The Week in 1 Minute: Turning over a new leaf (January 14 – 18 on openDemocracy)

We started the week with a devastating analysis of Belgium’s ‘burqa ban’. Jelle Flo and Jogchum Vrielink expose this action – which followed France’s example late last year – as unconstitutional. Its arguments are based on legality, safety and women’s rights, but simply do not stand up to scrutiny.

23 May 2013

While the Belgian Constitutional Court comes under fire, openDemocracy jumps to the defence of the European Court of Human Rights, now criticised by a growing cohort of British MPs. The ECHR carries out essential work, and Britain’s increasing distance from it is a worrying trend, argues Philip Leach.

Addressing other pressing European questions, French Left Front leader Jean-Luc Mélenchon spoke to openDemocracy. He reserves some of his most intelligent scepticism for the dominant media ‘system’ – but he invited Europeans to confront the crisis with progressive alternatives, presented at an event at University College, London, last year.

We also look at nationalism. It shouldn’t just be a byword for the continent’s bloody past, says Pol Bargues – it can also be a project for autonomy and self-determination, as shown by Catalonia. The region is a thorn in Spain’s side, but the old masters have other troubles, as more Spaniards take to the streets.

While parts of Europe are mesmerised by a few centimeters (or an inch) of snow, winter temperatures are a very real problem in parts of Russia.  

Paul Rogers continues to analyze the situation in Mali, now with French boots on the ground. On the city streets of Libya are the militias born of the revolution there. The human rights record of some of these groups is poor. Juan Garrigues asks: can citizens regain control? The Arab uprisings have had their effects on gender violence, too: the incidents are becoming more public, but so are the resulting outcries. In another unflinching feature for our ‘Women and the Arab Spring’ series, Deniz Kandiyoti reports.

Sexual violence has been a celebrity issue recently in Britain. But while we know who some of the perpetrators are, what of those who colluded with them? Rebecca Johnson argues that their actions uphold the pervasive patriarchal attitudes that keep the status quo in place.

One norm, at least, is being overturned: the face of politics in China. In sharp contrast to his dour and expressionless predecessor Hu Jintao, Chinese premier Xi Jinping is cutting a sympathetic and accessible figure. Mark Jia asks, is this a sign of a deeper-running trend?

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