Religion

A Decade after the Arab Spring, Tunisia Fails to Keep up with the Process of Democratisation

Ten years ago a young street vendor, Mohamed Bouazizi set himself afire in the central Tunisian provincial town of Sidi Bouzid to protest against police harassment. Bouazizi’s sacrificial act served as a catalyst and inspired the Tunisian people to take over the streets that led to the Jasmine Revolution in the country. On January 4, 2011 Mohamed Bouazizi died, and ten days later the country's authoritarian President Zine El Abidine Ben Ali’s rule ended when he fled to Saudi Arabia.

Islamic Feminists Speak on Fight to Reclaim Rights

The court victory to allow women into the inner sanctum of a Sufi shrine in Mumbai was a significant victory for a secular rights-based movement led by Muslim women. However, there is a fear the political climate in India regarding Muslims, could put the women’s rights agenda on the back foot.

Discriminatory Laws Still Holding Women Back in the Middle East

Decades of aggressive efforts to create equal opportunities for women, shatter the glass ceiling and build a more inclusive society only ends up in failure, when the key stake holders refuse to acknowledge discriminatory laws, socio-cultural and religious set ups that continue to threaten progress made by the female work force.

US Groups Linked to COVID Conspiracies Pour Millions of ‘Dark Money’ into Latin America

Half a dozen US Christian right groups have poured millions of dollars into Latin America and have promoted misinformation about COVID-19 and other health and rights issues, openDemocracy can reveal today.

$280m ‘Dark Money’ Spent by US Christian Right Groups Globally

US Christian right groups, many with close links to the Trump administration, have spent at least $280m in ‘dark money’ fuelling campaigns against the rights of women and LGBTIQ people across five continents, openDemocracy can reveal today.

Not in Our Name, Never in Our Name: A Conversation with Muslim Faith Leaders Echoing the Wisdom of a Pontiff

As the Grand Imam of Al-Azhar, Ahmed Al-Tayeb said on October 20: “As a Muslim and being the Grand Imam of Al-Azhar, I declare before Almighty God that I disassociate myself, the rulings of the religion of Islam, and the teachings of the Prophet of Mercy, the Prophet Muhammad (pbuh), from such heinous terrorist act and from whoever would embrace such deviant, false thought.

Rising above the Hate Online – Indian Muslim Women Speak Out

When a minority woman with an opinion doesn’t comply with stereotypes, she is targeted with online hate, says award-winning journalist and senior editor at The Wire, Arfa Khanum Sherwani in an exclusive interview with Inter Press Service.

The Lebanese Disaster

The 26th of September, the Lebanese prime minister Mustapha Adib stepped down after less than a month on his post. The president, Michael Auon, stated: ”Lebanon will be going to Hell if a new government is not formed soon.” The question is if his nation is not there already. A horrifying image of the state of the nation was provided on the 4th of August when 2,750 tons of ammonium nitrate, stored in a dockside hangar, blew up in an explosion killing more than 190 people, injuring 6,500 and damaging thousands of buildings.

Peace in the Middle East

After the fall of the Ottoman Empire at the end of WWI, The League of Nations mandated that Britain administer Palestine. The London administration was quite ineffective, in part, due to the contradictory promises which were made to the Arabs, to the Zionists and to France, the other colonial power which divided the territory with Britain.

Religion & the Pandemic: A Call Beyond the Here & Now

-- I have never been interested in religion or spirituality before, but I found myself tuning in to all sorts of on-line religion and spirituality related forums “in search of something.”

Re-Conversion of Hagia Sophia into a Mosque a Very Trumpian Move

President Erdogan’s “reconversion” of the Hagia Sophia, into a mosque is a very Trumpian move, making a populist gesture to his base evoking shared misconceptions of history, reckless of its actual diplomatic and economic cost.

The Bible, Donald Trump and Plastic

Another episode of the spectacular show that could be called The Greatest Story Ever Told: The Saga of the Trump Presidency, scripted and acted by Trump himself, took place on 1st of June.

Religion & its Discontents: Considerations Around COVID-19 & Africa

COVID-19 has spread to many nations around the world, and has been declared a pandemic by the World Health Organization. In the global south, the COVID-19 pandemic has stretched the available medical and health resources, triggered economic shocks, and caused social upheavals and insecurity in many countries and localities.

India’s Trinity of Challenges

The exigencies of combatting the coronavirus pandemic on a war-footing -- Prime Minister Narendra Modi has announced a nationwide stay-at-home lockdown for 21 days to break the chain of transmission -- has certainly deflected attention from equally pressing challenges confronting India. The nation’s capital witnessed horrific communal violence when the US President was visiting India, triggering international outrage, including from the South. The economy also deserves attention as growth has been decelerating since 2016-17. With the virus shock, the pace of expansion will contract as the economy shuts down and slides into recession.

“In the Beginning was the Word”: Why Covid-19 Renders Words even more Powerful

I was able to take office as the secretary general to the largest global interfaith organization – Religions for Peace - with interreligious councils (IRCs) composed of senior-most religious leaders representing their religious institutions, in 90 countries, and 6 regional IRCs, a week before we had to ask all employees to work from home, in compliance with New York State law.

The Arc of Justice: The World’s Religions Launch Strategic Priorities for Peace

As a growing public health crisis becomes increasingly urgent, prominent global actors and institutions, including the United Nations, are confronted by the realisation that all hands on deck are required to address the cross-cutting challenges faced by our world today.

The privilege of being a brown South Asian traveller

One of the interesting perks of being a brown South Asian, travelling anywhere in the world, is the special attention you get from various official quarters. Getting a visa anywhere in the northern hemisphere, for instance, is like winning a lottery and could even count as a status symbol. Prior to such a windfall, if it at all occurs, it will mean filling out pages of a form that can ultimately be published as a booklet of your family’s ancestry and a mini biography of yourself. The unique complexities of being someone from the subcontinent makes the whole process a delightful conundrum—if, for example, your father was born during British rule and lived through the Partition, the independence of India and Pakistan, and then that of Bangladesh, how do you answer “Where is your father from?” Should it be British India, India, Pakistan, or Bangladesh, or all of the above?

Reflections for a New Year

In a world shaken by so many problems, it is difficult to look at 2020 and not make some kind of holistic analysis. While enormous progress has been made on many fronts, it is clear that the tide has turned, and we are now entering – or have already entered – a new low point in the history of humankind..

Fearless Young Women and Insensitive Men

On October 11, the Norwegian Nobel Prize Committee announced that this year´s Peace Prize is awarded to Ethiopia´s prime minister Abiy Ahmed: “For his efforts to achieve peace and international cooperation, and in particular for his decisive initiative to resolve the border conflict with neighbouring Eritrea.”1 Let us hope that Abiy remains a worthy Peace Prize winner and that warfare and human suffering on the Horn of Africa will finally come to an end.

Governments & Internet Companies Fail to meet Challenges of Online Hate

The prevalence of online hate poses challenges to everyone, first and foremost the marginalised individuals who are its principal targets. Unfortunately, States and companies are failing to prevent ‘hate speech’ from becoming the next ‘fake news’, an ambiguous and politicised term subject to governmental abuse and company discretion.

How Media Technocrats Manipulate Public Opinion

In a 1974 article, Woody Allen poked fun at biblical stories presenting ludicrous paraphrases of The Book of Job, Abraham´s intended sacrifice of his son Isaac, as well as The Book of Proverbs. One of Allen´s invented proverbs was: “The wicked at heart probably know something”, thus implementing that the “pure of heart”, i.e. credulous people, know nothing. 1

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