Why you should be Skeptical of Media Pundits’ Commentary
Are the pundits (or experts) on TV actually making us more ignorant? I am starting to wonder if all this explosion of ‘experts’ around us is really helping us understand the complex issues in front of us, or are they ‘dumbing down’ things, in order to reach us, and in essence not really helping us […]
How Not to Think of Lobbies in America
How does one think about a special interest group? Are they the ‘tail wagging the dog’? Or more realistically, just power-brokers who are go-in-betweens, managing perceptions, raising money and buying out influence, for those who they work? The answer is something in between. While I don’t agree that lobbies are all powerful, they do wield […]
What can Islam offer to the World? Part 1
Most often, when journalists write about Islam, it is in connection with something negative. As Edward Said argued, many years ago in Orientalism, there is a tendency in the Western academia and media to focus on the stereotypes of Islam and the Muslim world, at the expense of the ‘reality’ that exists in the Muslim […]
Can democracy take root in the Arab world?
As Syria burns, Iraq implodes and Tunisia and Libya struggle to democratize, one question remains central to framing discussions of participatory governance – Is democracy possible in the ‘Muslim world’? Is democracy an ‘internal wound,’ that has been left to fester for too long, within the Arab/Muslim world, as Moroccan scholar Fatima Mernissi argues? She […]
How can Zakat help Syrian Refugees?
The ongoing Syrian Civil War is pegged to be the largest humanitarian disaster since the Cold War. A recent New York Times article quoted United Nations Organizations officials making an appeal for an unprecedented $5bn towards relief and rehabilitation, even as the fighting goes on. Given that most of the victims of the crisis are […]
Egypt and the Challenge of Islam in the Public Sphere
“Know that you can have three sorts of relations with princes, governors and oppressors. The first and worst is that you visit them, the second and better is that they visit you, and the third and surest that you stay far from them, so that neither you see them nor they see you.” – Abu […]
Religion in the Public Sphere – Good, Bad or Ugly?
With Christmas, ‘War on Christmas’ and ‘Creeping Shariah’ dominating our headlines, it looks like religion is making a comeback in public discourse. Unfortunately, it seems to be for the wrong reasons – barring the Pope’s recent gestures of reconciliation with homosexuals and other minorities. But that doesn’t stop his critics from painting him as […]
Book Review: Interventions – A life in War and Peace – Kofi Annan with Nader Mousavizadeh
As the civil war in Syria rages on, with close to 90,000 people having died so far, and United Nations Special Envoy Lakhdhar Brahimi having admitted failure of his mission, the notion of a UN or international “intervention,” seems to be all but dead. While there is a glimmer of hope in the situation, with […]
The Gatekeepers : A frighteningly good film
Either by chance or design, I am watching films related to the Palestinian situation these days. And increasingly, these are being produced by Israelis or joint collaboration between […]