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Magazine Roundup

Outlook India | Gazeta Wyborcza | Heti Vilaggazdasag | Il Foglio | De Groene Amsterdammer | Polityka | Die Weltwoche | Al Ahram Weekly | The Spectator | The New Yorker

Outlook India, 28.08.2006

"Three cheers for Ayaan" cries exiled Bangladeshi writer and women's rights activist Taslima Nasrin after reading Ayaan Hirsi Ali's book "The Caged Virgin". This is not to say that Nasrin agrees with everything Hirsi Ali writes. Misogyny is the sole domain of neither Islam nor religion, Nasrin maintains. Honour killings and genital mutilation are culturally rather than religiously anchored. "Male reformers are useless. To break the rigidity of Muslim society, and to reject Islam, we need thousands of angry women presently in the grip of the venomous snake of Islam. Once they hit back, how long can it sting?"

Gazeta Wyborcza, 19.08.2006 (Poland)

The press reveals a dark chapter in the biography of one of the greatest writers of the 20th century – sound familiar? This is not about Günter Grass but refers to the revelation by the weekly paper Wprost that Polish poet Zbigniew Herbert had worked for the communist secret police. A storm of outrage, apologies and criticism from historians ensued. "In Herbert's case, things had been out in the open for a long time; all that needs illuminating is the minds of the would-be outing revolutionaries. Media hunting dogs and young careerists want to pass judgement on the lives of the rich and famous with the aid of secret police files," comments Yaroslav Kurski.

Heti Vilaggazdasag, 17.08.2006 (Hungary)

Tamas Laszlo Papp is equally disgusted by Günter Grass' confession and the fact that filmmaker Istvan Szabo was revealed to be a former secret police informant. "Pride kept them silent for so long. Grass and Szabo are regarded in intellectual circles as artistic and moral authorities, they were constantly surrounded by a following of school kids, admirers and pleasantly purring critics huddling up to them. It would have been inappropriate to criticise the holy cows of the literary salons and film cultural idols. ... Their artistic merits remains untouched by their confessions, but this cannot be said of their human and moral status. How can someone demand that we tackle the demons of our past when he himself was for decades on end incapable of taking responsibility and admitting a disreputable chapter of his life?"

Il Foglio, 19.08.2006 (Italy)

Amy Rosenthal interviews the Jewish American writer Cynthia Ozick on her most recent novel "The Din in the Head," and of course on Israel. "I hope that the Jewish state will find its Churchill," Ozick says. Discussing the Muslims in Europe, she quips: "I bet Europeans wish they had the Jews back, instead of their current minorities. In comparison to their Muslim counterparts, the Jews were exemplary citizens who made fantastic contributions to art, literature, music and the economy. Not to speak of all those who were more Italian than the Italians and more French than the French. And the others who didn't fit in where peaceful and calm, and didn't bother anyone."

De Groene Amsterdammer, 18.08.2006 (The Netherlands)

"After English and Mandarin, Farsi is now the third most popular language on the web, and the number of Iranian blogs is now estimated at over one hundred thousand," reports Marte Kaan. But the Iranian web is not "worldwide", and people who voice their ideas freely live dangerously. Kaan quotes Internet activist Jaadi: "Not only have several bloggers been imprisoned and tortured In recent years, the authorities have also introduced increasingly tight filters. For instance, if you type the word 'women' into Google in Iran, the words 'access denied' appear. This censorship comes about not only out of a fear of the women's movement, but also with the intent of blocking 'immoral' websites. This is taken to such extremes that for instance you can't access the website of the University of Virginia from Iran."

Polityka, 19.08.2006 (Poland)

In the wake of debate around the exhibition "Erzwungene Wege" (forced departures - more here and here) at Berlin's Centre Against Expulsion and Günter Grass' avowal that he was a member of the Waffen SS (more here), Adam Krzeminski reflects on Poland's relationship with Germany, and on the policies of Poland's ruling party, the PiS. "The obstinate helplessness of our politicians can further the rapprochement between elites in Germany and Russia. Our huffiness and taciturnity only help to build the bridge that will overarch us." For Krzeminski, a joint exhibition on the theme of expulsions - building on the "Flight, Expulsion, Integration" project of the German Historical Museum – would be an important step forward. Because "in the absence of a German-Polish dialogue and historical debate, we risk provincial ego-centrism and a lack of appreciation for the fate of the other."

Die Weltwoche, 17.08.2006 (Switzerland)

Hanspeter Born has had an interesting discussion with Saudi sociologist Mai Yamani, whose field of interest includes young British Muslims: "On the websites, at the universities and in the mosques, the Middle East is the central topic for these young Muslims. What they see as attacks on Afghanistan, Iraq, Palestine, Iran and now Lebanon are in their view all part of a Western strategy aimed at the Islamic world. These young people are trapped between their existence as citizens of the UK and Europe on the one hand, where they enjoy freedom of speech and a democratic system, and their inherited Arab or Muslim identity on the other, which they see as an Umma, an imaginary community of all Muslims."

Al Ahram Weekly, 17.08.2006 (Egypt)

What do hiphoppers like Mos Def, The Roots and Hidden Force have in common? They're all practising Muslims. Michael Mumisa of the University of Birmingham has spoken with Muneera and Sakina of Poetic Pilgrimage, to find out more on the story. "Instead of heavy gold chains on their necks they wore hand-crafted wooden Sufi prayer beads, and their heads were covered in fashionable headscarves according to Islamic requirements. 'We try to make hijab appear the coolest thing in the world to our young fans,' they told me. 'We have received a number of emails from a lot of young girls in the UK, USA, and Canada telling us that they did not like putting on hijab until they listened to our Rap music about hijab and the way we Rap about it. We tell them in our music that hijab is cool and they should not be ashamed of it.' It was clear that I was talking to very intelligent and dedicated young ladies."

Talking to Nermeen Al-Mufti, the linguist, philosopher and Bush critic Noam Chomsky declares the United States a participant in a Middle Eastern war for which there is "no moral or legal justification". Primary among Washington's plans for the region, Chomsky states, "is the traditional commitment to control the world's major energy resources. Those who do not fall in line can expect to be targets of subversion or aggression. That should not be surprising... But it is worth bearing in mind that Israel can go just as far as its protector in Washington permits and supports."

The Spectator, 18.08.2006 (UK)

After taking a series of flights, Rod Liddle wonders if it isn't time to standardise security regulations at airports. In London he couldn't even take his nicotine chewing gum on board! "At JFK you were not allowed to board a plane with biscuits, even if they were in an unopened packet. I assume that stricture went for all biscuits: I tried with some Hobnobs, but you may have better luck with, say, Morning Coffee. Whereas eight miles away, at La Guardia, baby milk and — bizarrely — computer games were considered perfectly safe. At O'Hare, in Chicago, you were suddenly allowed to carry Gatorade, and at Pittsburgh the staff were so bored I don’t think they’d have cared if you had a particle accelerator in your backpack."

The New Yorker, 28.08.2006 (USA)

Paul Goldberger presents the Denver Art Museum, architect Daniel Libeskind's most recent building. As opposed to his project for Ground Zero, the museum integrates many of Libeskind's ideas and visions – evidently much to people's approval. "George Thorn, a developer who worked with the museum and others to erect the condominiums, says that the units that sold most easily were not the ones that offer a distant view of the Rockies, as is usually the case with Denver real estate, but the ones that face the museum. It’s easy to see why. Many of these places have big windows that look right into the side of Libeskind's crystalline shards, a mere fifty feet away. Perhaps this view is what Libeskind had in mind all along. From there, the museum no longer feels like a piece of architecture. It is more like an enormous titanium sculpture that was created to decorate your living room." - let's talk european