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
Kabul - In spite of progress made since 2001, Afghan women still have a long route to travel. Nowadays they hold important institutional positions and in many cases have managed to achieve emancipation and set the foundations for a freer professional future. But these are still individual cases in a country in which the situation experienced by women, especially in rural areas, it still extremely difficult.
On December 5th, attended by 85 countries and 16 international organizations, the International Conference on Afghanistan was held in Bonn. The summit was held exactly ten years after the Taliban regime was defeated and also a decade after another diplomatic conference was also held in the former western German capital. At the time, the foundations for the transition were established and a road map created that led to the formation of a new government and representational institutions in Kabul, as well as the drafting of a constitution and a judicial system following thirty years of conflict, dictatorships and destabilization, from the 1979 Soviet invasion to the fall of the obscurantist regime instituted by the Koranic scholars. “Bonn II” instead yielded no great results.
The Brexit vote makes it all too clear that supporters of greater European integration must bring more to the debate than open borders and Europe’s success as a project for peace. For those of us who support the European project, it is a bitter irony that this vote of no confidence is aimed at a Europe that we never wanted: a Europe of business tycoons, of bureaucratic busybodies and over-regulation, of elites and the punishing austerity of the troika. The failure of this Europe is now being used as a means to crush any enthusiasm for the federalist ideal. It may well be, however, that there has been too much “business as usual” in our camp and that we made our case for Europe in a language devoid of passion. The Europe of tomorrow needs a fresh narrative and more opportunities for participation. Establishing a Future Council composed of a sample of European citizens could support the development of a new politics.
Freedom, equality of opportunities, defense of collective goods: eventually Turkey found its ideals. With one strike, the country lying in between the western and eastern world experienced its own “Occupy” movement and “Spring” turmoil. Erdogan and ten years of controversial governance were at the core of the protest which put Istanbul and the whole country on fire. In the streets there was a whole generation: some call it generation “Y”. Umuth Turk, Turkish, 26 years old, just graduated from the University of Milan, Italy, and went back to his country to join the protest. He has lived in Italy for four years, between Milan and Pisa. He developed his own critical view about his country of origin, but also with respect to the neo-liberal policies born in the western world. We conducted an interview with him in order to better understand which political forces triggered the mobilization, the social context of Turkey and which goals have been achieved so far by the protest.
Many countries in the south-Mediterranean region have been experiencing profound changes in 2011 and 2012, and young Arab democracies will have to deal with problems and debates related to the relationship between religion and democracy, Islam and secularism, citizenship and the rights of minorities. People will have to chose between new or maybe existing “models” of democracy: will they chose to live in a secular democracy? If yes, which kind of secularism will they chose? Or will people rather prefer to build a “religious democracy?” To address these questions, Resetdoc has interviewed Rajeev Bhargava, currently Senior Fellow and Director of the Centre for the Study of Developing Societies in New Delhi. He has previously been a Professor at Jawaharlal Nehru University and Head of the Department of Political Science at the University of Delhi. He has been a fellow and visiting professor in many international universities, including Harvard and Columbia University. His research and publications focus on secularism, multiculturalism, political theory and India’s democracy.
Based on the book:
Spin.Trucchi e tele-imbrogli della politica
by Giancarlo Bosetti, published by Marsilio Editore, 2007.
Alexandria – Seen from the southern side of the Mediterranean the stories of migrants boarding vessels to reach Italy’s coasts seem tragically more human. They reveal aspects of their arrival in our country that one quickly forgets or neglects. Listening to them one learns of the events that obliged them to cling to the remaining hope on the other side of the sea. Stories of families that vanish in the water, but also of children that end up forgotten behind bars close to the port. These are children who soon become adults, who hope that what they are experiencing is just a bad game of hide-and-seek.
A somewhat bleak survey of American democratic prospects for this year’s American Independence Day begins by reminding us what America was meant to be all about.
“By the rude bridge that arched the flood,
Their flag to April’s breeze unfurled,
Here once the embattled farmers stood
And fired the shot heard ‘round the world.”
Ralph Waldo Emerson, “Concord Hymn,” 1837
Amina Wadud is an Afro-American scholar of Islam, Quran exegesis and a pillar for Islamic feminists. She was born to a Christian family, converted to Islam and addressed mixed-gender congregations, delivering a sermon in South Africa in 1994, and leading Friday prayers in the United States in 2005. At a London Conference on Women’s Leadership in Islam and Christianity she spoke about equality and equity.
The Arab media are steering political discourse to a direction totally contradictory to the spirit of the Arab uprisings. Arabs came together, regardless of their religious and ethnic affiliation, to overthrow the dictatorships and establish democratic states where individuals are valued and respected as citizens. They wanted to put an end to the culture of subjecthood. But reality is staggering and disappointing sometimes. What we are witnessing these days is a rhetorical shift from the peaceful revolution, which is a patchwork, made of all Arab social and religious fabric, to the revival of old-fashioned confessional, religious and ethnic discords.
While Bahrain’s government concentrated last weekend exclusively on organizing the Formula 1 GP, those who for over a year have been the victims of a repression shrouded in silence, took advantage of this event to attract the world’s attention to their cause. The winds of the Arab Spring had reached Manama on February 4th 2011, when protesters decided to take to the streets demanding political reform and the departure of the Al-Khalifas, the Sunni royal family that rules the country where there is a Shiite majority. The harshest repression began on March 14th when the government allowed troops into the country sent by the Cooperation Council for the Arab States in the Gulf. One thousand soldiers sent by Saudi King Abdallah arrived in Bahrain with a specific mandate; stop the protests and save King Hamad.
Maryam Al-Khawaja is Acting President of the Bahrain Center for Human Rights (BCHR) and head of the Gulf Center for Human Rights’ international office (GCHR). Based in Copenhagen, she comes from one of the most prominent dissident Bahraini families .She loves reading, travelling and speaking frankly. Speaking at a Festival on international journalism organized by the weekly magazine Internazionale in Ferrara, Italy, she openly criticized Western support for the Bahraini regime. “The last time I cried was when I read the report about my father torture” said Maryam. “But my family is just one of a long list.”
Once upon a time, not that long ago, it was a crime to go to the beach wearing skimpy clothes. Nowadays, at least in France, it is crime to appear on a beach if excessively overdressed. Bikinis and topless swimsuits were forbidden in the name of rules governing public morals and behaviour that forbade women from showing off too much of their bodies. According to Prime Minister Manuel Valls, burkinis are not compatible with new French public morals established by the republic’s values and women’s emancipation. An excessively covered-up woman is not sufficiently secular and independent.
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.
Mauritania is the only country in the world where slavery exists in the real sense of the word with the exception the loathsome sponsor regime in the Gulf. Slavery simply means “ownership of a human being by another human being”; this ownership entitles the owner to treat “the owned” as a commodity that can be sold, purchased and inherited with no qualms, and without the “owned” having any say on their destiny. This shameful practice turns human beings into saleable and pursuable objects, and it so far has managed to sustain itself in Mauritania for various factors. Political corruption, lack of political will, the tribal composition of society, social norms and the vastness of the Mauritanian territory might be cited among many other factors that might explain the continuity of such a practice. Therefore, fighting a socially accepted practice, like slavery, requires a multiform struggle at the human rights, educational and politico-religious levels to deconstruct the politico-religious and social infrastructures that perdure its existence.