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
Egyptian Islamists do not have a sense of humour. While one of the Muslim Brotherhood government’s first provisions was to delete the anti-regime graffiti painted on the walls of central Cairo during the 2011 uprisings, in recent months censorship has been imposed on the independent press, films and lastly on the two best known Egyptian comedians. Adel Imam played a leading role in the history of the country’s cinema while Bassem Youssef implemented a new way of presenting political satire that was instantly a success.
Cairo - He has put away his camouflage uniform with its insignia and is now wearing civilian clothes. Framed photographs of officers have been put away and replaced by those showing heads of state he met even before taking on the mantle of his country’s ruler. Egypt’s latest strong man , former general Abdel Fattah el Sisi, has become the successor, by plebiscite, of the man he overthrew in July of last year. The electoral plebiscite, taking 97% of the votes of 47% of eligible voters, is not reflected in the graffiti on the walls around the city of Cairo, which you can only see if you keep an eye out 24 hours a day before the authorities correct messages that threaten to disturb the upcoming patriotic festival. If you are slow, things are more boring and grey than usual.
The main issue is the military’s role in Egypt’s future political arrangement, which will not be resolved by the elections. Egypt remains, at least until a new constitution is approved, a presidential and not a parliamentary republic and the new legislative bodies will not be able to choose a government, the third one so far, which is about to be appointed by the Supreme Council of the Armed Forces (SCAF). The new constitution remains burdened with a “constitutional declaration” with which the current military leadership would like to not only guarantee the state’s secular status, but also its own supremacy under the nation’s new constitutional laws.
Some data for Egypt's general election
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.
In an unprecedented statement, over forty senior academics and career diplomats including more than a dozen former presidents of the most important professional association for scholars of the Arab and larger Muslim world, the Middle East Studies Association (MESA), have signed a letter to US President Obama and Secretary State John Kerry calling for the Administration to demand the immediate release of blogger Alaa Abd El Fattah and other political detainees in Egypt, for Egyptian officials to suspend the protest law of 2013 and end the repression of free speech rights guaranteed by the Egyptian Constitution and international law, and end the regime of violence, including torture and extra judicial execution, that still governs Egypt after the electoral victory of Field Marshal Abdel Fattah al-Sisi as President. Reset-Dialogues on Civilizations endorses this campaign and encourages readers to subscribe to it as well by posting a comment to this article in the designated section below. It is our hope that this cause will receive the attention it deserves through media across the world. The original letter was published by Jadaliyya.
“We are building a country, but we haven’t laid its foundation. We still don’t have a constitution and at the moment we don’t know who will be in charge of writing it. How can we go to vote for a president without knowing what powers he will have?” asks Nawal El Saadawi, an Egyptian writer, activist, physician, psychiatrist and, above all, a pillar of feminist struggle. She has written many books translated into different languages on the subject of women in Islam, paying particular attention to the practice of female genital mutilation in her society. Resetdoc has interviewed her in Cairo.
Many Egyptian artists consider the June 30th revolution “theirs” and they are not wrong. The civil and political commitment of hundreds of poets, painters, photographers, musicians, singers and dancers from all over Egypt resulted in numerous ‘occupations’, the starting point for a joyful and determined peoples’ protest. According to Morsi’s supporters, one of the former president’s greatest merits was his campaign against corruption, blasphemy, the West’s influence and all that is haraam; hence impure and forbidden by God. In line with this objective, the Minister for Culture, Alaa Abdel-Aziz, appointed on May 7th, had started to replace those responsible for the Egyptian cultural scenario, making new appointments based on strictly political-religious assessments. The project soon alarmed the lively Egyptian cultural world, worried about seeing its independence being subjected to a new obscurantism of Islamist origin.
Nine months after the fall of Hosni Mubarak, and as the Egyptian people continued to express their dissatisfaction with Egypt’s military rulers, celebrated blogger and activist, Hossam el-Hamalawy, spoke about the roots of his country’s spring revolution. During a fresh October evening in Rome, Hossam began by dispelling the notion that Egypt’s was a “social media revolution”. Facebook, twitter and al-Jazeera undoubtedly played a part, but the extent in which many in the west hailed these new technologies was to overshadow the decisive role played by ordinary men and women, activists and factory workers, whose courage and commitment were rarely captured on film.
Are we seeing a revival of hostilities between Muslims and Christians in Egypt? It is true that tensions between the two religions have deteriorated recently, but this does not appear to be the reason for what took place. In fact, it was not an interdenominational clash but rather a deliberate provocation at a peaceful protest held by Coptic Christians who were then brutally assassinated by army units.
Relations between Coptic Christians and Muslims in Egypt deteriorated during the 1970s due to the converging of two opposing tendencies, with on the one hand the development of radical or extremist Islamism, which from a Muslim perspective exasperated the differentiation and contrast between believers and non-believers. On the other hand, it is however inappropriate to pose the problem of recent sectarian clashes between opposing religious factions, from the December 31st 2010 attack in Alexandria to the more recent clashes between Coptic Christians and the police, in terms of the Muslim majority’s lack of respect for the Coptic minority’s religious freedom.
Almost nine months after the fall of Mohamed Hosni Mubarak’s regime, the Egyptian political situation is still hostage to the Supreme Council of the Armed Forces (SCAF), and therefore to the military leaders who have been the real holders and guarantors of political power in Egypt since the 1952 coup d’état by the Free Officers Movement. Under pressure from protesters, the SCAF decided to depose President Mubarak, appoint a new government, and is preparing to call parliamentary and presidential elections on the basis of rules it is drafting, announcing that it will soon promulgate the criteria for drafting a new constitution.
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.
The international attention given this month to the scourge of violence against women was highlighted in neon by the spike in physical and sexual attacks against women in streets and public squares in Egypt. Young women, along with outraged young men, are taking matters into their own hands trying to provide security and fighting back in the absence of efforts by the Islamist-headed state, which seems more involved safeguarding itself than its citizens. We see the Muslim Brothers fiercely protecting their headquarters under attack, including roughing up women, they who pretend to value women. Instead of joining efforts to stop violence against women, demonstrating genuine concern for women, the Muslim Brothers seized the occasion of the UN Commission on the Status of Women meeting to blast these global efforts and flex their patriarchal muscle.
«I thought here we are in a mosque in the United States, and in the nation's capital no less, and the mosque authorities, as self-identified, call in municipal security forces to eject a bunch of women just because they wanted to pray in the main congregational space. Absurd. Is this where our tax dollars should go? To defend gender segregation? I had thought the days of segregation were long gone in this country. I asked myself: Who owns God's house anyway?».
Muslim communities all over Europe sighed with relief when they heard that the Norwegian massacre had not been carried out by one of their own. If that had been the case, the price to pay would have been a terrible one. Many non-Muslims also breathed their own sigh at not having to confirm their prejudice against Muslims. This reaction is disquieting in its triviality and automatism. The press in Muslim-majority countries is pointing out these inconsistancies, asking “Why is this not called Christian terrorism?” "Why are we not creating a plot theory?"