Last updated: 23 October 2020

Latest items

Image: Michael Vadon, Flickr

My fellow Americans, socialism is not an insult

October 2020 – I may never be able to convince a Trump voter not to vote for Trump, but I can tell them what it’s like for an American to live with “socialist” healthcare and education in Europe.

Moria and the smouldering ruins of Europe’s humanity

October 2020 – The refugees and migrants who survived the fire at the Moria camp in Lesbos find themselves in an even worse predicament as authorities repeat the same dire mistakes.

Lost in ‘know-ware’ land

October 2020 – It is the cypher of the age, the new C-word that the know-ware machine must not detect lest it conjures up undesirable meanings, and undesirable consequences.

Belgium’s endless identity crisis

September 2020 – As it stumbles from one political crisis to the next, Belgium faces a profound existential threat. But can the slow disintegration of the Belgian state be reversed and, if so, how?

Hedwig Klein at work.

Defining tyranny: Hitler, a dictionary and the death of a Jewish Arabist

July 2020 – The world’s best-known Arabic dictionary started off as a Nazi propaganda project and cost a young Jewish scholar her life. It’s time Hedwig Klein received the posthumous recognition she deserves.

The mediocrity of evil

July 2020 – Many of the leaders held up as representing the epitome of evil were extraordinarily and spectacularly untalented, incapable and incompetent. With this mediocrity of evil, it is almost a wonder that they managed to rise to the top at all.

Occupy Wall Street protester in 2011.
Image: Glenn Halog Source: Flickr

Billionaires and the welfare of nations

June 2020 – The super rich are leaving only the scraps for everyone else to fight over, which is fuelling a mounting wave of intolerance as minorities and migrants are scapegoated for falling wellbeing. For the welfare of all, we must end these stark wealth inequalities before it leads to unmanageable social unrest.

Beyond belief: Arab atheists and their quest for acceptance amid intolerance

June 2020 – Atheists are amongst the most marginalised and persecuted minorities in the Arab world. Despite the risks atheists face from the state and vigilantes, atheism has become more visible and vocal in recent years, leading to greater public understanding and tolerance.

Robust health systems are society’s first line of defence against pandemics

May 2020 – Belgium has long been written off as a dysfunctional and failing state, yet its response to the COVID-19 pandemic has been surprisingly functional and successful. This highlights how effective healthcare acts as society’s immune system.

Living robots and the meaning of life

March 2020 – The advent of ‘living robots’, or biobots, not only poses grave risks for which we must be prepared but also raises profound questions about the future and what it means to be human.

After ISIS, former Yazidi sex slaves are caught between trauma and taboo

February 2020 – Safia, a Yazidi teenager from Iraq, was captured by the Islamic State, sold into sexual slavery, raped, tortured and made pregnant, leaving deep psychological scars. Her ability to come to terms with the trauma are thwarted by taboo, shame and her forced separation from her daughter.

Image: ©Khaled Diab

The demographic dimension: The role of population growth in the Arab uprisings

January 2020 – Decades of unprecedented population growth have played a significant role in Arab regime repression, the two main waves of revolutions that swept the region, and the fierce counterrevolutions that followed.

Palestinian exiles: When home becomes a foreign land

January 2020 – While Palestinians living in the diaspora are physically separated from Palestine, those who remain in the homeland often feel a sense of psychological or spiritual alienation, not to mention an overwhelming dream to roam free.

Nuns admiring the Christmas tree in Bethlehem.
Image: © Katleen Maes

When Muslims make merry at Christmas

January 2020 – For Western Muslims, Christmas is just outside their doorsteps. For some, Christmas even skips merrily in from the cold and crosses the threshold into their homes.

Photo: ©Boštjan Videmšek

Living in a nightmare: Gaza’s unending tragedy

December 2019 – Trauma, depression, destitution and hopelessness are the daily realities with which Gaza’s besieged population must contend.

Photo: ©Khaled Diab

Arab exiles: Fleeing nightmares or chasing dreams

October 2019 – When Arab revolutionary dreams turn into anti-revolutionary nightmares, the fortunate ones find safety abroad. But with exile comes unprocessed trauma, guilt, fear, dealing with xenophobia and painful yearnings for home.

Image: ©Matej Povše

Bordering on inhumanity: How Slovenia and Croatia illegally deport refugees and migrants

August 2019 – Rather than being allowed to apply for asylum, thousands of refugees and migrants attempting to enter Slovenia and Croatia are being illegally and often violently spirited across the border to Bosnia, and out of the EU.

Mohamed Morsi’s ghost will haunt Egypt for a long time

June 2019 – The death in court of Mohamed Morsi completed the incarcerated former Egyptian president’s unlikely metamorphosis from mediocre mundanity to mythical martyr whose political ghost will inspire generations of radical Islamists.

Memory lanes: The smell of childhood and lemons in Cologne

June 2019 – Rows and rows of the now iconic 4711 bottles arranged in the display window of Cologne’s famous ‘House of Fragrances’ were a trip down memory lane for Christian Nielsen.

Racists exploit BDS and Israel to advance their agendas of hatred

May 2019 – As recent motions in the German Bundestag and US Congress reveal, both the BDS and pro-Israel movements are exploited by racists as fig leafs to further their agendas. These racists must be exposed and challenged.

Image: ©Christian Nielsen

Anzac Day: Digging beneath the myth of the unruly Australian digger

April 2019 – Despite their reputation for being undisciplined and insubordinate, Australian soldiers who fought in World War I, known as ‘diggers’, were fiercely courageous and disciplined where it mattered – on the battlefield. These rebels with a cause would play a pivotal role in defining modern Australian identity.

Brenton Tarrent, the man being tried for the Christchurch massacre.

Of crusaders and jihadis

March 2019 – Despite their conviction that they are polar opposites, white supremacists and Islamist extremists share much in common, including a hatred of minorities and the enemies within, a persecution complex, and nostalgia for past glories.