lunes, 24 de diciembre de 2012

Feliz Navidad!

Feliz Navidad - Bon Nadal - Merry Christmas - Joyeux Noël - Geseënde Kersfees - Gëzuar Krishtlindjet - Frohe Weihnachten - عيد ميلاد مجيد - Շնորհավոր Սուրբ Ծնունդ: - Eguberri - Калядамі - Весела Коледа - 圣诞节快乐 - 聖誕節快樂 - 메리 크리스마스 - jwayeu Nwèl - Sretan Božić - Glædelig jul - Feliĉa Kristnasko - Häid jõule - hyvää joulua - Nadolig Llawen - შობა - Καλά Χριστούγεννα - חג המולד שמח - मेरी क्रिसमस - Boldog Karácsonyt - Selamat Hari Natal - Nollaig Shona - Gleðileg jól- Buon Natal - Verbum Caro - Priecīgus Ziemassvētkus - Linksmų Kalėdų - Среќен Божиќ - Merry Krismas - Gelukkig kerstfeest - God jul - کریسمس مبارک - Wesołych Świąt - Feliz Natal - Crăciun fericit - С Рождеством - Срећан Божић - veselé Vianoce - Vesel božič - Krismasi Njema - Maligayang Pasko - Veselé Vánoce - మెర్రీ క్రిస్మస్ - เมอร์รี่คริสต์มาส - Mutlu Noeller - میری کرسمس - Mừng Giáng Sinh

domingo, 23 de diciembre de 2012

The Red Tent

Esta novela de Anita Diamant es el segundo de los libros que compré en mi viaje a Londres el pasado mayo. Lo tenía completamente olvidado hasta que se me estropeó mi nueva tablet (arrrghh!) y no tuve más remedio que cogerlo para aliviar un viaje en autobús. Y ahí estoy, empezando con él una de mis propuestas para estas Navidades, leer, ver películas descargadas hace siglos,.. y Master stuff, como no! 
The Red Tent is a beautifully written novel about Dinah, the daughter of the Biblical Patriarch Jacob. There is only a brief mention of Dinah in the Bible, a traumatic story of rape and vengeance but Anita Diamant has taken this and filled in the gaps. She has carefully woven silk into the rough wool that is the biblical story and created a rich luxurious tapestry of the life of the women.
In the prologue Dinah addresses us - the women of today: "And now you come to me - women with hand and feet as soft as a queen's, with more cooking pots than you need, so safe in childbed and so free with your tongues. You come hungry for the story that was lost. You crave words to fill the great silence that swallowed me, and my mothers, and my grandmothers before them."
The Red Tent is the place that Jacob's women retreat to once a month at the time of the dark moon. Apparently if living a natural life by the light of the heavens it is natural for women to bleed at the time of the dark moon and ovulate at the full moon. There, in the protective confines of the red tent, sitting on straw the women share their secrets, their stories, their joy and pain and take respite from the hardships of their everyday life.
As the only daughter of Jacob, Dinah is privileged to share the tent before her proper time and here she learns the stories of her mothers which she in turn tells to us. (Jacob had four wives and Dinah considers them all to be her mothers in some sense).
The first part of the book is My Mothers' stories, stories told to Dinah by and about Jacob's wives. These follow but beautifully embellish the biblical stories and take us up to the traumatic birth of Joseph who becomes Dinah's closest companion as a child.
The second part 'My Story' again loosely follows the biblical stories but because it is her story the rape of Dinah has a different perspective. In Diamant's version Dinah was not raped but was deeply and passionately in love with the Egyptian Prince of Shechem whom her brothers brutally slaughtered while she lay in his arms.
In the third part , simply entitled 'Egypt', Dinah, now estranged from her family after cursing them in hatred, goes to Egypt with her mother in law. This part of the story has no link with the biblical stories at all apart from a few loose references. There she discovers she is pregnant. As if she hasn't had enough pain already Dinah suffers even more when her child is taken from her to be raised as a prince. But her story continues and she strives to rebuild her life in a strange land with strange customs. The end of the story is poignant but even in her death Dinah continues to live.
The biblical stories and in fact most of history has been written and transmitted by men. This book is a testament from the other side. This is a herstory. The focus is almost entirely on the women the men are almost incidental in a way. 
In the red tent the women share womanly secrets of childbirth and contraception, herbal lore, despair and death. Birth scenes abound and some are thigh clenchingly graphic. Dinah's first menstruation is celebrated by a strange moving ritual. In Dinah's world, but not in all her contemporaries menstruation is not a curse but something to celebrate, childbirth also takes on a collective joy. Skills are passed from mothers to daughter and Dinah becomes an accomplished midwife.
No woman could read this book without being moved, Dinah expresses intimate emotions of a woman through all her ages. From the innocence of childhood, through stirrings of puberty, womanhood, and old age, passionate love, grief and hatred, compassion - nothing is omitted. It is more than a novel it is a celebration of every woman who lived and loved in a patriarchal society.

viernes, 21 de diciembre de 2012

Morocco and Jordan Constitutional Reforms against Revolution

How did the Moroccan and Jordanian monarchies survive the Arab revolutions? Was it something to do with the constitutional amendments made by their monarchs? Whilst protesters have defeated their governments in republics like Egypt, Tunisia and Libya, the Arab monarchies such as Morocco and Jordan have remained intact. But, are these reforms being released unconditionally or are they just mere pledges? And would they be enough to quiet the population? Or will the protesters, perhaps, ask for more which has been taking place in Jordan for the past couple of weeks?

Since the start of the Arab Spring in 2011, two young monarchs Mohammed VI of Morocco and Abdullah II of Jordan, announced the beginning of a political opening process and THEY promised reforms to contain tensions and avoid any "revolutionary contagion" within the two kingdoms. However, the actions which would supposedly quiet their population seemed to not satisfy some of the new social movements.

So in order to counteract the mobilization of these social movements, King Abdullah set up a Committee for National Dialogue. In addition, he also remodeled his former government and promised a group of political and socio-economic measures. The Dialogue Committee has raised some issues that were considered as priorities in the past years. For instance, adopting a new electoral law that would allow proportional representation, implementing a law which recognizes the rights of the teachers, and fighting corruption in the country were some of the priorities mentioned. Meanwhile, groups of young people, teachers, human rights activists and members of various left-wing political formations, have created more than fifty movements – and between them, the two most active being "March 24 Movement" and "Student Rights Movement”-. These movements are asking for a real transition into a constitutional and parliamentary monarchy. They believe that the King still has excessive privileges – he normally dominates the legislature choice and in addition to that he is able to dissolve Parliament and to make the Government resign-.Moreover, they also require a real campaign against corruption and they ask for a real commitment in terms of economic reforms that would curb unemployment –which it is estimated by authorities a percentage of 13.4% from the population whereas by independent experts the estimated percentage is more than 20%-.

On the other hand, the shocking wave coming from Tunisia and Egypt led King Mohammed VI to re launch a political and constitutional process of reforms that has been delayed since February 2011. However, the king did not make any reference to the protests during the speech he addressed to the population, where he announced these reforms. Otherwise he limited to enact as quickly as possible and in order to present his project he commissioned a draft in which the Committee talked about the administrative decentralization, and this in order to review the Constitution and propose amendments to it. The proposals of this Committee were approved by referendum on July 2011 "by more than 98%" of the votes -with a participation rate estimated by the authorities of 70%-. The most important amendments were: the nomination of a Prime Minister elected from the parliamentary majority, the enlargement of the Prime Minister prerogatives, the adoption of Amazigh as the second official language in the kingdom, strengthening the independence of the judiciary power, and lastly, the importance given to the Human Rights international agreements. Nevertheless, the king is still the Commander of the Faithful – Amir al-Mu’minin – and may promulgate dahirs –decrees- although only in the religious sphere. Then, most political parties and movements in Morocco -both left-wing and right-wing, secular or Islamist- have supported these amendments. However, the movement of young Moroccans who called for demonstrations in late January 2011 and managed to mobilize thousands of students and civil society activists around Morocco on February 20th -and later on numerous occasions- , has condemned the meanwhile tinged demagogic political maneuvering and estimated that the referendum has represented the return of electoral fraud. This movement, which has taken the name of “The February 20 Movement”, has been also joined by two leftwing parties and the large Islamist movement “Justice and Charity” -officially banned but tolerated by the Moroccan authorities-, and as many observers and journalists, believes that the new constitution does not change much in the prerogatives of the King. And the movement believes this for many reasons: firstly, because it was the king himself who formed the Committee to amend the Constitution, so it has already limited it independence. Secondly, the King still retains the right to dissolve the Parliament and make his Ministers resign. He chairs the meetings of Government and remains, then, as the head of the executive power at the same time that he has authority over the legislative power. Also chairs the High Council of Ulemas –the highest religious body in the country- as the "Commander of the Faithful", which actually maintains an ambiguous relationship between religion and politics, leaving the Monarch an important margin for maneuver.

To conclude, these amendments suggested by both kings represent a small step in the large path towards democracy, which is something really positive to both countries. However, there are still a myriad of questions with no answer, for instance, how will the monarchs improve the human rights within their countries? , how will they restrain discrimination of gender, race and religion? , is the population ready to trust the state institutions? , how will the current protests end in Jordan? And most importantly, to what extent is religious legitimacy of Jordan and Moroccan monarchs linked with the lack of revolutions in both countries? It is a matter of time, though, to proof that effectively these reforms are carried out within the daily life of Moroccans and Jordans. The two monarchies need time, distance and loyalty towards their pledges and reforms in order to keep the population quiet.

- Christina Barragán
Universitat Rovira i Virgili

jueves, 20 de diciembre de 2012

Hollande asume ante los argelinos la brutalidad de la colonización francesa

Gran paso histórico..
El presidente francés, François Hollande, ha reconocido en su segundo día de visita a Argelia el "sufrimiento" infligido al pueblo argelino por la colonización francesa. "Durante 132 años", ha manifestado Hollande ante el Parlamento del país magrebí, "Argelia fue sometida a un sistema profundamente injusto y brutal"Los diputados argelinos han recibido entre aplausos las palabras del político socialista, quien además se ha comprometido a mejorar los procesos de acogida de inmigrantes argelinos.
"Este sistema tiene un nombre", ha proseguido Hollande, "es la colonización y reconozco aquí los sufrimientos que la colonización infligió al pueblo argelino". El presidente francés visita por primera vez Argelia desde que accedió a la presidencia. Entre esos sufrimientos que el presidente francés ha citado ante el Parlamento argelino están "las masacres de Sétif, Guelma y Kherrata", que "permanecen anclados en la conciencia de los argelinos, pero también de los franceses".
"El 8 de mayo de 1945", ha continuado Hollande en su relato sobre la matanza en Sétif, "el mismo día en el que el mundo triunfaba sobre la barbarie, Francia olvidaba sus valores universales". El jefe de Estado francés ha asumido de igual modo la necesidad de recordar las "condiciones" en las que se llevó a cabo la descolonización, en el marco de una "guerra que durante mucho tiempo no se ha querido nombrar en Francia".
Hollande, interrumpido en varias ocasiones por los aplausos de los diputados, ha asumido el "deber" de respetar la memoria sobre la "violencia, injusticias, masacres y torturas" cometidas durante la colonización, por lo que ha señalado la necesidad de que los historiadores puedan acceder a los archivos y así posibilitar que todo el mundo "pueda conocer la verdad". "La paz de la memoria a la que aspiro reside en el conocimiento y divulgación de la historia".
El presidente francés se ha comprometido además ante la Cámara argelina a "acoger mejor" a los demandantes de visa y "controlar los flujos migratorios" para evitar obstáculos o humillaciones.

domingo, 16 de diciembre de 2012

Darfur Now

Sin palabras me he quedado al ver la película "Darfur Now".. Aunque en ella sólo se representa una pequeña parte del gran genocidio cometido en esta parte tan olvidada del mundo, ya es suficiente para poder llegar a entender el horror vivido durante tan largo tiempo por esta gente. Investigando un poco he llegado a vídeos de la gran campaña que se intentó hacer en USA para parar la masacre donde participaron actores de la talla de George Clooney y demás, pero como siempre en estos casos, aunque este tipo de acciones mediáticas nunca están de más para dar a conocer al gran público el conflicto, me pregunto si no hubiera sido más fácil si desde el principio las "grandes" potencias no hubieran metido el dedo en la llaga y sí, unas vez más hablamos de petróleo. 
En 2011 Sudan del Sur consiguió su independencia del Norte y con ello dio fin la guerra que gracias a esas lineas post-coloniales tan "bien" trazadas había enfrentado durante años a los musulmanes del norte con los cristianos del sur. Pero parece ser que Darfur queda como siempre en medio de la nada, su población negra y musulmana pertenece aún al estado de Sudan del Norte, de mayoría musulmana también pero de origen étnico árabe. Este racismo contra los que se suponía tenían que ser sus hermanos en la fe hizo que las milicias de los Yanyauid, con la colaboración del gobierno de el-Bashir, acabara con la vida de más de 300.000 personas y otras 200.000 tuvieron que buscar refugio en otros países como Chad. 
Aunque ya conocía el conflicto, me he sentido mal conmigo misma después de ver la película, ya que a veces parece que centramos todos nuestros esfuerzos y nuestra rabia en algunos conflictos como Palestina, el Sahara Occidental,.. donde obviamente también se están violando los derechos humanos, pero ya el hecho de una "limpieza" étnica de estas dimensiones me parece de lo más condenable que pueda existir y no se debería de ningún modo acallar. Occidente defiende tanto la democracia y la libertad en depende de que casos, pero que MÁS puede pasar ya que esto, que gobiernos de este tipo sigan en pie y nadie haga algo no sólo para pararlo, sino para exigir que un tribunal internacional los haga pagar por sus crímenes. 

viernes, 7 de diciembre de 2012

Tariq Ramadan interviewed post-Arab Spring

Como siempre, Tariq Ramadan no deja de sorprenderme con su elocuencia. A pesar de ser hijo de Hassan al-Banna, fundador de los Hermanos Musulmanes en Egipto, consigue ir más allá y poner cada cosa en su sitio. En esta entrevista para deja bien claro que la Primavera Árabe no dará ningún resultado si sólo se basan en la religión y más religión y dejan de lado aspectos tan importantes como el económico. Realmente me ha hecho pensar, ya que en mi última visita a Túnez este pasado verano fue eso precisamente lo que me preocupó, vi demasiadas barbas y niqabs pero muy poca actividad económica que pueda hacer salir a flote el país y demostrar que la lucha de la sociedad civil haya servido para algo. La entrevista es un poco larga, pero vale la pena leerla. 
Heather McRobie:  I’d like to begin with the concept of Islamic democratic secularism and the statement in your bookArab Awakening, that, “at this precise moment Muslims will only have proven the singularity of Islam when they demonstrate its universality.” Could you explain what you mean by this, and the concept of Islamic democratic secularism?
Tariq Ramadan: It’s part of a whole discussion about ethics in my work. I focus on Islamic applied ethics in many fields, and here I am saying that coming back to the Qu’ran and the sunnah as our reference point does not mean that we depend for our ethics on  ‘Islam as opposed to the others’. I look to Islamic ethics to find something that can provide the basis for shared values with other traditions, and ultimately universal values. This ties into the point I made in another book, The Quest for Meaning, that the only way for values to be universal is if they are shared universal values.  My main point is, in this quest for value the aim is not to express your distinctness from others, but about being able to contribute to the discussion of universal value.  What I’m advocating is an intellectual revolution – it’s a different mindset concerning the ethical benchmarks by which we live.
Rosemary Bechler: In Arab Awakening those Islamic values are deployed both as a critique of western values and Arab worlds in their present state. Together they amount to a comprehensive critique of capitalism as a system, a critique which you also find reflected in the Arab Awakening which is the subject of the book. Do you think these seismic processes will take that path and build on that critique?
TR: Unfortunately, some of the theses I put forward in those pages have now been proved all too correct. For example, in the concerns I voiced at the beginning of the book, when I said that I was cautiously optimistic, but that there could be a polarisation with secularism, and that in that polarisation, Islam was avoiding the main questions. The nature of the state is one thing, but there are other major challenges - what it will take to tackle the issues of social corruption, for example, social justice, and the economic system – and what are the future challenges when it comes to equality between the citizens, in particular in the field of the job market and equal opportunity for men and for women? This is at the centre of the question that is the Arab Awakening.
What I see now is that even with the Islamists, who have been portraying themselves as the alternative to corruption and dictatorship and in defence of more transparency, there is one respect in which they have now changed completely. Since the beginning of the 1920’s, Islamism was very close in positioning in some respects to ‘liberation theology’. But that is no longer the case. Now the most important example of the last fifteen years is the move from Erbakan to Erdoğan, creating the Turkish model that has been highly successful in economic terms, but only in fact by buying into and succeeding in being integrated into the global economic system. 
I don’t see anyone today, whether you look at the Muslim Brotherhood or Ennahda in Tunisia or people working in Libya, or even the Salafi, who have a different position on the economy. The Salafis are now very much involved in politics, having changed their strategies over the last five years. As we know, though they have their own very particular take on the whole political discussion - they are obsessed with the political structure -  they don’t talk about economic dynamics either.  So this is why in Saudi Arabia and Qatar they can be very very powerful at the grassroots level, by being very strict about what is lawful and unlawful in ethical and political and cultural terms. But they are not talking about the economy either.
RB:  Don’t they talk about the need for redistribution? One gets the impressions that the Salafi argument is often more concerned about looking after the poor?
TR: Yes, but within the system.  You can be a very charitable capitalist.  Like Sarkozy was saying, we have to ‘moralise capitalism’, which for me is a contradiction in terms. 
But this is my position and my position is that these questions are not answered or addressed by the movement now.  I think we are making a mistake, a very big mistake if we look at what we call the Arab Awakening only by looking at the whole dynamics in political and not in economic terms.  This brings me back to what George W Bush said in 2003, when they were talking about democratisation. He said that it might be the major challenge for them, not to deal with democracies per se but the challenge of a new economic balance in the region.  I think that this is very important, when you look at the influence of China and India in the region. These are new players here, and they are very efficient. They can compete with the US.
RB: Do you see anyone who is talking about this in the Arab world?
TR: They are talking, in a way they are trying to find a way to get new partners in the region.  For example, one of the first visits of President Morsi after he was elected was to China.  They are looking at the new relationship between Turkey and Egypt which is also important.  So does this just amount to being integrated into the economic order, to stabilise the Egyptian economy. It could be. Or might it be about something deeper than that? I think we have to consider that it is about a deeper challenge.  When I wrote the book I said that for some young Islamists in Tunisia and Morocco and Egypt - the model is Turkey much more than Iran.  When I visited Turkey people were so happy: they were so pleased that I had chosen them as the model. So I had to say, ‘No, you are not my model: what I was saying was that you are the model for some young Islamists’. 
'The Turkish road is not my model because I am critical of the way you are dealing with freedom of expression, of how you are dealing with the treatment of minorities, and your economic vision.’  But at the same time, I say, I’m watching what you are trying to do and I think there are things that are interesting in the Turkish approach, which for the first time in the last decade has started to shift towards the south and the east, opening almost fifty embassies in Africa, and having a new relationship with China.  That is just huge.
So it might be that they are accepting the rules, and understanding that there is a shift towards the east.  There’s a change in Turkey’s positioning vis-a-vis the EU – and now we understand that this was very smart - they used the EU against their own army.  But that doesn’t mean that they were obsessed with the west.  They were trying to find a way to confront the Turkish army with their own contradictions – “you are talking about a secular state but then you want a secular military state, and we want a secular state which is in tune with the requirements of the EU.”  So they simultaneously use the EU against the army and meanwhile, they shift towards the south and the east. That’s interesting.
I don’t like this vision that Turkey is successful because it is as successful as the western powers in economic terms. But I do think they are trying to find a new space in the multi-polar world, and this is what I am advocating.  I don’t think that Muslims have an alternative model. An ‘Islamic economy’ or ‘Islamic finance’ doesn’t mean anything to me. But I do think that in the multi-polar world, it is time to find new partners, to find a new balance in the economic order.  And this could help you to find an alternative way forward. The way that Turkey, for example, is now very close to Egypt, and they are dealing with Malaysia and Indonesia on new terms.  We don’t talk a lot about Indonesia but they are a very important power in the region.  So I think we still have to assess and analyse these dynamics.
H.McR: Many of the developments this summer in the countries of the Arab Awakening spoke to the concerns raised in your book.  Take developments in Tunisia, such as the set-backs and delays in constitution-drafting.  Do you see this as a reversal, the sign that the revolutions are derailing?  Who will the constitutions of Tunisia, Egypt and Libya speak to and who will they speak for?
TR: Yes, the drafting of the constitutions is interesting and the discussions around them revealing in many ways.  I take it as a discussion of very important symbols revealing many different problems.  My take at the beginning was to warn that Tunisia might be the only successful country, the only one to justify us in talking about the spring, while all the other countries were less successful, if not failing. Now the point is that even in Tunisia it is not going to be easy, and this is where we have a problem.  The problem is that the constitution should have been and was an opportunity, exactly as Moncef Marzouki tried to do, to bring together the secularists and Islamists with so many of the same views. What was clear was that they would have been able to find agreement, because Rachid Ghannouchi and Ennahda went so far as to say that they were not going to insist on putting sharia into the constitution. They accepted that this wouldn’t happen, but that instead it would have been couched in terms which had an Islamic point of reference. 
Now the problem is that you have two trends that are in fact objective allies in destablising the whole process of this discussion: on the one side the very secularist elite that is doing everything to paint a picture that they are in danger from ‘the other side’ and on the other hand, the Salafis, who are constantly putting Ennahda on the spot by questioning their religious credentials – ‘who are you? What are you doing? You are just compromising everything.’  And the secularists are saying about Ennahda, ‘they are not clear because they want to please us and they want to please them.’
The secularists are playing a dirty game.  You can be tough on Ennahda’s policy and critical of some unclear statements which have been made, but they are playing games with this and pushing in such a direction is not helping the country to stabilise in such an important year. The constitution is after all talking about the vision for the future of the country. It is the opportunity to create a democracy. And in fact all the Islamists, that is the reformists not the Salafis, now they all say that they want a civil state, a civil state with Islamic reference points. They are not talking about an Islamic state, or sharia in the way this was once understood in the fight against the colonisers, or just afterwards in the 70’s, 80’s and 90’s. They have changed on this. Now, this meant that there was room for agreement between the different trends. 
But not any more. It’s very difficult now because we have this new integration of the Salafis into the political landscape.  We have to ask questions – who is pushing them and who are these people, who in eight months in Egypt can say ‘democracy is against Islam’, and get 24% in the election.  If you read the Rand Corporation on who supported the Salafis in Egypt, what you learn is that up to 80 million dollars’ worth of support was poured into Egypt before the elections by organisations that are not state, they are very precise on this, but Qatari and Saudi organisations.  So it’s very worrying to see that they are getting the money and they are playing on all the symbols now – religious symbols pitted against your credentials for power, and the Islamists are being put into a situation where they can lose everything.  I wrote a piece in the New York Times which said, Winning might be the beginning of losing, because you might win but you are losing your credibility by being put in this situation of being constantly challenged on religious terms, where you are not improving anything, and of course it takes time to reform a society. 
So the question about the Salafi is an important question as I say in Arab Awakening, and have often  repeated since. Now I am really underlining the importance of this, because we really don’t have very good memories. Remember – the Taliban in Afghanistan were not at all politicised in the beginning. They were just on about education. And then they were pushed by the Saudi and the Americans to be against the Russian colonisation, and as a result they came to be politicised. (They are not exactly like the Salafi because the Salafi think that they need to be re-educated, Islamically-speaking, convinced that they have to follow the prophet in a very literalist way.) But they too were pushed, so that it’s very strange now to see the Salafis being very vocal, sometimes violent, and developing this element now of Salafi jihadists. In fact these jihadists are acting against the interests of every single country – in Tunisia, in Egypt, now all of a sudden in north Mali.
So I would say that it is strange to see the allies of the west pushing such trends that are against the interests of the country, and at the same time, here we all are, celebrating democracy. The problem with Salafis is that they are religiously sincere and politically naïve.  And they allow themselves to be supported by people who have no religious sincerity but who are politically very smart, especially when it comes to their economic interests.
RB: Can we return to our opening question about ‘Islamic democratic secularism’ – a concept that I  first heard about from Egyptian thinker and activist, Heba Raouf Ezzat, who you cite in your book. What she was promoting was very much an anticipation of the combination of non-violence and pluralism and its unforgettable impact on the movement in Tahrir Square.  Is there any chance of that impulse of unity across divisions surviving and being strengthened in this crisis?
TR: The way it was expressed in terms of solidarity in the first phase of the massive demonstrations is not going to survive for long: the people who were thinking this way got perhaps 2, 3, 5% of the votes.  They were marginalised. But still, I think many thinkers and activists, even in the Islamist parties like the Muslim Brotherhood, and the people who left the Muslim Brotherhood to follow Abou el-Fatouh, these people do have an understanding that the relationship between religion and the state must be re-thought and re-assessed.  They’re not going to use the concept of secularism in any straightforward way, because the concept of secularism is still far too loaded in that part of the world.  When Erdogan went there and said ‘don’t be scared of secularists’ the Muslim Brotherhood rejected that outright. 
But in fact without using the term, this is exactly what they are doing.  They are moving towards the very essence of talking about the ‘civil state’ and that is exactly what we are talking about here.  For years they have been talking about civil society, now they have progressed as far as thinking about the civil state.  The ‘civil state’ is what I speak about in the book when I speak about ‘ethics in politics’, which is acknowledging the fact there are two authorities, two powers, two ways of influencing power, and that ethics should inspire the political vision of what is good governance, but that you cannot have an imposition of religion.  I think politics is evolving in that direction, even within segments of Islamism.
RB: Is the dialogue across national borders also important, between Muslims in Europe and in the Middle East, for example?
TR: Yes, there are ongoing discussions about this too.  The problem with what we call the ‘Arab spring’ is that these are very nationalistic experiences.  Tunisians are concerned with Tunisia, Egyptians concerned with Egypt and so on. 
But still I have been invited I don’t know how many times to Turkey, where Turkey has been following very quickly in the footsteps of what is sometimes referred to as the movement of cyber-dissidents. They have been training young people and also encouraging them to come into contact with western Muslims.  What they ask me to talk about is precisely secular democracy and Muslim democracy – this, of course, is what the Turkish government also needs to be selling to the young Islamists in the Arab countries. It is this kind of understanding that they also share with someone like Anwar Ibrahim in Malaysia.  So you can see the connections beginning to form. If in the very near future Anwar Ibrahim succeeds in Malaysia, he is positioned as very close to the Turkish experience, and many in the Muslim Brotherhood and Ennahda have a similar perspective. So there are important relationships across national boundaries.
Remember, after all, that the name of the AKP in Turkey came from Morocco: after a meeting with the people in Morocco they started using the same name. So there are deep connections, and also a great interest in our experience in the west. This is something that they are listening to – very much so – you cannot imagine how much the books that I am writing are sought after by people in Turkey, who are eager to hear what I am saying about our experience of authority, power and the secular system. So this is very important, and it works especially well because I am coming from this background – that is also important.