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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The Dutch media monopoly kills journalism in the Netherlands: internet doesn’t help

Politics has marginalized the people with the crucial support of the media. By: Tabe Bergman

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 We all grew up with the standard formula: journalism plays a crucial role in making western democracies work by providing citizens with the information that enables them to make informed judgments about urgent issues of general interest. Therefore, the fundamental question for those who study the western new media is: Do they in fact do what they are supposed, and claim, to do? In the Netherlands, the common answer according to most (Dutch) journalists and researchers is: yes. Usually this claim is followed by a few caveats that amount to non-systemic criticism or an admission that exception...

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In Between Cultures

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 BOMBAY—The demography of the new internationalism is the history of postcolonial migration, the narratives of cultural and political diaspora, the major social displacements of peasants and aboriginal communities, the poetics of exile, the grim prose of political and economic refugees. It is in this sense that the boundary becomes the place from which something begins its presenting. The very concepts of homogenous national cultures, the consensual or contiguous transmission of historical traditions, or “organic” ethnic communities—as the grounds of cultural comparativism—are in a ...

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They say that before you drown a calm fills you. A subtle euphoria loosens your last grip on life.

Today, two futures lie ahead of us: one known and one unknown.

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 Today, 27 people sit in jail. Alaa Abd El Fattah, Mohamed Al-Rifae, Mohamed Hosny, Taimour, Mamdouh Gamal, Abdalla Zekky, Dr. Yehia and his son Mahmoud, Peter Galal, Abdelhamid, Kougy, Ahmed al-Attar, Mostafa Yousri, Wael Metwally, Ahmed Nabil, Hossam Shawky, Moka, Nubi, Salaheddine, Yassin, Hany, Bobo, Samy, Kalousha, Ahmed Abdelrahman, Ahmed Maher and Ahmed Douma. If it wasn’t for friends pushing the cop in the balaclava off my back I would have been in there with them. Why? To send a message; the message the state has been sending since February 12, 2011. It’s over. Go home. Shut up. ...

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The big deal about the Iran nuclear deal

A rundown of the winners and losers of the historic agreement between Iran and the US.

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Soon after the historic deal between Iran and the so-called P5+1, the White House published the fact sheet of the interim agreement, putting its own obvious spin for domestic benefits. Meanwhile the IRNA (Islamic Republic News Agency) published its own full version, which did not differ much with the White House’s, though it did give a fuller picture of the deal. The battle of spin has started in earnest. Above and beyond any such spin, however, are some very basic and simple features to this deal: According to a detailed analysis by The New York Times, the gist of the deal is this: R...

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Turkey’s Foreign Policy, Return to Pragmatism

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In the past month Ankara opened a membership chapter with the European Union after a 30-month hiatus, while intense diplomatic traffic is underway to end tensions with its Iranian and Iraqi neighbours. All of which is fuelling rising speculation that a major reset in Turkish foreign policy is underway. Dorian Jones looks at what lies behind the latest events The past few years have been a roller coaster ride for Turkish international relations, from a policy of “zero problems with neighbours” to “precious isolation”. Ankara currently has strained relations with all its ...

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Create dangerously: Albert Camus and his quest for meaning

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ON a steady diet of Nietzsche and Dostoevsky, Humphrey Bogart might have played him in the film version. Albert Camus, however, was never comfortable with his own role. An Algerian-born Frenchman, perpetual exile and outsider, a novelist, playwright and philosopher, Camus remained freelance in his intellectual commitments, choosing to follow Pascal’s notion that “a man does not show his greatness by being at one extremity, but rather by touching both at once”. Such an endeavour, Camus believed, teaches the artist (the one label he used often in titles) a lesson “not of ...

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Can Rouhani Deliver?

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Iran’s New President Iran’s new and moderate President Hassan Rouhani tries to ease tension with the US and resolve the nuclear dispute. But what are his chances of succeeding? Said Amir Arjomand takes a look After world powers’ meeting in Geneva for nuclear talks with Iran, the world now awaits the follow-up to the phone call between Iranian President Hassan Rouhani and US President Barack Obama after Rouhani’s visit to the United Nations General Assembly in September. That brief conversation – the first between the two countries’ presidents since 1979 – reca...

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Is Iran for turning? BY ALI MOHTADI

Iran’s new president, Hassan Rohani, says he is prepared to mediate in the Syrian conflict. So is the strategic relationship between Damascus and Tehran under threat, and could Iran be preparing to withdraw its support from Bashar al-Assad?

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Ayatollah Ruhollah Khomeini, in exile in Najaf from 1964, decided to leave Iraq in 1978 to escape pressure from Saddam Hussein’s Ba’athist regime. He was advised to go to Syria, also Ba’athist but hostile to Saddam; instead he chose France. Nonetheless, Syria, governed by the Assads since 1970, became a strategic ally of the Islamic Republic, to its financial, military and economic advantage. A number of factors contributed to the alliance. In 1978, when Anwar Sadat and Menachem Begin signed the Camp David Accords ahead of the peace treaty between Egypt and Israel, President Hafez al-Ass...

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Multiculturalism in German Cinema

We Are Here and That Is How It Should Be!

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In their films, German directors of Turkish descent no longer emphasise the feeling of being alienated and foreign, as was the case in the 1970s, 80s and 90s. There is now a trend towards a lighter and more optimistic approach when dealing with serious subjects. Margret Köhler reports The multicultural society is reality. Even if way back on 30th October 1962, when the labour recruitment agreement was signed between Germany and Turkey, it was assumed that most of the foreign workers would return to their home countries after two or three years; back then there was no talk at all of integratio...

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The Istanbul Biennial, A Missed Opportunity for Art

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As the art biennial opens, the smell of violence once again lies in the air in Istanbul. Can a major exhibition respond to the language of the street and fulfil its promise of a free and modern society? By Catrin Lorch The afternoon was filled with tweets. A 22-year-old named Ahmet Atakan had been killed during protests in south-eastern Turkey. People immediately gathered again on Taksim Square, for the first time since the police brutally put an end to the protests in mid-June. At dusk, tear gas wafted through the streets of Istanbul. An art curator cancelled his own opening to be there on th...

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The name that enables: remembering Edward Said

Ten years after his passing, the scholar still looms large in the lives of his friends and colleagues, Dabashi writes.

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The common leitmotif of writing on the milestone anniversary of a friend’s passing is a strong element of nostalgia – how wonderful things were when he was alive and how sad that he is no more. This element of nostalgia becomes even stronger when the fallen friend is a towering intellectual figure whose voice and vision were definitive to an age that now seems almost irreversibly altered. When the site of that dramatic alteration is the home and habitat of that colleague, with Palestine as its epicentre and the larger Arab and Muslim world all gathering momentum around it, the act of r...

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Mehmet Ozkan: A new period in Islamic politics

Islamic politics arrives at a critical turning point following the developments occurring in the key countries of the region, writes Mehmet Ozkan.

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Following the July 3 military coup d’état in Egypt, the Syrian dictator Bashar al Assad, jumping to the opportunity, made a statement claiming that developments in Egypt were a reflection of the exploitation of religion in politics. Although this is not a meaningful statement in itself, it was a sign of re-appropriation of the classical Western approach in the region. “Islamic politics has not come to an end, but has faced the necessity of generating a new style” After the coup in Egypt, the West has avoided describing the conflict in the axis of Islamism; however, recent developments i...

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The threat to Egypt’s mighty state, by Khaled Fahmy

Even in exceptional times, legitimate violence as embodied by the state — its army and police — is based on popular consent, which means oversight and asking questions. Without this, the state itself is at risk.

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It is often said that Egypt saw the first centralised state in world history. That may be very well true. However, the modern Egyptian state cannot be said to be more than 200 years old. It has nothing to do with the Pharaohs or the Ptolemy. Two pivotal events contributed to the foundation of this modern state, and can be used t o chronicle its birth. The first was the massacre in 1811 of the Mamluks, the aristocracy that had controlled the country for centuries. In their place, Egypt’s new ruler, Mohamed Ali, managed to establish himself and his own family as the only centre of power in the...

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Promethea Unbound: A Brief Note on The Patience Stone by Atiq Rahimi

" The Patience Stone raises as its central theme female’s self-realization and emancipation." A review by Rasoul Aliakbari

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The Patience Stone (2012) by the Afghan-born, French-based director, Atiq Rahimi, is his second attempt at screening his own novels after his Earth and Ashes in 2004. Based on his novel under the same title (2008), The Patience Stone raises as its central theme female’s self-realization and emancipation. The movie commences with radio announcements repeating “republic” and “democratic,” but the artillery sounds that ensue render the broadcast ironic and betray the reality of the frontline, war-stricken community of Afghanistan, where the movie is set. Golshifteh Farahani, the Iranian...

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Syria: The crucible

Although the carnage has slipped under the radar, Syria's destiny will define the future of the Arab revolutions.

Hamid Dabashi

“Because Syria is no longer Syria. It is a nuthouse,” this is Francesca Borri writing for Columbia Journalism Review – the rest of what she writes explains why: There is the Italian guy who was unemployed and joined al-Qaeda, and whose mom is hunting for him around Aleppo to give him a good beating; there is the Japanese tourist who is on the frontlines, because he says he needs two weeks of “thrills”; the Swedish law-school graduate who came to collect evidence of war crimes; the American musicians with bin Laden-style beards who insist this helps them blend in, ...

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Iran’s Olive Branch, By: Akbar Ganji

What Rouhani's Presidential Victory Means for Iran-U.S. Relations

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The Islamic Republic of Iran is one of the most undemocratic countries in the world, but not all the undemocratic states are alike. Iran has a vibrant and growing democratic culture. Since the 1979 revolution, its total number of university students has increased from 176,000 to 4.4 million, with women making up the majority of them. Its movies have received awards in important international festivals, including the Academy Awards. Numerous books by English-writing liberal (Isaiah Berlin, Karl Popper, John Rawls, Richard Rorty, and others), conservative (Bernard Lewis, Samuel Huntington, and L...

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An “Electoral Uprising” in Iran, By: Kevan Harris

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“Last night I sat in traffic with my wife and daughters for three hours,” a Tehran office manager recounted, “and the car did not move one meter.” The day before, Iranians had chosen Hassan Rouhani as the Islamic Republic’s seventh president. “All the cars honked their horns, and people danced and celebrated next to us in the streets.” The last time the manager had beheld such a scene was in June of 2009. “Four years ago I was also in my car with my wife and daughters, and traffic did not move, and cars were honking. But that time security men on motorbikes rode through the str...

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