Archive for 2017|Yearly archive page

Don’t look back

In Europe on 21. December 2017 at 19:37

PRESIDENT EMMANUEL MACRON on a tour to former French colonies gave a message of belonging to a generation that does not tell Africans what to do – followed by focus on youth and a domestic drive towards development and progress.

Battle of Somah

Simultaneously he also delivered a message of not dwelling on the past – the injustices done by the colonial French empire. That the past should not hinder progress and that many a problems are civilizational.

These lectures you will hear in hyped-up conference halls for business leaders – not on the international stage where a former colonial power tells its counterpart, a previous colony, to end its whining and start becoming successful.

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On the missing custodian and a courted court jester

In Middle East on 29. November 2017 at 20:52

AN ILLUTION CAN deceive masses, what are journalists to think they can escape its spell? Except they should – and would have, had they been true to their credentials. What Thomas L. Friedman wrote in The New York Times a week ago regarding his high hopes of a Saudi reform not only promotes propaganda, but also justifies authoritarianism in its fight against liberty.


This pattern covers many a layers of developments in Middle East. Each time people demand rights, representation and progress, the authoritarians strike back – and each time, there tends to be willing ears in countries with the said rights and representation.

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Den sanne tro

In Religion and philosophy on 31. October 2017 at 17:14

Tekste er også publisert hos Minerva.

KEISER AKBAR I ble i sin tid introdusert for en konflikt mellom ismaili muslimene i India. Disputten gikk ut på om hvem som skulle anses som den gudommelige utvalgte Dai al-Mutlaq (Imamens stedfortreder) etter at forgjengeren døde.

Tradisjonelt skulle disse spørsmålene og disputtene ikke eksistere i det hele tatt – den gudommelige veiledning (nass) og troendes lojalitet skulle sikre en leder til enhver tid. Men her skulle altså en politisk hersker, som i tillegg ikke tilhørte samme tro, bestemme utfallet.


Nå nylig har den samme grupperingen igjen havnet i en lederstrid. Saken behandles nå i Høyesterett i Mumbai, samt i land som Storbritannia hvor finansene til bevegelsen er bevart i stiftelser.

Dette er en av de problematiske aspektene når stat og religion skal balansere seg imellom, være seg i en majoritetssituasjon eller av en minoritet. Hvem har fullmakt til å definere hva som er det sanne – og hvor langt kan kampen for den subjektive sannhet gå uten at staten blander seg inn?

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An honorable slave trade

In Society on 30. September 2017 at 17:52

A LOT HAS happened on the legal front when it comes to slavery, still the numbers are alarming high. An estimated 40 million people in 2016 lived under what is dubbed modern slavery, of these about 25 million were in forced labor, while the rest, 15 million of them, living in forced marriages. The latter bulk is definitely under-reported, no-doubt, because there are shades of force, taboos and most of all the acceptance of fate.

For whoever or whatever is to blame, there remains a fact that a society in where girls are married underage, where their say has little to say to enter a marriage, and where hurdles are great many to get out of these legalized prisons, there is in all practicality a tolerance of slavery.

In the guise of religion, culture and tradition, the institute of marriage is used to legitimize and safeguard against the fight for equality between genders, and freedom of choice and movement.

The link between forced labor, forced prostitution, and that of domestic labor and rape in the form of marriage is the crux on the problem. When can one enter the private domain and unshackle the injustices that are morally unacceptable as long as a marriage contract is not visible?

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Verdiers fiender og voktere

In Society on 25. August 2017 at 16:27

FÅ DEBATTER GIR så mange angreps- og forsvarsvinkler som debatter som vedrører verdier og identiteter. Slike diskusjoner har få matematiske faktum å forholde seg til, og hvis tilfellet, så kan selv disse faktum brukes til den konklusjon som allerede er trukket.


Det er derfor ikke rart at høyrepopulistiske partier kan få medvind når det uttrykkes bekymring for og om nasjonen, dets fremtid, dets lim, fra noe fremmed som truer med å fragmentere, destabilisere og fjerne hva som er kjent – hva som er trygt.

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Chop chop

In South Asia on 31. July 2017 at 21:57

WITH THE FIVE robed men’s decision, the third time Prime Minister, strongman of Lahore, Mian Mohammad Nawaz Sharif, again leaves office despite a majority in Parliament. The matter that fell him was not having declared, unclaimed salary, from a foreign-based company where he was a silent board member. A procedure that is worth its critique, but not at all a disqualification from his seat in the national assembly.

But these details are of no interest for those who cheer these days. As if a long sought revenge has been delivered, not taking into consideration the implications and consequences such a decision makes. Pakistan is a country still recovering from decades of on off, and direct-indirect military rule, it has only recently managed to make the steps to strengthen a parliamentary practice of civilian sovereignty – but certain political (and their non-political backers) cannot accept a system in where they lose, so they choose a system where they win.

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A Royal Arab spring

In Middle East on 8. June 2017 at 21:26

THERE USED TO be a common border between Qatar and Emirates, but that would not have helped as latter is aligned with Riyadh when it comes to recent showdown. Current crisis has Qatar cut-off by land, air and sea by the band of three: Saudi Arabia, UAE and the client state Bahrain.

This is what the Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC) has come to be – a forced alliance with center of gravity in the hands of Mohammad ibn Salman (deputy Crown Prince of Saudi Arabia), and his likeminded friend Mohammad ibn Zayed of UAE/Abu Dhabi.

There are several theories of recent thaw between this alliance within an alliance, against a peninsula-country based on the Arab peninsula – but what is this indicating? What kind of threat is Saudi-led GCC trying to prevent when Riyadh’s prime aim is Tehran? Why did such a daring stunt even unfold, and who is lurking to gain from this once the dust is settled?

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Of freedoms and exile

In Society on 31. May 2017 at 20:30

IF ANYONE CAN tell of populism, fake news, conspiracy theories and all that follows strongmen riding a populist wave, then it would be the many Muslim majority countries that can present authoritarians of all colors. Moreover, if you wonder what the cost is of illiberal populism in the hands of illiberal leaders, then the citizens of the same countries have a long tale to tell.

While fleeing authoritarian policies, many a Muslims have found home in Europe and the ‘western world’, where they can safeguard their lives, families and freedoms of ideals, faith and speech. At a safe distance, they have in recent years seen a shrinking space for freedoms in their countries of origin (to a varying degree), with the element of increased demands for freedoms (with their dire consequences).

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On populist surge and traditional purge

In Society on 30. April 2017 at 20:59

THE DOMINANT POLITICAL narrative in the recent and upcoming elections are filled with myths that are taken for granted as truths. Political interest on immigration, its effect on the national unity, nationhood and its survival, globalization and the lack of sovereignty and the dominant of them all, populism, its surge, and the apparent almost purge of the traditional political landscape.


All form the central themes in an environment where de-industrialization and inequality increases popular resentment and anger towards an imagined elite. What is myths in this, and what are the truths. Are these concerns of nationhood, national unity, identity, multiculturalism, populism-vs-elitism, a new phenomenon? How to dissect the myths, and the realities in this inflated debate?

What effect does a populism that is based on tribalism have on the rights based order – and how do one enter a global order that can take into consideration the dilemma between choosing both democracy/rights and sovereignty? In the end, how is diversity in the current form, any different from diversity from our near past? Is multi-identity based citizenship possible or is such a project forever dead and bygone?

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Of fate and the Arab soul

In Middle East on 31. March 2017 at 22:25

LAST TIME AN Arab leader was the head of an Arab empire was a time when we had yet to discover the delights of the enlightenment or the colours of the renaissance. Fatimid Empire, based in Cairo, was dominant in much of Arab peninsula, Levant and entire northern Africa. Its satellites, proxies and sympathisers were in Palermo, in and around Caliphs heartlands in Bagdad and among certain individuals of thinkers and philosophers who marked the Arab golden age.


Cairo of then and Cairo of today is nowhere near comparable. Neither its leadership, nor its populace – neither its economic reach, nor its political might. Looking abroad, there are petty Arab states that compete to be the sole representative of this people, but no one manages to be inclusive, popular or a source of stability for the entire segment.

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