Armed conflicts, civilians debased by both terrorist groups and dictatorial governments, a worrying repression of dissent and waves of populism and racism experiencing a staggering rise, are in the words of Gianni Ruffini, director of Amnesty International Italia, an indication that the world is moving backwards as far as human rights are concerned.
In October 2015, the Law and Justice Party (PiS), the reference party for Polish conservativism, returned to power obtaining an absolute majority of seats and putting an end to a series of centrist-liberal governments (PO-Civic Platform). As of 2007, this party’s most important representative has been Donald Tusk, former prime minister and current president of the European Council.
In the mid-1970s democracy seemed to have fallen to an all-time low. In Latin America, two of the most successful democratic stories, Uruguay and Chile, were violently overthrown by military coups in 1973, while only two years later Indira Gandhi declared a state of emergency in India, cancelling a general election and eliminating the most basic civil freedoms.
“Political science must be relevant, it does not involve studying butterflies.” Attempting to discover the theory of reality is what the Florentine political analyst Giovanni Sartori, who died on April 1st at the age of almost 93, had tried to do for his entire life. This amusing comment was made by Gianfranco Pasquino, a political scientist, a former senator.
If we want to understand what is going on today in France, we need to start by saying something about the global geopolitical trend, of which France is obviously part. If a single phrase could summarize the global geopolitical trend, we should say that we are witnessing an era of shift of power: in the last four decades, the geopolitical axis of the world has been shifting from the “developed countries” toward the “developing countries”.
In all countries, established political parties have the dangerous propensity to counter this electoral wave of populism by adopting the issues and language used by them. Political scientists have long believed that when a country succeeds in achieving a democratic transition, creating stable institutions and accomplishing a certain level of wealth, it has a rather low risk of an authoritarian backlash.
The latest of a raft of measures adopted by US President Donald Trump only a few days after he was sworn into office, the executive order on immigration has sparked heavy criticism in the country and around the world. The measure is intended primarily to suspend the national refugee system temporarily, and the Syrian refugees programme indefinitely, and to deny entry to the US to individuals from seven named, majority-Muslim countries (Iran, Iraq, Libya, Somalia, Sudan, Syria, Yemen) for 90 days.
Alireza was in Kabul when he received his father’s call urging him to leave the country. A letter signed by the Taliban requested the immediate closure of the English institute that Alireza was directing in Ghazni. After having received a second letter including death threats, Alireza understood he and his family had no chance but to flee the country. The father sold his bakery and the house and paid a smuggler 32.000 dollars to get Alireza, his wife and his two other children out of Afghanistan.
The Rise of Illiberal Trends
From India to Russia, the world is experiencing a new rise of illiberal trends and the return of strongmen. Reset DOC 's articles try to analyze this ongoing process and its actors.
Ever since Partition and Independence, Indian political life has privileged the concepts of diversity, pluralism, tolerance and inter-religious harmony. The way to realise these values, according to the ideology dominant thus far, was to have a state that expressed equal ‘love’ for all communities, that is, a state taking it upon itself to safeguard the peculiarities, rights and interests of groups defined along the axes of religion or caste, or as a majority and multiple minorities. As Pratap Bhanu Mehta has explained recently, in the vision of its founders and the architecture of the Constitution, India was conceived of as a ‘federation of communities’ with a paternalistic, secular state presiding over and managing a mosaic of identities. But, the outcome of India’s 2014 general elections, which puts the Hindu nationalist Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) in power under the leadership of Narendra Modi – sworn in as the new prime minister on Monday 26 May – calls for a widespread debate on the meaning, purpose and definition of secularism in this country.
According to the European Network Against Racism (ENAR), in 2009-10 Italy was the second country in Europe when it comes to the occurrence rate of mistreatment, attacks and racially motivated acts of violence. Main victims were citizens of African descent, Roma and Sinti. The Enar Shadow Report, presented on March 21, 2011 to the European Parliament, is based on unofficial data from studies carried out by associations and NGOs dedicated to fighting discrimination.
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”.
Elections in Iran have always had a contradictory meaning. On one hand, they have always been less than free and fair, even when the polls were basically correct, (meaning not materially rigged), because of the vetting of candidates by the Guardian Council. On the other, they have been a flexible mechanism measuring the relative strength of the different components of the regime. Not a democracy, certainly, but a sort of pluralistic oligarchy.
Death sentences are on the rise in Iran mainly for drug trafficking, but also for moharebeh or enmity to God and even for sodomy. According to Iran Human Rights figures, the number of executions was at their highest in 2011, than for the past decade. They presented their 2011 Report a few days before the March 2 parliamentary elections, which revealed that 675 people were executed and of these, 65 were executed in city squares.
The historic political framework agreement reached by Iran and the world powers last April 2 in Lausanne, Switzerland, on Tehran's nuclear program has the potential of changing the entire landscape in the Middle East and beyond. Iran and the group called 5+1 (the permanent members of the UN Security Council plus Germany) have indeed found a formula that would reassure the international community on the peaceful nature of the Iranian nuclear program, while terminating all unilateral and multilateral economic sanctions imposed on Tehran. If they succeed in developing a comprehensive deal by the end of June, as it is expected, it will certainly mark a major geopolitical shift, as it will probably open the way for cooperation between Iran and the United States well beyond the nuclear file, on other areas of common interest.
Tehran - One front page headline reads “Delegation of U.S. oil companies to visit Tehran.” Others instead announced that “Trade delegations follow one another.” There have even been headlines stating “Crowds of foreign investors prepare to invade Iran,” with English-language Iranian newspapers not holding back in their use of superlatives and one column saying that Iran is the “last frontier” for international investors. Expectations are high, extremely high.
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.
It is true that Muslim puritan groups have, over the years and by their unnameable actions, overshadowed the diversity that permeates Islam and Islamic values. Yet, this should not serve as an excuse for rapacious politicians and fear-mongering groups to target Muslims in the United States, as a religious group. It is all the more alarming that highly educated people and important politicians are associated with acts of bigotry, fanaticism and hate dissemination discourse. Fortunately, the clamor did not override the voices of wisdom and humanism. Many Americans came out to say “not in my name”.
After publishing an “intellectual chart” of reformers in Islam in our magazine Reset in Italian, with its last issue ResetDoC.org has offered its English-speaking readers a first compass to navigate those encouraging dialogue in the Muslim world, with a closer examination of three great thinkers: Abdou FIlali-Ansary, Abdolkarim Soroush and Muhammad Talbi. Here two new profiles of thinkers committed to intercultural reflections: Nilüfer Göle and Navid Kermani. READ HERE
In his book "Islam, Secularism, and Liberal Democracy", Nader Hashemi looks specifically at 17th century Europe and convincingly argues that secularism on the old continent was not developed against a religious context, but rather out of and along the lines of a religious-reformist agenda. Correspondingly, Hashemi argues, democratic reforms and the separation of religion and politics in the Islamic world will not be possible outside of religion or without religious actors. In this interview with Lewis Gropp, Hashemi accordingly refutes the notion that Islam and the Sharia are non-reformable and in inherently anti-democratic.
Like other classical world traditions and civilizations that seek renewal for survival, continuity and contribution to world affairs, the Islamic one is convened and questioned, maybe more than others and more than ever before, seeing its geographical and intellectual positions between the so-called East and West, an archaic dichotomy that disrupts politics and stirs philosophy at the same time. The ongoing dire socio-political chaos in the Arab-Islamic world questions the intellectual tradition of this part of the world, to see where it stands, and what contributions it offers to overcome the turmoil. Reset-DoC is pleased to present three reflections on Islamic Philosophy by Mohammed Hashas (PhD), as part of an ongoing conversation with a civilization that was, and a worldview that is still vibrant and confident that it can still contribute to world intellect and local politics.
Past and Present Conditions for Existence and Difference
Islamic Philosophy I
The Moderns and Contemporaries in Search for a New Paradigm
Islamic Philosophy II
The Question of Ethics: Taha Abderrahmane’s Praxeology and Trusteeship Paradigm
Islamic Philosophy III
Turkish Prime Minister Erdogan’s visit to Tunisia, Egypt and Libya, the countries most affected by the Arab Spring, shows Turkey is closely involving itself in the changing power balance in North Africa and the Middle East. The model the Turkish leader is presenting to states in transition is that of a secular government in a country with an overwhelming Muslim majority, where Islam and democracy are not mutually exclusive. The goal is to show that Turkey is a credible example to emulate, even if the price is the realignment of the “good neighbour” foreign policy, which has already deteriorated with the Syrian crisis.
«I was in Israel as a visiting professor at the Meitar Center of Advanced Legal Studies – writes Seyla Benhabib, philosopher and professor of Political Science and Philosophy at Yale University – and I watched in disbelief and pain as Turkey, the country of my birth threatened at one point to go to war against Israel - a country I feel deep affection for, whose politics I have followed since the 1968 War, where many members of my family, including one sister, lives and where my Father is buried. Israeli social and political forces are at a stalemate: whether one advocates a one-state or a two-state solution certainly matters but there are deeper cultural, economic, and theological forces at work which make it highly unlikely that a viable solution can be found soon to the quagmire in Israel-Palestine.»
How the Jamaat-e-Islami developed and transformed itself within the boundaries of a modern pluralistic democracy, the Indian democracy, is the subject Irfan Ahmed has devoted his research to. To write this book, Irfan Ahmad conducted extensive fieldwork in several small Muslim towns near Delhi, and he describes the gradual process of change and openness, following in particular the development within Jamaat’s universities and their student organisations SIMI and SIO.