Although discussed for decades, the issue of cultural and religious values has been again brought into the political spotlight since the end of the 20th century. Today, a number of key political and state actors, including the European Union (EU), clearly consider dialogue and engagement with religious institutions and organisations vital resources for achieving stability, security and peace.
Last Sunday Chechen police declared having registered 1.1 million people participating in the protest against the “genocide” of Muslims in Myanmar held in the center of Grozny (the capital of the Chechen republic). The number of participants may be overestimated, since the Republic's overall population is 1.3 million people, but the importance of this protest for Russia’s internal stability and international political agenda is hard to overestimate.
Spread across Turkey, Syria, Iraq and Iran, Kurdistan is one of the hottest geopolitical areas in the Middle East. It is a land inhabited by over 30 million people, representing one of the largest stateless "nations" worldwide.
The Kurds play a crucial role in the region, and the so-called "Kurdish factor" has constantly been a key ingredient of recent Middle East crises: from the wars in Iraq under Saddam Hussein to the fight against the so-called Islamic State. Not to mention the strategic relevance that Kurdistan assumes as one of the oil-richest areas in the region.
What new balances would an eventual victory of Kurds over IS create? What are the long-term goals of the Kurdish community? How to reach a solution to the Kurdish question able to satisfy all the actors involved? Can we envisage a common future for the Kurds or will they remain tied to the political destinies of the countries they live in?
These are just some of the questions that this report tries to answer collecting contributions from leading international experts.
In late last May the Pope paid a visit to the Palestinian Authority and Israel. He also invited both presidents, Mahmud Abbas and Shimon Peres, to pray together in Rome, which they did on June the 8th. It all went well. The Pope is a great person, full of charm and good intentions. Abbas and Peres represent the best of their respective peoples. They both radiate openness and rationality. For the Palestinians the visit was significant as another voice of global importance calling for the establishment of a Palestinian state.
This Report is based on the International Workshop with academia, think tanks and media representatives entitled ‘Promoting Religious Freedom and Peaceful Coexistence’ held on 11 February 2013 at the Italian Ministry of Foreign Affairs, Rome. The authors have not provided a simple summary of the proceedings but have constructed the report as a critical engagement and reflection of the workshop’s discussion in the context of the growing international attention given to the so-called international religious freedom agenda. As such the report reflects the authors’ personal and selective interpretations of the proceedings. It is offered for the consideration of policy-makers and various stake-holders as a contribution to the conceptual and policy debate on what is such a crucial issue for the future of a peaceful and multicultural international society. (...)
The Tunisian and Egyptian uprisings culminated peacefully because their respective national armies ensured as much as possible an orderly transition; on the contrary, in Libya the national army collapsed and the uprising rapidly turned itself into civil war among armed Libyan factions. While the Tunisian and Egyptian uprisings challenged the regimes at their center stages, symbolically occupying the heart of respective capital cities, in Libya the rebellion was located in Benghazi far away from the center of Qadhafi’s power.
The Middle East and North Africa Region has probably recovered more strongly than other regions of the world from the financial crisis, thanks to the dynamics of oil prices. However, the outbreak of the Arab Spring, motivated also by economic grievances, suggests that the impact of the world economic crisis in the region is probably deeper than imagined. Despite growth and increasing investments, unemploy-ment in the region is persistent, due on the one side to the growing population on the other side to rising inequality and ineffective management of the economy (rentier state).
In a country long known for its tradition of tolerance, the Dutch Party for Freedom (PVV) is an outlier. Vocally Islamophobic and unapologetically Euro-skeptic, the party has risen to global prominence by embodying the rise of Europe’s growing far-right fringe. At the forefront of the PVV is Geert Wilders – a Dutch parliamentarian infamous for his uncensored criticism of Islam.