Next autumn Tunisians will go to the polls to elect the President of the Republic. The Election’s date has not been confirmed, and the main opposition coalition, Chebbi’s National Salvation Front, has announced they will boycott the vote unless three conditions will be met: the electoral commission will be independent, the main Islamist party, Ennahda, will be allowed to re-open its headquarters, and all political prisoners will be freed. When Tunisians last voted for presidential elections, all those conditions were in place, but in the past few years, political and civil liberties have shrunk to the extent that the country is not only “partly” free but its democratic ranking continues to deteriorate, year on year.
  • Renzo Guolo 24 May 2024
    The death of Iranian President Ebrahim Raisi, almost certainly the designated heir of Supreme Leader Ali Khamenei, has exposed the contradictions at the heart of the Islamic Republic of Iran. Said contradictions lie both in the country’s institutional denomination – a true political oxymoron – and in its constitutional architecture, formed in 1979 when the revolution was still developing, and not yet wholly wedded to its Islamist matrix.
  • Seán Golden 24 April 2024
    Jürgen Habermas’ theory of civic discourse imposes binding rules on debate in order to subsequently bind behavior. Perhaps this could be extended to international affairs. Scholar Wang Minmin advocates establishing “a set of negotiable yet binding communicative rules and values, [and] world opinion [that] would both allow civic discourse and act as the binding power of an international norm.” Such an approach would require “that we must first acknowledge the differences in moral orders on both sides, but then also move beyond this to realize the common ground on which both sides stand.”
  • “While India has rapidly climbed the ladder of economic growth rates, it has fallen relatively behind on the scale of social indicators of living standards, even compared to many countries that India has overtaken in terms of economic growth.” So wrote Nobel laureate Amartya Sen and Belgian economist Jean Drèze in An Uncertain Glory. India and Its Contradictions, a key text that in 2013 analyzed and exposed the failures of one of the world’s fastest-growing economies, then at 6 percent. More than a decade later, India’s “uncertain glory” is perhaps even more uncertain, despite Narendra Modi’s aspirations to make it a great power.
  • The Gaza war is a reminder that the Europeans left behind an unstable status quo a century ago. Absent a Sunni consensus, Iran is making an indirect power play. Iran’s weakness is also a strength: as non-Arab, Shiite Muslims, Iran’s leaders can’t trace their ancestry to the prophet Muhammad’s qureysh tribe—as can Jordan’s and Morocco’s monarchs, and as ISIS’s Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi claimed. Though around 85 percent of Muslims are Sunni, the demography of global Islam has long favored much larger non-Arab populations. The dynamic might be resolved with a Vatican City-style solution for Al Aqsa.
  • Ashaz Mohammed 28 March 2024
    The 1992 destruction of the Babri Masjid in Ayodhya, upon which Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s Ram temple was built, is seen by Hindu nationalists as a “historical retaliation” against India’s so-called “dark ages”. Several right-wing news outlets, such as Republic TV, have celebrated the inauguration of the new temple as a “500-year wait coming to an end.” This “dark” period, which lies 500 years in India’s past, is popularly characterized by the rise of the Mughals, an empire of Muslim rulers from what is now Uzbekistan. According to Hindu nationalists, the Babri Masjid is believed to have been built by the first Mughal emperor, Babur, as a result of the destruction of the “original” Ram temple that once stood on the site. Although there is no concrete historical and archaeological evidence of the destruction of this temple, there have been attempts by archaeologists and historians leaning towards the ideology of Hindutva (Hindu nationalism) to suggest otherwise.
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