Friday, May 27, 2016

Angelina Jolie and the Quest to Stop Women's Abuse: New Age Islam’s Selection, 27 May 2016

New Age Islam Edit Bureau
27 May 2016
Angelina Jolie and the Quest to Stop Women's Abuse
By Bina Shah
We Need a Vibrant and Critical Media
By Khaled Almaeena
Challenging the Rise of Fascism
By Chris Doyle
Terrorism Is Not Confined To the Middle East
By Maria Dubovikova
Compiled By New Age Islam Edit Bureau
Angelina Jolie and the Quest to Stop Women's Abuse
By Bina Shah
26 May 2016
Recently The London School of Economics and Political Science (LSE) announced that Angelina Jolie is to be a visiting professor in practice as part of the MSc it offers in Women, Peacekeeping and Security.
The reactions to this were mixed, as many wondered whether or not this was an appropriate appointment.
Apart from the fact that Jolie is a celebrity, she hasn't any of the academic credentials needed to be a university professor, although this isn’t strictly required for this kind of honorary appointment.
As far as publication goes, Jolie's personal journals are available to read on her UN Page, which details her work. But her page appears thin in official mission reports, apart from rather official press releases, which students and researchers would have to draw upon when conducting their own study and work.
UK Summit Calls for End to Sexual Violence
Besides talking about her life experience and work as a humanitarian ambassador, what framework, practices and theoretical knowledge will she pass on to the students? What will she teach them from her own experience that they can replicate in their careers?
On the other hand, Jolie has tremendous experience travelling the world as a United Nations ambassador and humanitarian. She has visited refugees all over the world, represented the plight of women at UN meetings and gatherings, and used her fame to highlight a problem that most would prefer to sweep under the carpet.
Who better than her, perhaps, to share this knowledge acquired from her unique experiences with students seeking to establish a career in global policymaking, research, or law that deals with sexual violence in conflict? And nobody can doubt Jolie's sincerity in addressing this issue, nor her commitment to the cause.
The Aim of the Programme
Rather than criticising or applauding Jolie, though, we need to look more closely at the concept of an MSc in Women, Peace and Security. What does this degree really mean, and once you have it, what will you be able to do with it?
The Guardian article points out that the LSE launched a centre for Women, Peace and Security last year. Its aims were high, and laudable: the director, Professor Christine Chinkin, hoped to pioneer academic initiatives and partnerships that would help to bring together various partners, academics, researchers and law and policymakers working together in this vast field, so that women's lives could be improved all over the world.
Individuals such as Jolie may be sincere, but countries are not, because leadership is still largely dominated by men, even in the developed world.
This year, reports The Guardian, the centre faces near collapse after only a year if William Hague doesn't continue in a leadership position. The Global Summit to End Sexual Violence took place in 2014 to great media excitement over Jolie co-chairing the event with Hague.
Yet, the summit raised accusations of hypocrisy as women asylum seekers in the United Kingdom who had suffered sexual violence were being treated "shoddily", according to the Refugee Council's women's advocacy manager, Anna Musgrave.
A year on, the summit has been called "a costly failure" with "negligible impact", illustrating that glamour is antithetical to the reality of this kind of work, which is gritty, dirty, and deeply laden with shame.
Jolie has proved that she can get her hands dirty, but the very nature of her primary career as a Hollywood actor, with its attendant privileges and safety, will always be a distraction at the very least and a point of criticism for the most part.
The Real Fieldworkers
The real fieldworkers stay. The real fieldworkers live and die among the women they help. The real fieldworkers get death threats for their work. The real fieldworkers may have had a mother, sister, daughter, aunt or wife who was raped or killed.
These are the lasting connections to the women afflicted by sexual violence in conflict zones. These are the credentials that are not academic, but lived experience.
Furthermore, as much as we talk about UNSC Resolution 1325, which recognised "the inordinate impact of war on women" and "the pivotal role women should and do play in conflict management, conflict resolution, and sustainable peace", the truth is that it is hardly implemented in any country.
In countries like the United States and the UK, task forces and committees have been formed, and recommendations have been published, but women continue to get raped, assaulted and murdered in warzones, targeted specifically because they are women.
Individuals such as Jolie may be sincere, but countries are not, because leadership is still largely dominated by men, even in the developed world.
Man-Made World
Women are being violently affected by war, but men are still buying the bombs, the planes, the guns and the ammunition.
Women are being tortured and mutilated, but men are still the ones signing the peace treaties - and in some places, the women are the bartering tools.
Women are raped in war zones, peace zones, and refugee camps, but men are the ones doing the peacekeeping - as in some places, the peacekeepers were the rapists.
So let Jolie have her professorship. Let any celebrity join her in her fight to bring the awareness of what happens to women in warzones to the rest of the world.
The programme at the LSE will be filled; the classes will be packed to capacity, with standing room only. She will educate young women and men of a certain class and privilege about the ground realities of war.
Then they will go on to conduct research, teach, make policy and law about it. Some will go out to conflict zones, work with these women, and help them to overcome their wounds - psychological and physical. It is all important. And Jolie's appointment at LSE is not a little thing, either.
But if you want to stop women being raped in times of war, you'll need a different kind of degree: the one that teaches us how to stop war and how to stop women being used as its spoils. And I'm not sure there's a university course out there that teaches that as yet.
Bina Shah is an award-winning Pakistani writer from Karachi. She is a contributing opinion writer for the International New York Times and writes a monthly column for Dawn, the biggest English-language newspaper in Pakistan.
Why an Old-Fashioned Novel Is Trending Among Turkey's Youth
By Emre Kizilkaya
May 26, 2016
"Kurk Mantolu Madonna" ("Madonna in a Fur Coat") by Sabahattin Ali is a highly quotable book on issues such as love, relationships, loneliness, coincidences and miracles. But why is the 1940s novel still so popular in today's Turkey, and linked to a political event such as the Gezi Park protests?
The author lived in Germany between 1928 and 1930 and was shocked by the rise of Nazism there. As a left-wing poet, teacher and journalist, he returned home and became an outspoken critic of the single-party regime in the early years of the Turkish Republic. He serialized "Madonna in a Fur Coat" in a newspaper in 1941, two years before it would be published as a book.
He was imprisoned over his nonfiction writing, including satirical works slamming the government in humour magazines. He was arrested for a poem criticizing President Mustafa Kemal Ataturk’s policies and released in the general amnesty process.
Ali's fiction got him into hot water, too. His novel "Icimizdeki Seytan" ("The Devil Within") drew the ire of ultranationalists. He finally decided to leave Turkey in 1948, but was killed near the Bulgarian border by an unknown assailant in a murder widely attributed to Turkey’s secret service.
Ali was an anti-establishment figure, but it's hard to find political messages in "Madonna in a Fur Coat" at first glance. The melodramatic novel tells the story of a post-World War I love affair between Turkish student Raif Efendi and German singer Maria Puder in Berlin.
To the surprise of some, "Madonna in a Fur Coat" has recently been experiencing a rebirth in the Turkish imagination. Around 750,000 copies have been sold in the past three years after just 250,000 copies in the previous 15 years combined. Even that quantity was actually large for the Turkish market, given that Nobel Laureate Orhan Pamuk's latest novel sold less than 231,000 copies last year.
Meanwhile, posting a picture of "Madonna in a Fur Coat" alongside a cup of coffee has become a trend among young Turks, with tens of thousands of such photos shared on Instagram and Twitter with the hashtag #kurkmantolumadonna. The Turkish Librarians Association declared it the most borrowed book in 2015.
Despite many challenges, Turkey is much more democratic, wealthy, tech-savvy and connected to the world now compared with how it was in the 1940s. Why, then, has an old-fashioned romantic novel suddenly become so popular?
"Madonna in a Fur Coat" had been translated into 17 languages, but not English until this year. The first English version of the book was published by Penguin on May 4, translated by Maureen Freely, known for her great work on Pamuk’s novels, and Alexander Dawe.
According to Freely, "Ali's spirit is alive with the young" in Turkey. "We see it in the students of the Gezi Park protests in 2013. It was Sabahattin Ali who gave them courage and he reminds them to protest without losing their sense of the surreal or forgetting how to love," the BBC quoted her as saying this month.
I was surprised to see the reference to the Gezi Park protests, which began in late May 2013 as an effort to stop bulldozers from razing central Istanbul’s Gezi Park, one of the few green spaces left in the city’s Taksim neighbourhood, to build a shopping mall in the shape of an Ottoman artillery barracks that once stood there.
Those street protests, joined by millions from all segments of society and led by creative, humorous and life-affirming youngsters, have not yet transformed into a solid political movement that can challenge Turkey's ruling Justice and Development Party.
Ahead of the third anniversary of the protests, Recep Tayyip Erdogan, whom the demonstrators and others have accused of increasing authoritarianism during his 13-year rule, furthered his grip on Turkish politics this month by replacing Prime Minister Ahmet Davutoglu with a closer ally, Binali Yildirim. Although Gezi Park still remains in place, the Council of State approved the construction of the faux-historical barracks this month.
"It is no surprise to me if the children of Gezi find solace in 'Kurk Mantolu Madonna.' Because what they were asking for in Taksim in 2013 is no different from what Raif and Maria found, however briefly, in Berlin between the wars," Freely told me when asked why she referred to the protests while talking about Ali's novel.
Like Ali, many young people are condemned, sued or jailed over their political views or statements in today's "modern" Turkey, but is this why they suddenly rediscovered "Madonna in a Fur Coat?" What did they really want while trying to save Gezi Park, and how is it linked to this book?
"It was the freedom to express their true natures and shape their own lives, according to their own principles and ideals, and most of all their refusal to let the state control their personal lives. At a time when the state intrudes in daily life ever more forcefully, there is, at least, a book that reminds them what is possible," Freely answered.
All these are in fact recurring themes in most of Ali's novels. By reflecting on personal drama and love stories, he philosophically inspects dichotomies such as those between the oppressor and the oppressed, the rich and the poor, the corrupt and the pure, the artificial and the natural, society and the individual. Many critics argue that "Kuyucakli Yusuf" ("Yusuf of Kuyucak") is Ali's true magnum opus with its wondrous ability to deeply depict these dichotomies with a masterful use of the Turkish language.
"Madonna in a Fur Coat" was not Ali's favorite book, according to his daughter, Filiz Ali, who recently told BBC Turkish that teenagers "feel that an emotional state that they miss or seek, a sensibility that is not known in today's world, is present in this book."
Another factor could be the book's name, which is "cooler" than "Kuyucakli Yusuf." As explained by the Turkish protagonist of the novel, his German lover looks like "Madonna delle Arpie," a 16th century painting by Renaissance giant Andrea del Sarto in which the Virgin Mary is seen standing on a pedestal sculpted with harpies in relief. Maria Puder's fur coat completes the novel's name.
As Ali writes in the novel, "The most simple, pitiful and even the most stupid person in the world has a wonderful, exceptional and complex soul. Why are we so far from understanding this and consider the creature named human as something easy to understand and judge?" Some new Turkish fans of his work may only follow the herd superficially, perhaps without even reading the book, posting photos of it on social media simply because it is the latest trend. Some others may be doing it because the passionate Romeo-and-Juliet-style love affair depicted in the book is so idealized and naive for the modern man and woman. As Raif, the protagonist, tells Maria Puder in the novel, love teaches us that "another life is possible in this world."
Still, there may also be people, perhaps a lot of them in the Gezi generation crowd, who consider "Madonna in a Fur Coat" a romantic refuge built by a political renegade who bridges Turkey's past to its future, as new shackles are invented to curb their freedoms in each decade even as the old ones are broken.
We Need a Vibrant and Critical Media
By Khaled Almaeena
26 May 2016
They say eternal vigilance is the price of liberty. And that cannot hold more true in this day and age where states and institutions are confronting natural manmade challenges. How then can society face these threats if it is unaware of them?
Here the role of the media becomes important as it formally updates people about what is happening around them. While discussing media issues in a Gulf country last week, an American friend asked about the situation of the media in our part of the world and whether there is an awareness that it has to catch up with other countries. My reply was that there is always room for improvement.
Customs and laws can sometimes conflict and may differ from country to country, but it is vital that there exist a free, responsible and ethical media that observes members of society, both those in authority and the public. This media should give citizens an educated voice to analyze and make their own decisions in affairs concerning them.
If media is restricted, it will curtail the role of men and women in society and reduce them to mere onlookers rather than stakeholders and decision makers concerning their lives. The flow of information is vital to the progress of any society and at times even if governments do not restrict the press, the press may restrict itself by confining itself to political party or religious narratives.
Customs and laws can sometimes conflict and may differ from country to country, but it is vital that there exist a free, responsible and ethical media that observes members of society, both those in authority and the public
In our part of the world, there has been technological advancement in the media and an unfettered flow of information. However, professionally trained journalists are few. This is because no efforts were made by media organizations to train aspiring men and women in this field. Secondly, turnover was high as these people went to better-paying jobs.
The history of Arab journalism was overshadowed by arrests and dismissals in some Arab states taken over by dictators. All of these were not encouraging signs. What was left were groups of sycophants who would “hail and praise” at every given opportunity or even contrive stories to curry favour with the powers that be.
Advent of Social Media
With the advent of social media and the realization that restriction and gagging would put media czars on the wrong side of history, the loosening up of the media started. However, that proved to be a bit too much as the newfound freedom saw everyone becoming a “journalist, media analyst and columnist”.
These pundits added confusion by irresponsible reporting, exaggeration, factual errors and personal vendettas. This led to restriction, censorship and total chaos, and as a result many websites failed.
So then what is needed? We need trained and responsible people who should utilize all available resources to present to the public news, views, analysis, facts and figures in a responsible manner that serves society.
We need a media that acts as a conduit between those in authority and the public. We also need less control by overeager bureaucrats and groups that question the patriotism of anyone who exposes the ills of society.
In short, we need a vibrant and critical media.
Challenging the Rise of Fascism
By Chris Doyle
26 May 2016
“The Return of the Fascists” could be the title of a dreary Hollywood move, yet sadly the “F’ word is becoming all too common currency in an era of vicious politics. To be called a fascist is a half rung down the ladder from the label of Nazi, though sadly some see this as a badge of honor.
US Republican presidential candidate Donald Trump has been called a fascist not just by his likely Democratic opponent Hillary Clinton, but by the likes of actor George Clooney and Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg. I doubt he cares.
A French court has ruled that it is permissible to label Marine Le Pen, leader of the National Front in France, a fascist. Avigdor Lieberman has become Israeli defence minister, now the effective master of millions of Palestinians. Former Israeli Prime Minister Ehud Barak, hardly a dove, has described the coalition between Lieberman and Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu as “exhibiting signs of fascism.
Smiling from the sidelines, or worse fanning the flames, are the likes of the Islamic State of Iraq and Syria (ISIS), al-Qaeda and Russian President Vladimir Putin. A President Trump may be delighted to find soul mates in the ultra-nationalist far right in Europe and elsewhere.
The leader of the Italian Northern League endorsed him with a hearty “Go Donald, Go!” The suspicion is that if Trump were to try to ban Muslim immigration to the United States, the same demands would be made in Europe.
The European far right has truly prospered, with far-right parties often getting 20-30 percent of the vote. Only a few votes the other way in Austria prevented the first fascist leader being elected in Europe since 1945.
Fortunately, Norbert Hofer and the Freedom Party did not win this time. It comes only a few months after the far-right anti-immigration party Alternative for Germany (called Nazis by Germany’s central council for Muslims) made huge gains in regional elections.
It is a realistic prospect that Le Pen in France and Gert Wilders in the Netherlands could do well in 2017 (though he sees himself as a liberal!). In Hungary, it says something when the far-right Prime Minister Victor Orban is having to face off neo-fascist Jobbik, the third-largest party. No country in Europe is immune. The archbishop of Canterbury has just sounded the alarm that racism is deeply embedded in British culture. The extreme-right party UKIP still flourishes.
This is not the fascism in the 1930s sense, yet. Some will argue that neo-fascists have simply swapped their jackboots for suits, abandoning some of their more lunatic ideas for the sake of populist nationalist rhetoric. Le Pen claims to have moved away from her father’s overt racism. They point to the background of austerity politics and economic recession. Fear is playing out well for the far right, just as it is in the United States and Israel.
But is it that bleak for progressive politics? The successful candidate in Austria, Alexander Van der Bellen, ran on a pro-refugee platform. We are about to witness the conclusion of the second term of the first black American president.
The newly elected Mayor of London Sadiq Khan is Muslim. Many have reacted incredibly warmly to the refugee crisis. Presidential candidate Bernie Sanders has shown that even a socialist has a chance to go far in US politics.
The whole identity of Europe is being shaken, not least perhaps because that identity was never that strong. What is it, after all, to be European? It seems people are running to the lifeboats of their core ethnic identities at the cries of floods of immigrants, notably Muslim immigrants and refugees. Sadly, amid warnings that Christian Europe is under threat, many have chosen to behave in a very un-Christian fashion toward refugees.
It is a crisis of mainstream center politics that risks being hollowed out. In many countries in Europe, the center ground is carved up among numerous smaller parties that are squeezed from the hard right and hard left, such as Syriza in Greece.
Even if far-right parties do not form governments, they have already succeeded in changing politics. More mainstream right-wing politicians have played to this gallery. Prime Minister David Cameron referred to refugees arriving in Britain as a “swarm.”
Politicians from the centre share much of the blame. At times, many have indulged in stoking unnecessary fears on immigration, but also not ensuring that the systems in place are fair and efficient. For too long, especially in electoral systems that pretty much guaranteed them a spot in government, they have had it too easy, but now with challenges from the right and left, the centre is being hollowed out.
Austria may be the final warning. European political elites have to react to stave off the impending breakup of the continent. Its outdated institutions have to be reformed to be more effective and accountable. A more flexible arrangement between states is needed, which permits great national decision-making while preserving Europe’s democratic nature.
Above all, rather than cave in to the populist nativism of these extremist groups, the issue of immigration has to be addressed with sense and humanity, not by abandoning our values. Europe’s future must not be a return to the 1930s that these groups represent.
Terrorism Is Not Confined To The Middle East
By Maria Dubovikova
26 May 2016
I join Faisal J. Abbas in expressing solidarity and condolences to the families of those who perished in EgyptAir A320 over the Mediterranean, and to the government and country as a whole. Egypt is an indicator that the world is less safe than ever, but instead of focusing exclusively on the country, we should look at the global trend and join forces to counter it.
Recent months have witnessed a string of terrorist acts. Tunisia was hit by two in one year, causing it to lose over 90 percent of tourists due to safety concerns. There were two attacks in Paris in one year, making it clear to the French that they cannot feel safe even at home. Security services’ effectiveness is questioned after such attacks, particularly when terrorists were already known and supervised.
The Brussels attacks revealed that terrorist networks have already infiltrated functional structures in Europe, that airport security is not absolute, and that no one can guarantee 100-percent safety. The carelessness of the security services and Belgian police made the Brussels attacks possible. Meanwhile, terrorists who are killed or jailed are replaced by new recruits.
I believe that if the loss of the Egypt Air flight was indeed a terrorist act, Charles de Gaulle airport - from which the plane departed – should also bear responsibility, as there is a possibility that the flight was not checked properly.
After the terrorist attacks in Tunisia and Egypt, both countries faced travel bans, dangerously undermining their security and stability and playing into terrorists’ hands. However, safety is not only threatened by terrorists. The case of the hijacked Egypt Air flight in March shows the dangers posed by mentally ill people.
The perception that Europe is the safest destination is wrong. Countries that are used to dealing with terrorist threats appear to be much safer
The perception that Europe is the safest destination is wrong, particularly given its inability to properly deal with enormous migration flows, which are being infiltrated by the Islamic State of Iraq and Syria (ISIS). Countries that are used to dealing with terrorist threats appear to be much safer. The best example is Israel, where security services are always on guard and use the most advanced technologies.
In some respects, Egypt appears to be safer than France and Belgium. After the Russian flight that crashed over the Sinai, Egypt drew vital conclusions and did much, with help from other counties, to improve security. However, Russia’s complete ban on flights between the two countries has dangerously undermined Egyptian stability due to the ban’s effect on the vital tourism sector, and on the economy generally.
Countries should join forces against all possible threats, particularly terrorism. Bans play into terrorists’ hands by causing instability and spreading fear. Egypt should not pay the price for the global trend of growing insecurity.
- See more at:,-27-may-2016/d/107431#sthash.gAlgU5pQ.dpuf

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