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Democracy

Iraqi Authorities Turn Their Sights on Journalists

[Logo of Reporters Without Borders. Image from rsf.org]

[The following briefing was published by Reporters Without Borders on 26 March 2014] Reporters Without Borders is extremely concerned about the growing hostility that the Iraqi authorities are displaying towards critical journalists. One of latest violations of freedom of information is a warrant for the arrest of Awn Al-Khashlok, the head of Baghdadia TV, and Anwar Al-Hamdani, the host of the station’s “Ninth Studio” programme, on charges of disturbing public order and inciting chaos and inter-communal violence. Both live in Egypt and have not been arrested. Prime Minister Nouri Al-Maliki filed a complaint against Khashlok, Hamdani and the TV station after one of the ...

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Digital Platforms, Analog Elections: How Civic Groups Are Trying to Bring Back Democracy in Turkey

[Members of Journos at work on election night. Image by Oğulcan Ekiz.]

When Gezi protesters occupied the park last summer and took their frustration with the government to the streets, Prime Minister Erdoğan told them to “be patient and face off at the ballot box.” It was exactly Erdoğan’s reductive framing of democracy, which limits political legitimacy to elections and takes an uncompromising, polarizing stance against opposition, that Gezi protesters stood against. Nonetheless, unlike similar political movements in the United States and Western Europe that have abandoned electoral politics, Gezi protesters took Erdoğan’s call seriously and owned up to their votes on 30 March. Their movement could not grow into a political party that ...

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On Prison & Egyptian Regime’s "War on a Whole Generation": Democracy Now! Interview with Alaa Abd El-Fattah

[Activist Alaa Abd Al-Fattah. Image is a screenshot from his interview with Democracy Now.]

In a Democracy Now! global broadcast exclusive, we spend the hour with one of Egypt’s most prominent dissidents, Alaa Abd El-Fattah, speaking in his first extended interview after nearly four months behind bars. An open Internet and political activist, Fattah has been at the forefront of the struggle for change in Egypt for many years and has the distinction of having been actively persecuted by Egypt’s past four successive rulers. Facing a potential return to prison in the coming months, Fattah sits down with Democracy Now! correspondent Sharif Abdel Kouddous to discuss his case, Egypt’s future and its ongoing crackdown on activists. "They are on a sentencing ...

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Event Report-Back: Countering the Counter-Revolution in Egypt

[Logo of the American University in Cairo Middle East Studies Center. Image from aucegypt.edu]

On 5 March 2014, the Middle East Studies Center at the American University in Cairo hosted political scientist Timothy Kaldas for a lecture titled “Countering the Counter-Revolution.” Kaldas is a professor at Egypt’s Nile University whose work can be found on Mada Masr and other media outlets. Following the ouster of President Mohamed Morsi in July, and the subsequent return of the Egyptian military to the political spotlight, activists in Egypt have struggled with how to proceed on the revolutionary path. For Kaldas, the first step in that process is admitting mistake. In his talk, Kaldas identified a number of key mistakes that Egypt’s political opposition has made ...

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All Politics Is Local: Mustafa Sarigul and the CHP (Part Two)

[Gülay Atığ (left) and Mustafa Sarıgül (right). Images via reubensilverman.wordpress.com]

All Politics Is Local: Mustafa Sarıgül and the CHP (Part Two) [Part one of this article can be found here.] By 1987, Turkish politics was returning to its old patterns. Though the new constitution remained in effect and General Evren still presided over the state as president, the five-year ban from politics for leaders like Ecevit and Baykal was at an end and they had begun to plot their returns. Sarıgül too was busy positioning himself for the upcoming elections by recruiting large numbers of new members into the SHP, so that they might nominate him in the party primaries. Like the CHP before it, the SHP was a hodge-podge of competing center-left factions, presided ...

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What Role for Law in the Palestinian Struggle for Liberation?

[Protestor puts flag on top of separation wall in Bethlehem on Land Day, 2012. Image by Palestine Solidarity Project via Flickr.]

Is international law part of the solution in the Palestinian quest for self-determination and human rights – or part of the problem as a number of voices now argue? Al-Shabaka Policy Advisor Noura Erakat provides insights into the positions of those who argue the law is the problem and then discusses the ways in which law can be made to work for the Palestinian people. She shows why the “triumph of human rights does not necessarily lead to justice” and argues for a political program that uses the law rather than letting a legal strategy define politics. Getting the Question Right In recent months the role of international law and human rights has come under increasing ...

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Human Rights Roadmap for a New Libya

[Logo of Human Rights Watch. Image from hrw.org]

[The following report was published by Human Rights Watch on 3 February 2014] Human Rights Roadmap for a New Libya Introduction After four decades of authoritarian rule, Libya faces the challenge of reforming outdated and repressive legislation and writing new laws that guarantee the full panoply of citizens’ rights. The enduring legacy of Muammar Gaddafi’s rule includes laws that have curtailed the freedoms of generations of Libyans. Since the 2011 revolution in Libya, with some exceptions such as repealing a Gaddafi-era law criminalizing the establishment of political parties, the transitional authorities have added to the problem by issuing some new laws that limit ...

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Tunisia’s Consensus, or When a Kiss Is Just a Kiss

[Habib Ellouze and Mongi Rahoui embrace one another following the passing of Tunisia's new constitution. Screenshot from Tunisian state media.]

With the constitution out of the way and a technocratic government appointed to oversee the country up until the election, Tunisia’s cultural wars have taken a backseat, but that does not mean they are not over. Prime Minister Mehdi Jomaa replaced the Ennahda-led coalition government after it stepped down on 29 January following months of negotiations between representatives of the governing parties and leading opposition parties and facilitated by a quartet of civilian organizations. The various parties involved in the “National Dialogue" agreed that Jomaa’s government has a mandate to focus its attention on the economy and battling insecurity in the months ...

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الأنبار بين مفهومين: الحرب والسلام

[العراق -الأنبار مصدر الصورة جيتي امجيز]

هزيلة صورة الدولة الآن، لإنها مازالت تستخدم الجيش كـ"مفتاح" لحل سياسي من جهة، ووجود السلاح خارج إطار الدولة من جهة آخرى. قطعت هذه الصورة الطريق أمام السلم الأهلي، ووفرت فرصاً كبيرة للإنقسام الأجتماعي. الجيش على مسرح السياسة: في تفاصيل هذه الصور، سرعان ما تنقلب المعادلات في العراق، تعلن الحكومة عن عزمها القضاء على الإرهاب ومنابعه، لتغدو النتائج معكوسة وتُزيد من منابعه وتوسعه. كانت نتائج عمليات "ثأر القائد محمد" و"وادي حوران"، وغيرها هي انتقال الإرهابيين من الصحراء إلى المدن، وتشكيل مجاميع إرهابية جديدة، توسع في نشاطات الإرهابيين ونفوذهم. وتؤكد المعطيات، أن تحول المعركة مع القوى الإرهابية من صحراء الأنبار إلى مدنها، يعني تحول الأزمة ...

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العمل المشترك بين القوى اليسارية والعلمانية والديمقراطية

[لوحة للفنانة الأردنية هيلدا الحياري]

يتم الفصل في المجتمعات الحديثة ما بين الذاكرة وعلم التاريخ، الذي أصبح هو الذي يحدد ويفسر أحداث الماضي. وينتقد الفيلسوف نيتشه، المؤرخين الذين ينتهجون ذاكرة انتقائية في ٳختيارهم، فقط لما يعتبرونه مفيداً للمجتمع وللإنسان. فقد شهد القرن العشرين اهتماماً ملحوظاً بمسألة الذاكرة. فبحسب أبحاث سيجموند فرويد، فإن (الذاكرة الواعية) لا تمثل أبداً ماضي الإنسان، حيث يمكننا الوصول ٳلى الحقائق فقط عن طريق ٳعادة ترتيب بعض التجارب المكبوتة. ومن ناحية أخرى أدت الأحداث العالمية في القرن العشرين وبالتحديد بعد الحرب العالمية الثانية والمحرقة واﻹبادات الجماعية ٳلى اﻹهتمام المتزايد من قبل العلوم الإنسانية والعلوم المقارنة، والمتعددة التخصصات بمسألة الذاكرة الجماعية، وتداعياتها على علم التاريخ ...

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An Inside Look at the Fight for Freedom of Speech in College Newspapers

The words you are about to read were fully censored by The Daily Targum, Rutgers University's daily newspaper, even though they were all fact-checked by Targum staff and are true to my personal experiences working there. Because all of these things happened privately, it was said that writing about them would break the rule against publishing content that "makes The Daily Targum Publishing Company look bad." Well, that's kind of the point. This was supposed to be my traditional goodbye column before my term as the opinions editor came to an end last week, but it was censored by my own workplace, from the very section of which I was the editor. The new Targum ...

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Judiciary Draft Laws in Morocco: Undercutting the Young Judges Movement

[Image of a protest in Anfa, Morocco, May 2011. Image by Magharebia, via Wikimedia Commons.]

Judicial reform in Morocco has been a major item of discussion for decades on the agenda of the country’s reformist forces and legal rights activists. Many international reports have also expressed concern over how fragile the guarantees for the judiciary’s independence are in the context of Morocco’s existing legislative system. However, demands for reform fell on deaf ears. This is because the consecration of an independent judiciary continued to be postponed under the pretext of settling other political, social, and economic issues that emerged in the wake of independence. These issues include the consolidation of state authority and stability, as well as the ...

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Notes on Turkey's Local Elections

After weeks of tension and uncertainty, there was an almost carnival atmosphere at polling stations in Istanbul on 30 March—at least during the daytime. The sun shone from a crisp, blue sky, and there was a sense among government supporters and detractors alike that Turkey’s long spiral into political crisis since the outbreak of anti-government protests last summer could somehow be arrested or reversed by the one thing the country has long prided itself on doing well: elections. News channels carried ...

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في نقد الثورة2/2

عالجنا، في المقال السابق، مشكلة انحسار النقد الثوري، وشرعية النقد، والمحددات التي ينبغي تأبطها عند دخول الحيز النقدي، وعطفْنا على ذلك بكشف وفحص نقدين شائعين ومناوئين لمنطق الثورة الذي نعتقده. ونروم، في هذا المقال، نقد تصورين ظهرا لنا أثناء محاولاتنا تحليل الحِراك الثوري الممتد، منذ لحظة الميلاد في آخر يناير وحتى الوقت الراهن. وذلك تحقيقاً للقصود التي ذكرنا: الوعي وتقويم المسار وتقدير التضحية والبذل. على أنه قبل الخوض في سرد انتقاداتنا، بما تحمله من تبريرات ودفوع، يتوجب علينا، وإن في عجالة، استجلاء ...

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Media On the Margins: An Interview with Alex Christie-Miller about Turkey's Attack on the Media Beyond Twitter

On this edition of "Media on the Margins," Malihe speaks with Istanbul-based freelance journalist Alexander Christie-Miller shortly after Turkish Prime Minister Erdogan's ban on Twitter went into effect and before the country's elections. On 20 March, during a campaign rally ten days before the local elections, Erdogan said, “We now have a court order. We’ll eradicate Twitter. I don’t care what the international community says. Everyone will witness the power of the Turkish Republic!” ...

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All Politics Is Local: Mustafa Sarigul and the CHP (Part Three)

All Politics Is Local: Mustafa Sarıgül and the CHP (Part Three) [Part one of this article can be found here; part two can be found here.] Even before the campaign had started, there had been whispers that Sarıgül would make a better CHP General President than Deniz Baykal. At the time, he had dismissed such suggestions, saying, “I am bound to the problems of Şişli for another five years. We already have a President.”[1] Now, however, his tone was changing: asked how he had won, he explained, “We ...

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All Politics Is Local: Mustafa Sarigul and the CHP (Part One)

All Politics Is Local: Mustafa Sarıgül and the CHP (Part One) [People ask,] “Why are you always beating up on Sarıgül?” Let’s start the matter from here. I ask you: in this country has there ever been a party like the Republican People’s Party, which—without having done a bit of work—turns to the left for its votes? There’s never been such a freeloading party…I don’t know how many hundred suits [Sarıgül] has—he’s changing them twice a day. He doesn’t even know how many stylists he has. Can ...

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Official Statement Regarding Barnard Administration's Removal of SJP Banner

[The following statement was issued by Students for Justice in Palestine of Columbia University on 11 March 2014] On March 10th, Columbia Students for Justice in Palestine hung a banner on Barnard Hall. The banner was placed after members of C­SJP went through the required bureaucratic channels and processes in order to give voice and presence to our week­long events as part of Israeli Apartheid Week (IAW), a global period of action and awareness­raising that has been occurring throughout ...

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في نقد الثورة 1/2

ضمن مُشكلات ثورة 25 يناير 2011 ضمور، ولا أبالغ في حال قُلت نُدرة، القراءات النقديّة الثورية للثورة. والنقديّة الثورية، هنا، تُفيد نقد وتقويم الثورة من قِبل من لديهم الحِس الثوري، والمعرفة بمنطق الثورة، والرغبة في تمكينها وتفعيلها في شتى المساحات. الأمر الذي ساهم في تكثير وشيوع الانتقادات غير الثورية (اليمينية الفجة) والانتقادات الثوروية (اليمينية المتشحة بلباس الثورة). الانتقادات التي كان أبرزها عدم وجود رأس للثورة، وعدم قدرة الثوار على الانضواء في تنظيم موحد، وعجزهم عن التعبير في لافتاتهم وشعاراتها عن ...

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Committee to Protect Journalists: Second Worst Year on Record for Jailed Journalists

 [The following briefing was written by Elana Beiser and published by the Committee to Protect Journalists on 18 December 2013] Turkey, Iran, and China accounted for more than half of all journalists imprisoned around the world in 2013, the Committee to Protect Journalists has found. In its annual census, CPJ identified 211 journalists jailed for their work, the second worst year on record after 2012, when 232 journalists were behind bars.  Intolerant governments in Ankara, Tehran, and ...

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Event: Grounding Political Change in Egypt: The Public Interest, Local Roots of Democracy, and the Right to the City (Cairo, 3 March)

Grounding Political Change in Egypt:  The Public Interest, Local Roots of Democracy, and the Right to the City While national electoral politics and the struggles between state institutions and protesters have been dominating headlines from Egypt, Egyptian citizens have been organizing to address chronic problems in their communities. Despite overwhelming obstacles, these local initiatives are challenging longstanding urban governance and planning norms in Egypt and are attempting to claim their ...

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Lebanon’s New Government (15 February 2014)

After nearly eleven months (329 days to be exact), Lebanon has a new government. Some thoughts are forthcoming about why the process took so long, what happened to facilitate it, and what this suggests about a shifting regional picture on the situation in Syria, but in the meantime, here are some quick observations: There are twenty-three men in the cabinet and one woman. [Update: Alice Shabtini is a judge who previously headed the Military Appeals Tribunal, and was reportedly President ...

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البحث عن غابة في عمّان

  "والغابة الأَجمة ذاتُ الشجر الـمُتَكاثف، لأَنها تُغَيِّبُ ما فيها" - لسان العرب       ملصق على شبّاك يطل على عمّان صباح كل يوم، وفي نفس الموعد، يخرج ستينيّ ملتحٍ من منزله بملابس النوم يحمل كيس قمامة وحقيبة سوداء باتّجاه حاويات القمامة على زاوية منزل مهجور بحديقة كبيرة. وبالوتيرة والترتيب نفسهما يرمي الكيس على بعد متر ونصف من الحاوية الممتلئة، وينبّش في الأخيرة هاشّاً القطط التي تنتظر كيس قمامة آخر، ثم ينتقل ليبحث في الأكياس المتناثرة على الرصيف، وأمام مداخل ...

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Crise politique et question territoriale en Tunisie

La question territoriale a été un des fondements du soulèvement en Tunisie à la fin de l’année 2010: développement des zones défavorisées de l’intérieur du pays et accès à l’emploi et aux services étaient parmi les principaux slogans de la révolte. Les inégalités régionales et le mode de gouvernance territoriale ont continué pendant quelques mois à marquer le débat politique, figurant notamment parmi les points forts des programmes des partis politiques en course vers la constituante. Après le 23 octobre ...

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