This week's guest editors

Could democracy be the ultimate antidote to terrorism? In the face of violence, how should democratic values be put into action? openDemocracy writers present their views - join the conversation in the forum to add yours.

This debate is an extension of arguments presented by openDemocracy in the run up to the International Summit on Democracy, Terrorism and Security, held in Madrid in March this year. To access the online forum discussion from this earlier period of debate, which is hosted on the Summit site, please click here.

Telling Muslim tales

The British media loves stories about Muslims. But do they illuminate or mystify the reality of Muslims’ lives and predicaments? Mukul Devichand reports.

The dividends of asymmetry: al-Qaida's evolving strategy

A year without a major al-Qaida attack might suggest an organisation in retreat. Not so, says Mohammad-Mahmoud Ould Mohamedou.

Rendition and democracy: civil society's role

It was the worst kept secret in the world. The "extraordinary rendition" system, established by the United States, is a web of agreements with countries in Europe, north Africa, the middle east, and Asia to host secret prisons or to hold "outsourced" detainees for indefinite lock-up and torture. It is a system that allows the US to conduct its "war on terror" outside regular channels, without democratic or judicial oversight.

Anti-terrorism: new leadership, new strategy

A rights-based foreign policy is the best guarantee of national security, says Tom Porteous of Human Rights Watch.

The veil of political Islam

The wearing of the face-veil by a minority of Muslim women in Britain must be seen in the light of an Islamist political project, says Maruf Khwaja.

London and security architecture: the post-sustainable city

"I think the terrorists have already won to a certain extent …. Without planting an actual bomb, they have forced everyone to think the unthinkable." Planning officer, Westminster Council, London, January 2005

Britain's anti-terrorism policy: an eternal cycle

Britain’s government has refused to learn the crucial lesson that the security and political aspects of fighting terrorism are single parts of an integrated whole, says Rhiannon Talbot.

Gleneagles, 7/7 and Africa

The effect of the London bombs was to aid the powerful and damage the weak. Campaigners for global justice must not be deflected, says Ann Pettifor.

The London bombs, one year on

A year after the suicide-attacks in which four young British Muslims killed fifty-two travellers on London's transport network, what has been learned and what has changed?

The US Supreme Court: law against power

The American judges' ruling against the Bush administration's military-tribunal plan for Guantánamo detainees is a historic moment, says Zachary Katznelson of Reprieve, which represents thirty-six clients in the camp.

On 29 June 2006, the United States Supreme Court struck a blow for the rule of law, deciding in every respect against the Bush administration in the case of Hamdan vs Rumsfeld . The court sent a clear message that President Bush's policies in Guantánamo are unacceptable.

Close Guantánamo, and its mindset

Guantánamo is both American prison and un-American mindset. The violations it embodies reflect how far the Bush administration has travelled from legality, says Rami G Khouri.

Between politics and war: Hizbollah in the spotlight

Hizbollah has attracted Iranian friendship and US hostility since its emergence during Lebanon's civil war. With regional tensions rising, the leading Islamist group is now at a crossroads, says Abigail Fielding-Smith.

The wrong way to combat terrorism

A militaristic approach and a law-based vision are competing to shape the world's anti-terrorism efforts, says Sadakat Kadri.

Back to the future: the cartoons, liberalism, and global Islam

Muslim protests over the Danish cartoons of the Prophet Mohammed mark the arrival of a force challenging liberal democracy from the future: a global Islam that is inventing new forms of ethical and political practice for a global arena. Faisal Devji, author of "Landscapes of the Jihad", maps the trajectory of this ultra-modern phenomenon.

Terror, law and human rights in the Arab Gulf states

The Arab Gulf states of the United Arab Emirates, Qatar, Bahrain, along with Iraq, have carved out new laws designed to counter terrorism on their soil. Mohamed Al Roken considers their precepts in the light of international human-rights conventions.

A Basque peace opportunity

ETA's truce brings an end to its armed campaign against the Spanish state, but creating a process that will deliver permanent peace to Euskadi will be arduous, says Diego Muro.

Spain's 11-M and the right's revenge

Two years after the 11 March 2004 terrorist attacks in Madrid that killed 191 people and injured around 1,900, Spain lives in a paradoxical situation. On the one hand, most citizens have absorbed in a peaceful, non-vengeful way the overwhelming evidence that a transnational, radical Islamist network had targeted Madrid on that terrible day. On the other hand, a group of politicians, journalists and demagogues have attempted to poison the public mind by spreading paranoid conspiracy theories.

Guantánamo and back: an interview with Moazzam Begg

British Muslim Moazzam Begg was arrested by the United States and detained without trial for three years, much of it at Guantánamo Bay. A year on he is ready to tell his story and Jane Kinninmont listens.

Democracy, Islam and the politics of belonging


In January, two prominent – and rival – thinkers on Europe and Islam, Tariq Ramadan and Dyab Abou Jahjah, met in Rotterdam for an eagerly attended debate. Rosemary Bechler pursues and examines their views on democracy.


Zakaria Hamidi is surprised at how many "Dutch people" have come along to the first public debate in Rotterdam organised by New Horizon, a newly-launched platform for discussion focusing on Islam in the Netherlands.

Torture: from regress to redress

A new Human Rights Watch book examines the return of torture as practice and doctrine. Its core theme is United States policy in the era of "war on terror", finds Neal Ascherson.

Old Europe, New World

The attitude of many of those responsible for publishing the hostile cartoons of the Prophet Mohammed (praise be upon him) can perhaps be best understood by a Marxist analysis. I refer to the quip by (Groucho) Marx: "How dare she get insulted just because I insulted her?"

The supporters of the publication of the cartoons appear to be surprised that many Muslims found the cartoons offensive; at the same they claim these cartoons are part of an effort to throw back the forces of multiculturalism in favour of national (i.e. European) cultural restoration. The conflict between those who see in the publication a noble principle at stake and those who see just another episode of European racism disguised as high moral principle has itself become a metaphor for other conflicts that exceed the xenophobia of a tiny statelet.

Words on images: the cartoon controversy

Across four days, twenty writers from ten countries assessed the political and cultural fissures opened by the row over the Danish cartoons of the Prophet Mohammed. Sarah Lindon summaries and reflects on this openDemocracy feature.

The liberal dilemma: integration or vilification?

The origins of the infamous Danish cartoons of the Prophet Mohammed do not lie in an attempt to offer contemporary comment, let alone satire, but the desire to illustrate a childrens' book. While such pictures would have been distasteful to many Muslims – hence why no illustrator could be found – the cartoons are in an entirely different league of offence. They are all unfriendly to Islam and Muslims and the most notorious implicate the prophet with terrorism. If the message was meant to be that non-Muslims have the right to draw Mohammed, it has come out very differently: that the prophet of Islam was a terrorist.

The right to caricature God!and his prophets

Believers in free speech must resist Islamist attempts to enforce theocratic censorship, says Doug Ireland.

Muslims and Europe: a cartoon confrontation

The row over the publication of cartoons of the prophet Mohammed raises profound tensions – between freedom of speech and mutual respect, ethics of satire and sacrality, shared values and coexistence, perceived western arrogance and Muslim victimhood. openDemocracy writers respond to the dispute and seek ways forward.

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