Certainty and Schizophrenia

Certainty and Schizophrenia

Demonstrators filled the Kurfürstendamm for miles, or so it seemed. From block to block, all one could see were hijab-clad Arab women, holding aloft yellow and green Hezbollah banners, punctuated by the furry hats of Neturei Karta ultra-orthodox.  For tourists, the sight was confounding. Terrorist sympathizers, walking arm-in-arm with religious Jews? In Germany’s capital? More»

La Nakba Française

La Nakba Française

On a warm summer night several years ago I found myself in a busy internet café on the Karl Marx Strasse in the Neukölln section of Berlin. Neukölln has one of the largest Turkish populations in the city, and rather a bad name both in Berlin, and in Germany more generally. More»

Judean Death Cult

Judean Death Cult

As I read the article, I started shaking. Tears streamed down my face. It was about an old man in Beit Hanoun, Gaza. On Friday night, eight members of his family, including his sons, daughters and grandchildren, had finished their Iftar meal and sat down to watch a popular television show. A few minutes into it, an artillery shell ripped through their home, killing them all, including children aged six, two, and one. More»

Latest entries
Putin's Wager

Putin’s Wager

Since the invasion of Crimea, Putin’s popularity has soared. The results of the Crimean referendum were obviously welcomed in Russia. Putin gave a speech the next day, proclaiming that the languages of Russians, Ukrainians, and Crimean Tatars, would now be recognised. These events have been interpreted in the West as an illegitimate annexation.  More»

It's a Small, Strange World

It’s a Small, Strange World

Wes Anderson’s latest picture Grand Budapest Hotel has been widely praised by critics for exposing more of the melancholy that has lined all of his ventures. With its allusions to the rise of fascism in the 1930s, and the fate of Eastern Europe’s smaller nations after both World Wars, the film definitely comes closer to delivering the sort of message many found lacking in his previous work. More»

Scarlet Jihad

Scarlet Jihad

Jihad is not just an obsession in my country of Pakistan. The entire region has become enamoured with the idea, even as it rejects Salafi jihadist groups such as Al-Qaida and the Taliban. It is not because of a debate between liberalism and conservatism, or whether or not Islam is compatible with Enlightenment values. It is because for many Muslims, Islamism is the new post-Soviet Marxism.  More»

Framing Putin

Framing Putin

Seeking rationality in punditry on foreign policy is a fool’s errand in the best of times. Bombastic statements and ideological polemics are the rule of the field. But when the United States and European Union are facing off against Russia, it is worthwhile to demand some clarity and, yes, even honesty. These have been in short supply on both sides. More»

Tatar State of Mind

Tatar State of Mind

“Oh that? It is complicated, you know?” Cemal Bey was not talking about his çibörek, which is cause enough for savory surprise. Customers in his small restaurant in Çanakkale can expect a treatise on the food if he opens his mouth. Of course, there is more to Tatar culture than çibörek. We discussed the referendum in his homeland of Crimea. More»

Towards Interstellar Islam

Towards Interstellar Islam

What will Islam look like in five billion years? It is our responsibility as Muslims to find an answer. Readers may scoff at the inquiry as childish, but if humanity really does survive that long (and what’s the point if we assume that it won’t?) then we have to grapple with the question of how our faith will look in the distant future.   More»

Burning Down the House

Burning Down the House

In a world where the reality principle has largely been conflated with the totalizing logic of capital, the most powerful messages may be those that repudiate common sense. Consider this provocative sticker from Brussels, one of a series popping up around the city: “If you are really cold, set fire to your house.” Like the Zen koans it resembles, this counter-intuitive advice has the potential to turn one’s thinking inside out. More»

Fourth Reich Calling

Fourth Reich Calling

One of the important tasks of the on-going project of Never Again for Anyone, including our own to take place in Berlin during the Holocaust’s 70th anniversary, is to highlight the danger of a resurgence of violent far-right activity in Europe. As a German resident, I think the most notable example in recent times is undoubtedly the case of the National Socialist Underground (NSU). More»

Labour Tourism

Labour Tourism

“We can’t fire them.” For anyone who has ever worked in Italy, the complaint is a familiar one. Often proffered to British and American employees, who are used to working with at-will type contracts, where staff can be let go on a whim, there’s an air of “Why can’t we be more like you?” to the declaration, as though a lack of job security is a more natural, albeit desirable state of affairs. More»

Yeltsin Nostalgia

Yeltsin Nostalgia

Today’s tensions with Vladimir Putin probably make American policymakers nostalgic for the days of Boris Yeltsin. If we wish to understand today’s Russia, we have to look at the way the Federation emerged from the tumultuous collapse of the USSR. Putin’s allegiances were clear from the beginning. He was not a mindless KGB thug, as he is often portrayed. More»

The Ukraine Reader

The Ukraine Reader

Perceptions of the crisis in Ukraine have been driven by the media. The Western press has taken a guardedly positive line toward the protestors in Maidan Square, constructing the flirtations of the Ukrainian opposition with NATO and the EU as simple struggles for freedom and the rule of law, mostly ignoring the neo-fascist presence in the movement. More»

Hating the Ahmaddiya

Hating the Ahmaddiya

I grew up hating Ahmaddiya Muslims. It’s almost a ritual for Pakistani Muslims, especially in the deeply pious newly middle class. Even calling them Muslims will bother many of my family members: we all grew up using the pejorative “Qadiani.” We hated them with a vehemence that somehow rivaled our disgust for Sikhs and Hindus, though maybe it’s all part of the same thing. More»