We begin the year with an extensive double winter issue.
At the Reinhold Frank Memorial Lectures in summer 2014, Jörg Armbruster was invited to Karlsruhe to give a lecture entitled “Democracy in the Arab World. What chances does it have?” Armbruster was the correspondent of the German TV Channel ARD for the Middle East until the end of 2012. The Middle East has never been the focus of this lecture series, which is held in July every year since 2000 in memory of the resistance fighter Reinhold Frank (1896-1945). But why not? Indeed, as Armbruster points out, there are parallels between his fight against injustice and the fight of the Arab people against it:
“Reinhold Frank had fought and in the end even had sacrificed his life for the same thing for which the people in the Arab world had given theirs in the last few years: for a political system that allows the participation of the citizens, for respect and human dignity and a better life with perspective.”
Armbruster examines the background of the Arab Spring, which is threatened to fail and revert back to the old undemocratic power structure in almost every country of the Arab spring. Nevertheless, Armbruster fosters the hope that democracy will develop there in the long run, since the wheel of change cannot be turned back. The major problem he sees does not lie in religion, but in the lack of educational systems and corruption.
We follow with an essay by the Moroccan Islamic scholar and journalist Rachid Boutayeb entitled “A culture of tolerance, tolerance of ambiguity” in which he deals with the concept of “ambivalence of tolerance” and the delicate balance between equality and difference, as it has been shaped by Rainer Forst. He writes that “A racist is not to become tolerant, he rather should overcome his racism”. Boutayeb questions Thomas Bauer’s thesis, based on Donald Levine, which argues that it was the fight against ambiguity which incited the unique development of Western Europe, which cannot be found anywhere else in the world. Bauer notes, however, that the Arab-Islamic culture is quite accepting of ambiguity and conflicting coexisting standards.
In this issue we also publish the Arabic translation of the politically and historically significant speech delivered by the Islamic scholar and journalist Navid Kermani on the 23rd of May 2014, before the German Bundestag to commemorate “65 years of the Basic Law”. It was a speech in which he essentially ignored all the usual customs that apply on such occasions by sharply criticizing their asylum policies of 1993. These state that “Persecuted people have the right for political asylum”. Kermani argues that this regulation was phrased to conceal the subtext that Germany has abolished asylum as a fundamental right.
Two articles in this issue deal with Averroes (Ibn Rushd) and his attitude toward women, the first from the perspective of a man (Mohammed Mesbahi, Morocco), the other from the perspective of a woman (Nadia Harhash – Palestine).
Abdelhakim Adjhar of the Khalifa University of Science, Technology and Research (KU)/UAE ventures on a modern interpretation of the Koran. In his opinion, the meaning of the text must be apparent from the text itself, stressing the importance of employing ‘reason’ He argues that if one does not understand the text by reasoning, one will find oneself oppressed by unresolved queries and a lack of logical thought.
The Palestinian writer and social advisor Faiha Abdelhadi, Director of the Foundation “author of studies and works of researches”, Palestinian coordinator of the feminist network “1000 women around the world,” analyzes the reasons behind the regression of Arab women and she suggests methods to guarantee the successful equality of the sexes.
In his contribution, the Syrian historian and writer Abdalla Hanna reminds us of the humanistic and patriotic work of Syrian human rights activist Razan Zaitouneh and her fellow activists. He explains the background of their abduction, reflecting upon Syria during the Enlightenment of the 19th century.
Hamid Fadlalla pays his homage to the Palestinian poet Samih al-Qasim, who died on August 19, 2014 – as one of the last great poets of the Palestinian resistance in addition to Taufiq Ziyad, Ibrahim Touqan, Mouin Bsisu, Mahmoud Darwich.
Finally as is our tradition we end our issue with a piece of literature and some anecdotes: “Encounters, reflexions” by Hamid Fadlalla.
Please note: Authors are welcome to send their contributions or to make us recommendations.
Dr. Abier Bushnaq