Latest News

Monday, January 30, 2012 - 14:10
by Fatemeh Fakhraie 10 January 2012 Portland, Oregon - People, Muslim and non-Muslim alike, often tell me that I can’t be both a Muslim and a feminist. At a recent book reading in Oregon, for example, a male audience member asked me, “How does that even work?” These questions demonstrate some of the rigid misconceptions individuals have about Islam and feminism; many people think that they’re mutually exclusive categories. In fact, as a Muslim feminist, I have found them to have more in common than people realise, especially when it comes to social justice. Ethos – the fundamental spirit that guides my faith– is more important to me than edicts, or strict dogma, and so when religious questions arise, I defer to big-picture themes. One of Islam’s major themes is that of equity and justice. The Qur’an details equitable divorce proceedings, fair treatment of orphans and just conduct when it comes to prisoners of war —...Read More
Monday, January 30, 2012 - 14:07
by Marzuki Hasan 10 January 2012 Jakarta - In November 2011, the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO) officially added Indonesia’s Saman Gayo, a sitting dance from the Gayo Lues district of Aceh, to the UNESCO List of Intangible Cultural Heritage in Urgent Need of Safeguarding. While other “intangible” Indonesian cultural traditions — including batik textiles and wayang puppet theatre — have already been recognised as part of the country’s cultural heritage, Saman Gayo is the first to carry the stipulation that parties to the matter consider implementing urgent measures to keep it alive. As an Indonesian and a teacher of Acehnese dance, I am proud that Saman Gayo has been acknowledged by UNESCO. However, I am equally worried that instead of keeping this dance alive, Saman Gayo’s new status will unintentionally lead to its stagnation and decline if it becomes associated only with a specific...Read More
Monday, January 30, 2012 - 13:43
by Rabbi Gideon D. Sylvester 10 January 2012 Jerusalem - Across the world, people were outraged by the news that mosques in Israel had been desecrated and racist graffiti scrawled across their walls. Israeli Jews felt ashamed. We asked ourselves: do the perpetrators have any understanding of Jewish history and theology, – which clearly teach respect for every human being and the necessity of standing up against injustice wherever we see it? Growing up in the shadows of the Holocaust, I, a young British Jew, learned about Kristallnacht, the night in 1938 when dozens of German synagogues were attacked. In youth groups we discussed how the demonisation of people and the destruction of their religious buildings were a first step to genocide. We proudly proclaimed, "never again" – never again should this happen to Jews; never again should it happen to any other people. We understood the Biblical requirement for a sovereign Jewish state to care for...Read More
Wednesday, December 21, 2011 - 12:10
by Saliba Sarsar 20 December 2011 West Long Branch, New Jersey - People across the globe are trying to comprehend the significance of what is happening in the Middle East, particularly in terms of what people on the ground are thinking. This is particularly true of Americans, since the United States has been tied to the Middle East for many decades by a myriad of mutual interests, including natural resources (especially oil), trade and a shared hope for socio-economic reforms and regional stability. The October 2011 Arab Public Opinion Poll, released on 21 November by Shibley Telhami, Anwar Sadat Professor for Peace and Development at the University of Maryland sheds some light on this question. Surveying 3000 people in Egypt, Jordan, Lebanon, Morocco and the United Arab Emirates, the poll assessed attitudes toward the Egyptian elections, US-Middle East relations, the Arab-Israeli conflict and Iran. Results indicate that, although favourable views of the United States...Read More
Wednesday, December 21, 2011 - 12:09
by Nida’ Tuma 20 December 2011 Ramallah, West Bank - A Facebook page with nearly 2000 members has recently attracted the attention of the Palestinian public and media. “Puzzled young women” is becoming an important arena in the debate on women’s rights in the Palestinian territories, a debate which previously lacked one essential element: dialogue with proponents of a more traditional role for women. The page is run by a group of young Palestinian women who lobby and fight against injustice towards women and initiate dialogue with those who have differing views. Members use the page to ask legitimate questions about the situation of women within different communities. Topics range from early marriage, to violence against women, the right of inheritance and so-called ‘honour’ killings. Many members claim that the institutions working in this sector have so far accomplished very little in addressing these important issues. The founders...Read More
Wednesday, December 21, 2011 - 12:07
by Alice Hackman 20 December 2011 Cairo - At least 13 people have died since Friday in renewed clashes between protestors and security forces in Egypt, as protestors call for a faster return to civilian rule. In the face of this violence, ordinary Egyptians have found a way to help those in need – even from outside the country. In late November, a 22 year-old Egyptian graduate student named Ahmed had been watching the violence against peaceful protesters in Cairo’s Tahrir Square for two days with shock, and was growing more frustrated by the minute. He was in Dubai and felt too far away to help. But after talking to a friend, he had an idea. He launched a Twitter account. “From the world to Tahrir. While politics and borders divide, humanity unites us,” he wrote. He had no idea that @tahrirsupplies would acquire so many followers in so little time. He had no idea that, with the help of other volunteers, he would create a model of nonviolent civic...Read More
Wednesday, December 21, 2011 - 12:04
by Dr. Natana J. DeLong-Bas 20 December 2011 Boston, Massachusetts - Over the weekend, protestors gathered at Lowe’s Home Improvement stores, criticising the US retail chain’s recent decision to pull its advertisements from a show on the television station TLC, “All-American Muslim”. Lowe’s decision came following complaints by the Florida Family Association – a conservative evangelical Christian group that aims to “educate people on what they can do to defend, protect and promote traditional, biblical values” – that the show was “propaganda”. The group also said “that [it] riskily hides the Islamic agenda’s clear and present danger to American liberties and traditional values.” “All-American Muslim” is a reality television show, portraying five Muslim Arab American families in Dearborn, Michigan. The purpose of the program is to provide viewers with a window into what life is...Read More
Wednesday, December 21, 2011 - 12:02
by Prince El Hassan bin Talal of Jordan 20 December 2011 Amman, Jordan - Regionally and globally we are coming to the end of a significant year. Manifold “awakenings” have altered the strategic, social and political context of a region I refer to as “West Asia North Africa” (commonly known as the Middle East and North Africa). On a global level, profound stresses in the world economy – which are not solely confined to Western countries – have exposed a hyper-globalised age in which opportunity, equality, fairness and social mobility appear to have been compromised to an unacceptable degree. Deficits in national budgets around the world have created and accentuated a trust deficit, as well as a human dignity deficit in both the West and West Asia North Africa. This reality has resulted in the Occupy movement in London and the United States, and the “Indignant” movement in Spain, both of which were influenced by, and find...Read More
Wednesday, December 14, 2011 - 12:17
December 2011 | On the Issues by Paul Hughes December 8, 2011 This past year offered fresh proof that the world we live in is ever dynamic. Fundamental change can come from something as extraordinary as a fruit vendor’s act of defiance in Tunisia to popular revolts by reform movements fueled by the collective need for change across the Middle East. At the same time, a decade of war and weakened economies in many countries require new thinking about the role the U.S. will play in the world in the coming years.   We asked USIP leaders, from board members to senior staff and experts to explain the effect that events around the world and here at home will have on the U.S. and the contributions the Institute can and does make during a time of tremendous challenge – and opportunity.   Hughes served nearly 30 years on active duty with the Army. He was the director for strategic policy for the Office of Reconstruction and...Read More
Wednesday, December 14, 2011 - 11:07
by Sharon D. Wright Austin 13 December 2011 Gainesville, Florida - As a consequence of their history and their fight for civil rights, blacks whose families have resided in the United States for generations share a strong sense of political racial solidarity, demonstrated by their pattern of block voting for certain candidates. This solidarity has been referred to as a "linked fate" because individuals support policies, such as affirmative action, that they believe will benefit them as a group. However, more recent black immigrants, particularly those who have come to the United States from the Caribbean, do not always share this sense of “linked fate”. Many recent black immigrants from the Caribbean have emigrated from countries in which they were the majority race and there was not the same strategic need to unify along racial lines to address social concerns as there has been in the United States. As a result of this different experience, recent...Read More
Wednesday, December 14, 2011 - 11:03
by David Kode 13 December 2011 Johannesburg - The Arab awakening, with its inspiring uprisings and historic elections (most recently in Tunisia and Egypt) has been seen by citizens in other African countries as a model of how to instigate change. So far, it has triggered public demands for similar reforms from several African countries, such as Senegal, Malawi, Uganda and Swaziland. At the same time, governments throughout Africa are becoming increasingly apprehensive about the influence the North African revolutions may have on their countries. In the immediate aftermath of the Tunisian and Egyptian uprisings, for example, the government of Zimbabwe arrested close to 45 activists and initially charged them with treason for watching videos on the revolutions in Egypt and discussing the implications of these events for Africans. Similar experiences have been highlighted in Malawi, Gabon, Uganda and other African countries. There is a clear lesson: no matter how repressive...Read More
Wednesday, December 14, 2011 - 10:32
by Aviad Haramati and Nancy Harazduk 13 December 2011 Washington, DC - The daily news from the Middle East is usually a cause for pessimism: a seemingly perpetual state of strife extending across the entire region. And yet, each year, something remarkable happens in Larnaca, Cyprus – if only for a few days. It provides a glimpse of what is possible if people are given an opportunity to feel safe to communicate with each other in an authentic, non-judgmental environment. Each year, the Middle East Cancer Consortium (MECC), an initiative begun during the Clinton administration, brings together 40-50 cancer care-givers (physicians, nurses and social workers) from several countries for three days in Larnaca, to share aspects of their oncology practice and to learn about best practices in cancer care. The MECC was formed with the support of the Health Ministries of Israel and the Palestinian Authority and joined by Egypt, Jordan, Cyprus and Turkey. A unique feature of...Read More
Wednesday, December 14, 2011 - 10:30
by Nasser Al-Sarami 13 December 2011 Dubai - As I write this article, a television screen in my office at Al Arabiya broadcasts images of brave Egyptians lining up, in the face of intimidation and uncertainty, to elect a new parliament. It’s a spectacle I wouldn't have imagined only a year ago – but it's also consistent with the unprecedented elections in Tunisia and the now realistic hopes for future democratic strides in Libya and perhaps Syria and Yemen. I'm troubled, however, by the widespread fears that come along with these laudable democratic experiments. Arabs everywhere wonder whether Egypt's military rulers will deny the new parliament its due authority, and whether Tunisia's newly elected leaders from an Islamic political movement, having won their right to govern, will seek to deny others the right to compete with them in a free marketplace of ideas. Political activists region-wide have the right instincts on these issues: they want the...Read More
Wednesday, December 14, 2011 - 10:25
by Lisa Schirch 13 December 2011 Bonn, Germany - Bonn’s Beethoven Hall usually hosts violin, cello and bass players. From 2-3 December the stage supported Afghan engineers, university professors, media professionals and leaders from human rights, women’s rights and Afghan NGOs harmonising their voices at the Afghan Civil Society Forum. These Afghan calls for a just peace contrasted with tragic news from Afghanistan of horrific bombings targeting Shia believers, as well as the US airstrike on Pakistani soldiers and the subsequent withdrawal of Pakistan from the 5 December Bonn Conference on Afghanistan, attended by members of the international community to talk about the country’s future. Hundreds of civil society leaders from across Afghanistan elected 34 Afghans to represent their interests to international diplomats attending the Bonn Civil Society Forum. The Afghan delegates expressed thanks for the international community’s support, noting...Read More
Wednesday, December 14, 2011 - 10:22
by Abubakr Al-Shamahi 13 December 2011 London - In the presidential palace in Sana’a, a new Yemeni cabinet has just been sworn in. For the first time in 33 years, however, President Ali Abdullah Saleh is nowhere to be seen. He has officially signed away his powers, setting up a potentially peaceful transfer of power to his deputy, Vice President Abd-Rabbu Mansour Hadi. Indeed, it was Hadi who was present at the swearing in ceremony, exercising the ceremonial powers of a president. The new Yemeni government is a government of national unity, split evenly between members of Saleh’s ruling General People’s Congress (GPC) and members of the opposition coalition, the Joint Meeting Parties (JMP), as well as independent opposition figures. The new government will face great difficulties in establishing itself, mainly because rival military factions still hold great sway in the country. However, it must be backed, as national unity is the only hope that the...Read More
Thursday, December 8, 2011 - 13:15
  December 2011 | On the Issues by Raymond Gilpin December 7, 2011 Congolese went to the polls on Nov. 28 to elect a president and 500 members of parliament in an atmosphere of uncertainty, mistrust and violent unrest. Opposition candidates accused incumbent President Joseph Kabila of rigging the electoral process and using the security forces to intimidate and brutally suppress dissent. In a country almost the size of Western Europe where infrastructure is woefully deficient, corruption is endemic and insecurity is rife, voting and vote counting have been beset by many problems. Most analysts fear that opposition protests could trigger a spate of violence in the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC). Raymond Gilpin, director of USIP’s Sustainable Economies Center of Innovation examines the elections and their implications.   Why were these elections problematic? These are the second elections held in the DRC since...Read More
Thursday, December 8, 2011 - 12:58
December 2011 | On the Issues by Daniel Brumberg December 5, 2011 Daniel Brumberg, a senior adviser in USIP’s Center for Conflict Management, analyzes the implications of Egypt’s ongoing parliamentary elections, which began this week. What is the significance for Egypt of the ongoing parliamentary elections in Egypt? It is no exaggeration to say that these are the first relatively free parliamentary elections in Egypt since the late President Anwar al-Sadat initiated his “political opening” in 1974. There have been numerous parliamentary elections since then, beginning in 1976, but these were all controlled elections whose ultimate purpose was to help prop up what I have called Egypt’s “liberalized autocracy.” The current elections, by contrast, take place against a region-wide political rebellion that began in Tunisia and moved quickly eastward to Egypt in January, thus resulting in the departure...Read More
Thursday, December 8, 2011 - 12:56
Data Transparansi Internasional tentang Corruption Perceptions Index (CPI) 2010 menunjukkan Indonesia berada pada urutan ke 110 dari 178 negara, dengan Denmark pada urutan pertama dan Somalia pada urutan terakhir. Hal tersebut bukan angka yang membanggakan. Namun bila melihat lebih detail pada CPI Indonesia sejak tahun 2002-2010, telah terjadi peningkatan yang cukup tajam 1.9 menjadi 3, artinya Indonesia 1,1 poin lebih bersih dari korupsi, saat beberapa negara lain mengalami penurunan nilai. Angka tersebut memberikan harapan, bahwa korupsi di Indonesia dapat dilawan. Perlawanan terhadap korupsi harus dilakukan melalui berbagai cara, diantaranya melalui pendidikan Anti Korupsi. Pendidikan Anti Korupsi dilakukan baik pada masyarakat umum maupun melalui lembaga pendidikan formal di tingkat SD sampai Perguruan Tinggi. Pendidikan integritas idealnya diterapkan di semua jenjang pendidikan dengan materi dan model pembelajaran yang sesuai dengan tingkat usia siswa. SMA adalah gerbang akhir...Read More
Thursday, December 8, 2011 - 12:54
by Mohamed El-Sayed 06 December 2011 Cairo - As millions of Egyptians turned to polling stations to take part in the first of three phases of the historic parliamentary elections, it was clear that a new era had dawned. For the first time in six decades, Egyptians are freely casting their votes in democratic elections. Regardless of minor irregularities that marred the electoral process, and which are to be expected in a young democracy, the unprecedented turnout put to rest the idea that Egyptians are not ready for a democratic system. Final results of the first phase of the elections led to a majority for Islamic political parties – mainly the Muslim Brotherhood-affiliated Freedom and Justice Party as well as the Salafist Al Nour party. Thus, for the first time in their history, Islamic political parties will have a litmus test for their ability to govern a country as diverse as Egypt. Islamic political parties, who most likely will have the upper hand in...Read More
Thursday, December 8, 2011 - 12:53
by Michael Felsen 06 December 2011 Boston, Massachusetts - Can the youthful energy, passion and idealism that fuelled the Arab Spring and the Israeli social justice protests salvage the two-state solution for Israelis and Palestinians? Judging from the voices heard at a multi-generational gathering in Geneva two weeks ago, there is reason to believe they can. On 22 November, Swiss President Micheline Calmy-Rey hosted a conference of Israelis and Palestinians to commemorate the eighth anniversary of the Geneva Accord, the ground-breaking agreement crafted by prominent members of Palestinian and Israeli civil society to serve as a model for resolving all facets of the Israeli-Palestinian conflict. The accord was developed by the Geneva Initiative, a joint Israeli-Palestinian effort aiming to provide a road map for peace. The 22 November conference, dubbed “Geneva Initiative 2.0” featured Geneva Initiative founders Yasser Abed Rabbo, Secretary General of the...Read More

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