In the Lebanon the anti-Syrian coalition that won the June elections seems to be disintegrating due to the recent defection of the Druse leader Walid Jumblat, until recently Syria’s bitter enemy. Whoever will be part of the next government, Damascus has everything to gain from the disintegration of the anti-Syrian front. Even any further delay in forming a government plays in Syria’s favour, and therefore, a politically divided and institutionally weak Lebanon is the best thing Damascus could hope for.
Dialogue of Cultures
The autonomous Uyghur region of Xinjiang, as it was renamed in 1955, is in fact rich in gas, oil and mineral fields. Although exploitation poses problems due to the climate and the morphological conditions, natural resources could be used by the region’s neighbouring countries such as Uzbekistan, Kazakhstan, Turkmenistan and Afghanistan. For China, the Uyghurs inclination for closer ties with central Asia, due to cultural and ideological reasons, represents the possible loss of a strategic area for future commercial development.
An overview of EU at 27, plus Turkey and Croatia, points out that the teaching of religion is majority, although the religion in question is not always the catholic one and, sometimes, the religion taught is not just one: in fact, this is the case of only six countries (Croatia, Italy, Ireland, Malta, Portugal , Slovakia) for the catholic religion, two countries for the orthodox one (Cyprus and Greece) and one country for the Islamic one (Turkey). In twelve countries, the religious teaching concerns more religions and the multicultural ferments characterizing Europe make us thinking more deeply on this theme.
China is today the market growing fastest in the world in terms of imports from EU. At the invitation of Mr. José Manuel Barroso, President of the European Commission, Premier Wen Jiabao of the State Council of the People’s Republic of China paid an official visit to the Headquarters of the European Commission on 30th January 2009. The two leaders promoted mutual trust and bilateral cooperation and reaffermed their commitment to further develop the EU-China comprehensive and strategic partnership. Economic development does not mean democratic or social development, as well as economic dialogue is not intercultural dialogue. Nevertheless, Chinese opening, although mainly due to economic interest, is however an “opening” that, inevitably, goes beyond the mere economic sphere.
The younger generations know little and only learn about those events when travelling abroad. Can the Tiananmen Square massacre remain a taboo twenty years after taking place? The government says it can and for the simple reason that admitting a mistake and stating one was wrong means looking weak in the eyes of the Chinese people and would threaten the party leaders’ hold on power.
Twenty years have gone by, but the Tiananmen Square Massacre is still a taboo. Andrew J. Nathan - professor of Political Science at Columbia University, one of the leading scholars of modern Chinese politics and human rights, co-editor of the book The Tiananmen Papers, a collection of the Chinese government's secret deliberations from April to June 1989 – explains what happened and the impact the event has had on Chinese politics and international relations.
In Afghanistan recently approved laws abolish all the most fundamental rights given to women in recent years. Emma Bonino has yet again launched an appeal from the website of Resetdoc (a website devoted to dialogue between civilisations) asking the Afghan Parliament and President to abolish this legislation and asking everyone with human rights close to their hearts, to sign the petition with her. At this point I believe it is absolutely necessary that the appeal should also be signed by those Islamic intellectuals who in recent years expressed positions advocating the modernisation of Islam. As Muslims speaking to other Muslims one must state that Afghanistan’s return to Taliban positions in Family Law does not respect the Koran. On the contrary it violates it and is instead a reaction to the exasperation of a backward culture with which no one should any longer identify.
Abu Zaid’s condemnation of the Afghan law is extremely clear. It is of the utmost importance that texts such as these should be made known and valorised. The first problem however, consists in making heard the words of people like Abu Zayd in the countries in which the Taleban’s power is increasing, and hence also in Afghanistan. It is here that I uneasily observe the increasing responsibilities of an Islamic intellectual who more than any other manages to ensure people listen to him, and whose voice therefore has the greatest echo, Tariq Ramadan. If one cannot find the courage to speak out about what one considers right on the basis of the Koran on such subjects, then it would be best to give up being a maitre à penser.
Resetdoc actively joined in the international debate about the Afghan “Family Law for Shiites”. On our website we published the appeal and on-line petition to the Afghan government made by Emma Bonino, and this initiative did not escape the attention of Giuliano Amato, who asked why do moderate Muslims such as Nasr Hamid Abu Zayd and Tariq Ramadan remain silent. Abu Zayd has clarified his positions. Ramadan has not yet responded, but he will do it at the next Resetdoc Istanbul Seminars.
How do the next presidential elections in Iran appear to be shaping-up? Who are the candidates, what are the expectations? And what are the main themes for political change in the Islamic Republic, which has been at the centre of attraction in recent years due to issues involving nuclear power and human rights. We discuss all this with Farian Sabahi, a journalist and a professor of the History of Islamic Countries at Turin University, as well as of Islam and Democracy for the Human Rights and Genocide Studies Masters Course in Siena. Her books include ‘A History of Iran’ (Bruno Mondadori 2009) and ‘A Summer in Teheran’ (Laterza 2007).
“The Obama administration’s opening to Teheran is already producing results.” Gary G. Sick, senior research scholar at Columbia University’s School of International and Public Affairs in New York, sounds quite optimistic on the future of Iran-U.S. relations. Sick – who served on the staff of the National Security Council under Presidents Ford, Carter, and Reagan, and was the principal White House aide for Persian Gulf during the Iranian Revolution and the hostage crisis – notes that “The White House, without really making any tangible offer to Iran, has inspired a very healthy discussion in the Iranian presidential campaign about what kind of relations the country should have with the U.S. and the West.”
“This general election is an event that deserves to be celebrated not only in India but all over the world.” The famous Indian historian Ramachandra Guha celebrates the largest democracy in the world, which will be voting for a new Parliament until May 13th. Guha, the author of “India after Gandhi” and a columnist for various newspapers, observes, however, that Indian politics are still influenced by two evils: misgovernment and the imbalance between regional and national interests. In this interview, among other things, he explains the weaknesses of the two great national political parties, the Congress Party and the BJP.