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14/03/2006

Magazine Roundup

The New Yorker | L'Express | Gazeta Wyborcza | Il Foglio | Le Monde diplomatique | Le Point | Elet es Irodalom | Al Ahram Weekly | Foreign Policy


The New Yorker
, 20.03.2006 (USA)

Nick Paumgarten paints himself a picture of Hedi Slimane (homepage), the celebrated head designer at Dior Homme, but who after numerous visits, remains a colourful and strange creature. "Hedi Slimane can't drive. He'd like to learn how, but he can't find the time. While in Paris, he keeps a car and driver on call around the clock, in case he decides to go out searching for models in the early-morning hours. The car is a Jaguar. The driver wears Dior. 'It would be a bit strange for him to show up in a funny suit,' Slimane said. Slimane is distinguished from most other designers by his practice of casting unknowns or nonprofessionals for his shows. Like everyone else in the trade, he calls them "boys." He spots them on the street or in clubs - a process that Slimane calls "boy safari." He won't really say what the right attributes are, and they can vary from show to show, but generally he prefers his boys tall, lean, slightly androgynous, and English. Usually, he has an assistant make the approach, but if he is alone he will do it himself."



L'Express, 13.03.2006 (France)

In the run-up to the elections in Israel on March 28, the L'Express has launched a series of interviews. Haim Gouri, an Israeli poet, writer, journalist and documentary film-maker is the first under the spotlight. Born in 1923 in Tel Aviv to Russian Jewish parents, he talks about his youth in the early days of the state of Israel, his Zionist dream and the present reality. When asked about his participation in the Six Day War of 1967, he says: "Before the war broke out I had believed that my dream of Israel would come true: the Biblical land, Samaria, the olive trees... But on the journey north everything looked as if it had died. White flags were flapping on the roofs and the people had crawled to hide behind walls. On the edge of the path I saw a young Arab woman, all in black, she was beautiful but seemed paralysed in shock. It was as if she wanted to say to me: 'I'm here, and I'm your problem.' That was the brutal return to reality: both our peoples are bound to one another, they are inseparable, but they cannot mix." His old dream of a state in which Israelis and Arabs live side by side he believes is "not realistic. We have to separate. Two states for two nations." The series will be continued next week with the Israeli historian and political scientist Ilan Greilsammer.


Gazeta Wyborcza, 11.03.2006 (Poland)

In a lengthy interview that is well worth the read, European politician and former Polish minister of foreign affairs Bronislav Geremek comes across as a true advocate of the European Union. "A more thorough integration will benefit Poland because we will not be able to realise our interests in a weak Union. Poland should be contribute its historical experience and emphasise the EU's anti-totalitarian structure. And we should have a say in the Eastern politics. Until now we have been unable to convince our partners to treat Poland as a wise and experienced equal and not as some screeching anguished aunt."



Il Foglio, 11.03.2006 (Italy)

Edoardo Camurri fulminates against the omnipresence and the omnipotence of statistics, whether in best-seller lists or opinion polls (article as pdf). "Politics are like the Kama Sutra. It's obvious that during a poll some citizens will want to come off well and refuse to admit that their vote will be going to somebody whom society disapproves of in some way. As with every great erotic pleasure the beauty lies in prolonging it, and only conceding when you get to the ballot box: the luxurious revealing of one's own political id, in the form of an unwanted little cross behind the protective curtain. Both in social and in qualitative terms, there is no such thing as a scientifically accurate poll."


Le Point, 10.03.2006 (Franc
e)


Berlin
is enjoying unprecedented popularity, and has become a "pole of attraction for people under 40", writes Pascal Hugues, the magazine's Germany correspondent. In a detailed reportage, Hugues notes how families are moving to the surrounding countryside and making room for young people, who have created a diverse spectrum of talent made in Berlin. "Berlin has dethroned Hamburg and the Rhineland, and now rivals Munich as the centre of the German film industry. The young filmmakers of the new German wave work in Berlin, and the studios in Babelsberg attract major international productions. The new German reality is taking shape here, the location of the East-West shock which seems so abstract to people in Munich or Hamburg. Filmmakers and authors find an unlimited source of inspiration here. In the cafes of Prenzlauer Berg, one in every two people is sitting in front of a notepad. The new German literature is being written in Berlin."


Elet es Irodalom, 10.03.2006 (Hungary)

The Consultative Synod of the Hungarian Reformed Church recently took the perplexing decision to side with angered Muslims and condemn the Jyllands-Posten Muhammad caricatures. Religious studies expert Peter Buda writes that in so doing the leadership of the Reformed Church "has declared war on the freedom of opinion and the secular state, and is in league with 'religious radicals' who would like to see their religious views applied in the political sphere. But that is exactly the problem here: the central question of our time is not a 'clash of cultures' nor the battle of 'religious radicals'. It is the growing conflict between those fighting for the religious re-colonisation of public life and the worldly, 'secular state'."


Al Ahram Weekly, 09.03.2006 (Egypt)

A day after International Women's Day, Amira El Noshokaty takes stock of the depressing state of affairs for Egyptian women. "A host of development projects aimed at women's empowerment have been set up. Women's research centres, women's legal rights, women's political rights, women's studies, women's shelters, and any number of civil societies activities all piled up in order to empower Egyptian women.... However, the effectiveness of such development projects remains fairly negligible in face of the facts and figures. According to Egypt's Human Development Report 2005, (EHDR) over 90 percent of married women were subjected to female genital mutilation, and the incidence of illiteracy among female-headed households is 85 per cent in rural areas and 57 per cent in urban areas."

Abdallah Al-Ashaal, former assistant to the Egyptian foreign minister, says Denmark should be brought before the European Court of Human Rights or the International Court of Justice for its role in the cartoon row. Al-Ashaal states that the Danes have violated the human rights of Muslims, and works himself up to a mind-boggling comparison. "Surely Danish officials must be aware that their country has become a flashpoint for xenophobic hatred and violence directed against Muslim immigrants. Surely they do not want their newspapers to fan the flames and generate a situation for Muslims similar to that which awaited the Tutsis in Rwanda."


Le Monde diplomatique, 10.03.2006 (France / Germany)

The Islamic world just needs a little more time to carry out the separation of Church and State, writes Tahar Ben Jelloun on the subject of the cartoon controversy. "In a talk with students at the Technical University in Tanger recently, a young man who wants to become an electrical engineer explained: 'For us, Islam is not a religion, it is our constitution. It gives us morals, laws, rights and a culture!' I told him that he was confusing belief and knowledge but I could not convince him. The cartoon conflict shows how deep the rift is that separates the Islamic world from the west, and how vast the lack of knowledge, the fears, misunderstandings and resentments are on both sides. In major Moroccan cities a number of peaceful demonstrations have taken place, although Casablanca for example has always globalised quicker, following the example of western metropolises, and the people hungrily buy up western brands – whether fake or not - and despite the fact that technological progress provides access to fast and easy communication. But perhaps appearances are deceptive. The underlying problem however is elsewhere. It lies in the identity of a people which has fused with its religion, Islam. This creates a schizophrenia, two opposing ways of seeing the world in one and the same person."


Foreign Policy, 01.03.2006 (USA)

"China's future will be decay, not democracy." Endemic corruption and growing inequality will tear the country apart, prophesies the political scientist Minxin Pei. "Democracy itself has been a victim of the country's economic expansion. However flawed and mismanaged, the country’s rapid growth has bolstered Beijing's legitimacy and reduced pressure on its ruling elites to liberalize. Democratic transitions in developing countries are often triggered by economic crises blamed on the incompetence and mismanagement of the ancien regime. China hasn't experienced that crisis yet. Meanwhile, the riches available to the ruling class tend to drown any movement for democratic reform from within the elite. Political power has become more valuable because it can be converted into wealth and privilege unimaginable in the past. At the moment, China's economic growth is having a perverse effect on democratization: it makes the ruling elite even more reluctant to part with power.
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