Reset-DoC carries on the debate about Europe and its future with a new essay by Hauke Brunkhorst, Director of the Institute of Sociology and of the Department of European Studies at the University of Flensburg, Germany. The following paper has two parts: in the first part the author outlines an evolutionary model for analyzing the relation of democracy, cosmopolitanism and conflict. In the second part he applies this model it to the case of European constitutionalization, and its failure.
Freedom and Democracy
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.
Ever since Partition and Independence, Indian political life has privileged the concepts of diversity, pluralism, tolerance and inter-religious harmony. The way to realise these values, according to the ideology dominant thus far, was to have a state that expressed equal ‘love’ for all communities, that is, a state taking it upon itself to safeguard the peculiarities, rights and interests of groups defined along the axes of religion or caste, or as a majority and multiple minorities. As Pratap Bhanu Mehta has explained recently, in the vision of its founders and the architecture of the Constitution, India was conceived of as a ‘federation of communities’ with a paternalistic, secular state presiding over and managing a mosaic of identities. But, the outcome of India’s 2014 general elections, which puts the Hindu nationalist Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) in power under the leadership of Narendra Modi – sworn in as the new prime minister on Monday 26 May – calls for a widespread debate on the meaning, purpose and definition of secularism in this country.
As India enters its 2014 general election to constitute the 16th Lok Sabha, the spectacle of prominent commentators adjusting their views towards the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) and its prime ministerial candidate, Narendra Modi unfolds before our eyes with escalating frequency and vivid clarity. These adjustments — to use a term that is more descriptive than judgmental, at least for starters — take a variety of forms, and come from a range of observers, analysts and experts.
Fardin, 25, has left Kermanshah, the largest city in Iranian Kurdistan, to travel to Kirkuk in Iraq. There he will work for the state-owned electricity company where his cousin is employed. “This is an excellent opportunity since in Iran everything is at a standstill, while in Massoud Barzani’s Iraqi Kurdistan there is a great deal going on,” explains Fardin. Thanks to his father’s role in the Iran-Iraq war (1981-1988), the young man was only obligated to serve in the army for one year instead of two. “This exemption is applied to the children of war veterans, but I would not have wished to stay on as a regular soldier. The pay is appalling and a soldier earns 3,000 toman a month (7.5 euros) while a professional soldier at the start of his career earns a little over 300,000 toman (75 euros),” he added.
The rise to power of the Fethullah Gülen confraternity has transformed Turkey since the 90s. This spiritual movement has given rise to a vast media and financial empire, doubled by an imposing network of schools, universities and residences within Turkey, but also on a global scale. Scattered throughout all levels of social and political life, its members weigh heavily on government choices. Yet, the movement’s omnipotence is no longer compatible with the ambitions of its former ally Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan.
The dilemma that the so-called Arab Spring has entered in its third year since its inception in 2011 makes many wonder if it deserves the name in the first place. It is an Arab winter, bloody, gloomy and dark. The political deadlocks in Tunisia and Yemen, the rampant violence in Egypt, the demolition and possible division of Syria, instability in Libya, slow change in Morocco and Jordan, and controlled change in the Gulf are arguments put in the forefront to express disappointments over the Arab massive street protests and the little they have achieved. It should be remembered, however, that social movements always bring a spirit, and that is what marks them in history. That is what turns them into revolutions, after being mere revolts, unorganized protests, that are or appear to be leaderless, and of little internal and external support. The American and French revolutions took decades to stop violence and social distrust, and about two centuries to reach their current status (which other nations and societies are not obliged to mimic, but only to learn from).
Recently Islam watchers have been busy pointing at yet another blow to political Islam but this time a heavy one. Turkey and its ruling Justice and Development Party (AKP) are going through hard times for some time now and the woes are deepening every day. As the "champion" of political Islam among Muslim countries, Turkey was a "model" for some, a source of inspiration for others, thanks to its successful achievements in matching the requirements of modernity with religious belief. But model, Turkey is no more.
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.
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.
Saudi authorities may reconsider the ban imposed on women drivers. Things have changed just one month after the October 26 protest that was expected to fill the streets of Riyadh with cars filled with black abayas, a protest that never happened due to threats received and fears they would be arrested. Two activists, Aziza al-Yusef and Hala al-Dosari, have reported to AFP of a meeting held with Prince Mohammed bin Nayef, Saudi Arabia’s Interior Minister, via conference call in order to respect the rules regulating the separation between men and women.
A large green circle held by a human-shaped tree trunk with arms extending like branches laden with leaves and inside the circle the words “Gezi Partisi” is the symbol of the new Turkish political party. It was inspired by the June protests held in the name of individual and collective freedom, opposing the government’s authoritarianism and its economic policies, which caused Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdoğan to quake.