What does turning Hagia Sophia into a mosque mean for global political practice?
In an unusally brazen move Turkey’s top court recently ruled in favour of transforming Hagia Sophia, a museum of global tourist attraction, into a mosque. Originally a cathedral built in pre-Islamic Turkey but converted into a mosque when Ottomans invaded Constantinople in 1453, with the liquidation of the Ottoman Empire, Attaturk transformed it into a museum in 1934 as a secular gesture to herald what is called modern secular Turkey. This was more recently followed by transforming another historic Chora Church, that went exactly through the same iteration, into yet another mosque.
This guest post byRAVI SINHAis the text of the key note address to the Pakistan-India People’s Forum for Peace and Democracy in Allahabad on 30 December 2011
I must begin by expressing my gratitude to the organizers of this Convention and to this Forum for the opportunity and the honor you have given me by letting me address this impressive assembly. Also, I must congratulate you for choosing a theme that articulates, perhaps, the central challenge confronting all peoples and all nations of the world and more so for the peoples and the nations on the subcontinent. We are all witness to and victims of the times characterized by monstrous brutalities of war and deep scars of deprivations, inequities and oppressions. We live under a world order wherein those who brought, for example, untold tragedy and destruction to Iraq will never be brought to justice because they are the global hegemons. They will not be questioned about the hundreds of thousands of dead and maimed Iraqi men, women and children; they will not be questioned about the thousands of dead and decapitated American soldiers; they will not be questioned about the trillions of dollars spent on the war and further trillions destroyed by the war; and they will not be questioned about the kind of Iraq they are leaving behind.
This guest post for Kafila comes fromCAELAINN HOGAN, an Irish journalist who was in Juba for South Sudan’s independence day, 9 July 2011
All photos by Caelainn Hogan
At midnight on the eve of independence, the birth of the Republic of South Sudan was heralded with an outburst of celebrations. In Juba, the capital city, people ran through the streets singing and ululating, in the delirium of a moment they never though would come to be. In a local church the congregation sang happy birthday to the new nation. The next day at the official declaration ceremony thousands gathered to witness the new flag raised high and to sing the national anthem together. Many broke down in tears, thinking of loved ones who had fought or struggled and never got to see this day. The declaration brought an end to a long history of conflict; one that many believed could now be relegated to the past. Others still found inspiration and strength in the past, singing the old revolutionary song, “We will never surrender”. Continue reading “I never knew this before, but now I know I am a human being”: A despatch by Caelainn Hogan from a new country→
To add to the tumultuous political dynamics of Africa, the world is most likely to see a new country adorning its map by the middle of this year with the two-way split of the continent’s largest country, Sudan. For Africa, which has again hit the international headlines for fresh troubles in Ivory Coast, Tunisia and most recently in Egypt, civil wars based on identity and protests against despotic governments are nothing new. However the larger question that has kept many wondering is whether the world is going to see a new era of a large-scale statebirth with the formation of South Sudan, a process that almost stopped barring the examples of Kosovo two years back or East Timor ten years back. As millions of jubilant south Sudanese in the city of Juba, went to vote in a long awaited independence referendum in the second week of January to see their war torn region emerge as a new nation, it will be important to revisit the troubling status quo of other regions of the world demanding secession. Continue reading Thus Sudan Splits, What’s Next for the Aspiring Rest?: Tanmoy Sharma→
On January 6th, it is almost certain that a referendum in South Sudan will lead to a vote to secede from the rest of the country, thus paving the way to the formal inauguration of Africa’s 54th sovereign state. The vote comes after many years of discord between Sudan’s Arab-and-Muslim north and its black, animist and Christian south, and civil war in which almost 2m have died. Thus, divorce seems the only option in Sudan’s case. However, many in Africa, including the African Union, which has long inveighed in principle against secessionist tendencies in Africa, worry that it could set a trend that encourages other self-determination movements on the continent, potentially causing instability and worse. Others argue that the right of all peoples to self-determination must be allowed to hold good. In these terms, would the secession of South Sudan be good for Africa?