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.
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 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.
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
There have been 17 terrorist attacks in 12 months, in which 300 people died and about 1,000 were wounded. The suicide bombers who attacked Ankara’s airport carried out the sixth attack of 2016, a trail of blood and death that decreed the profoundly comatose state of Turkey’s tourism. The words spoken by the Minister for Tourism, guaranteeing that “all security measures to prevent further attacks have been implemented”, will not be enough to bring tourists back to Turkey. Among the elements that President Erdogan will not be able to underestimate anymore when drafting a “list of priorities” that Ankara intends to pursue to ensure a future without terrorism and relaunch Turkey’s image there is the resumption of negotiations with the Kurds and a zero tolerance policy as far as jihadists are concerned. This would mark a change of direction essential for the pacification of a country that, over the past years, has all too often found itself counting the victims of massacres that could (maybe) have been avoided.
On June 17th the Hungarian government decided to close its border with Serbia, securing it with metal fencing all along its 175 kilometres. Controversy is rampant. The Serbian government is outraged, with the press reporting on yet another wall in the European fortress. Associations active in the field of migrants’ human rights have, euphemistically speaking, expressed perplexity. According to the Hungarian government, closing the border will stop the flow of migrants that has affected the country in recent months. They almost all transit through Serbia, a fundamental part of the “Balkan route.” Migrants also travel to Europe by land. Frontex, the European agency responsible for monitoring and controlling borders, has reported that, in the first six months of 2015, the same number of people have arrived in Europe from the two Mediterranean routes (one leading to Sicily and the other to Greece) and from the Balkans, amounting to 50,000 migrants.
We publish the review that Jim Sleeper wrote in 2013 for the Columbia Journalism Review on Zev Chafets's book Roger Ailes Off Camera.
When I published Liberal Racism in 1997 (with a chapter on how The New York Times was misrepresenting racial politics under editorial-page editor Howell Raines), I was interviewed on Fox News, which I’d barely heard of, by Bill O’Reilly, whom I hadn’t heard of at all. The encounter was anodyne, but before long I noticed that the network was not. Under its president Roger Ailes, who had pitched his vision of Fox to a receptive Rupert Murdoch only a year before I met O’Reilly, it was rapidly becoming what Zev Chafets calls “transformational” in American media and political culture. By treating journalism as if it’s all about ratings and show, Fox actually makes a profoundly political statement by eviscerating what democratic politics really stands for.
Of all the 47 men executed in Saudi Arabia since the beginning of the year, Ayatollah Nimr Baqir al-Nimr’s story is the most complex and must be seen within the historical and political context of sectarianism in Saudi Arabia and the entire region. Al-Nimr was executed after being charged as a terrorist, as were all the other 46 men who died that the same day. Forty-three of these men were members of al-Qaeda who had been kept in prison for a decade. The executioner’s sword also beheaded three young Shias, sentenced to death for lesser crimes and had been arrested some years ago when still minors. They are part of the same story as Nimr al-Nimr, the story of Saudi Shias, a religious minority amounting to between 10% and 15% of the country’s population.
In less than one month, they have already collected more than 3 million signatures. In a moment of increasing delusion for the social, political and economic evolution of the country, Egyptian activists decided to get back to the street. This time they do not march in the usual demonstrations. They are asking commuters to fill out photocopied pieces of paper with the heading: “Rebel campaign: to withdraw trust from the Brotherhood’s regime.”
The road towards an Euro-Mediterranean political partnership is currently facing a huge credibility problem, lying on the lack of a common regional stand up regarding the Israeli-Palestinian and the Syrian crises. While governments and regional organizations are facing an impasse, what has been first conceived as a corollary of the process has actually taken the initiative: civil society, in its non-for-profit, professional and academic constituents from all over the region, recently gathered in Marseille in order to identify and discuss possible solutions for the common challenges.
The political landscape of the Arab world has been dramatically transformed by the events of 2011. After decades of sterile politics and engrained authoritarianism Tunisia, Egypt, Libya, Yemen and Syria have embarked on a courageous journey aimed at fostering inclusive societies based on the rule of law and accountable governance. While we are only at the beginnings of what will be a long and arduous process, it is hard to believe that things will ever go back to the way they were. From Morocco to Bahrain the Arab public is on the march, and representation through elections is what they demand.
Radwan Masmoudi is the director of the Center for the Study of Islam and Democracy. A dual Tunisian-American citizen, he has worked tirelessly to improve cooperation between the two countries and to promote a moderate vision for the co-existence of democracy and Islam. As the Arab world’s best candidate for democracy, Tunisia is seen as a crucial test case – the success or failure of Tunisian democracy, Masmoudi believes, could create either a pro- or an anti- democratic wave across the Arab world. “In the end, democracy has to deliver,” he says. “It has to improve the economic situation of the people. So this is the real test: Freedom has to improve the quality of citizen’s lives.” A year after Tunisia’s unprecedented revolution, the economic turbulence threatens to spoil the democratic experiment and possibly represent a fatal setback to democratization in the Arab world. To address this risk, Masmoudi is promoting an ambitious plan to ensure Tunisia’s success: a New Marshall Plan for economic development, on the order of 5 billion dollars for 5 years.
"It was not Islam that bore the responsibility for the political and intellectual weaknesses afflicting Muslim societies—as many a European observer of Islam suggested— but the failure of Muslims to properly interpret their foundational texts in accordance with changing needs" (Mohammad Zaman, p.7)
DECEMBER 9 at 6 p.m., New York University
New York University’s Institute for Public Knowledge has hosted a roundtable discussion, “The Background of Xenophobia: Cultural and Political Roots of Anti-Immigrant Fanaticism in Europe and United States,” on Friday, December 9, 6-8 p.m. at 20 Cooper Square, 5th Floor Conference Room (between 5th and 6th Streets). Subways: 6 (Astor Place); N, R (8th Street). The event, part of the Reset-Dialogues on Civilizations Series, is free and open to the public.
Participants: Benjamin Barber, Seyla Benhabib, Ian Buruma, Jytte Klausen, Giancarlo Bosetti
The Arab Spring, astonishing and admirable, has been dogged from the start by often unrealistic expectations, a growing and deep confusion about the conditions that enable democracy, and a persistent lack of patience not only by participants but by busybody onlookers trying to jumpstart other people's freedom march. The spirit of the original uprisings was rooted in compelling historical necessity and powerful moral conviction. But history is not always predictable and morals a less than sufficient guide for politics.
During a meeting held with students protesters from the Berchet High School in Milan, ResetDoc interviewed the Corriere della Sera leader-writer and correspondent Gian Antonio Stella, fresh from the success of his recent book Negri, froci, giudei & co. L’eterna lotta contro l’altro, a history of racism in Italy. This subject is currently headline news after recent events in Rosarno, a municipality in the Province of Reggio Calabria, that was the setting for clashes between central-African immigrants and members of the local community.
Ten years have passed since the Bonn Conference, and on December 5th the international community will have to address the results of intervention in Afghanistan. But, in view of Bonn II, neither the government in Kabul nor the international community have yet consulted civil society, which a decade later continues to demand to be acknowledged as a subject capable not only of presenting proposals, but also of negotiating them.
Kabul - The process of transitioning from the International Security Assistance Force (ISAF) to the government and security forces of the Islamic Republic of Afghanistan is approaching its final phase, with the handover expected to be completed by 2014. However, in spite of the results achieved so far in training Afghan troops in joint operations and in handing over a number of Forward Operating Bases such as Bala Murghab (in the province of Badghis) which until last August was under Italian control, events in recent weeks confirm that the country’s stabilization cannot be taken for granted, not can security or freedom of movement.
Ten years have passed since the beginning of Operation Enduring Freedom in Afghanistan. Reintegration and reconciliation, regionalization, security and the battle against drug trafficking are all issues still far from being resolved. At the same time, preparations are taking place for what is described as the country’s “afghanization,” with Afghanistan being returned to the Afghans. One deadline, 2014, has been established, but this is not, after all, that far off, and for now there are those, such as Malalai Joya, a former member of the Afghan parliament forced to resign after reporting the presence of new War Lords and characters linked to the Taliban inside Afghan institutions, who believe that, “after a decade, Afghanistan is still the most unstable, most corrupt and most war-torn country in the world.”