Dossier: Democracy and Civil Society

Yasmina Khadra (photo: Getty Images)

Interview with Yasmina Khadra

"The Algerian regime is pulling all the strings"

The renowned Algerian writer, Mohammed Moulessehoul, who goes by his pen name Yasmina Khadra, wanted to stand as an independent candidate for the presidency of Algeria. He funded his own campaign and criss-crossed the country seeking nomination. Unfortunately, he only managed to win the support of 43,000 people, 17,000 short of the minimum number needed to be able to contest the election. Regina Keil-Sagawe spoke to the author about his campaign and about the situation in AlgeriaMore

Algeria's President Abdelaziz Bouteflika (right) inspecting a military guard in Algiers (photo: picture-alliance/dpa)

Presidential election in Algeria

Out with the old, in with the old

On 17 April, Algeria goes to the polls to elect a new president. However, it seems as if the new president will be the old one: Abdelaziz Bouteflika. But even though the outcome seems like a foregone conclusion, political resistance is forming. By Kersten KnippMore

A Muslim man, who was displaced by deadly religious strife last year, casts his vote in the general election inside a polling station in Parla village in the Muzaffarnagar district in the northern Indian state of Uttar Pradesh, 10 April 2014 (photo: Reuters)

Elections in India

Muslims to play key role

With elections now underway in India, the Muslim vote is of vital importance to the outcome. The country's single largest religious minority makes up 14 per cent of India's population of more than 1.2 billion people. By Samrah FatimaMore

A woman photographs one of Istanbul's new rainbow steps (photo: AFP/Getty Images)

Art and protest in Turkey

Poking fun at the sultan

For about a year now, Turkey has been experiencing one of its worst ever political crises. It is a situation that has given the country's art scene a chance to flourish and to exercise its creativity in protest. However, such activity often entails the risk of serious consequences. By Senada Sokollu in IstanbulMore

An election helper empties a ballot box after the Afghan presidential election (photo: Reuters)

Presidential election in Afghanistan

Defying the Taliban

Last Saturday, around 12 million Afghans were called upon to vote for a successor to President Hamid Karzai. Although the Taliban warned that numerous attacks would take place on voting day, large numbers of Afghans refused to be deterred. Details from Emran Feroz in KabulMore

Protesters at a demonstration in Hamburg walk behind a very large banner that reads "NO to racism in politics, everyday life and institutions. ENOUGH killing, silence, tolerance, cover-ups" (photo: dpa)

Racism in Germany

Time to talk about racism

Until such time as there is an open debate about racism, the debate about integration in Germany will not more forward. After all, as Aladin El-Mafaalani explains, integration and racism are two key elements of a discourse on participation that a country of immigration has to addressMore

An opponent of the AKP government holds up two posters of Prime Minister Erdogan with the slogan "Big thief" (photo: Reuters)

Eleven years of Erdogan

Hard times for the "champion" of political Islam

As everything points to a clear victory for the AKP in Turkey's local elections, Turkish political scientist Cengiz Aktar takes stock of 11 years of Erdogan's rule. He says that Turkey's political and economic problems are home made and are caused by the fact that the AKP has been in power for too long and Erdogan's growing inability to enter into political co-operation. Nevertheless, he cautions against celebrating the downfall of political IslamMore

An election poster in Afghanistan (photo: Shah Marai/AFP/Getty Images)

Interview with Afghanistan expert Thomas Ruttig

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"The violence threshold is low"

Having already served two terms, Afghan President Hamid Karzai cannot run for president in the election in early April. The end of his twelve years in office marks the end of an era for the country. Ulrich von Schwerin spoke to Thomas Ruttig of the "Afghanistan Analysts Network" about the political situation in Afghanistan after over a decade of KarzaiMore

Relatives of the victims of the revolution demonstrating in Tunis (photo: Sarah Mersch)

Victims of the Tunisian Revolution

The slow and painful search for the truth

Three years have passed since Tunisians took to the streets in protest against their ruler, Ben Ali. The country is now slowly moving towards democracy, but the victims of those early revolutionary days are still waiting for justice. Hopes that the truth will come to light and that relatives will discover who killed and injured their loved ones during the unrest are diminishing by the day. By Sarah MerschMore

Celebrations on Martyrs' Square in Tripoli to mark the third anniversary of the start of the 2011 revolution (photo: Valerie Stocker)

Third anniversary of the revolution in Libya

Nothing to celebrate

Three years have passed since the overthrow of Muammar al-Gaddafi. Yet despite celebrations to mark the event and the election of a 60-member national assembly to draw up Libya's new constitution, prospects for a more stable future look grim: the people have largely lost faith in the country's deeply divided parliament. By Valerie Stocker in TripoliMore

Narendra Modi (photo: Reuters)

Narendra Modi and the Indian Muslims

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Divisive figure could become India's next PM

Narendra Modi was chief minister in the Indian state of Gujarat when anti-Muslim pogroms took place there 12 years ago. Today, he is the Hindu nationalist BJP party's candidate for the post of prime minister. Will this exacerbate India's inter-religious tensions? By Ulrich von SchwerinMore

Raif Badawi (photo: Facebook)

The Saudi blogger Raif Badawi

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600 lashes for expressing opinions

On 9 January 2014, a group of protesters organised a sit-in in front of the Embassy of Saudi Arabia in Rome, calling for the immediate release of blogger Raif Badawi. According to Elham Manea, he was imprisoned in 2012 on trumped up charges rooted in the ruling dynasty's fear of dissent and rebellion. He now faces the death penaltyMore

Imran Khan attends the unveiling of his party's manifesto for the 2013 general election, Islamabad, 9 April 2013 (photo: Aamir QureshiAFP/Getty Images)

Portrait of Pakistani politician Imran Khan

Flirting with the Taliban

For several years now, support for cricketer-turned-politician Imran Khan has been growing in Pakistan. Nevertheless, opinion about one of the country's greatest sporting heroes is still divided. His supporters point to the progress made in the province ruled by his Movement for Justice Party, while liberal Pakistanis have criticised his opposition to military operations against the Taliban. By Shamil ShamsMore

Bassem Youssef (photo: Getty Images/AFP/Karim Sahib)

TV Satirist Bassem Youssef

"People should be able to listen to different opinions"

The political satire show "AlBernameg" attracted millions of Arab viewers each week before it was suddenly cancelled in November 2013. On Friday 7 February 2014, it returned to Egyptian TV screens on MBC Egypt. Jaafar Abdul-Karim and Khalid El Kaoutit spoke to its host and star, Bassem YoussefMore

Demonstrators in Tunis burning a picture of the former President Zine el-Abidine Ben Ali (photo: dapd)

Social media and the Arab Spring in Tunisia

Not as soft as jasmine

Social media did not topple Tunisia's dictator Zine el-Abidine Ben Ali, but they certainly played an important role. According to the Tunisian blogger Aya Chebbi, cyber activism is now an important tool for democratisation in this North African countryMore

Turkish riot police in clouds of tear gas in Istanbul during the move to clear Gezi Park on 15 June 2013 (photo: Reuters)

Culture in Turkey before and after Gezi

The end of Cool Istanbul

By bursting the bubble of mainstream discourse, there is no doubt that the Gezi protests transformed the horizon of grassroots political praxis in Turkey. Should we expect an equally drastic change in the domain of culture and the arts? After Gezi, is it still possible for the cultural industry to cling on to the easily marketable "self-Orientalising" currency that has been so fashionable over the past 10 years? By Mutlu YetkinMore

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