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This week’s editor

Alex Sakalis, Editor

Alex Sakalis is associate editor of openDemocracy and co-edits the Can Europe Make It? page.

Constitutional conventions: best practice

In a fractured, disconnected world, a humane voice of engagement. In a fortnightly reflection, KA Dilday writes of encounters and explorations in the Arab and Muslim worlds, Latin America and Africa.

When does a refugee camp become a permanent home?

Encamped refugees are often portrayed on our TV screens as objects of pity with deadpan expressions. Time to ask what they think and feel.

Libya: the migrant trap

The discovery by the Italian navy of 30 bodies in a fishing boat at the weekend highlights the deadly trail of migrants from north Africa—for whom a chaotic Libya represent another hazardous transit point.

Twenty-first century protest: social media and surveillance

The internet is a two-edged sword—a vehicle for mass surveillance on the one hand and the organisation of civil-society protest on the other.

Trapped by borders, a global flotsam and jetsam

They arrive nameless and unnumbered by land or sea but ever-more unregulated migrants across the globe are falling victim to proliferating border-security regimes.

Qatar: FIFA must act

Pressure has mounted on FIFA to address the toll of deaths among migrant workers in Qatar, as the emirate prepares for the World Cup in 2022. As its Executive Committee meets today, the international trade union movement is demanding action.

Occupy Wall Street: where are the migrants?

The lack of demographic diversity amongst the protestors and uncertainty about their demands make Occupy Wall Street difficult to take seriously, argues Shilpa Kameswaran from a migrant's perspective

Chicago: tale of two cities

Obama's success and Blagojevich's shame flow from the two wrestling motifs of Chicago's history.

The gaze of strangers: Morocco, male love and modernity

The new-media exposure of homosexual activity in the Muslim world highlights the paradoxes of its collision with modernity, says KA Dilday.

Language, immigration and citizenship

The acquisition of language skills in an unfamiliar world unlocks the door to belonging as well as opportunity, reflects KA Dilday after a Paris hospital experience.

Intelligence, inequality and race

Intelligence is more than skin-deep. KA Dilday, unimpressed by the IQ test, retraces her own journey to take a different measure of social outcomes.

Defenders of the nation

What is happening when the children of immigrants use their achieved social standing to reinforce Europe's narratives of national identity? KA Dilday explores the trend.

Morocco’s illusory democracy

A pre-election journey across Morocco is for KA Dilday a lesson in the consequences of civic disempowerment.

Nadia Yassine’s journey

The social entrapment of millions of poor Moroccans feeds a hunger for improvement. Can the the charismatic reformist Islamism of Nadia Yassine be the vehicle to deliver it, asks KA Dilday.

The Copenhagen syndrome

How far does your radius of empathy extend? Are you prepared to include "others" in pursuit of a more inclusive "we"? The impact of immigration and poverty on everyday life make these questions a matter of personal as well as intellectual and governmental concern, says KA Dilday.

Morocco outside in

The increasing presence of sub-Saharan Africans in Morocco is forcing the people of the north African country to look behind as well as across to Europe, finds KA Dilday.

A girl, a knife, and Hawa Gréou

A Malian woman's story of genital mutilation in France lies at modern Europe's nerve-ends, says KA Dilday.

France's two worlds

The election of Nicolas Sarkozy is a sign of France’s divisions, its fears, its conservatism, and yet its hunger for change. KA Dilday measures a complex moment.

There is a particular type of French boy who irks me. I don't often see him in my own neighbourhood on the edge of what is sometimes called Paris's "little Africa", a bustling mix of Maghrebis and sub-Saharan Africans. This boy has paler skin than that crowd. I usually see this boy on the left bank, in the 7th arrondissement. He can be between 15 and 18.

The discomfort of strangers

How do western societies accept outsiders into their midst? KA Dilday reflects on one dimension of the Virginia Tech massacre.

Africa and HIV/Aids: men at work

A self-education in positive masculinity is at the core of efforts to contain the spread of HIV/Aids, writes Patricia Daniel.

The Darfur conundrum

French and other European intellectuals are mobilizing for intervention in Darfur. Who are they really writing about, asks KA Dilday

The university's freedom lesson

The pressure on universities to manage and monitor their charges in the wider social interest is in tension with their role as incubators of civic virtue, says KA Dilday.

Justice, not globalisation: Lebohang Pheko's voice

European Union pacts with poor nations push the dispossessed further to the periphery. There is a more humane route to development, trade-policy specialist Lebohang Pheko tells Patricia Daniel.

Sister in spirit: Ayaan Hirsi Ali's 'Infidel'

The Somali-Dutch dissident's critique of Islam resonates with KA Dilday's experience of fundamentalist Christianity in the American south. But their distance lies also in the journey beyond.

Women, violence and empowerment: the world we live in

The systemic, worldwide degradation of girl children makes the Commission on the Status of Women meeting at the United Nations a vital event, says Patricia Daniel.

Iraqis adrift

The scale of Iraqis' displacement matches the Palestinian catastrophe of 1948. In addressing it, Sweden shames the American architects of war, says KA Dilday.

Barack Obama, Moroccan Ali, and me

Behind the mild racism of a misplaced compliment is a subtler, deeper prejudice that confronts every black "outsider" in the west, says KA Dilday.

Zidane and France: the rules of the game

The French football captain Zinedine Zidane's act of retaliation in the world-cup final was also an immigrant's declaration of independence from the country that reveres him, says KA Dilday.

In the days after the world-cup final in Berlin on 9 July 2006, the contrast between the contestants was brutal: while victorious Italy engaged in an orgiastic frenzy of the nationalism that the sporting event provokes, defeated France was simply confused.

The writer and politics: Peter Handke's choice

The Austrian writer Peter Handke is at the centre of a Europe-wide cultural controversy: the withdrawal of a literary prize because of his support for the late Serbian president Slobodan Milosevic. The row touches on the heart of a writer's self-understanding, says KA Dilday.

A question of class, race, and France itself: reply to Richard Wolin

The protests of middle-class French students against the youth employment law were more complacent than heroic, writes KA Dilday.

The labour of others

America is convulsed by a debate over immigration. KA Dilday wonders if it is evading the subject's harsh realities.

Ireland's prosperity trap

A booming economy is no cause for complacency – now more than ever Ireland must look after its natural and material wealth, its citizens and its democracy, argues Maura Stephens.

Dan O'Brien's rebuttal to my column on Ireland's changing fortunes serves as a splendid example of just what it is about the country's prosperity that gives cause to lament.

The worth of illusion

People discriminate; it's a fact of life. So what is better, asks KA Dilday: to pretend they don't and leave people frustrated and disappointed when the bigotry finally reveals itself, or to be honest and let people know up front when they’re not wanted?

Prosperity shock

Wealthy now after decades of hardship, Ireland seems to have what most countries dream of. But Maura Stephens, measuring the changes she has seen over many visits to the land of her forbears, has a warning for the envious.

Europe's forked tongues

How does a person in movement come to "belong" to a country? Europe's blood-and-soil confusions towards its would-be citizens highlight the crisis of identity in the continent itself, says KA Dilday.

To lose a child

Bereaved parents around the world face the greatest grief known to our species. Nothing can diminish their loss, but Maura Stephens suggests that perhaps there are some healing ways to channel it.

“I remember the look on their faces when the water swept them away. No mother should ever have to go through this.”

“The water dragged my wife away and my two-month old twins and my seven-year-old son.”

“I knew I had to let go of one of them, and I let go of the older one.”

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