February 2008 Archives

Guest Voice  |  February 12, 2008 12:23 PM

After Headscarves, What's Next?

By Soner Cagaptay

On February 9, Turkey's ruling Justice and Development Party (AKP) passed constitutional amendments to legalize a specific woman's headscarf, known as the turban, on college campuses. The Turkish turban—not to be confused with the south Asian male turban—emerged in the country in the 1980s. When Kemal Ataturk founded Turkey as a secular republic after World War I, he looked to Europe, and especially France, for his inspiration. While American secularism provides freedom of religion, the French version that Ataturk adopted emphasizes freedom from religion—that is, keeping religion and its symbols out of government and education. Turkey’s secular courts have considered the turban a political religious symbol ―AKP leader and Turkish Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan, whose wife wears a turban, suggested that this might indeed be the case. Accordingly, the courts had, until last weekend, banned the turban on college campuses. But now that the turban is allowed on campuses, what will happen next?

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Guest Voice  |  February 14, 2008 5:20 PM

Scotland Yard Investigation Is Useless

By Alizeh Haider

Scotland Yard’s probe into the assassination of Benazir Bhutto has failed to address the more important questions surrounding the event. Pakistani Senator Farhatullah Babar of the PPP, Bhutto’s party, said as much recently: “It is really immaterial,” he said. “In what way does it negate the PPP’s position that there are hidden hands behind Bhutto’s murder?”

Not only has the report been largely rejected for being self-contradictory and overly presumptuous, but it also calls into question the government’s real objective for commissioning this investigation. It now seems Scotland Yard was inducted as proof of the government’s genuine and earnest efforts to investigate Ms. Bhutto’s murder. However, far from vindicating itself, the government has only succeeded at drawing further criticism.

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Guest Voice  |  February 15, 2008 5:01 PM

United Pakistan (May) Stand

By Haider Ali Hussein Mullick

While most Americans are closely watching their state primaries, Pakistanis are getting ready to vote in a parliamentary election on Monday. On the ballot are Pakistan's stability, President Pervez Musharraf's political fate, and the future of the U.S-Pakistan strategic relationship. An environment of rising domestic terrorism, economic uncertainty, and political polarization has made Pakistan a top national security priority for all leading American presidential candidates. The question of the day is, Who will win?

But don’t expect a blowout victory on Monday. Indeed, a national consensus government looks increasingly likely – and that may just be what Pakistan needs. Here is why:

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Guest Voice  |  February 29, 2008 10:23 AM

In Kenya, A Battle for Words

By Njoroge Wachai

There has been a cacophonous debate over whether Kenya’s post-election violence should be characterized as “ethnic cleansing.” It’s a debate that some politicians and diplomats are handling cavalierly. They’re behaving as if a thousand innocent people haven’t had their lives snuffed out in the most brutal way, mainly because they belonged to this or that tribe.

Some, like Chairman of the U.S. House Sub-Committee on Africa and Global Health Donald Payne, are asserting that President Kibaki’s administration is exploiting the term “ethnic cleansing” (first coined in the 1990s to describe the macabre massacre of ethnic Albanians by the Serbs in Kosovo) to deflect charges of election rigging. In a recent hearing on Kenya, Payne said using the term “…plays right into the hands of the Kibaki camp, allowing them to portray themselves as victims of an ethnic conflict.”

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