This sticker, the latest in Souciant’s series on a youth outreach campaign of Germany’s Left Party, brings back memories of a time when I was both “learning to see,” in the sense Rainer Maria Rilke invokes in The Notebooks of Malte Laurids Brigge, and trying hard not to do so. (More…)

Immigrants who move to Western countries from the Middle East are frequently faced with a conundrum. Do we indulge Orientalist stereotypes in order to market our businesses? After all, there is an economic value attached to such caricatures, that foregrounds our identity in the Diaspora labor market. Should we risk cheapening ourselves? It seems we have no choice in the matter. (More…)

The Imam was optimistic. ”This is a step forward for integration too’,” he bragged to ANSA, the Italian state news agency. The reason? The first halal mozzarella had been certified by religious authorities. Henceforth, Italian Muslims would be able to consume one of Italy’s most popular food products, in full accordance with their religious beliefs. (More…)

One of the first things I did when I arrived in Germany as an exchange student in 1986 was to walk into a bookstore and buy a collection of Bertolt Brecht’s plays. I spoke almost no German. And the only Brecht I had been aware of back in the states was his libretto for the Kurt Weill “song-play” The Rise and Fall of the City of Mahagonny (More…)

Don’t let Putin fool you. Banishing Pussy Riot to a penal colony allowed the Russian leader to reassert his rule. Democracy be damned. Civil rights, religious freedom, and gender equality from herein would be subject to his purview. The ex-KGB officer’s message wasn’t just aimed at Russia. It was directed at all of Eastern Europe, too. (More…)

Arms upraised, they punched the air, shrieking at the top of their lungs in Tigrinyan. An Irish team had just scored its first goal against an unidentified Milanese team. I was confused. “Why are they rooting for the Irish?” I queried my companion. “Because they’re Africans,” he snorted. “They want to see the Italians punished for their racism.” (More…)

Last month’s Rio+20 summit, the latest in a series of international meetings intended to combat climate change, amounted to yet another hopeless failure. No surprise there. While the G20 gatherings and World Economic Forums of this world continue to draw major players, Rio+20 was, by-and-large, snubbed. (More…)

He must have been about twelve. Holding a large piece of paper, with the letters of the alphabet written upon it, he walked from table to table, arms outstretched staring intently at whoever was seated. A couple of customers gave him money. Most didn’t. The boy smelled. Perhaps it was that he was wearing a big wool sweater. It was eighty degrees outside. (More…)

It wasn’t meant to be demeaning. Wherever you turned that winter, someone was selling something with the President’s name or likeness on it. The fact that it was Milan, at the height of the Berlusconi era, and the sellers Arabs and south Asians, said something. They were hoping for a breakthrough, just like Americans were. (More…)

It was a golden opportunity. Four Jews had just been killed by a Muslim gunman. Accused of inciting ethnic conflict, the French President’s reelection campaign had been given the chance to repair the damage. All it had to do was recast the ex-Minister of the Interior as a tough cop who prioritized the security of the Jewish community. (More…)

In an increasingly globalised world, linguistic diversity provides one of the most potent reminders of difference. A perennial resource for conflict, language barriers are an inevitable test of tolerance. As the world’s largest nation, Russia’s multitude of languages – from Abaza to Itlemen, Kabarda to Yukagir – is a veritable Babel. Yet, it would appear, an increasingly reluctant one. (More…)

Dear Herr Grass,

Ever since your poem was first published, I’ve been wanting to talk to you. You don’t know me from a hole in the ground. The chances are that we’ll never meet, either. However, I didn’t want the event to pass without you hearing from me, as someone who was touched by your words. (More…)