Italian activist and artist, Gianluca Costantini

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      Italian activist and artist, Gianluca Costantini, has created a series of drawings calling for an end to Israel’s on-going siege of Gaza, the third in five years. We published a similarly moving collection of his work on Gaza last week. To read more about the siege and what you can do to oppose the bloodshed in Gaza, click here. soure: Muftah   ...

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Racists and anti-racists by Etienne Balibar

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Racists and anti-racists by Etienne Balibar Where, when and how was the concept of racism formed? It seems to have its origins in a book that appeared in 1933-1934, in which Magnus Hirschfeld described the ‘racial theory’ underlying Hitler’s conception of race war. So the word was born in Germany, by way of contact with its first ‘object’: the racism of the Nazi state elaborated in the name of the Aryan myth, principally directed against Jews, but also against other ‘untermensch’ peoples and populations. As early as 1938 the term appeared in English in...

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Dignity and solidarity

The struggle of the Palestinian people is now a byword for emancipation and enlightenment, except, perhaps, in the Arab world, writes Edward Said (2003)

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In early May I was in Seattle lecturing for a few days. While there I had dinner one night with Rachel Corrie’s parents and sister, who were still reeling from the shock of their daughter’s murder on 16 March in Gaza by an Israeli bulldozer. Mr Corrie told me that he had himself driven bulldozers, although the one that killed his daughter deliberately because she was trying valiantly to protect a Palestinian home in Rafah from demolition was a 60 ton behemoth especially designed by Caterpillar for house demolitions, a far bigger machine than anything he had ever seen or driven. Two...

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‘A racism without races’: An interview with Étienne Balibar By Clement Petitjean

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Professor emeritus at the Université Paris X, the philosopher Étienne Balibar has made the question of racism and its new forms of expression an important theme of his political philosophy, notably in his critique of capitalism and of liberal society. He is the author, among others, of Citoyen Sujet et autres essais d’anthropologie philosophique (2010) and La proposition de l’égaliberté (2011), published by Presses Universitaires de France. Passing through Montreal last November, he was keen to answer our questions. Relations: Given the predominance of the question of human rights in o...

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The Holocaust, Palestine and the Arab World: Gilbert Achcar interviewed (January 2011)

By: Arwa Aburawa
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In his latest book The Arabs and the Holocaust, Gilbert Achcar, a professor of Development Studies at the University of London’s School of Oriental and African Studies, explores the Arab world’s complex and sometimes contradictory relationship with the Holocaust. Focusing on the Israeli occupation of Palestine, Achcar tackles the Zionist caricature of all Arabs as anti-Semitic Holocaust-deniers complicit in Nazi crimes by meticulously deconstructing the evidence put forward. Achcar also doesn’t shy away from condemning the persistence of unacceptable attitudes towards the Holocaust acros...

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Broken Eggs, But No Omelet

All austerity has wrought in Europe is a messy kitchen

By: SLAVOJ ŽIŽEK
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After the electoral triumph of the anti-immigrant Eurosceptic parties in France and the United Kingdom in May, many liberals expressed their shock and worry. However, there was something of a feigned naiveté in their indignation and wonder at the Right victories. What one should wonder about is why it took the anti-immigrant Right so long to make a decisive breakthrough. When Jean-Marie Le Pen—founder of the French far-right National Front party that triumphed in France’s recent European Parliament elections—made a tasteless gas-chamber joke about a French pop singer of Jewish descent, ...

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TEHRAN BAZAAR

By: Joobin Bekhrad
2014-Untitled, 2009 (Rostam II Series), by Siamak Filizadeh. Courtesy of Aaran Gallery Tehran

In discourses revolving around Iran’s tumultuous history, particularly that of the last thousand years, a comparison has often been made between Iranian culture and the mythical phoenix. Following the decay and decline of the Sassanian Empire—heir to the legacy of the Achaemenids and Parthians, whose influence not only reached the far-flung corners of the then-known world politically, but culturally as well—Iran was plunged into a dark era that would radically alter the course of its culture, history, and identity for centuries to come. The arrival of the Umayyads and Abbasids saw not on...

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The tragedy of the Europeans

A civilisation that used to lead the world is in ruins – and only the locals can rebuild it

By: Zihni Özdil
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 Inspired by the totally not simplistic, not over-generalizing and not bizarrely orientalist The Economist article on ‘the tragedy of the Arabs’, I have written an article about the tragedy of the Europeans. After all, as the distinguished The Economist teaches us, peddling essentialist stereotypes is the way to go. About NINETY years ago, the great cities of Berlin, London and Paris took turns to race ahead of the non-European world. Christianity and innovation were twins. The various European empires were dynamic superpowers—beacons of learning, tolerance and trade. Yet today the Euro...

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Thought is the courage of hopelessness: an interview with philosopher Giorgio Agamben

By: Jordan Skinner
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Giorgio Agamben’s philosophy ranges across disciplines, traditions, and topics in order to develop critical philosophical and political questions. Moving from religion, law, and language to capitalism, work, sovereignty, and the economic crash his thought sheds new light on the contemporary condition. This, his most recent interview, is no exception. He sat down with Juliette Cerf in Rome to discuss and clarify many of his positions. Thought is the courage of hopelessness: an interview with philosopher Giorgio Agamben by Juliette Cerf As the church bells ring out in Trastevere, where we ...

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How Nouri al-Maliki´s Policies are Dooming Iraq

By: Nabeel Khoury
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After three years of bashing Sunni opponents and lending assistance to Iran and Bashar Al-Assad’s regime in Syria, , i Prime Minister Nouri Al-Maliki’s chickens have now come home to roost. Fighters from the Islamic State in Iraq and the Levant (ISIL) have now overrun the largest Sunni cities in Iraq, Falluja, Ramadi, Mosul, and Tikrit. If statements on their websites are to be believed, ISIL is planning to go all the way to Baghdad—a bridge too far perhaps. But they certainly control the largest swath of the Sunni populated areas of Iraq. ISIL has been able to marshal local Sunni suppor...

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Could the Quds Force be behind the ISIS in Iraq?

By: Reza Parchizadeh
Vehicles drive past a flag of the al-Qaeda linked Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant, at the entrance to Raqqa

As the militias of the Islamic State of Iraq and Syria (ISIS) are inundating northwestern Iraq, ravaging the country and massacring the civilians, speculations pop up as to who might be behind this mess in Iraq. On the face of it, as the ISIS is basically a loosely formed Sunni coalition, the most appropriate candidate that comes to mind is Saudi Arabia, the self-proclaimed patron of all the Sunni movements in the Middle East that also has geopolitical designs on the region. However, what if what is going on in Iraq now has actually been formulated and engineered in order to look like that? In...

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A cartoon history of the Middle East starting in 1853

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The purpose of this project was to display by way of a collection of drawings how the Anglo-American press cartooned and lampooned the chain of events within the region between 1853 to today. The Cartoonist do not draw for today. Looked back upon, we find that their art provides a time capsule of history, offering a graphic perspective of events over a given time. The idea to mount this project came about almost by accident. Being passionately interested in politics in general, I had long developed the habit whenever I opened a newspaper, of looking immediately for the page with the cartoon. F...

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The Sociologist Has Left the Building by Kevan Harris

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“Here in Iran, Professor Wallerstein, you are a dangerous man.” So an adviser of President Hassan Rouhani counseled the 83-year old sociologist, and he was correct. It was March, and Immanuel Wallerstein had just arrived for a three-city lecture tour. It was as if the Islamic Republic had granted a visa to Elvis Presley. From left to right and secular to Islamist, people from all points on the Islamic Republic’s intellectual spectrum read Wallerstein. His name is printed in high-school textbooks next to a summary of his contrarian approach to social change: a “world-systems” perspect...

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Postcolonial Thought’s Blind Alley, by Vivek Chibber.

After a long hiatus, we seem to be witnessing the re-emergence of a global resistance to capitalism, at least in its neoliberal guise, argues Vivek Chibber.

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After a long hiatus, we seem to be witnessing the re-emergence of a global resistance to capitalism, at least in its neoliberal guise. It has been more than four decades since anti-capitalist movements exploded with such force on a global scale. There were brief tremors every now and then that temporarily derailed the neoliberal project. But not like those we have witnessed in Europe, the Middle East and the Americas over the past two years. But the re-emergence of such movements has revealed that the retreat of the past three decades has exacted a toll. The political resources available to wo...

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Dispatches on the Future City, by Hamid Dabashi

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In 2013 I had the opportunity to engage in a series of public conversations about the future of the city around the world, many of which stemmed from the publication of a book that I wrote about Arab revolutions called The Arab Spring: The End of Postcolonialism. In that book, I paid particularly close attention to the notion of public space, and the way in which Tahrir Square had emerged as an allegorically potent term through which we as citizens of a future that cannot be too distanced from our present might begin to reimagine our citizenship. I noted that soon after the Egyptian revolution...

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“The battle is among Muslims themselves – a battle for the very soul of Islam” by MONA SIDDIQUI

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The British Muslim academic Mona Siddiqui writes about the “Arabisation” of Islam and changing attitudes to Muslims in the west. If you were to assess much of the current coverage of Anglicanism, Roman Catholicism and Islam, you could be forgiven for thinking that the three are defined respectively through the issues of gay clergy, child sex abuse and violence. The talk of homosexuality and child sex abuse, however, can be understood as expressing institutional and social concern; they are divisive and damaging to the churches and their congregations and leave victims, but by no means are ...

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When artists go to war: inside the PLO’s information department, by Nicholas Blincoe

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The Palestinian Revolution was fought with posters and films as well as rocks and bullets. As a new exhibition opens, Nicholas Blincoe looks at the work of the PLO’s information department “I was 24 years old. We were in danger. The Israeli planes were flying raids overhead. And I was designing posters.” Hosni Radwan won’t easily forget the conditions in the Beirut offices of the PLO Information Department, as an exhibition of the work it produced opens in London. The World Is With Us: Global Film and Poster Art from the Palestinian Revolution, 1968-1980, covers a tumul...

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How Is This Dutch Company Using a Harem to Sell Chocolate Milk?

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The Dutch chocolate-milk manufacturer Chocomel has produced a new commercial that has gotten nearly 800k views on YouTube in the three weeks since it was posted. How has a commercial for a sweet dairy drink drawn that kind of attention? By employing old Orientalist and racist tactics, and Arab face. You know the kind: sleazy Arab sheikh tries to get what he wants by luring an innocent white man into his “palace,” where eager, exotic women line the walls.     Although, I must admit they’ve put some fresh spins on an old move. Here’s how: 1. They’ve made it look like a rap v...

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Pakistan’s Sectarian Turn, by: Ahmed Humayun

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As the Arab world descends into sectarian turmoil, with rival Sunni and Shi’i militias fighting on multiple fronts, a new battlefield is opening up in Pakistan. Although much of the Western attention has focused on clashes between the Pakistani military and Sunni militant groups in the remote tribal regions, these armed actors are expanding their terrorism against civilians across urban Pakistan. A key component of this campaign is a systematic attempt to harden identity-based divisions and provoke wider conflict between Sunnis and Shi’a. Not only does Islamabad have no effective response ...

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Dissonances of the Arab Left, by: Hisham Bustani

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To talk of the secular democratic leftist project in the Arab world is to talk of crisis – a crisis that is manifest in two ways. First, there is the fundamental question of whether such a project even exists in a coherent and comprehensive form, rather than as a mere collection of statements and propositions that contradict one another, and the foundations they allegedly rest upon. The evidence for such incoherence is clear in the way that political parties and the individuals who claim to adhere to the project present it with expediency, selectivity and dema­goguery. In contradiction with...

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How the Life of Jesus Became Embellished Into a New Religion Based on Fables

By Mark Karlin, Truthout | Interview

Reza Aslan

Scholar Reza Aslan outlines how Jesus’ crucifixion and his Judaism reflect on who he was and how the Gospels were not meant to be read as a biography. The author of Zealot also says many people misinterpret the phrase “Son of God” as a description instead of a title. Reza Aslan is a religious scholar, a professor of creative writing and a journalist. In another age, he would have been called a renaissance man. In fact Aslan’s range of knowledge and his self-confidence have been used by some of his detractors to challenge his account of the historical Jesus in Zealot: The Li...

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Genealogies of Religion, Twenty Years On: An Interview with Talal Asad

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Craig Martin: Last fall, realizing that 2013 marked the twentieth anniversary of Talal Asad’s Genealogies of Religion: Discipline and Reasons of Power in Christianity and Islam, I interviewed Talal Asad—Distinguished Professor of Anthropology at The City University of New York—on the book and its reception and influence on the field. Genealogies of Religion influenced me early in my graduate studies—particularly the first chapter on “The Construction of Religion as an Anthropological Category,” in which Asad argues that the concept of “religion” is, in many contemporary contex...

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Rage Against the Dying of a Light: Stuart Hall (1932-2014)

By Lawrence Grossberg, Truthout

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It is difficult for me to write a farewell to Stuart Hall, my teacher, mentor, interlocutor and friend. He has been the most significant intellectual and political figure in my life for 45 years, and yet, in celebrating and mourning him, I do not wish to sanctify him. My grief is both deeply personal and intensely political. I had not thought to make it public, but I have been moved to write because of the appalling absence of any notice of his death in the U.S. mainstream press as well as the alternative media. What this says about the left in the U.S., I will leave to another time. The facts...

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Is Putin Going to Postpone the Inevitable? by Reza Parchizadeh

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In the mid-1980s, the last leader of the Soviet Union, Mikhail Gorbachev, introduced two key terms that became the staples of his domestic policy and later turned into the defining concepts of the Soviet history during that particular era. Those terms were Glasnost and Perestroika, meaning “openness” and “restructuring” respectively; and what Gorbachev meant by them, to put it most simply, was to implement openness in the Soviet social sphere and carry out a restructuring of the communist political system. This by no means was meant to be a revolutionary act; supposedly just a move in ...

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Robocop (2014) and Operation Freedom Tehran, by kara Abdolmaleki

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There is a wee contradiction—most probably an error in theory—in the 2014 reanimation of Robocop that reverses the whole hero-villain dynamic of the film. At the onset, we are shown an American army of robots “securing” the streets in “Operation Freedom Tehran”. Then a group of Iranian suicide bombers attack the robots and make sure the cameras capture them in the act. This, in turn, wreaks havoc on Omnicorp’s plan to put the same brand of robots on American streets. But wait! Let us rewind for a moment and go over Hollywood indefatigable motif of hero-villain in this film: The V...

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From the State of Control to a Praxis of Destituent Power

By Giorgio Agamben On February 4, 2014

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Faced with absolute state control and the rapid eradication of political society, only a theory and praxis of destituent power can reclaim democracy. A reflection on the destiny of democracy today here in Athens is in some way disturbing, because it obliges us to think the end of democracy in the very place where it was born. As a matter of fact, the hypothesis I would like to suggest is that the prevailing governmental paradigm in Europe today is not only non-democratic, but that it cannot either be considered as political. I will try therefore to show that European society today is no longer...

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Leading cultural theorist Stuart Hall dies aged 82

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The influential sociologist, founding editor of the New Left Review and godfather of cultural studies leaves behind a powerful intellectual legacy.       In this video, from BBC Newsnight, he explains what he believed in his own words. http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/uk-26130724   Jeremy Gilbert reflects on the life and work of Stuart Hall, who died today aged 82: opendemocracy.net Institute History 2013 Sundance Film Festival Description: A person’s culture is something that is often described as fixed or defined and rooted in a particular region, nation, or state. Stuart Hal...

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Muslims in Liberal Democracies

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Harvard professor and Islam expert Jocelyne Cesari looks into the mechanisms of the West’s fear of Islam, and ponders on how the dominant narrative that tends to present Islam as an alien religion can be countered The integration of Muslim immigrants has been on the political agenda of European democracies for several decades. However, only in the last ten years has it specifically evolved into a question of civic integration closely related to religious identity. In the 1960s and 1970s, the socio-economic integration of immigrants with a Muslim background was the primary focus of academ...

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Boualem Sansal’s essay on Islamisation

Fighting Islamists with conspiracy theories

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Bitter disappointment at the outcome of the Arab Spring oozes from every page of “Allahs Narren. Wie der Islamismus die Welt erobert” (Allah’s Fools. How Islamism is Conquering the World) by the Algerian writer and winner of the Peace Prize of the German Book Trade Boualem Sansal. Joseph Croitoru read the polemic work Some of Boualem Sansal’s fears – for example the “beginning of a new caliphate” – as understandable as these may have been in the wake of the initial electoral successes of Islamist parties in Arab North Africa, have lost their currency fol...

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The Documentary Film ”In the Bazaar of Sexes”

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The phenomenon of temporary marriage in the Islamic Republic of Iran is explored in the documentary In the Bazaar of Sexes. The film’s female director, Sudabeh Morterzai, gives viewers a rare insight into a very complex society. Marian Brehmer watched the film It is said that Muhammad once advised his followers to enter into temporary marriages while travelling. According to tradition, the Prophet approved of such short-term alliances under certain circumstances, such as during wartime or while on pilgrimage. In Arabic, this practice of temporary marriage is called mut’a (pleasure)...

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