The question “can European Islam be inspiring to the Arab world?” may smell of pejorative Orientalism: Europe thinks for the Arab world even when it comes to religion! Yet, the intent (anniya in Arabic) is not that. The question aims at questioning the established dichotomy of “Islam vs. the West.” Comparing two geographies or two versions of religion in two different political entities is the aim here, though the title seems to compare a religious interpretation in a political geography “European Islam” with a another political geography “the Arab world.” By the Arab world here is meant “Arab Islam” – to avoid repeating “Islam” twice. Both Western Europe and the Arab world are heterogeneous and have different histories with religion and politics, and it is not acceptable to put them all in one basket through entities as the title above suggests. However, it is the links between these two geographies, polities, and histories that have encouraged posing the question for further reflections.
Habermas: This is Why the Anti-European Left is Wrong
With an eye on the upcoming European elections, Resetdoc reopens the debate on the European Union and its future with an essay by Jürgen Habermas, written a year ago when sociologist Wolfgang Streeck’s book Gekaufte Zeit (Buying Time) was published. Habermas’ essay marks the beginning of a true Europa-Streit, a controversy on Europe, in which the German philosopher accuses the European Left of having never moved beyond nostalgic positions and of not being able to firmly addressing the Right and the Centre’s populist trends. The essay is introduced by Luca Corchia, who summarizes the controversy between the two authors contextualizing it within the debate on Europe, which, although still defective in the large arenas of state and party politics, is instead spreading in magazines, newspapers and books throughout the continent.
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."
As India enters its 2014 general election to constitute the 16th Lok Sabha, the spectacle of prominent commentators adjusting their views towards the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) and its prime ministerial candidate, Narendra Modi unfolds before our eyes with escalating frequency and vivid clarity. These adjustments — to use a term that is more descriptive than judgmental, at least for starters — take a variety of forms, and come from a range of observers, analysts and experts.
Recently Islam watchers have been busy pointing at yet another blow to political Islam but this time a heavy one. Turkey and its ruling Justice and Development Party (AKP) are going through hard times for some time now and the woes are deepening every day. As the "champion" of political Islam among Muslim countries, Turkey was a "model" for some, a source of inspiration for others, thanks to its successful achievements in matching the requirements of modernity with religious belief. But model, Turkey is no more.
Fardin, 25, has left Kermanshah, the largest city in Iranian Kurdistan, to travel to Kirkuk in Iraq. There he will work for the state-owned electricity company where his cousin is employed. “This is an excellent opportunity since in Iran everything is at a standstill, while in Massoud Barzani’s Iraqi Kurdistan there is a great deal going on,” explains Fardin. Thanks to his father’s role in the Iran-Iraq war (1981-1988), the young man was only obligated to serve in the army for one year instead of two. “This exemption is applied to the children of war veterans, but I would not have wished to stay on as a regular soldier. The pay is appalling and a soldier earns 3,000 toman a month (7.5 euros) while a professional soldier at the start of his career earns a little over 300,000 toman (75 euros),” he added.
The rise to power of the Fethullah Gülen confraternity has transformed Turkey since the 90s. This spiritual movement has given rise to a vast media and financial empire, doubled by an imposing network of schools, universities and residences within Turkey, but also on a global scale. Scattered throughout all levels of social and political life, its members weigh heavily on government choices. Yet, the movement’s omnipotence is no longer compatible with the ambitions of its former ally Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan.
History says a lot about the relationships between Europe and the “broad Middle East,” to preliminarily use the term to mean the Islamic majority countries of North Africa and the Middle East (MENA), and a good part of Asia – from Morocco to Indonesia. The dichotomy of comparing a geographical entity, Europe, with a religious entity, Islam, bears a lot of historical-political tension, and simultaneously conveys the mindset that accepts comparing two entities on two different grounds. Such a “wrong” and “politicized” way of comparisons needs to change, seeing the changes taking place in the Mediterranean basin and world politics.
The weekly magazine The Economist reported on the current repression in Egypt, a country addressing the effects of a second lethal revolutionary euphoria, saying, “the re-emboldened security services have increasingly been hammering the whole gamut of opposition, from secular reformers to every type of Islamist.” The enthusiasm, with decisive support provided by the army, that had resulted in the overthrow of the Islamist President Mohammed Morsi on July 30 2013, must now deal with an abrupt awakening.
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.
By publishing this paper we would like to remember Massimo Rosati, who died on January the 30th, 2013, at the too-young age of 44. A dear friend of Reset-Dialogues, over the years he supported our work and we were discussing a permanent form of cooperation with him involving a series of projects scheduled for the coming months that would have been directed by him. “The Archaic and Us. Ritual, Myth, the Sacred and Modernity" is the paper presented by Massimo Rosati on December 4th, 2013, for the international seminar "Europe, Democracy and Critical Theory. A German-Italian Workshop on Jürgen Habermas’ Theory", organized by Regina Kreide, Walter Privitera and Ilenya Camozzi at the Forschungskolleg Humanwissenschaften in Bad Homburg. Rosati’s Paper sparked a lively discussion with Prof. Habermas and an intense debate with all the participants in the seminar.
Massimo Rosati died suddenly after suffering a stroke. He was not yet 45 years old. “Reset” has lost a friend and a tireless co-worker, with his ideas, his blog and the projects we shared. His death was completely unexpected, and the suddenness of this break in friendly and productive contacts, in working relations, is unbelievable and painful. Until just a short moment ago there were the normal and trivial efforts made to find a suitable date for a conference on “Religion and the web”, or to plan a series of seminars and a book on religion as a “war and peace” factor.
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.
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.
Iceland's crowd-sourced constitution and the impact of Beppe Grillo's blog on Italian politics reveal how "Internet democracy" has opened a new phase of democratic innovation. The relationship between citizens and politicians may never be the same again.
The story of the sacrifice of Eid al-Adha, or Sacrifice Holy Day, goes beyond the symbolic ritual of slaughtering a qurbani to that of exerting the self to a better understanding of God in different times and spaces. The Eid is supposed to bring the questions of liberty and belief into the mind of the believer again and again, for belief is not supposed to be stable, but dynamic. The universe is in movement and so is supposed to be the idea of belief and understanding of God, otherwise the perception of revelation becomes historic and not active – which is not the wisest perception to hold if the believer thinks that the Creator is Great, Merciful, and Just, as some attributes portray Him in Islam.*