This week's editor
The heavyweight guide to Ukraine
The European parliament has finally passed its amended version of the controversial services directive while thousands protested at its gates. British prime minister Tony Blair and European Commission president José Manuel Barroso, the greens and conservatives in the parliament, trade unions and business associations had all started the year by declaring that the liberalisation of services markets would be the key European issue in 2006.
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.
Once again, the Netherlands surprises. Flying in the face of a centuries-old commitment to freedom of religion, of conscience, and of expression, it is about to prohibit Muslim women from covering their faces in public.
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 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.
Article 1 de la loi n° 2004-228 du 15 mars 2004, inséré dans le code de l’éducation.
In February 2004, French MPs voted 494 to 36 in favour of legislation banning ostentatious religious symbolism in schoolwear. Could anything have been worse – one might ask – than such a large consensus among the political parties to promote a law that, in much of its implementation and outcomes, generates exclusion from state schools (47 individuals since September 2004), accentuates gender inequality by being directed mostly at women, and exacerbates indirect discrimination (did it occur to no one to remember the Sikhs during the preparation of this law)? But let us ask: would there have been a better result had more women been sitting in the French Parliament when these decisions were taken?
From Fallujah and Peshawar to Amsterdam and Paris, is radical, militant Islam winning or losing its political battle for the support of the world's Muslims?
openDemocracy: What is the personal background to your attempt to elaborate a fully European Islam?
Tariq Ramadan: I come from a family where everything was drenched in I