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.
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.
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?
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.
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.
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 (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.
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.
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.”
Seventy years have gone by since the end of World War II and, since this marks another decade, in Moscow the commemorations will be grand. Fifteen thousand soldiers will march in the usual military parade in Red Square on May 9th, the day on which Russians commemorate victory in the “Great Patriotic War.” The ground of this great Muscovite square will not only reverberate to the sound of marching boots, but also to the passing artillery pieces, armoured vehicles, missiles and tanks, including the T-14 Armata Tank. This is a new and very modern tank that will be officially presented on May 9th. For the moment no photographs of the tank are in circulation, with the exception of one published on the Russian Defence Ministry’s website. The turret is not visible in this photograph and this has increased expectations regarding this display of grandeur. It is a shame that the most important Western leaders will not see it in real life as they are not travelling to Moscow. Turbulent times added to the great Ukrainian crisis have discouraged visits.
As the people of Israel were honoring the victims of the Holocaust (April 16) and in the rest of the world people were remembering the day in which the gates of Auschwitz were opened, Israel’s Foreign Minister Avigdor Lieberman chose to offend memory and narrative for mere political reasons. He, as other Israeli leaders including Yair Lapid of the centrist party Yesh Atid (“There is a future”) criticized the request by 16 European Union foreign ministers to label Israeli products made beyond the 1949 armistice line as “Made in the West Bank.” A legitimate attack (from the point of those that sustain the ongoing process of colonization of the Palestinian territories) if not for the idea offered by the man responsible for the foreign policy of that country.
The announcement that the Nobel Peace Prize for 2015 had been awarded to Tunisia and the Tunisians came as a surprise. The prestigious award was attributed to the National Dialogue Quartet for its “decisive contribution to the building of a pluralistic democracy in Tunisia in the wake of the Jasmine Revolution of 2011.”
Europe and the Maghreb are two increasingly blended realities that, in many ways, share the same difficulties. Olivier Roy, Chair in Mediterranean Studies at the Robert Schuman Centre for Advanced Studies of the European University Institute in Fiesole, calls this the “post-migration era”, with the Maghreb’s inhabitants no longer pressing against the gates of the European countries, and wishing to come and go, freely “circulating” by following the best economic opportunities, which, at times, are more advantageous in Rabat or Algiers than in the North. Reset DoC has reached Professor Roy some days before the Nobel Peace Price conferred to the Tunisian civil society organizations.
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.
From the New York Times to the Washington Post, from Der Spiegel to Le NouvelObs, the most prestigious international magazines have begun to call it “the U-turn”: we are talking about Angela Merkel’s approval of a new hospitality policy towards thousands of Syrian migrants. Maintaining financial rigor and economic conservatism on the one hand, and making each country responsible for safeguarding human life, on the other, seem nevertheless two sides of the same coin in Germany.
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.