Re-Constructing the Murder of Ali Boumendjel in French Historiography
On 2 March 2021, French President Emmanuel Macron officially confessed that Algerian nationalist, lawyer and freedom fighter Ali Boumendjel was ‘tortured and murdered’ on 23 March 1957 by French colonial forces. This revelation from the Élysée Palace put to rest decades of contentious imperial historiography which alleged Ali that Boumendjel had committed suicide while he was detained by French troops during the 1956 – 1957 Battle of Algiers. But ‘Ali Boumendjel did not commit suicide. He was tortured and then killed,’ Macron told Boumendjel’s four grandchildren who were invited to the Élysée Palace, according to the statement. The French President sought to emphasise that the new generation must ‘be able to build its own destiny, far from the two ruts that are amnesia and resentment.’ He went on to state that ‘[it] is for them, French and Algerian youth, that we must advance down the path of truth, the only one that can lead to the reconciliation of memories.’
Macron’s address engendered a polarising response within Algeria itself. While Algerian state media quoted a government statement that ‘Algeria notes with satisfaction the announcement by French President Emmanuel Macron of his decision to honour the fighter and martyr Ali Boumendjel,’ Macron has come under criticism for refusing to issue an apology for the regime of torture and scale of atrocities committed during the Battle of Algiers, in addition to the wider French colonial rule over Algeria from 1830 until 1962. In order to discern why discussions concerning France’s colonial history remain trivialised in the French Fifth Republic, tracing the systematic regime of torture, sanctioned violence and exclusion which lay at the cornerstone of France’s mission civilisatrice may offer a means to understand this dilemma. Continue reading
Media coverage as well as the response to the Sudan crisis has been abysmal
Since the talks between the Transitional Military Council (TMC) and the Alliance for Freedom and Change have broken down, Khartoum has been plagued by violence. When the military capitulated to popular demand and brought an end to the 30-year long oppressive rule of Omar al-Bashir, the people rejoiced. Sudanese spirits were at a high much like the same demonstrators who managed to overthrow despots during the Arab Spring Uprising. Unfortunately, after that uprising it soon became clear that the military is often as authoritarian as its governmental counterpart. It cleverly employs a tactic of appearing to appease the people, allowing the dust settle which is then followed by strict military rule. Fortunately, the Sudanese appeared to have learnt from history as the Alliance for Freedom and Change called for a total civil disobedience campaign after the military’s very brutal crackdown on a protestors’ camp on 3 June when it refused to hand over authority to a civilian administration preferring to concentrate power in its own hands.
There have been serious human rights violations as the Central Committee for Sudanese Doctors (CSSD) has put the death toll at 118 victims while hundreds have been injured. About 40 “bloated” bodies have been recovered from the Nile- an attempt by the military to lower the official death toll. Additionally many women have suffered from rape with numbers likely understated due to the societal stigma attached to such an offense. Much of the atrocities have been committed by the paramilitary force known as the Rapid Support Forces (RSF) headed by General Hamdan. It is this same force that was responsible for the genocide in Darfur for which Mr. Bashir has been indicted by the International Criminal Court and gives rise to the question: why are similar crimes currently committed by the same force not being taken seriously by the international community? Continue reading
In the wake of sensationalized headlines pertaining to the ongoing tech-wars between the United States and China, one may ponder over the overt and covert implications of this growing dilemma. Visualizing a trajectory with regard to the recent events that have been observed over the course of this tech-war, the most pressing developments would certainly be the United States trade-blockade against Chinese telecommunications company, Huawei, and interestingly enough, the resurgence of the geopolitical tussle over rare-earths between the United States and China, with Africa being the unfortunate playing field. As security experts from the United States continue to stress on the ‘security risks’ attributed to Huawei and its products, the tech-wars have reached a peak where all options are to be explored in order to gain the upper-hand in the field of science and technology. Chinese President Xi Jinping met his Russian counterpart Vladimir Putin in Moscow on fifth June, with this meeting garnering considerable media coverage in order to draw out China’s next strategy amid the frenzy generated by the United States’ trade-blockade involving the blacklisting of Huawei.
‘Protectionism and unilateral approaches are on the rise, and a policy of force and hegemonism is increasingly taking hold,’ stated Xi Jinping. This statement, coupled with strongly-worded rhetoric exchanged between the United States and China leaves one pondering over what the next move may be from both sides. While this meeting resulted in a deal between Russian telecommunications company ‘Mobile TeleSystems’ (MTS) and Huawei towards developing the 5G network in Russia (a key, strategic development for the telecommunication sector between the two countries), the news concerning the United States and China’s revived dispute over the supply of rare-earths in Africa harbours an incredibly unique position in the discussion concerning strategizing and exploring tactical options. Continue reading
Despite a furious response from the Pakistani media, the foreign office and ISPR have responded sensibly to the situation.
Trump is a total racist who thinks that black people from “shithole countries” such as poor Haiti are unworthy of the superior status he bestows upon white people from Norway. But of course he went on to quickly deny he said that at all. Michael Wolff’s book Fire and Fury confirms that Trump is an infantile person and his administration knows that he is an 11 year old. Psychoanalytic studies suggest that human beings always need an external object to put all the blames on him for their own misdeeds. We create an external enemy of ‘flesh and blood’ that can be fought and can be avenged. In other words, we imagine that our failures are not because of our own misdeeds but because of some other external forces. Such use of imagination helps us to come out of our inner sorrow by blaming some external enemy who is falsely thought to be the reason for our own failures. After all, states are run by human beings not stones. Indeed, states are often in ‘denial’ about accepting reality and the US is no different in that resect.
A recent tweet by Donald Trump blamed Pakistan and argued that ‘The United States has foolishly given Pakistan more than 33 billion dollars in aid over the last 15 years, and they have given us nothing but lies & deceit, thinking of our leaders as fools. They give safe haven to the terrorists we hunt in Afghanistan, with little help. No more!’ Mounting tensions have led Pakistan to react by halting intelligence sharing with the US after losing American military aid. Instead, Islamabad will turn to its ‘time tested friend’ and ‘reliable ally’ Beijing. In October 2017, the same Trump was found praising Pakistan for its cooperation in rescuing a North-American family from the Taliban. However, now, Trump has accused Pakistan of giving safe haven to the terrorists that Americans hunt in Afghanistan. Continue reading
Held six decades ago in Bandung, Indonesia, the 1955 Afro-Asian Conference (also known as the Bandung Conference) was a landmark event in the history of decolonized countries and those aspiring for independence from colonial rule. The Conference was organized by Indonesia, Pakistan, Burma, India and Ceylon (Sri Lanka) and was unique in that there was no official western presence. It was attended by the great leaders of that time: Zhou Enlai and Ho Chi Minh, Nehru, U Nu, Tito, Nasser, Ben Bella among others and seasoned diplomats like Prince Waithayakow of Thailand, Fatin Zorlu of Turkey and Carlos Romulo of the Philippines. For The Pakistan Institute of International Affairs, the Bandung Conference has a very special significance because our founding Secretary, K. Sarwar Hasan, went to Bandung to organize the Conference on behalf of the Government of Pakistan. He recorded his impressions of the Conference in this unpublished paper, Bandung Memories.
The Asian-African Conference, held in Bandung from 18 to 24 April 1955, was undoubtedly the largest gathering of the kind held on the soil of Asia or Africa. Twenty-nine governments participated, many of them represented by their prime ministers or other leading statesmen. Arrangements for the Conference were made by a Joint Secretariat of the five sponsoring powers, the so-called Colombo Powers, namely, Burma, Ceylon, India, Indonesia and Pakistan. Continue reading
Several new constitutions have been written in Muslim countries in the past decade; Afghanistan and Iraq wrote new constitutions after American-led invasions; Egypt wrote a new constitution after the ouster of Mubarak (and again after the military coup against Egypt’s first democratically elected president, Morsi) and Tunisia enacted a new constitution recently; several countries – such as Yemen and Libya have attempted to write permanent constitutions but ensuing chaos did not allow this to happen. Each of these constitution-making situations was very different and each country is a product of very different histories, cultures and socio-economic and societal foundations. Yet, one issue has been consistently highlighted: the status of Islam. To what degree will Islam be privileged in the constitution? Will new popularly elected governments be constrained by Islamic law? Will courts be able to set aside laws if incompatible with Sharia?
Many constitutions in the Muslim world contain clauses that recognize the Islamic character of the state. Yet, to date, there was little data on the landscape of Islam in constitutions. Separate research projects I collaborated on with Tom Ginsburg, Professor and Deputy Dean at the University of Chicago Law School and Moamen Gouda, Assistant Professor of Middle East Economics at Hankuk University of Foreign Studies sought to fill this gap. Our analysis showed that roughly half of all Muslim majority countries have some Islamic feature in their constitution. Continue reading
In his post, Abdulkadir Suleiman makes some very good points. He correctly underscores the rise of anti-Islamic rhetoric in the far-right of European politics. He correctly notes the backlash against multiculturalism which has emerged in the post-9/11 Europe. However, it is in the other things claimed that his argument is undermined.
To me the concept that Europe’s intolerance is rooted in its colonialism is bizarre. It would be a similar claim to say that Turkey’s present political crises were based in its invasion of Austria, or that the US’ neo-conservatism is based on its decades of war against Great Britain. Europe has changed so significantly and thoroughly in the last two hundred years that it is near unrecognisable from the continent which once saw Napoleon march on Moscow and the Germans butcher one another over religion. Culture changes, and causal chains can only last so long. Suleiman seems keen to note other fundamental changes which have occurred since then whilst ignoring others.
It is indeed well known that Europe has been pursuing a culture of tolerance since the Second World War, Continue reading
“How can we have peace if we don’t build relationships?” The plea and key to life beyond war emotes from African Ikenna Ezeibe in the new 2012 film, Dialogue in Nigeria: Muslims & Christians Creating Their Future. Ezeibe was among the 200 adversaries — courageous young women and men who united successfully in Jos, central Nigeria, the centre of recent brutal violence that echoed worldwide.
Refusing to be enemies, they were together during days and evenings of the 2010 International Conference on Youth and Interfaith Communication. Crossing lines of religion, economics, tribe, and gender, they transcended the status quo and discovered empathy for each other. Listening-to-learn, they dignified themselves and the “other” realizing that “an enemy is one whose story we have not heard”. Face to face in small circles, they began with ice-breakers and continued in depth, discovering one another’s equal humanity – fear, grief, needs, hopes, and concrete plans for a shared future.
A link to a video of Dialogue in Nigeria on U-tube can be found below: Continue reading
Somali people argue that rather than anything else illegal fishing and dumping toxic waste into Somalia’s seas are the root causes of piracy. Yet regardless of the originality and authenticity of this claim, piracy remains an international phenomenon discussed at global meetings. In relation to piracy, there is both good news and bad news for Somalia. The good news is that the number of pirate attacks in the Somalia seas has substantially diminished in this year and the last quarter of previous year. So Somali pirates seem to be defeated. And the bad news is that there is still another untold story about a new type of piracy (which is illegal fishing) where foreign vessels are sucking away Somalia’s natural resources. These foreign vessels have lost 6 billion dollars since the outbreak of piracy according to maritime sources.
Since the anti-piracy maneuvers undertaken by NATO forces were commenced, the piracy rate has diminished sharply, as it was mentioned in last year’s report of International Maritime Bureau. Notably, not only NATO forces, local people (through their own methods and motivation) are also fighting against pirates. Continue reading
The Cherie Blair Foundation for Women was set up in September 2008 in response to Cherie’s experiences meeting women around the world and her realisation that, with the right support, women could overcome the challenges they face, and play an important part in the economies and societies in which they work and live. Today the charity invests in women entrepreneurs, so they can build and expand their businesses – and in doing so benefit not only themselves but also their families and communities.
Her Foundation focuses its efforts on Africa, South Asia and the Middle East, in countries where women have made strides in education and have the potential to succeed in business, but lack the necessary support. We caught up with Cherie and found out why investing in women isn’t just good ethics, it’s sound economics…
What inspired you to get involved in supporting women’s rights?
I was inspired because of my background, both personally and professionally in my legal work, and my experiences when my husband was at Number 10. I have learnt that you never know what is around the corner and if, as a woman you don’t have financial independence and the ability to support yourself, life can become very difficult. Continue reading