Clamping down with law and order will not be enough

by Thomas Piketty, Le blog de Thomas Piketty, Le Monde online, November 24, 2015

Confronted with terrorism, the response must involve security measures. We must hit Daech and arrest those who are members. But we must also consider the political conditions of this violence, the humiliation and the injustices which result in this movement receiving considerable support in the Middle East and today gives rise to murderous vocations in Europe. In the long run, the real issue is the establishment of an equitable model for social development both there and here.

One thing is obvious: terrorism thrives on the inequality in the Middle-East which is a powder keg we have largely contributed to creating. Daech – the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant (ISIL) –is a direct consequence of the break-up of the Iraqi regime and more generally, of the collapse of the system of frontiers set up in the region in 1920. After the annexation of Kuwait by Iraq in 1990-1991, the coalition powers sent their troops to restore the oil to the emirs – and to the Western companies.

In passing, we started a new cycle of technological and assymetrical wars (a few hundred dead in the coalition forces in the ‘liberation’ of Kuwait, as against several thousand on the Iraqi side). This approach was pursued to the limit during the second war with Iraq, from 2003 to 2010: roughly 500,000 Iraqi dead as compared with 4,000 American soldiers killed; all this as revenge for the 3,000 who died on 11 September despite the fact that they had nothing to do with Iraq. This reality, compounded by the extreme asymmetry of loss of lives and the absence of any political way out of the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, is used today to justify all the abuses perpetrated by the Jihadists. Let us hope that France and Russia, who have taken over after the American fiasco, will do less damage and generate fewer vocations. (more…)


A new post on MENA Tidningen…

The Ankara bombing: Presaging the end of the Turkish Republic?

What we have witnessed in the last two years, culminating in the horrible scenes of 10 October in Ankara, is the end of the Turkish Republic as we know it. A commentary by Umut Ozkirimli

There is something fundamentally wrong with the journalistic coverage of the twin blasts at a peace rally in Ankara – the deadliest terror attack on Turkish soil – which left more than a hundred people dead (128 according to the unofficial tally of the People′s Democracy Party, HDP), several hundred wounded and an almost ″anomic″ country behind. As if writing a detective story or crime novel, most commentators begin by asking the ″who″ question, religiously following the basic rules of the genre and creating suspense for the sensation-seeking audience – after all, the killer is usually unknown until well after the initial investigation is completed.

This is the burden of Simon Tisdall′s otherwise insightful commentary on the Ankara attacks in ″The Guardian″ which points to the Islamic State, the ultra-nationalist Grey Wolves or other right-wing groups within Turkey′s security apparatus as the most likely culprits. One might add, as the caretaker Prime Minister Ahmet Davutoglu did, the PKK and the left-wing DHKP-C to this list, not to mention foreign intelligence agencies for the conspiracy-minded. Yet the question is redundant, if not entirely spurious, considering the immediate and the broader context in which the bombing took place.

The Digital Islamic Humanities Project at Brown University is pleased to announce its third annual conference, titled “Distant Reading and the Islamic Archive,” which will be held on Friday, October 16, 2015.

Paper abstracts and the full event program may be found on the conference website (

Please note that event will be live-streamed over the web. You may access the webcast beginning tomorrow morning (Friday) at 9:00 am EST.

Speakers and paper titles:

David Vishanoff, “A Customizable Exaptive “Xap” for Charting Currents of Islamic Discourse across Multiple Bibliographic and Full Text Datasets”

Peter Verkinderen, José Antonio Haro Peralta, and Hannah-Lena Hagemann, “Which Muḥammad? Computer-Based Tools for the Identification of Moving Elites in the Early Islamic Empire”

Alexander Magidow & Yonatan Belinkov, “Digital Philology and the History of Written Arabic”

Elias Muhanna, “Modeling Mannerism in Classical Arabic Poetry”

Maxim Romanov, “al-Ḏahabī’s Monster: Dissecting a 50-Volume Arabic Chronicle-cum-Biographical Collection From the 14th Century CE”

Seyed Mohammad Bagher Sajadi & Mohammad Sadegh Rasooli, “Automatic Proper Names Extraction from Old Islamic Literature”

Karen Pinto, “MIME and Other Digital Experimentations with Medieval Islamic Maps”

Nir Shafir, “Distant Reading the Material and Bibliographic Record of the Early Modern Islamic Archive”

Eric van Lit, “A Digital Approach for Production and Transmission of Knowledge in Islamic Intellectual History”

Taimoor Shahid, “Mobile Ethics: Travel and Cosmopolitanism in the Islamic Archive”


For details on the conference, click here.


National Geographic sponsored a photography contest and here is one of the best. The caption reads: “A passerby walks around Ben Youssef Madrasa, an Islamic college in Marrakesh, Morocco.” Photos were submitted to the National Geographic Photography Contest by Takashi Nakagawa Takashi Nakagawa/2015 National Geographic Photography Contest


Click here for my post on Tigningen about yet another bombing in Aden.

Yale University Announces Gift to Establish Center for Islamic Law and Civilization at Yale Law School

Yale University President Peter Salovey and Yale Law School Dean Robert C. Post announced today a $10 million gift to create the Abdallah S. Kamel Center for the Study of Islamic Law and Civilization at Yale Law School.

This generous gift is from Abdallah S. Kamel, chief executive of the Dallah Albaraka Group, LLC, a banking and real estate enterprise based in Saudi Arabia.

“Mr. Kamel’s extraordinary generosity will open up exciting new opportunities for Yale Law School and for the entire university,” said President Salovey. “The Abdallah S. Kamel Center for the Study of Islamic Law and Civilization will enhance research opportunities for our students and other scholars and enable us to disseminate knowledge and insights for the benefit of scholars and leaders all over the world.”

The center will bring prominent scholars of Islam to the Yale campus for public lectures, seminar discussions, visiting fellowships, and visiting professorships, attracting students from the Law School and other schools at the university to its lectures and other opportunities for collaboration.

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