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.
Freedom and Democracy
Political repression in Egypt ravaged the Jama'at al Ikhwan al Muslimiin, the Muslim Brotherhood, formerly the strongest and most organized opposition group in the country. In today’s Egypt, the youth no longer recognize the old administration. They no longer believe in the non-violent tactics preached by the Brotherhood’s exiled former leadership, like Mahmud ‘Ezzat and Ibrahim Munir.
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.”
Perhaps not everyone knows that in Italy, in spite of an impelling need to regulate the traditions and customs of Islam, which counts has about 1.4 million followers in Italy, there is no agreement  stipulated between the state and “Islam”. This premise is fundamental for understanding the chaos surrounding the practice of this religion in Italy. The absence of a formal agreement with Islam leaves an enormous void for Muslim believers who find obstacles when it comes to practicing their faith on a daily basis.
Kusai only talks about returning home to Syria. Navigating the Islamist checkpoints and shoot-to-kill Turkish border guards to reach the destroyed city of Aleppo is preferable to waiting for the border to open. The slight and pensive 16-year-old boy had hoped to join his brother in Germany, but had spent two months stranded in a refugee camp at Eleonas, Athens, praying for the Macedonian gateway to central Europe to reopen.
He was one the first people to sign a petition protesting the Turkish government’s military operations against Kurdish areas in his country at the beginning of this year. Not even the attempted coup d’état of July 15th, which was neutralized by the government, has softened his criticism of President Racep Tayyp Erdogan. Cengiz Aktar, a professor of international relations at Istanbul’s Bahcesehir University, has a hard time describing his country as a democracy.
Two years after the publication of An Uncertain Glory: India and Its Contradictions, Indian economist and philosopher Amartya Sen of Harvard University returns to focus on the relationship between identity and violence. The Country of First Boys appeared a few months ago in bookstores as a collection of Sen’s essays made available with the contribution of Antara Dev Sen and Pratik Kanjilal. In it, the Bangladeshi-born economist updates his earlier reflections on ‘identity politics’ and its relationship with extremism and violence, both at the inter-ethnic as well as at the international level.
Over the past week newspapers in Turkey have reported alternating events one in apparent contradiction with the other. On December 14th the chapter involving negotiations concerning economic and monetary policies linked to Turkey’s EU membership was reopened. The integration process was resumed with unexpected speediness as part of the agreement on the management of Syrian refugees that will fill Ankara’s coffers with $3 billion to be used to build camps to keep Syrians far from the EU. With perfect timing, a court in Istanbul rejected the request presented by lawyers representing Can Dundar and Erdem Gul, respectively editor and editor-in-chief of the historical daily newspaper Cumhuriyet, for their release from prison.
Erdogan’s proclaimed state of emergency under Article 120 of the Turkish Constitution following the failed military putsch on the night between July 15th and 16th has further heightened concerns about Turkey’s internal and external direction of travel. There is an obvious mismatch between the cross-party rejection of the coup and the reality of an ongoing one-sided dismantling of significant sectors of the military, the judiciary, academia, and the media. What began as a legitimate response from the government aimed to restore law and order is increasingly turning into an awkward wide-ranging purge of long-time political opponents some believe may have already been in the making.
In the torrid heat of the summer of 2016 there has been unrest in President Abdel Aziz Bouteflika’s Algeria. Three new laws, either passed or drafted, reflect the country’s identity debate amidst independence-linked demands and political rivalry. Algeria is passionately debating identity, with emphasis ranging from the affirmation of exclusive nationality, to the recognition of multilinguism, from religious issues to electoral reform.
There is no country in the “Old Continent” left immune by the terrorist attacks carried out or at least inspired by the Islamic State, although the largest number of victims of this unusual violence is reported in Middle Eastern countries (especially in Syria, Iraq, Saudi Arabia, Tunisia, Egypt, Lebanon and Turkey) as the control of those territories conquered in the name of Jihad's ideology in Syria and Iraq is becoming harder.
Only twice has Bangladesh made headline news in recent years: three years ago, when a complex of clothes factories collapsed in the suburbs of Dhaka killing over 1,200 people, and again last Friday when a group of armed men attacked a place patronised by Westerners killing 20 people, eighteen of them Westeners. The attack on the Holey Artisan Bakery, a café-restaurant in Dhaka’s most exclusive district, was not totally unexpected. There had been many signs indicating that Bangladesh, one of the poorest and most unstable countries in south Asia with 150 million inhabitants, of which the majority are Muslims, had sunk into a political crisis in which Islamist extremism is a destabilising force.