the Two Seas); he wrote it in Persian, at the time the official and cultured language of the Indian administration. Nowadays everything has changed. Iran, however, still has great potential in its cultural and political influence over Asia. With the end of international sanctions, Iranians have returned to the centre of geopolitics, and not only Middle Eastern geopolitics.
Dynamic and yet conservative, increasingly turning to the East and yet still attracted by the European option, fascinated by presidentialism but not by the Iranian totalitarian model, Turkish society – and its leadership – escapes all Western categories for which it remains a complex puzzle. Reset discussed the matter with Valeria Giannotta, a professor of International Relations at the University of the Turkish Aeronautical Association in Ankara, while attending the conference entitled “Betting on Iran”, organised by CIPMO (Italian Centre for Peace in the Middle East) in Milan, Italy..
It was late May in New Delhi. On the campus of Jawaharlal Nehru University, a group of students had built a “protest camp” under the Administrative building's entrance portico. A banner announced an “indefinite hunger strike”. JNU, as it is usually called, is one of India’s most illustrious universities and occupies a large campus set on the hilly and very green southern side of the city, although this is not sufficient to lessen early summer’s suffocating heat. The students, nineteen men and women, had been fasting for 12 days when I met with them. Some of their companions had been taken to hospital due to their extreme weakness. They would manage to continue their hunger strike for 16 days, the second longest protests in the history of this Indian university.
Fatima Naoot could not have chosen a more fitting subject. The poem she decided to read at a literary encounter held in Cairo at the end of March spoke of physical and psychological prisons and of the people who use them to ensnare freedom of speech. Among them are those who felt insulted by a message she posted on Facebook, and those who sued her taking her to face an Egyptian court that sentenced her for having “insulted Islam”.
On March 18 the European leaders agreed on a plan with Turkey to stem the flow of migrants to Europe, called the EU-Turkey Statement, which is well know by now for its controversy. The deal was presented as the last resort for the EU to address the migration crisis amid growing division among the member states on how to handle it. During the summer of 2015, confrontation among member states grew, as two opposing strategies revealed different visions to address the migration crisis.
Unlike what many may think, elections in an illiberal country like Iran are not only a political show. Their outcome serves as a test of strength among Iran's competing power centers. Over the weekend, the Iranian people went massively to the polls to elect members of the Islamic Consultative Assembly, the parliament, and the 88 members of the Assembly of Experts, which is in charge of selecting the next supreme leader to replace Ayatollah Ali Khamenei. This was the first time that the two political bodies were elected simultaneously.
The tragedy of the devil is a book published in 1969 by the great Syrian thinker Sadik al-Azm, at the time a young scholar, worried by the growing instrumental use of religion by political elites in the Arab world. The book, that had from the beginning a huge impact on the Arab intellectuals of the period, provoked the greatest uproar of the 20th century, leading to the arrest and trial of his author. This book, written over forty years ago, it has been now rediscovered and available for the first time in languages other than Arabic.
Events in Paris established a sense of collective sadness, questioning our understanding of belonging and freedom. Wars and attacks caused casualties in Beirut and in many places in the Middle East. But it is usually when things happen “here” that us, Europeans and North Americans, usually pay real attention. What is evident is how Europe is living through some very difficult times, probably the worst since 1945, with many values on which European community was built undermined. The fact is that the continent is also caught in between a number of extremisms.
Dust, ruins and entire districts burned to the ground; that is today’s Ramadi, the Sunni city that is the capital of the very turbulent Anbar Province. Freed by the Iraqi army at the end of last year, it now looks like a ghost city. Satellite photographs published in recent days by the Associated Press show the extent of the devastation, with over three thousand buildings destroyed, 400 roads seriously damaged, bridges reduced to dust and collapsing infrastructure. About 800 civilians have died in Ramadi and the challenge faced is now a political one.
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.
Europe will welcome 160,000 refugees in 2015. Each member state will be called upon to receive a quota in proportion to their economic and demographic size. This is the proposal put forward by the EU Commission’s President Jean-Claude Junker in his ‘State of the Union’ speech on Wednesday. Germany has been promoting this plan and has been putting it into action for some time, giving the the states, the Länder, responsibility for sharing the burden of managing asylum seekers. They are allocated on the basis of the so-called “Königsteiner key”, a system created in the ‘50s and originally aimed at spreading over what was then West Germany the funds destined for research.
A toll booth on the ill-famed Salerno-Reggio Calabria motorway. It is not just any old toll booth, but the one that most keeps alive the memories of the wounds Fascism inflicted on our history. Tarsia, the exit leading to Campi Ferramonti, the largest concentration camp built in Italy following the proclamation of racial laws. It is on this strip of land extending all the way to the River Crati, where on September 8th, 1943, 2,200 people were crowded, that the cemetery for migrants will be built. An international burial ground created to provide a dignified resting place for the thousands who have perished chasing the dream of coming to Europe, the continent in which they placed all hope of redemption from hunger and destitution.
South Sudanese soldiers allowed to rape women in lieu of wages and an UN Security Council resolution that calls for the repatriation of peacekeeping units whose troops face allegations of sexual abuse. These are the most recent (almost uncovered) news that give evidence of the widespread and systemic sexual exploitation and abuse that occurs not only during conflicts, but also in conflict resolution operations. Atrocities that a group of women from all over the world are trying to fight, increasing female role in the field of international security. A group of women who can now count on the Italian branch, just launched in the Italian Senate by Lia Quartapelle, a Democratic Party young MP, and Irene Fellin, a very active gender expert, Executive Director of Women in International Security (WIIS). «While living in the States working on gender, I was fascinated by WIIS activity and I found my mission: come back home to create the Italian branch» said Irene.
The official motto of the Unites States of America, now engraved on all its coins, states “In God we trust”. Many have added the words “all others pay cash” to cash registers in many shops in the suburbs and in many large American cities. That God, in His three variations and identities, is dominant in a forever quarrelled-over Jerusalem. There are few, however, who trust in Him or think He might be helpful in resolving a territorial conflict that has become increasingly being dragged out or linked to religious motivations. The September 13th clashes (on the eve of the Jewish new year, Rosh Hashanah) at the Al Aqsa mosque complex, and those in the days that followed, are a sign of rising disquiet and opposing strategies that in truth contain little that is truly religious.
“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.