TheSydneyGlobalist

VOLUME VIII ISSUE II MARCH 2013

The Faith Game
Religion, Humanity & Political Action

DIVIDED INDIA God Bless America Nuclear Chess The NEW TURKISH WOMAN buddhist nationalism FAR-RIGHT EuRope CAN BENEDICT be sued?

Editorial Team
Editor-in-Chief Deputy Editor-in-Chief Publisher Assistant Publisher Executive Director Assistant Executive Director Chief Copy Editor Global 21 Liason Online Director Artistic Design Associate Editors Lewis Hamilton Hitesh Chugh John Fennel Raihana Haidary Tom Neale James McElroy Rebecca Dang Laurence Hendry Pristine Ong Jack Luxford Rafi Alam, Nick Boyce, Ben Brooks, Natasha Burrows, Stephanie Constand, Madeleine King, Dennis Mak, Jahan Navidi, Oswin Perera, Drew Rooke, Michael Shiraev, Dominique Spoelder, Vaishnavi Suryaprakash, Zac Thompson, Dmitry Titkov, Trevor Tsui Lucy Bradshaw, Lasya Chitrapu, Hae-Ran Chung, Sarah Copland, Felix Donovan, Jeremy Elphick, Alicia Gray, Robert Lozelle, Colleen Ma, Timothy Maybury, Nathan McDonnell, Kristin Romano, Erica Taylor, Stephanie Zughbi

A WORD FROM THE EDITOR

Assistant Copy Editors

Board of Advisers
The Hon. Catherine Branson QC, President, Australian Human Rights Commission Professor Alan Dupont, Senior Fellow at the Lowy Institute for International Policy Professor the Hon. Gareth Evans AO QC, President Emeritus, International Crisis Group Professor Graeme Gill, University of Sydney Mr. Owen Harries, Senior Fellow, Centre for Independent Studies Professor Michael Jackson, University of Sydney The Hon. Michael Kirby AC CMG

Sponsors
Platinum Sponsors Melbourne Law School, University of Melbourne Gold Sponsors Faculty of Law, University of New South Wales Sydney Law School, University of Sydney Faculty of Law, University of Technology The University of Sydney Business School Department of Government & International Relations, University of Sydney

God is dead. God remains dead. And we have killed him.” So wrote Friedrich Nietzsche in 1882. It was a brutal and controversial take on the state of religion post-enlightenment, capturing the fundamental challenge for religion in the industrialised era. Time magazine later asked a similar question in April 1966: “Is God dead?”, read their front cover, a stark reference to the prolific rise of Atheism in the United States. The ‘movement’ of religious naysayers had become popularised, their beliefs cemented. And yet, that belief has gone astray in recent years. Though religion faces fundamental challenges to its multifaceted strands of faith, it remains preeminent in the hearts and minds of global citizens. Despite the calls of its demise, it can still be the catalyst of conflict, the dictator of politics, the only relief when all feels lost in a world that is harsh for some and generous for others. The articles in this edition of The Sydney Globalist paint a picture of a modern religious landscape. That landscape is a competitive one. The modern game of faith is a struggle to remain relevant in a world of scientific, technocratic and economic advancement – to create a narrative that appeals to a changing global society. In our lead article for this edition, ‘Can Benedict be Sued?’, Phoebe Saintilan asks a question essential to developments around the world, but particularly to recent events in Australia: is our international legal system capable of holding the former Pope responsible for the crimes of endemic sexual abuse committed by those who were once indirectly under his control? Saintilan’s analysis is ripe with the intricacies of international law - as Benedict is no longer subject to ‘head of state’ immunities, she argues, calls for litigation become more substantiated. Other contributors to this edition have explored the intertwine between the Russian Orthodox Church and the political class; the temptation of China’s rapidly expanding ‘soul market’ to religious institutions; the ‘extreme’ side of Islam in Pakistan; the international black market for antiquities; nationalism as a strand of faith; the relationship between faith and HIV/AIDS in Cambodia; amongst others. It has been a pleasure editing The Sydney Globalist over the past year, and the production of this magazine is a testament to the diligent and professional work of the entire editorial team. Global21 is forever expanding. Recently we saw the creation of a Melbourne chapter, and it is pleasing to see the network continue to develop relationships with global institutions – most recently Future Challenges in Germany. We are a network of magazines webbed together by the ideas of students around the globe, and those ideas will keep our magazine enduring for many years to come. Yours in Global Affairs, Lewis Hamilton | Editor-in-Chief

Front cover image courtesy of Nasrulekam, from Fotopedia (CC BY 2.0)

TheSydneyGlobalist | March 2013

1

Accredited by

Australian member of

Catholic Church (England and Wales) via Flickr (CC BY-NC-SA 2.0)

CONTENTS
TheSydneyGlobalist VOLUME VIII ISSUE II MARCH 2013

30
Can Benedict be Sued? Phoebe Santilan

REGULARS
5 6 8 10 22 32 40 The Roundtable Jeremy Elphick The Sydney Globalist Meets: Kerry Brown Foreign Correspondent: The Legacy of Colour in South American Identity Max Horder Flashback: The American Election Felix Donovan Review: Argo Raihana Haidary Profile: Ali Shariati Nathan McDonnell The Last Word Hitesh Chugh

THE FAITH GAME
12 God Bless America, My Home Sweet Home Rebecca Dang 14 16 17 18 The Religious Divide Virat Nehru A Turbulent Western Front Stephanie Anne China’s Soul Market Lucy Connell The Path of Siddhartha James Farquharson

20 The Re-Veiling of a New Turkish Woman Manna Mostaghim 26 28 30 34 36 38 39 The March of Extremism Sarah Copland Putin’s Russia Dmitry Titkov Can Benedict be Sued? Phoebe Santilan The Illegal Atheists Natasha Burrows Faith, Sex and Stigma Daniel Liu Europe’s Far-Right Populist Movement Greta Ulbrich A Strong Sense of Déjà Vu Yannick Slade-Caffarel TheSydneyGlobalist | March 2013 3

FEATURES
13 29 The Forgotten Player in Nuclear Chess Jahan Navidi The Future of the Past Stefanie Contand

PHOTOGRAPHIC ESSAY
24 The Land of Jasmine Rice Apiwat Pradmuang

Experiences that mean the world
The Melbourne JD Law degree

www.law.unimelb.edu.au/jd

The Roundtable
Zwi’s argument can be seen as highly reasonable in the pre-election context during which it was written, it is more than apt to reflect on the quantitative effect that these Super PACs actually had on the campaign. Overall, Super PAC spending was almost double for conservative groups compared to liberal advocacy, but the failure of conservative groups on the whole in the electoral cycle raises a question that Zwi did not fully address: how influential is money in politics? The most palpable failure of Super PACs was seen in Karl Rove’s American Crossroads, which spent over $103 million throughout the election cycle, despite achieving only a 1 per cent success rate (that is, the Super PAC spent $103 million dollars, and only 1 per cent of it was spent on a successful candidate). Citizens United did open the floodgates in terms of corporate spending and resultantly, the 2012 election was the most expensive of all time. Zwi observed that issues stemming from Citizens United would be more evident in policies enacted once politicians who had been elected on corporate money were in office. That said, the damage that could be caused in such a scenario is still deeply restricted. Take, for instance, Scott Brown, the former Senator from Massachusetts. Elected as one of Washington’s wealthiest

Jeremy Elphick responds to ‘Citizens Divided’, from Volume VIII, Issue I of The Sydney Globalist.
individuals, Brown found deep-rooted support from corporate money. In his re-election campaign against Elizabeth Warren, Super PACs donated $3.2 million to Brown and only $600,000 to Warren. Despite being heavily outspent by her opponent, Warren beat Brown by close to 8 per cent of the vote. Alongside Scott Brown was Joe Walsh, on whom FreedomWorks wasted $1.6 million in an attempt to have him elected in favour of now-congresswoman, Tammy Duckworth. Linda McMahon, another failed Republican candidate, outspent her opponent, Chris Murphy, by more than four times. As results of the election trickled out, it became clear that money was not influential, as most pundits and writers had predicted beforehand. Daniel Zwi’s article was highly accurate in predicting that Super PACs would change the way elections were run: clogging the airways with advertisements, forcing candidates to change their approach to spending, and letting the negative campaign flourish throughout the election season. Despite this, the 2012 elections have disproven, beyond a doubt, the view that Super PAC’s could change the outcome of elections. Jeremy Elphick is in his second year of a Bachelor of Arts, majoring in Government and International Relations.

I

n the wake of the Supreme Court decision in Citizens United v Federal Election Commissioner, political scientists, pundits and politicians endlessly espoused the view that the 2012 election would be determined by whichever side had the capacity to outspend the other. In the election contest, this was heavily skewed towards the Republican Party and the interest groups that fell within its spectrum: big oil, Wall Street, and corporations.

Daniel Zwi argued, in the previous edition of The Sydney Globalist, that the inclusion of Super PACs in the 2012 election would lead to an increase in corrupt conduct due to the effect this increased availability of funds would have on candidates seeking an endorsement for their tilt at office. While
Tobym via Flickr (CC BY-NC-ND 2.0)

Interested in contributing to The Roundtable? Send a short, incisive response to an article in this issue to editor@thesydneyglobalist.org

TheSydneyGlobalist | March 2013

5

The Sydney Globalist meets

KERRY BROWN
The Executive Director of the China Studies Centre speaks with The Sydney Globalist about recent events in China.
Australia is at a tipping point in history, divided between its historical alliance with the U.S. and its economic relationship with China. Where does the China Studies Centre fit into this changing relationship?
We are all in an unprecedented position. Never has a developing country risen so quickly in modern times, and on such a scale. China has the world’s second largest economy, but it is 96th in terms of per capita wealth. So it is rich and poor at the same time, and this creates unique challenges, because we simply lack the most suitable conceptual framework within which to make sense of China and create the right policy towards it. While we don’t have that appropriate framework, these sorts of quandaries about going with the U.S. for security and China for economic prosperity will continue. For the Centre, we want to create a richer, better informed and more nuanced public awareness about what China’s impact on the world’s economy, its geopolitics and its governance will mean. The `Australia in the Asian Century’ White Paper issued late last year stated there was a need for an “informed policy community” about Asia. We can adapt that to China. Specialist knowledge about China has never been more in demand by policy makers in government, business, and civil society. What would be great is for the China Studies Centre – as one of its core functions – to be a facilitator between its highly wellinformed membership on China and the broader community around, both in the University, the Australian government and business, so that expert knowledge – much of it based on many decades scholarly engagement with China – can be of the widest use possible. a technocratic leadership, often speaking like a robot and mystifying interlocutors inside and outside the country because of his wooden, and somewhat sterile personal style. Xi comes across as warmer and more approachable. But in terms of substance, the broad policy parameters set out above are not ones that can easily change.

The 18th Party Congress recently supported Xi Jinping as the new President. How different do you think China’s new leader will be from his predecessor, Hu Jintao?
The broad commitment across these two generations of leadership to maintaining good growth in China has to continue, so we won’t see changes in terms of macroeconomic strategic objectives. China wants to double its GDP in the next decade. It wants to become a middle income country by 2020 with per capita GDP of $U.S.10,000. More broadly, it wants – as Hu frequently said during his decade as Party Secretary and President – to be a rich strong country, and one which has the status of a major global power able to lift its people into prosperity. Xi has talked more of reconnecting with the people through attacking Party corruption, and of reacquiring some of the moral leadership which the Party has lost as China has become increasingly contentious, wealthy and unequal over the last decade. Xi will almost certainly differ from Hu in terms of presentation. During his visit to the U.S. in early 2012, it was already clear Xi was going to speak in a different way to Hu, and engage with the domestic and international public in ways that Hu seemed incapable of doing. Hu was the consummate administrator, and typified

At the same Congress, Hu Jintao spoke of the need for political reform, but was not specific on the details. What direction do you see China taking in its approach to such reform?
It is clear is that the future challenges for the Chinese leadership led by Xi will not be economic, but socio-political. There is still plenty of space for growth in the Chinese economy so, barring disaster, major problems there are not likely. The main issue is that in terms of governance, the journey to middle income status for this country will be a tough one. Inequality remains high, corruption – or at least the perception of it – is rife. The Party is still seeking new forms of legitimacy as its historic rights to power wear away and memories of the 1949 revolution fade. Trying to create cohesion in a society of such dynamism and complexity will pose enormous issues. China is a continental-sized entity, where there are multiple communities across the rural and urban divide, the middle class and the migrant labourers, party and nonparty members, and then on gender and ethnic forms of identity. Having a political system that allows an increasingly well informed and self-conscious society with such richly multiple forms of identity, and

6

March 2013 | TheSydneyGlobalist

TheSydneyGlobalist | March 2013

6

ways to participate in decision-making when change has been so swift and deep will be an unprecedented task. Chinese scholars and officials are deeply aware of the nature of the problems facing them, and there is immense work on the types of social and political solutions that might be appropriate. But in the end, the function of elite political leadership under the Communist Party is to create the consensus to go in a specific direction, and then mobilize society to implement that. All we can say is that since 1978, Chinese society has been immensely successful at producing GDP growth under the guidance of the Communist Party, and this has brought profound social changes. But, in terms of the institutions of governance and political organization, very little has changed. The one innovation has been village elections, and an increase in rule of law. But the real changes are yet to be decided on and delivered, and it is unclear whether the Party has the political will, or indeed the capital, to undertake what might be risky and highly complex changes. The one thing it can’t do however is nothing. This is the quandary of the fifth generation leadership of China.

is run by a Communist Party with a monopoly on power. In that sense, the Party has been unbelievably successful. It is 83 million members strong, and has no real valid opposition. It is the sole entity that supplies cohesion across a society of such complexity, and in that sense it has, and continues, to work. But there are also ways in which the Party’s failure to deal with its own internal governance, its secrecy, its historic issues ranging from the great famines in the early 1960s to the Cultural Revolution and the 1989 student suppression are all combining to dampen and inhibit its rule. Structurally, we have to ask whether the Party can really fulfill all the functions expected of it. Its ideology is now largely irrelevant to the vast mass of the people, and its moral authority compromised by tales of official waste and corruption. It speaks to a society which listens to it with rising levels of cynicism. Its one great asset is the ability to deliver growth. But there is a sense that one day this will also no longer be as strong a card as it is now, and then the Party’s ability to evolve into a more modern political force will be tested. At the moment, China is being run on a system largely borrowed from the Soviet Union in the middle of the 20th century. Can we really see China in twenty or thirty years run in this way? I think it is almost certain that the Communist Party either has to undergo radical transformation, and allow some form of organized opposition, or face the real possibility that it might collapse when a crisis occurs. The latter possibility would be a tragedy for China and have a massive impact on the world because of the country’s role in the global

economy and stability - and so for that reason, we have to seek ways to work constructively with China on its own internal reform.

What would you say should be the key priorities for Australia in the years ahead when it comes to approaching the China relationship?
Firstly, to support the non-state sector within China, by welcoming them as investors and business partners to Australia. The non-state sector will be critically important for the future wellbeing of China’s economy as a job creator and innovator. Australia needs to be at the forefront of working with them. Secondly, to find creative, intelligent ways to work with Chinese partners on the internal reform issues: legal reform, the creation of civil society, and the ways in which the public can participate in decision making. This doesn’t mean promoting any particular model of democracy, but finding ways in which we can address common challenges of governance together and learn from each other. Finally, work with China as a global partner, making it aware of its responsibilities and the need to act according to its status now as a truly global power. That means urging it to show restraint over its border disputes, and to continue its commitment to global political and economic governance. Kerry Brown is the Executive Director of the China Studies Centre. To find out about courses offered at the Centre, visit them online at http://sydney.edu.au/china_ studies_centre/.

Hu Jintao’s political report highlighted a number of challenges for the Party over the next decade, including systematic corruption. What trajectory do you see China taking in its approach to these matters?
One of the great paradoxes of the modern world is that the world’s second largest economy and its highest growth one,
Jonathan Leveneur via Fotoepdia (CC BY-NC-ND 2.0)

TheSydneyGlobalist | March 2013

7

United Nations via Flickr (CC BY-NC-ND 2.0)

The in Contemporary Latin American Identity

Legacy of Colour
FOREIGN CORRESPONDENT

Max Horder from the London School of Economics draws a new light on African social identity in Latin America.

V

enezuelan President, Hugo Chávez has been memorable for colourful speeches about the evils of United States foreign policy and the social limits of modern capitalism. A recent of his, “long live the unity of Latin America”, is an unremarkable yet tentative quote that deserves an equal amount of further examination. It is fair to wonder to what degree such a unity actually exists in contemporary practice. Certainly Simón Bolívar, the great Liberator of Spanish America, thought it did. If we are to examine the region’s history, before the modern divergences that led to different nation-state formation, it is easy to see why. The story of Christopher Columbus’ discovery of America in 1492 is known to most, as are the calculated extermination of indigenous people (numbering in the tens of millions) and the fusion of Spanish and Portuguese language and culture into the South American continent. What appears to have often been left out of the discourse

about contemporary Latin America, however, is the extent to which the African diaspora was a significant part of this historical process. The United States is famous for its attempts to come to terms with the legacy of the transatlantic trade that brought 450,000 people in from Africa to be exploited as slaves, mostly on plantations that grew cash crops like tobacco and cotton. Over time however, the U.S. has become fertile ground for the creation of new social forms of black identity, solidarity and civil resistance. On the other hand, Cuba imported approximately 800,000 Africans slaves to labour on similarly lucrative sugar plantations right up until 1886. The figure is nearly double the number of those that were imported into the U.S. and is surprising given the relative sizes of the two countries. What is even more astonishing, however, is that Brazil received more than

5,000,000 Africans – ten times that of the United States. There is no doubt in anyone’s mind as to the strong influence of African culture in Latin countries like Brazil. One need only think of syncretic religions like Santería, or dances like Salsa and Samba. Capoeira, too, was created by black Brazilian slaves as a form of defensive martial arts that appeared to be only harmless dancing. Similarly, there are approximately nine million people of African descent currently living in Colombia. They have added much to the country’s culture, famously through the influence of Cumbia music. It is also relevant to note that, just like in North America, citizens of African descent are often some of the most impoverished, uneducated and malnourished people of the continent. Afro-Brazilians – largely the descendants of slaves – are still more likely to be living in poverty than their white neighbours. Most Afro-Colombians

8

March 2013 | TheSydneyGlobalist

TheSydneyGlobalist | March 2013

8

live by the Pacific Coast in what can only be described as one of the most abjectly under-developed areas of the country. Of these people, 78.5 per cent live below the poverty line. Hundreds of thousands of those that live in rural areas have been displaced from their land to make way for further commodity extraction (especially African Palm Oil) by large-scale agribusiness over the past three decades. What’s more, they retain a chronic lack of political representation in the Colombian political institutions as well as often having to live with the historically prejudiced perceptions of many of their fellow citizens. Their current fate seems to have been conveniently forgotten by most. So why did the kind of black social identity that grew to prominence in the U.S. during the 20th century not develop in the same way in Latin America? One particularly interesting explanation has been referred to by many as ‘Latin American Exceptionalism’. As with many other post-colonial countries, Latin America’s borders and the national characteristics that accompany them had to be created at independence from Spain and Portugal. Mostly, they were drawn up with relative arbitrariness and have led to many territorial disputes, such as the War of the Pacific between Bolivia, Peru and Chile that ended in 1883, and the tension between Argentina and Chile over the frontier in Tierra del Fuego that nearly led to war in 1978.

Latin American borders and states are not just politically unclear, however. The different countries also reflect a continent that was, and still is, incredibly racially and culturally diversified. That is not to claim that European colonialists did not (at least for a long time) insist on white racial ‘purity’ as in many other countries, and neither does it ignore the contemporary racial inequality of white domination of Latin American political and economic spheres. Nevertheless, racial mixing did still occur much more frequently and ubiquitously in Latin countries as compared with the almost entirely segregated North America. It must be briefly added, however, that this blend of different people did not occur in all Latin American countries. With a population that is approximately 90 per cent white, Argentina remains homogeneously European even today. But to speak in general terms, from the European conquest in the 16th century right up to the current moment, Latin America has been characterised by an unprecedented level of racial and cultural heterogeneity. The most demographically significant fusions of people tend to be categorised in terms of ‘mesitzo’ (mixedrace between white and Amerindian) and ‘mulatto’ (mixed-race between white and black). Of course, it would be a wild exaggeration to claim that this has produced a colour-blind

and multicultural utopia. Chronic racism still persists and permeates many aspects of modern Latin American society. In Mexico for instance, The National Council for Prevention of Discrimination conducted a recent survey which found 40 per cent of Mexicans to have treated people differently because of their skin colour. However, the continent has still largely managed to create new and interesting structures of ethnic consciousness, tolerance and intermixing that the rest of the world would do well to learn from. The development of these Latin forms of race and identity pertained to what the Mexican philosopher José Vasconcelos called ‘La Raza cósmica’ (‘The Cosmic Race’): the idea of an agglomeration of all people into a ‘fifth race’ that would build a new society free from the physical prejudices of the old. It is true that Latin America still has many issues of racial inequality that need to be addressed. But if we bear in mind the great ancestral intermingling of the people living in these countries and pause for a moment to consider a world where children are “not to be judged by the colour of their skin, but by the content of their character”, it would be wise, even with the acknowledgement of its problems, to take a closer look at the hybrid forms of identity in contemporary Latin America. Max Horder is studying Anthropology at the London School of Economics. This article first appeared in The London Globalist.

Jack Luxford, 2012

TheSydneyGlobalist | March 2013

9

Barack Obama via Flickr (CC BY-NC-SA 2.0)

FLASHBACK: THE AMERICAN ELECTION
Felix Donovan looks back on the election that was.

A

merican presidential elections are often remembered by the one-liners engraved into the public memory. In a turn that I’m sure has political historians shaking their fists, slogans tell the story of democracy in America. In 1984, it was Reagan’s ‘Morning in America’. Clinton’s election victory in 1992 was, ‘It’s the economy, stupid.’ The presidential race of 2000 is remembered as ‘Oh-God-what-hasthe-Supreme-Court-done?’ Some slogans seem to distil the spirit of a presidency: ‘I Like Ike’ captured the banal decency of Eisenhower. Others crystallise the irony: Woodrow Wilson won the 1916 election with the slogan, ‘He kept us out of war’. This election couldn’t be condensed so easily. Despite what the candidates claimed, the 2012 race for the White House was not a battle of grand ideals, or a referendum on a disappointing presidency. Rather, it was a story of parts, held together thinly by a cast of eccentric, sometimes brilliant but more often abhorrent, characters. Past Presidents found prominence again. Both Republicans and Democrats claimed the mantle of Reagan. George W. Bush was blamed by Democrats, and disowned by Republicans. Romney gave one of his longest answers of the presidential debates when asked about the differences between he and the 43rd President (which was only made more humorous during the third debate when Romney was in such aggressive agreement with Obama that Republican Senator-elect Ted Cruz wondered aloud whether his candidate was trying to “French-kiss” the President). Bill Clinton was greeted with cheers of “Four More Years!” following his spirited defence of the President at the Democratic National Convention. A lingering question: About

whom were the delegates cheering? The first casualty of the election was science. Even as Sandy struck the Eastern seaboard of the United States, savaging cities and taking lives, the Democrats maintained their resolute silence on climate change. It was with a sigh of relief rather than the intensity of conviction that Obama finally mentioned climate change as a priority. Some Ohioans asked for their ballots back. The uterus was quite badly misunderstood when Senate candidate Todd Akin was asked what his opinion on abortion in cases of rape was. Not a problem, he told the audience of a local television station, because the problem doesn’t exist: “If it’s a legitimate rape, the female body has ways to try to shut the whole thing down.” Fact shared the fate of science. Even with the proliferation of online fact-checkers, the campaigns were not deterred from imagination and embellishment (indeed, one Romney staffer told reporters, “We’re not going to let our campaign be dictated by fact-checkers”). Incredulity was a word invented for the look on Obama’s face when Romney persevered with the accusation that the President had been on an apology tour of the Middle East. The reaction of his Vice President was different. Joe Biden took it upon himself to be the instant fact-checker during the Vice Presidential debate, interrupting Paul Ryan more than 80 times. Democracy prevailed against a siege of money and suppression. The Supreme Court’s 2010 Citizens United decision allowed the campaigns and ‘outside’ groups to try to buy the Oval Office like never before. Fortunately – unless the reader works on Wall Street – excessive

advertisements made very little difference (except to the pockets of a few television station owners in Ohio and Florida). Inundated by information, voters chose to believe none of it. Equally, laws passed by Republican Governors to fight against the chimerical rash of voter fraud – which in effect restricted the ability of minorities and the elderly to vote – seemed to backfire. The threat of disenfranchisement mobilised groups that often stay home on Election Day. Hispanics turned out in record numbers to vote for Obama by a record margin. It is easy to forget how resilient democracy is when a recalcitrant Congress hogs headlines. Liberals cheered on 6 November, and in his victory speech, Obama claimed a mandate for “the belief that our destiny is shared; that this country only works when we accept certain obligations to one another”. He struck a bipartisan tone, promising to work with Republicans, thanking those citizens who campaigned for Romney. More than at any time since the Civil War, however, America is a union of red states and blue states; of minorities (who were 5 times more likely to vote for Obama than Romney) and an increasingly slim white majority; of Fox News and MSNBC. Amidst this, the idea that a Republican Congress will roll over for a Democratic President is a farce. Indeed, the only mandate won on November 6 was for Jim Messina and his campaign staff to run the ‘Hillary 2016’ campaign. The work goes on.

Felix Donovan is in his third year of a Bachelor of Arts at the University of Sydney. He is the 2012 winner of the American Review Essay Competition.

10

March 2013 | TheSydneyGlobalist

TheSydneyGlobalist | March 2013

10

WE WILL DEBATE THE BIG ISSUES, DEFEND THOSE WHO CAN’T DEFEND THEMSELVES, AND RELISH THE CHALLENGES ALONG THE WAY. WE WILL MAKE A DIFFERENCE IN THIS WORLD.

UNSW JD
Never Stand Still

Postgraduate Law

Law

Law

law.unsw.edu.au/globalist

Cricos Provider No. 00098G

My Home Sweet Home

God Bless America,
MDB 28 via Fotopedia (CC BY-NC-ND 2.0)

Struck by her experience of America, Rebecca Dang examines the pseudo-religious power of nationalism in the land of the free.
For a foreigner traveling in America, the country’s nationalism is immediately apparent and all-encompassing. From the swathes of star-spangled-banners adorning the public facade, to the national monuments that populate almost every block of the American capital, the symbols of America and the national myths that they entail are a fact of everyday life in the U.S. That most Americans are able to impart these myths whenever the question is casually raised indicates that American nationalism is not merely tokenistic, but an experience that is lived and developed. Phrased in this way, American nationalism seems to take on a religious character: uniting a single moral community of citizens as a religion does followers. Whilst debate exists as to the extent to which nationalism and religion are analogous in method and means, in America, nationalism is, for scholars like Anthony Smith, the “new religion”. Theories of the relationship between nationalism and religion span a continuum: they range from a conception of the two systems as totally analogous phenomena, to a view that they are ontologically distinct concepts. The latter, more dated view is manifested in Benedict Anderson’s seminal study of nationalism, Imagined Communities. Anderson defines the ‘nation’ as an “imagined political community that is imagined as both inherently limited and sovereign”, with emphasis on sovereignty as the distinguishing characteristic that symbolises the independence of the nation-state from the structures of religion. Nationalism, so envisaged, becomes a secular force that fills the moral and social space of religion as the latter recedes with the separation of church and state. This view has been criticised as being neglectful of how nationalism is experienced: a quick survey of our global environment reveals that, rather than nationalism succeeding religion, the two systems in fact operate in varying degrees of entanglement. The extreme of this position is that other end of the above spectrum: nationalism and religion as analogous phenomena. Anthony Smith, a strong proponent of this view, points to the fact that nationalism exhibits the very qualities of religion, being: faith in an external power; feelings of reverence; the role of legends; and symbolic ceremonial rituals. Although the noted theoretical positions are by no means exhaustive, it is clear that American nationalism is much more aligned with the latter position, accounting for each of the above listed qualities. The perception that American nationalism has an inherently religious character is not new. In recounting his visit to the New World in 1831, Alexis de Tocqueville observes in Democracy in America that American nationalism “is a sort of religion itself; it does not reason, it feels, it acts”. Capitol rotunda – a venue which is itself the very enshrinement of the American democracy and its history. Through this ritual, the people are united in a social experience; a national legend is created around the deceased who is inducted into the national narrative, and nationalism is lived by citizens. It is this last point which distinguishes American nationalism from nationalism per se. National narratives, legends, symbols and rituals are constitutive of most nationalisms: for Tocqueville, what is unique about nationalism in America and, indeed, what makes it so potent, is that it is driven by the people, who – by virtue of historical experience – see their prosperity as inherently tied to the public fortune. Accordingly, the state is a reflection of the people, creating a compulsion in the citizen to defend the state as if they are defending themselves. Almost two centuries later, Americans continue to experience and live their nationalism with devotion comparable to that with which followers practice a religion. A World Values Survey conducted in 2003, during a period of resurgent nationalism globally, found that more than 70 per cent of Americans surveyed stated they were “very proud” of their nationality, whereas this figure was less than 50 per cent in other Western democracies. Bearing in mind Tocqueville’s insight, it is apparent that the pseudo-religious characteristics of American nationalism, spurred by the nation’s unique social facts, has inspired a practice and culture amongst citizens that has ensured its sustainment. In the face of deepening globalization and devolving identity politics, it will be interesting to observe how American nationalism will utilise its internal qualities to react to a shifting world. Rebecca Dang is in her third year of a combined Bachelor of International and Global Studies and Bachelor of Laws degree at the University of Sydney. She is the Chief Copy Editor of The Sydney Globalist.

American nationalism is a sort of religion itself; it does not reason, it feels, it acts.
American nationalism is tangibly manifested in its reverence for national heroes, mainly former Presidents and, on occasion, military servicemen and activists who have shaped the national narrative. National sentiment is also manifest in the symbols of America, which abundantly populate city centres. Although the American flag is central to this symbolism, the national narrative has also been consciously reconstructed in architecture and monuments, which serve the important function of fixing, forever, a specific myth in the national memory. These tangible aspects of American nationalism are drawn together through ceremonial rites. The most striking of these is in the lying in state of deceased former Presidents staged in the heart of the

12

March 2013 | TheSydneyGlobalist

TheSydneyGlobalist | March 2013

12

The Forgotten Player in

Nuclear Chess

F

rom the deplorable events in Hiroshima and Nagasaki, to the Cuban Missile crisis, and, more recently, the seemingly endless impasse over possible future proliferation in the Middle East, nuclear weapons remain a pertinent topic of discussion within international security. However, an oft-neglected component of this debate lies in the weapons capacity of the Middle East’s only established nuclear power – Israel. Whilst officially maintaining a status of nuclear ambiguity, ‘whistle-blowers’ such as Mordechai Vanunu have estimated Israel’s nuclear capacity is approximately 150 to 200 nuclear warheads. Yet Israel, along with India, Pakistan and North Korea remains one of only four countries outside the scope of the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty. This article explores Israel’s clandestine nuclear program and concludes by suggesting Israel’s nuclear weapons must become an integral part of the debate in tackling nuclear proliferation. Israel’s Nuclear Weapons Program Israel’s intentional policy of nuclear opacity has made it considerably difficult to piece together information on the origins of its nuclear program. Yet this blanket censorship has failed to silence all of those involved in its development. These select individuals have provided compelling evidence of the existence of Israel’s clandestine nuclear weapons program. It is widely believed that the program began under the guise of the first Israeli Prime Minister, David Ben-Gurion, in response to their perceived security predicament. By developing a formidable nuclear arsenal, Israel aimed to gain significant strategic advantages over their neighbours by utilising the nuclear bomb as a deterrent. Indeed, Israeli nuclear expert Avner Cohen has argued that their capacity was bolstered by support from the French government in the 1950s and 1960s, under a French-Israeli nuclear deal. France, which developed its own nuclear weapons program around the same time, provided

Israel with the expertise to develop weapons capabilities. Specifically, the Dimona nuclear facility was established to enrich uranium, enabling Israel’s pursuit of nuclear weapons. As prominent realists John Mearsheimer and Stephen Walt have argued, the United States has, since 1968, acknowledged Israel’s nuclear weapons and “tacitly supported Israel’s effort to maintain regional military superiority by turning a blind eye towards its various clandestine WMD programs”. Vanunu the Whistleblower Former Israeli nuclear technician Mordechai Vanunu has revealed important logistical details on the country’s nuclear program. Vanunu’s leaked reports and photographs of his work at the Dimona facility have provided systematic evidence of the existence, nature, and scope of Israel’s nuclear weapons. Subsequently, Vanunu has become a prime target of the Israeli secret service. Whilst abroad in Rome in 1986, following a revealing interview with the Sunday Times, he was poisoned and abducted. Forcibly removed to Israel, Vanunu was sentenced to 18 years in gaol and continues to face significant restrictions on his civil liberties. Vanunu’s efforts have shed considerable light on the extent of the Israeli nuclear program and the extent to which their security apparatus was willing to silence opposition. International Law Yet Israel remains one of only four countries not bound by the nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty (NPT). Their nuclear program has avoided significant inspections since the 1960s, and, alongside security risks, has posed a health hazard to nearby residents in Dimona who have complained of radiation poisoning. More recently, secret ministerial documents suggest Israel offered to sell nuclear weapons to South Africa in 1975 at the height of the apartheid regime. Israel’s blanket refusal to join the 189

other states party to the NPT suggests that a necessary player has been excluded from the debate on nuclear proliferation. Whilst an NPT Review Conference Resolution was passed in 2010 urging Israel to place its nuclear weapons program under the inspection of the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA), U.S. veto power within the United Nations Security Council, and the absence of any international treaty obligations mean this is of little practical value. The Future Rather than being isolated, sanctioned or criticised, the Israeli nuclear weapons program is deliberately overlooked by countries such as the United States, France and the United Kingdom. Indeed, America continues to support Israel, providing in excess of $U.S. 3 billion dollars of unconditional aid annually – more so than any other country. Yet these supporters are quick to condemn and impose sanctions on nationstates for pursuing nuclear programs which, in the absence of compelling evidence to the contrary, remain civilian-oriented, and under the supervision of the IAEA. Whilst Israel continues to criticise countries for pursuing nuclear programs, it refuses to submit to international obligations itself. Equipped with such an understanding of Israel’s clandestine nuclear program, it is hard not to see the hypocrisy and inconsistency of its nuclear rhetoric. It is only by engaging Israel on an even playing field and placing Israel’s nuclear program under the auspices of the IAEA that the efficacy and credibility of the NPT may be bolstered. This will go some way to reducing double standards, by dealing with issues of nuclear proliferation in a more transparent and consistent manner.

Jahan Navidi recently completed his final year of a combined Bachelor of Laws / Bachelor of International & Global Studies at the University of Sydney.

TheSydneyGlobalist | March 2013

13

Kudomono via Flickr (CC BY 2.0)

Jahan Navidi explores Israel’s clandestine nuclear weapons program and recommends their inclusion in the nuclear non-proliferation regime.

SDuffy via Fotopedia (CC BY-NC-SA 2.0)

The Religious Divide
Virat Nehru explores how a man who was a symbol of Hindu-Muslim unity became the major proponent of the partition between India and Pakistan.

In the post-independence era of India and Pakistan, Muhammad Ali Jinnah, the founder of Pakistan, has been labelled many things. For much of India and the world, he was a communalist, a fanatical Muslim, a separatist, an egoist, an opponent of the Indian National Congress and an ally of the British imperialists: the very sort of villain against whom Gandhi would be characterised as a triumphant hero. Contrary to popular perception, in his early years as a political leader, Jinnah was rather seen as a beacon of hope for Hindu-Muslim unity. It is hence interesting to note that his disillusionment with the whole process is what led him to abandon this cause and advocate the formation of a separate nation state, Pakistan. A symbol of Hindu-Muslim unity Jinnah was a man who valued modern thought and progressiveness, and was agnostic in his way of thinking. The concept of a single, independent nation was not part of the general public’s consciousness. The political climate was rife with attempts of creating ‘princely states’, areas controlled by smaller kings and princes wanting to increase their respective territorial boundaries based on communal interests. It was mainly because of his agnosticism that Jinnah was seen to best represent Hindu-Muslim unity in India upon his arrival from London as a

successful barrister in 1906. The leaders of the Indian National Congress were sure that Jinnah’s lack of religious allegiance would make him a ‘neutral’ candidate unaffected by the communal and regional influences of Indian politics. In Jinnah’s early years as a political leader, unity of the people of India had become his mission. His efforts bore fruit in 1916, when the Indian National Congress and the All India Muslim League decided to join hands and fight for self-governance. Jinnah’s success greatly strengthened nationalist sentiment in India and his efforts were lauded by nationalist forces. Jinnah’s refusal to openly state, in the early 1920s, whether he supported the Hindu or the Muslim cause in the fight for Indian nationalism created an unlikely paradox: People loved him but started to become suspicious. They loved him because of his secularism but were weary of him because of uncertainty of whom he would side with when the time came. The Muslims thought he supported the Hindu cause because he was part of the Indian National Congress (a primarily Hindu party) even though he was a leader of the All India Muslim League (a primarily Muslim party). The Hindus thought he supported the Muslim cause, especially when he brought the All India Muslim League to work together with the

Indian National Congress, while the British were weary because he was a rational opponent who sought to eradicate the seeds of communal discord they had sown in self-interest. Hence, a stark irony arose; Jinnah had isolated himself by propagating secularism and wanting to eradicate the religious divide that permeated India’s political sphere. Feelings of discontent were the first step in Jinnah’s disillusionment as he began to realise the power of the communal forces at play. His relationship with Gandhi and Jawaharlal Nehru indicated the ideological differences that were prevalent between his vision of a future, India’s independence and that of the Indian National Congress. Over the next two decades, the divide would grow and, by 1940, Jinnah demanded what he had fought against previously: the creation of a separate state, ‘Pakistan’. Relationship with Gandhi Gandhi and Jinnah’s relationship played a crucial role in leading India towards partition and their ideological differences were a major factor in Jinnah’s disillusionment with the united Hindu-Muslim cause. Despite perceived similarities, they were completely different with respect to ideas, appearance, outlook and activities. Conflict and confrontation was certain. However this conflict acquired

14

March 2013 | TheSydneyGlobalist

TheSydneyGlobalist | March 2013

14

such a dimension that it destroyed the promise of a united India, creating a seething divide. There were many similarities between Gandhi and Jinnah. Both were from the province of Gujarat, studied law in Britain and were impressed by Western culture. In the beginning of their political careers, both were significantly helped by the other’s community, Gandhi by Muslims and Jinnah by Hindus. Initially, both sought the same outcome: Hindu-Muslim unity. Irrespective of these similarities, Jinnah and Gandhi were the antithesis of each other. Gandhi was a deeply religious whilst Jinnah was not. Gandhi was quite adept at utilising rhetoric and religious terminology during political discussions and addresses, whereas Jinnah chose his words carefully to avoid religious undertones. Jinnah was a rich man who dressed in a western way and preferred speaking English, whereas Gandhi wore nothing but a loincloth and avoided English whenever possible, advising Jinnah to do the same. A staunch secularist, Jinnah resented the fact that Gandhi chose to mix politics with religion and held ‘religious fasts’ to muster support for the non-cooperation and civil disobedience movements against British rule. The difference lay in the way in which both men perceived religion. Jinnah was firmly against any religious rhetoric in politics, believing that doing so would bring disharmony and hatred, whereas Gandhi believed faith and religion gave the people a stronger purpose. Gandhi’s brand of spiritualism had mass appeal and when

he took control of the Indian National Congress in the 1920s, Jinnah knew he no longer wished to be associated with the direction Congress took. Relationship with Jawaharlal Nehru Like Jinnah, the future first prime minister of India, Jawaharlal Nehru was also quite western, progressive and secular. Both had studied law in England and wanted to unite India. Nehru also shared Jinnah’s reservations against Gandhi’s practices. Like Jinnah, Nehru was critical of mixing politics with religion and was against Gandhi’s political discourse, which frequently referenced religion. Even though Nehru was ideologically to Gandhi, he willingly supported him publicly, infuriating Jinnah. Nehru supported Gandhi largely due to his own political ambitions. Gandhi had considerable influence on the general populace of India and within the Indian National Congress. Nehru had plans to lead the party, which required Ghandi’s support. However, Jinnah’s liberal ideals did not permit him to endorse anything against his principles. His disagreements with Gandhi caused him to leave the party, whereas Jawaharlal remained onboard, enjoying Ghandi’s confidence and eventually became his successor. Jinnah’s exit from the Indian National Congress, coupled with his public expression of disdain for Gandhi’s ideology, resulted in his role as leader of the All India Muslim League being his sole holding of public office. He had been gradually ousted from most posts due to his continuing criticisms of Gandhi. Gandhi had become

a darling of the masses and Jinnah was sidelined. By the 1930s Jinnah harboured a strong dislike for the direction the nation was taking. Political schism between the leaders of the Indian National Congress and the All India Muslim League didn’t take long to manifest into a religious one. Unable to reconcile himself with the fact that India’s future course would be determined by Gandhi’s influence and unwilling to compromise his principles, Jinnah finally succumbed to the one evil he had been fighting against as a secular nationalist: communalism. He wished to wield Gandhi’s weapon, religion, against him. He accused Gandhi of being responsible for using the Indian National Congress as an instrument for propagating Hinduism. Religion was already Gandhi’s forte and it didn’t take long for the egos of both individuals to create an irreparable religious divide. It is evident that Jinnah’s differences with Gandhi and the inability of the two individuals to reconcile their differences had a significant impact on shaping India and Pakistan’s destiny. The circumstances had little to do with religious differences: Instead the religious divide between Hindus and Muslims was deepened by the hurt egos and stubbornness of Jinnah and Gandhi, each utilising and escalating existing tensions.. It is ironic that both Gandhi and Jinnah set out to accomplish Hindu-Muslim unity for India but, in the process, accomplished only the opposite. Virat Nehru is in his third year of a Bachelor of Arts/Bachelor of Laws, majoring in Media & Communications, and Philosophy.

Damien Roue via Fotopedia (CC BY-NC 2.0)

TheSydneyGlobalist | March 2013

15

Reurinkjan via Flickr (CC BY 2.0)

Western Front

A Turbulent

Stephanie Anne examines the strained relations between the dominant ethnic and religious groups in the Xinjiang Uighur Autonomous Region.

S

urrounded by the Tian Shan Mountains and the arid Taklamakan Desert, Kashgar was once a burgeoning city along the Silk Road. As a trade route, it connects China’s Yellow River Valley with the Mediterranean and India. Today, the Id Kah Mosque in Kashgar is China’s largest, frequently accommodating more than 10,000 worshippers during Friday prayer. Within the mosque is a noticeboard proclaiming the central government’s generosity for investing in restoration. Yet, for every public declaration of the government’s commitment to allowing the free expression of China’s ethnic minorities, there are stories of a more disturbing reality: orders against “illegal religious activities” such as unauthorised pilgrimages to Mecca; restrictions upon Ramadan observance; mosque interiors laced with government propaganda; and severe internet clampdowns. Kashgar belongs to the Xinjiang Uighur Autonomous Region (XUAR), a region plagued by ethnically charged unrest. The XUAR is home to twenty million people from thirteen major ethnic groups, the largest of which is the chiefly Muslim Uighur people. The conflict between the ethnic Turkic Uighurs and the ethnic Han Chinese authorities and migrants too regularly manifests itself as devastating violence. In July 2009, almost 200 people died and more than 1,600 were injured in related riots. Two years later, a series of knife and bomb attacks in Kashgar killed 23. A further 12 were killed in February this year. The government’s ban on outside media entering the region means information must be sourced from state-sponsored media or overseas Uighur activists with supposed regional contacts. So while the threat of terrorism may be tangible, official

government sources conflate religious practice with extremist ideology. When violence erupts, the government often points to “separatist” forces, including the East Turkestan Islamic Movement, otherwise known as the Turkistan Islamic Party. This group’s existence is contended by some Uighur advocates. The absence of a source independently verifying facts results in consistently muddied information, so distinguishing specific issue-protests from calculated acts of terrorism is virtually impossible. Within the region, Beijing’s economic policy does well to antagonize existing aggravations. Holding more than a quarter of China’s oil and gas reserves, the XUAR is unquestionably important to the government’s national development blueprint. During the early 1990s, the central government attempted to stimulate growth in the west by creating special economic zones, investing in infrastructure and overhauling taxes. The government insists that demographic change is not a goal of economic policy. Nevertheless, there has been a migration of close to two million Han Chinese people over the last two decades. In 2010, a meeting of the Chinese Communist Party led to a five year plan intended to ‘leapfrog development’ in the XUAR. Prosperity reduced discontent in Eastern China and it is hoped that a similar effect will be witnessed westward. Following Shenzhen’s lead, Kashgar is fast becoming a “trading hub and manufacturing centre”. However, as the migrant population rises in the region, many Uighurs highlight the resultant “reduced human access to clean water and fertile soil for drinking, irrigation and agriculture.” According to

the Asian Development Bank, income inequality between these ethnic groups remains the highest in all of China. Moreover, in 2006, the CongressionalExecutive Commission on China (CECC), an independent agency of the United States government, reported that 800 of 840 civil servant job positions in the XUAR were reserved for Han Chinese people. While this was officially changed in 2011, the effects of discriminatory hiring practices are still felt. The government pursues seemingly conflicting objectives simultaneously. On paper, China’s policy in relation to ethnic minorities is based on a system of regional autonomy. In autonomous areas such as the XUAR, ethnic minorities enjoy a number of favourable policies, including a special quota system in political representation and education. Regardless of whether or not such policies are practiced, in theory they work against the principle of national integration, which is crucial to the development of a national Chinese identity. The mayor of Urumqi, the XUAR’s capital, once described the crusade to maintain China’s unity as “a political battle that’s fierce and of blood and fire”. In the imminent future, ethno-religious tension is unlikely to disappear, with government coerciveness bringing riots to a halt. While China’s far-reaching and incredibly costly domestic security machine can continue to behave as pugnaciously as ever, such tactics simply serve to make long-lasting stability less attainable. Stephanie Anne is in her third year of a combined Bachelor of Arts and Bachelor of Laws degree, at the University of Sydney.

16

March 2013 | TheSydneyGlobalist

FOCUS: China TheSydneyGlobalist | March 2013 16

gabriel.jorby (CC BY-NC-ND 2.0)

CHINA’S SOUL MARKET
Lucy Connell examines the rise of religion in modern-day China.

A

gainst a backdrop of social upheaval, Christianity in China is making a comeback. Evangelical churches sprout like mushrooms across city landscapes, brazenly declaring their services in defiance of official sanction. Inside, their swelling congregations sing lusty hymns, while countrymen elsewhere enthusiastically embrace a myriad of spiritual alternatives. China is the world’s biggest soul market. Seventy per cent of its 1.3 billion population declare no official religious affiliation, presenting a mouth-watering prospect for those infused with missionary zeal. Just as citizens are clamoring for consumer goods after years of frugal living, many Chinese are eagerly receptive to evangelical marketing after decades of aggressive state secularism. In 2010, the number of Christians in China hit a new peak of 23 million according to the Chinese Academy of Social Sciences, though many sources postulate a figure of nearly triple this. However, Christianity is not the only beneficiary of the greater plurality, individualism and assertiveness of ‘New China’. Social change is rapidly forming new spaces for religion to flourish and to extend its roots.

the “iron rice bowl” model of welfare provision has exacerbated this sense of dislocation. Life-long social services are no longer guaranteed by the state, forcing many workers to make their own arrangements. It is into this vacuum of morality and communal support that religious organisations have surged, their appeals newly resonant amongst disaffected citizens. This is not to downplay the long-held antipathies to religion that still hold sway over much official policy and constrain religious freedom. Since 1958, China’s Constitution has acknowledged only five main religions: Buddhism, Islam, Daoism, Catholicism and Protestantism. Each was coopted into state-supervised entities like the Chinese Patriotic Catholics Association and the Protestant ThreeSelf Church Movement. This was seen as an effort to homogenise denominations, centralise control and emphasise national loyalty above sectarian identities. Today, exchanges between the Vatican and China’s ruling party remain terse. Though relations have warmed considerably since their Cold War nadir when Chinese Catholic leaders were threatened with excommunication, no formal rapprochement appears likely. The appointment of Bishops and the recognition of Taiwan are sticking points that highlight deep-rooted sensitivities in China over external challenges to sovereignty. Paradoxically, given the Communist Party leadership’s reputation for xenophobia, their approach to homegrown alternatives has been surprisingly belligerent. Confucianism was notably the subject of bitter derision from Communist elites who labeled the philosophy backward, conservative, and antithetical to political enlightenment and modern progress. Spiritual “cults” like Yi Guan Dao and the Falun Gong were, and continue to be, viciously suppressed. The devotion of followers and their mass mobilisation provoked a state mindful of historical

precedents such as the Boxer Rebellion of 1900-01, and harshly intolerant of this distinctive breed of “dangerous subversion”. Christianity’s expanding toe-hold in China and the blossoming of religion at large, should therefore be placed within the contours of a highly-contested political landscape. Recent gains remain fragile amongst rapidly shifting currents. While the Bureau of Religious Affairs now seems to be adopting a more benign legislative approach, (and grudgingly accepting the need for a strengthened civil society), there are signs that the climate may become less hospitable to religious diversity. Indeed recent developments point to a subtle reversal of the historical preference for foreign religions, over the conservative ’backward’ values of Chinese Confucianism. In 2008, a nine-metre high statue of the scholar was placed in the sacred and untouched political space of Tiananmen Square. An exponential growth in Confucian studies and the official celebration of the philosopher’s birthday point to a growing interest in this “authentically Chinese” philosophy. Much of this proliferation has stemmed from organic interest at a local level, yet it is also clear that the state is energetically driving in this process. An official promotion of the Confucian code is not necessarily incompatible with wider religious liberty. However, it does signpost a dramatic shift in strategy. The state’s increasing cooption of this ancient dogma may well come at the expense of the relatively privileged international ideologies. More worryingly for Christian groups is the flammable popular nationalism (seen recently in outbreaks of virulent anti-Japanese riots), partly driving this search for a common, centralised moral code. In a volatile and jingoistic national climate, religions associated with foreign encroachments and past humiliations will perhaps face a tougher sell. Lucy Connell is a third year Arts/Commerce student majoring in history and economics.

It is into this vacuum of morality and communal support that religious organisations have surged
This growth has been fuelled by the decline of secular Marxist narratives and, in particular, the stresses of modernisation. The tale of Yueyue, a two-year-old run over twice and ignored by passers-by, has only deepened existing national soul-searching over China’s “decaying” social fabric. Anxiety is rife about the moral void left by fading Maoist rhetoric, and the family structures fractured by mass urban migration. Many Chinese commentators have mourned the loss of a common moral code and sense of social obligation to their fellow man. The state’s protracted disengagement from

FOCUS: China

TheSydneyGlobalist | March 2013

17

Sippakorn Yamkasikorn via Fotopedia (CC BY 3.0)

Siddhartha
James Farquharson explores Buddhist chauvinism in Sri Lanka and its impact on the country’s contemporary politics.

The PatH of

O

n 20 April 2012, a 2,000-strong mob led by saffron-robed Buddhist monks attacked a mosque in the town of Dambulla, 148 kilometres north-east of Colombo. The mob, armed with petrol bombs, damaged the mosque and assaulted worshippers. Whipped into a frenzy, the crowd claimed that the mosque was an “illegal” structure built on sacred Buddhist land, despite it having been in existence for over 60 years. This incident is a microcosm of an alarming dynamic within post-civil war Sri Lankan society, one where Buddhism is playing an increasingly chauvinistic and intolerant role. Sri Lanka is a country of immense ethnic and religious diversity. It is home to five major ethnic groups (the two largest being Sinhalese and Tamils) and four religions: Buddhism, Hinduism, Islam, and Christianity, with Buddhism making up 70 per cent, and Hinduism and Christianity – the predominate faiths of the Tamils – making up 15 per cent and 7.5 per cent respectively. Throughout the long history of the ‘tear-drop isle’, ethnic and religious tensions have been at the core of many conflicts. The Sri Lankan civil war (1983-2009), a 26-year conflict between the Sinhalese-dominated government and the Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam (LTTE), had its roots in the political and economic marginalisation of the Tamil minority by the Sinhalese (Buddhist) central government. In this conflict and its aftermath, Buddhism – and in particular, the sangha (Buddhist clergy) – have played a prominent role. The unique Theravada Buddhist traditions of Sri Lanka have little in common with Western preconceptions of this ancient religion. Buddhism was born in Northern India in the sixth century BC, and spread

throughout the subcontinent and beyond. However, within 900 years, Buddhism was on the defensive as it was supplanted by a new school of devotional Hinduism. Against this encroaching tide of Hinduism – which virtually replaced Buddhism on the mainland – Sri Lanka’s Buddhist monks began to view the island as a refuge to be protected at all cost. For Sinhalese Buddhists, Sri Lanka became dhammadipa, or ‘the island of righteousness’: a land visited by Buddha on three occasions, according to the Mahavamsa, the sacred text of Theravada Buddhists. This defensive mindset and sense of exceptionalism fostered an intolerant chauvinism within some elements of the Theravada Buddhist sangha. The Tamil populations of northern and eastern Sri Lanka, combined with the Tamil population of Tamil Nadu in India, created a paranoid minority complex in the minds of many Sinhalese Buddhists, despite their position as the island’s ethnic majority. This fear of the Tamils and other minorities became increasingly evident after independence from Britain in 1948. In the 1950s and 60s, factions of the sangha became ardent foes of any political or economic concessions to the Tamil community, since it would undermine the ‘unique’ Buddhist characteristic of Sri Lanka. In 1959, a Buddhist monk gunned down Solomon Bandaranaike, the fourth Prime Minister of Sri Lanka, due to his political concessions to minorities on the issue of federalism. Due to the nature of their religious vows, the sangha remained detached from the parliamentary process, though they persisted as the loud, and sometimes violent, voice of Buddhist and Sinhalese exceptionalism. This situation changed in the mid-2000s.

The 2004 parliamentary elections were a watershed moment in the history of sangha’s involvement in the political process. The general election marked the debut of the Jathika Hela Urumaya (JHU) or National Heritage Party, a Sinhalese nationalist party exclusively led by Buddhist monks. The JHU, an offshoot of Sihala Urumaya (SU), was able to gain nine seats in the parliament and achieved 6 per cent of total votes. The party’s platform combined elements of Theravada Buddhist morality and virtue, Sinhalese nationalism and an uncompromising attitude towards minority rights. The results also reflected a Sinhalese electorate that increasingly favoured a hard-line attitude towards the LTTE and minority rights. The motivations for the creation of the JHU party reflected both the spiritual and political realities of Sri Lanka. Mahinda Deegalle, a scholar of contemporary Buddhism, claims the Venerable Soma – a popular Buddhist preacher – inspired a new wave of Buddhist activism. Soma was a student of Anagarika Dharmapala, the famous early twentieth-century Buddhist reformer hailed for raising Sinhalese sociocultural awareness as well as resistance to British colonial rule and the influence of Christian minorities. Soma was critical of Sinhalese politicians and their corrupt activities, which included facilitating negotiations with the LTTE. He wanted the state to protect Buddhism, and asserted that Sri Lanka should be ruled in accordance with Buddhist principles of righteous living. The emergence of the JHU came at an opportune time for Sinhalese-Buddhist nationalists. By July 2006, the Norwegianbrokered ceasefire had frayed following violations by both sides and an escalation

18

March 2013 | TheSydneyGlobalist

TheSydneyGlobalist | March 2013

18

of LTTE terrorist activity. The return to hostilities was a victory for the JHU over a weak peace process, forced on Sri Lanka by international forces. In May 2009, the world witnessed the destruction of the LTTE by the Sri Lankan armed forces around the sand pits and mangrove swamps of Nanthikadal lagoon, in the northeast of the country. According to conservative UN statistics, as many as 7,000 civilians were killed in the bloody final months, although the toll could be as high as 40,000. The victory announced on May 16 by President Mahinda Rajapaksa, a former Sinhalese lawyer, signalled the final defeat of one of the world’s most feared guerrilla armies and ruthless terrorist groups. The LTTE, and its supreme leader Velupillai Prabhakaran, had no moral qualms over assassinating opposition members and repressing all those that opposed its policies, including fellow Tamils. However, victory brought vindication for those Sinhalese nationalists – including the JHU – who had pushed for a military solution rather than resolving underlining political grievances through negotiations. This divine victory brought about a new wave of Sinhalese-Buddhist chauvinism that would affect the post-war reconstruction of the country and shape its international relations. In particular, the JHU and elements of the sangha have adopted a policy of open defiance towards external attempts to investigate alleged war crimes committed during the conflict and the post-war plans of the Rajapaksa administration. Since May 2009, the United Nations, European Union, United States, India and Australia have voiced concern at the approach taken by the Rajapaksa government towards the reconstruction effort due to its lack of international oversight. The accountability of the Sri Lanka human rights investigation, known as the Lessons Learnt and Reconciliation Commission (LLRC) is less than credible: Human Rights Watch and the International Crisis Group

have both labelled it a useless, governmentsponsored body. United Nations Secretary, Ban Ki-Moon also expressed his concern with the nature of the investigation. In the face of this international pressure, the JHU and elements of the sangha have adopted the traditional Theravada defensive mindset. Following the United Nations Human Rights Council vote to jumpstart the process of prosecuting those responsible for killing civilians during the latter stages of the war, monks and nationalists protested the “victimisation” of Sri Lanka. For the ultra-nationalist monks, the dark forces of the United Nations, “neo-imperialist” powers, and foreign backers of minorities are aligning to stifle the righteous cause of Sinhalese Buddhism. India has faced the harshest criticism for its decision to vote for the UN Human Rights Council resolution in March 2012.

and the F-7 fighter bomber gave the Sri Lankan army its killer edge over its Tamil opponents. Besides arms, Chinese diplomacy – and in particular, its veto in the UN Security Council – has ensured the Sri Lankan military could crush the Tigers by guaranteeing there would be no further international interference in the post-war reckoning. The arrangement has been extremely satisfactory for the Chinese and Sinhalese nationalists. Sri Lanka lies on the major shipping lanes between China and the vital oil fields of the Middle East: the essential trade routes that ensure the growth of the Chinese economy. As part of the ‘string of pearls’ strategy, Chinese naval strategists and political leaders have taken a keen interest in the geopolitics of Sri Lanka. Over one billion dollars has been invested in the sleepy fishing port of Hambantota on Sri Lanka’s southern coast, as a refuelling and transit point for Chinese commercial, and perhaps military, vessels. In May 2009, the Sri Lankan government achieved a stunning military success that few in the international community thought possible. Victory over the elusive LTTE ended a vicious civil war, but it did not alleviate the root causes of that conflict. The marginalisation and blatant discrimination against Tamils and other minorities continues to this day. Elements of the sangha and the JHU have fuelled a growing division of Sri Lanka on ethnic lines, and even advocated the view that there is no ‘ethnic’ problem. Rather, a ‘law and order’ problem has been eliminated with the destruction of the LTTE. This ethnic triumphalism will not result in genuine peace on the island. Only a political settlement that guarantees the rights of all Sri Lankans with a more equitable powersharing system will be able to do so. James Farquharson is in his third year of a Bachelor of Arts, majoring in International History.

The party’s platform combined elements of Theravada Buddhist morality and virtue, Sinhalese nationalism and an uncompromising attitude towards minority rights.
The Indian government strongly supported the Rajapaksa government’s handling of the final stages of the war. There was no love lost between India and the LTTE, with the assassination of Rajiv Gandhi and the ill-fated Indian military intervention in Sri Lanka in the late 1980s being the most prominent examples. However, intense lobbying for the 70 million-strong Tamil community and its political leaders in Tamil Nadu in southern India, where the growing commercial hub of Chennai is situated, forced the government’s hand. China has proved to be an unlikely saviour for Sinhalese nationalists and their Buddhist allies. Chinese weapons ranging from small arms, artillery, tanks

Suria Thonawanik via Fotopedia (CC BY-SA 3.0)

TheSydneyGlobalist | March 2013

19

David Dennis via Fotopedia (CC BY-SA 2.0)

The Re-veiling of a New Turkish Woman
Manna Mostaghim discusses the battle for Turkey’s (secular) soul.

I

n 1998, Recep Erdoğan was imprisoned, forced to resign as Mayor of Istanbul, and banned from reentering Turkish politics. His sole crime had been threatening the strictly secular order of Turkey’s Republic by reading a poem that celebrated Islam in Turkish life. In his political exile, Erdoğan recast himself as a social conservative rather than Islamist-lite, and by 2003 had become Prime Minister. Erdoğan’s now successive elections to Parliament have confronted and challenged Turkey’s traditional political elite, the Kemalists, on the definition of what modern Turkey will look like. Under Erdoğan’s administration, Islamist values and communities have emerged to challenge and diversify the notion of what it means to be Turkish. Significantly, a particular indicator of the erosion of Turkey’s secular values is the presence of veiled women in Turkey’s political and social landscape. The veil, as a symbol of revived religiosity, challenges notions of whether a Turkish citizen can affirm values of secularism whilst displaying an obvious religious identity. Turkish Political Culture: The Myth versus the Reality In 1922, Kemal Atatürk formed the

modern Republic of Turkey and separated the Mosque from the State immediately. Religious life and symbols associated with Islamic worship were solely confined to the Mosque. Islam was to play no part in the politics of Atatürk’s Turkey.

of the Turkish religious identity within the secular republic. This religious identity that had been married to Turkish nationalism was the underpinning mythos of the new Republic, and became first personified by the Republic’s female citizen. Accordingly, Atatürk’s first act to liberate an Islamic society from Islam was to ban the veil. Since 1923, Turkish women who wear the veil have faced immediate expulsion from universities, Parliament, public hospitals, public sector employment and Turkey’s social elite. In short, institutionalized disadvantage became the punishment of choice for those who wear the veil. For that reason, the unveiled woman versus the veiled woman has become a symbolic dichotomy revealing current political tensions in Turkey. The Veil To Elif Shafak, the veiled woman is an ‘other’ within Turkish society. She is perceived as an entity from Turkey’s rural landscape, characterized as weak-willed, uneducated and from a lower socioeconomic status. But importantly, through the veil this ‘other’ is also a visible challenge to the legitimacy of the state in its ability to control and mandate appropriate modes of

The [veil] is also a visible challenge to the legitimacy of the state in its ability to control and mandate appropriate modes of religious behaviour within Turkey.
In practice, the state did not separate from the Mosque as much as take control of it. In 1924, the Republic established the Dianyet (or the Presidency of Religious Affairs). Islam became an institute within a secular nation, and a Turkish religious identity was created to allow for the simultaneous worship of Allah and the Republic. Modern Latin alphabet-based Turkish, not traditional Arabic or even Ottoman Turkish, became the language of religious instruction. This mandated change of language severed Turkish Islam from the past, and more easily allowed the Kemalists to define and control the nature

20

March 2013 | TheSydneyGlobalist

TheSydneyGlobalist | March 2013

20

religious behaviour within Turkey. Both Kemalists and Islamists regard the veil as the ‘flag’ of the Islamist campaign against the secular Republic. Increasingly paranoid Kemalist newspapers (such as the Hürriyet, Vatan and Bianet) report that this ‘flag’ is ever more present in Turkey’s landscape. But how many women actually wear the veil in Turkey? A 2008 survey by Çarkoğlu and Toprak found that 60.3 per cent of the female population wear the veil, demonstrating an actual decline of veiled women under Erdoğan’s leadership. But Kemalists seem to prefer to exploit political tension by using the veiled woman as a projection of all that is wrong with the Islamist political ideology, claiming that, if the veil is allowed to flourish, so too will other regressive Islamist values. This fear has so far allowed discrimination faced by veiled women to continue. In his last election campaign Erdoğan pledged, however, that he would seek to reduce discrimination faced by veiled women. In 2007, a statute was passed that banned universities from expelling students wearing the veil. Yet the statute was ruled to be unconstitutional, and overturned in 2008. Erdoğan, despite the worst fears of the Kemalists, was unable to overcome the secular system that they fear he will destroy. In any event, to regard the veil’s presence (or absence) as the main issue is to misjudge why it is important. In Erdoğan’s Turkey, the veil is a conspicuous indicator of political allegiance in Turkey’s population. This has meant that women have also become an identifiable focal point of reaction to opposing political ideologies. The Changing Relationship with the Veil In the clash between Kemalists and Islamists, established measures for public female behaviour have become more vague. The navigation of a Turkish woman in public life – whether she is veiled or unveiled – forces her to engage with two sets of social gender norms. Social punishment for diverging from those values has become arbitrary, since a woman becomes a potential victim due to the confluence of her fashion choices and the political allegiances of those around her. The Turkish female has, in essence, been robbed of political autonomy, and is only allowed to express political opinion via her prescribed dress code. This has been demonstrated by impudent attacks on women in public spaces. In 2008, supports of a Kemalist-affiliated party attacked the veiled Kıymet Özgü, as she attempted to get on an election

bus of the party’s mayoral candidate. The conservative newspaper Zaman depicted this as an assault in which she was targeted for her identifiable allegiance with Islamist values due to the fact she was veiled. Secularist newspapers like the Hurriyet exposed her actions as intentional baiting of the staunchly Kemalist party, the CHP. In contrast, Nurcan İbrahimoğlu was attacked in 2011 for “corrupting the morals of the people” due to her “inappropriate clothing” choice of volleyball shorts. In Kemalist newspapers, she was portrayed as a victim of misapplied violence produced by Islamist values, and a figure for Kemalists to rally around. In contrast, the conservative Zaman depicted İbrahimoğlu as an untrustworthy source and as part of a media campaign by Kemalists to decry a false signifier of an invented Islamist agenda. These examples demonstrate that women are personifying the narratives of partisan political ideology, with both veiled and non-veiled woman having their individual autonomy sacrificed for the political tension between Kemalists and Islamists. Women are therefore being confined to their own communities, as Turkish public spaces are becoming too fraught with political tension. Turkey versus Iran For Oliver Roy, the veiling of women was seen as the first step into Iran’s descent into a theocracy. Like Turkey, Iran had once been a nation that sought to establish programs of reform in efforts to align itself with the norms of post-enlightenment countries. Today it is a conservative and tyrannical theocracy. Accordingly, a common chant by Kemalists is that “Turkey will not become another Iran”. Kemalists believe that there will be an inevitable descent into religious extremism if the question of the veil is opened to negotiation.

infrastructure. The Islamist community has in effect been able to sponsor the veiled woman’s existence by negating the effects of institutionalised disadvantage. Moreover, these communities have produced women that overcome the characterisation of the ‘other’. Islamist sponsored communities have produced female doctors, lawyers and businesswomen who have demanded a greater role in defining the Islamist agenda for Turkish women. In becoming self-sustaining, the Islamist community may not be able to overcome the secular system’s understanding of appropriate Turkish womanhood. But they may be able to diversify the understanding of what constitutes a Turkish woman – and, therefore, Turkish citizenship within a secular Republic. The Veil and Ermine Erdoğan The first lady of the Turkish Republic, Ermine Erdoğan, wears a veil. It is she who perhaps crystallizes the increasing tension surrounding the veil in Turkish public and political life. In an open letter by Kemalists, 27 female members of Parliament wrote to the Turkish First Lady asking her not to accompany her husband on international trips. The letter characterised her veil as an unsuitable representation of the Turkish woman, and the Kemalist Republic on the international stage. But the international community has already tacitly and expressly acknowledged Ms Erdoğan as a representative of the Turkish female. Awarded the Prix de la Fondation by the Crans Montana Forum, an international award bestowed upon individuals who advocate for international cooperation and democracy, she was praised as a significant advocate for gender equality. Despite claims of Kemalists that she represents a regression in the rights of Turkish women by appearing with the veil in public, Ermine Erdoğan acts as an ultimate symbol and identification of the Islamist agenda in diversifying notions of Turkish citizenship. The Republic has not fully relinquished the principle of secularism. But the current battle over the question of secularism and the veil demonstrates the double standard employed in the expression of religiosity in Turkey while simultaneously revealing the Republic’s deep political and socioeconomic schisms. The casualty in the battle for Turkey’s ‘soul’ has been women – as they have been denied a status as autonomous beings, and have become forums in which a political divide can exploit their presence. Manna Mostaghim is in her second year of a Juris Doctor at the Sydney Law School.

The Islamist community has in effect been able to sponsor the veiled woman’s existence by negating the effects of institutionalised disadvantage.
Ironically though, the Kemalists have contributed actively to a process that is allowing for the creation of an ‘Iran’ inside of Turkey. Veiled women excluded from wider Turkish society have had to turn to Islamist communities for services that are otherwise offered by the government to their non-veiled counterparts. With their own hospitals, schools, universities and businesses, the Islamist communities have provided a viable, alternative

TheSydneyGlobalist | March 2013

21

Argo: a Hollywood lesson in US-Iranian history?

Raihana Haidary assesses the real impact of the film Argo on modern perceptions of Iran.

history is fables agreed upon” Voltaire

The threat of Iran’s disputed nuclear weapons programme has come to dominate the study of international relations, which time and again portrays the Islamic Republic as an irrational state threatening the wider region. Yet the devastating history of the West’s encounter with Iran and its involvement in Iranian internal affairs is oft forgotten despite the fact that it continues to cast a shadow over the Western-Iranian relationship. In 1953, British and American intelligence services orchestrated a coup d’état against Iran’s popular Prime Minister Mohammad Mossadegh who in nationalising British petroleum holdings suspended the West’s exploitation of Iran’s oil by returning it to his people. For scholars such as Stephen Kinzer, the 1979 Embassy takeover was partially a response to American intervention in Iranian affairs, which came to “define all subsequent Iranian history, reshaping the world in ways that are only now becoming clear.” Enter the new Hollywood film Argo. Set in the turmoils of revolutionary Iran, the 2012 Best Picture-winning film touches upon this complex history and has the potential to contribute to a more constructive discourse about Iran’s place in the world. In 1979, before the term ‘Islamic militant’ entered our vernacular, a group of Iranian students occupied the American Embassy in Iran, demanding that the Shah be returned for trial. Several American officials were

taken hostage, yet six managed to escape and sought shelter in the official residence of the Canadian Ambassador. Directed by Ben Affleck, Argo is a dramatisation of the joint CIA-Canadian operation to extract these six American Embassy officials from Iran. Based on classified material released in 1997, the film is told from the perspective of CIA extractor Tony Mendez who devises a plan to help the officials escape by disguising them as a Canadian film crew on a location scout for a science fiction film. Argo is a brilliantly produced, fast-paced political thriller with a nail biting, though somewhat fictionalised, ending. The film’s effective use of a grainy lens combined with archival footage helps to re-create the setting of a tumultuous nation gripped by revolutionary fervour. In telling the previously untold story of the CIA’s successful extraction, Affleck sheds light on what was widely regarded to be the greatest disaster in US foreign policy history. The film’s triumph comes in its first five minutes, where it attempts to contextualise the political mayhem which the embassy officials find themselves thrust into. In providing the audience with a short history of modern Iran – from the overthrow of its democratically elected Prime Minister, Mossadegh to the ruthlessness of the Western-installed Mohammad Reza Shah Pahlavi – Argo presents a more nuanced image of a nation oft-portrayed in the media as fanatical and unfoundedly hostile towards the U.S.

Though it briefly touches upon the Anglo-American intervention and the Shah’s decadence as he “tortured the entire population,” the film fails to enable audiences to empathise with the plight of the Iranian people. Despite the recurrent use of Farsi, English subtitles are never used to allow Western audiences to understand the Iranian characters, most of whom are found shouting, protesting or engaging in violent acts in sharp juxtaposition to the American officials. This is best epitomised in the Bazaar scene where an older man begins to shout at one of the female American officials (he is in fact complaining in Farsi that his son had been shot by the Shah’s men using an American firearm). Moreover, the film often sacrifices historical accuracies for suspense and has arguably underplayed the role of Canadian officials, outraging the then Canadian Ambassador to Iran, Sir John Graham. The dehumanisation of Iranians is a stark reminder that Argo is no historical documentary but a dramatised interpretation of a highly contentious political event. With this important point in mind, the film is still a must-see, as it gives audiences a thrilling glimpse into the deeply ordered chaos that comes to characterise revolutionary times. If nothing else, Argo is a hopeful yet subtle sign of a slowly shifting discourse on the rich and diverse Iranian nation. Raihana Haidary is currently in her fourth year at the University of Sydney, completing Honours in Government and International Relations.

22

March 2013 | TheSydneyGlobalist

TheSydneyGlobalist | March 2013

22

TheSydneyGlobalist | March 2013

23

Thousands of Buddhist monks joined in a pilgrimage covering 500 kilometres across Bangkok and the surrounding province.

THE LAND oF JASMINE RICE
A daily morning food offering to a Buddhist monk at a local food market near Wat Suthat Thepphawararam. A local artist’s interpretation of meditating Buddha at the Bangkok Art and Culture Centre

24

March 2013 | TheSydneyGlobalist

TheSydneyGlobalist | March 2013

24

Apiwat Pradmuang captures his journey through Buddhist Thailand.

B

uddhism has always run deep in Thai tradition and custom, and affects every aspect of life in the country. Approximately 95 per cent of the Thai population is Buddhist. Young men are often ordained as monks for a period of time – some because they are willing to sacrifice their time in return for good karma. Living as a monk, even for only a few months, is considered an important part of a young Thai man’s life. Monks are not permitted to handle money, listen to music, or work. However, the rules are being slowly relaxed as Thai society modernises. Suffering, Buddha taught, is caused by desires, craving, and the human ego. Through self-awakening and following the “Noble Eightfold Path”, Buddhists believe that a person can achieve a mental state free from suffering and ego, called “Nirvana”. The exact time Buddhism was introduced to Thailand is disputed, but in the 13th Century, during the Sukhothai Kingdom, Buddhism became Thailand’s official religion. During this period, Hinduism from Cambodia heavily influenced Thai Buddhism, and contemporary Buddhist rituals and temples reflect that influence. The religion, to this day, remains a fundamental face of the nation.

Sunset on Wat Arun, the Temple of Dawn.

Mounted monk during a daily morning offering at Wat Pra Archa Tong in Chiang Rai.

A young novice monk at the daily morning offering (alms giving) at Wat Phrathat Doi Suthep in Chiang Mai.

A young Thai girl heading toward the village rice farms in Isaan. Villagers in small villages tend to group together to help out with the manual TheSydneyGlobalist | March 2013 25 labour of gathering rice.

Jonmartin0 via Flickr (CC BY-NC-SA 2.0)

The March of Extremism
Sarah Copland examines the rise of extremism in Pakistan, embodied in the country’s controversial blasphemy laws.

I

n August 2012, a young Pakistani girl, Rimsha Masih, was arrested and charged with desecrating the Qur’an, after a neighbour claimed he saw her with burnt pages of the holy text in her bag. The allegation of blasphemy against 14 year old Masih, who is reported to have Down syndrome, caught the attention of media worldwide. Yet her case is not an anomaly in Pakistan, where accusations of blasphemy are used for silencing political foes, oppressing religious minorities and exacting personal vendettas. The march of extremism in the world’s second largest Muslim nation, the only one with nuclear weapons, and on whose support the United States has depended in Afghanistan, is a clear cause for concern for the stability of Central Asia. Blasphemy Laws in Pakistan Pakistan’s blasphemy laws date back to 1860, when, in an attempt to calm the subcontinent’s fractious religious groups, the British administration codified 295A of the Indian Penal Code, which punished hate speech and insults or attempts to insult the religion or the religious beliefs of any citizen. Pakistan inherited these laws after the partition of India in 1947. Upon partition, Pakistan struggled to assert a cohesive identity. Pakistan’s leaders used religious sentiment as an instrument to strengthen Pakistan’s identity and unify Pakistan’s diverse citizenry. In 1956, with the introduction of its first constitution, Pakistan was officially renamed the ‘Islamic Republic of Pakistan’. Since then, the

evolution of Islamic politics and an Islamic national identity has been consistently encouraged and, at times, enforced by state policy. While the 1956 constitution avoided reference to Shari’a as the authoritative source of Islamic law, the ulama – composed of the learned Islamic elite and a class of less educated mullahs – vigorously pressed for its introduction. As the political history of Pakistan oscillated between coups and elections, the influence of the ulama grew and the program for the legal Islamisation of society gained momentum. It took the military dictatorship of General Zia u-Haq, who seized power in 1977, for this dream of the ulama to come to fruition. General Zia, who found inspiration in the Wahhabist denomination of Islam preached in Saudi Arabia, made Islamisation of the law a primary objective. In 1980, the Federal Shariat Court was created, having the jurisdiction to examine and void any law that was repugnant to Islam. The ulama now had constitutional legitimacy and a religious court to advance their program. In establishing the Shariat Court, General Zia effectively enfranchised the power of a class of relatively uneducated mullahs. Beginning in 1980, a number of clauses were added to the chapter of religious offences in the Pakistan Penal Code, including one which declared, ‘[W]hoever by words, either spoken, or written, or by visible representation, or by any imputation, innuendo, or insinuation, directly or

indirectly, defiles the sacred name of the Holy Prophet (peace be upon him) shall be punished with death, or imprisonment, and shall also be liable to a fine.’ The Shariat Court found this provision too mild, and shortly afterwards the lesser penalty of life imprisonment was voided. Blasphemy in Shari’a Under the dominant strain of classical Islamic law, or Shari’a, there are three primary categories of crime, hadd, ta’zir and quisas. Hadd offences are defined as ‘claims of God’ and constitute fixed punishments from which no deviation is allowed. Traditionally, these punishments were meted out very rarely, and the process of determining guilt was very exacting. Most crimes are enforced by discretionary (ta’zir) punishments, or in the case of homicide or battery, by retaliation (quisas). Apostasy, which is a hadd crime, is particularly heinous under Shari’a . As it is seen as being akin to treason, it is a capital offence. Unlike apostasy, blasphemy is a ta’zir offence and the degree of punishment is at the discretion of the judge. However, by writing the prohibition against blasphemy directly into the penal code, the Shariat Court removed the tradition of discretionary punishment. The March of Extremism While General Zia’s extremism worried the West, the U.S. was a staunch sponsor of Zia’s military regime and a major ally of Pakistan’s conservative military. The Reagan Administration declared Zia’s

26

March 2013 | TheSydneyGlobalist

TheSydneyGlobalist | March 2013

26

World Economic Forum via Flickr (CC BY-SA 2.0)

regime as the “front-line” ally of the U.S. in the fight against Communism. In the 1980s, American and Saudi support for the Afghan resistance to Soviet occupation engendered conditions that fostered both the Afghan Taliban and al-Qa’ida. The decades of conflict in Afghanistan flooded Pakistan with weapons, while diverting a high percentage of Pakistan’s national budget and foreign aid to military expenditure.

The mechanism for suppression is self-enforcing in the blasphemy law.
Pakistan’s ongoing importance to the U.S. in the war in Afghanistan has ensured that Pakistan has continued to receive aid from America. Between 2002 and 2008, Pakistan received $18 billion ($A17.5b) in military and economic aid from the United States. Despite this, the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organisation (UNESCO) has indicated that the 50 million illiterates in Pakistan are annually allotted only two U.S. cents per capita for the furthering of their public education. This has resulted in poor parents sending their children to free madrassas, funded by money flowing in from the Arabian Gulf in support of a hard-line version of Islam. Dr Raheeq Ahmad Abbasi, of the Tehreek Minhaj-ulQuran, a non-sectarian Muslim body, says that of the approximately 20,000 madrassas in Pakistan, roughly 15,000 promote hardline doctrines. Today, extremist fundamentalism has become entrenched in sections of the country, with poverty, illiteracy and conflict being key contributing factors. The failure of both civilian and military rule to provide decent education, health care or robust levels of economic growth has fuelled frustration amongst the youth. It is within this context that Pakistan’s religious sectors have been able to gain the popular support of Pakistan’s citizens, while holding the political elites at ransom. Modern partisans promote their own version of Shari’a because it provides the coercive element they need for dominance. As the Pakistan Human Rights Commission stated, the blasphemy laws gives a “killing edge to Muslim fanaticism and to orthodox Muslims’ contempt for local minorities, especially Christians”. The mechanism for suppression is selfenforcing in the blasphemy law. In 2010, Asia Bibi, an illiterate, Christian mother of five, was sentenced to death for allegedly making derogatory remarks about the Prophet Muhammad. Two public figures came to Bibi’s defence: Salman Taseer, the Governor of Punjab, and Shahbaz Bhatti, Pakistan’s Christian Minister for Minorities. Both have since been murdered. Exactly what Bibi said against the Prophet has never been revealed, as to repeat the words would in itself be considered an act of blasphemy: An accusation was enough for a young mother to be sentenced to death, and for two politicians to be murdered. Attempts to amend these laws have been met with outrage from both religious leaders and ordinary citizens, who hold that the law is divine and cannot be changed. There is now no room for dissenting voices. Pakistan’s leaders supported militants and fostered extremism when it suited their own interests. However, they are now paralysed by a beast of their own making. After the assassinations of Taseer and Bhatti, no politician has dared oppose the law or demand changes to it. The Future For decades, Pakistani politics has been dominated by the ruling Pakistan People’s Party of President Asif Ali Zardari and the opposition Muslim League led by Nawaz Sharif, both of which have focused on preserving their own power rather than addressing Pakistan’s problems. However, as elections loom in 2013, the Tehreek-e-Insaf (PTI) party led by former cricketer Imran Khan is making waves. Khan is promising to take on what he calls the “political mafia” to put an end to the corrupt, dynastic nature of the Pakistani political system. While Khan is revolutionising Pakistani politics, he is also unapologetic in his conservatism, knowing it is an advantage at a time when anti-American sentiment has never been higher in Pakistan. A PTI spokesperson says that a Khan-led government will not tolerate any reform of the blasphemy law, which he argues is necessary to avoid anarchy. According to Khan, the rise of extremism is not due to the blasphemy laws, but a legacy of Western interference. He insists that “there is not a threat to Pakistan from Taliban ideology” and that, if elected, he would pull out of the war on terror and refuse aid from America. Pakistan’s blasphemy laws have divided the nation, pitting Muslim against nonMuslim and Muslim against Muslim. There is however a glimmer of hope. Pakistani investigators have concluded Rimsha Masih was likely framed by Imam Khalid Jadoon Chishti, who has since been arrested for blasphemy himself, after evidence suggested he tore pages out of the Qur’an in his attempt to frame Masih. According to Ali Dayan Hasan, the Pakistan director of Human Rights Watch, this is unprecedented in the 25-year history of Pakistan’s blasphemy laws, as “never before has a false accuser been held accountable.”

Extremist fundamentalism has become entrenched in sections of the country, with poverty, illiteracy and conflict being key contributing factors.
The arrest of Chishti is a sign of recognition that the blasphemy laws are being misused. However, there is still a long way to go before the blasphemy laws are repealed or even modified. The mobs that quickly descended on Masih’s home demanding her death when she was first accused demonstrate that vigilantes are willing to take matters into their own hands. However, the fact that prominent Islamic scholars have spoken out in support of Masih shows there is potential for change. The tide, for so long running towards extremism and mob rule, may have been turned by one small girl. Sarah Copland is currently completing a Master of Human Rights.

TheSydneyGlobalist | March 2013

27

Putin’s Russia
Dmitry Titkov investigates the source of the Russian Orthodox Church’s clout.

P

ity those who fall foul of the Russian Orthodox Church: a fortysecond stunt by the feminist punk-rock collective, Pussy Riot in Moscow’s majestic Cathedral of Christ the Saviour recently cost three of their members – two of them mothers of small children – a twoyear stint in prison apiece. Not satisfied with this state of affairs, the State Duma, Russia’s lower house of parliament, is currently considering toughening its stance toward blasphemers by banning “insults to religious feelings”, with such heinous crimes to carry a maximum sentence of three years’ imprisonment. In a characteristic show of self-restraint, the Church has already filed suit on the basis of this soon-to-be law against the wellknown blogger Artemy Lebedev. One of his supposed transgressions: writing ‘God’ without a capital letter. In a faith-based, church-centric country, developments of this sort might not seem so odd, but one such country Russia is assuredly not. On paper, the Church has some 150 million members worldwide: among Christian churches, it sits second in the size to the Roman Catholic Church. However, that number is far from a true reflection of Russia’s religiosity, or rather lack thereof. A survey this year reckoned that just 3 to 4 per cent of Russians regularly attend church, half of what the figure is for Australians and a factor of ten fewer than in the U.S. How is it that the Church continues to be a significant political player in Russia in spite of its seeming shortage of supporters? This is certainly a case in which truth is stranger

than fiction: the Church is parasitic for its power on another, much more entrenched Russian institution, namely the KGB. A Meddlesome Priest and An Unholy Alliance In 1992, Gleb Yakunin, a former priest, was able to access the Russian military’s secret archives on the Church by way of his membership of the Supreme Soviet, which was Russia’s leading government body until its abolition as a result of the 1993 constitutional crisis. He presented, for the first time, hard evidence for what was already a widespread suspicion: that the Church was lousy with KGB agents, bottom to top, with its clergy complicit in no less than international espionage (it was in fact the Church’s bishop in Vienna who was responsible for recruiting George Trofimoff, who, in 2001, became the highest-ranking U.S. military officer to ever be sentenced for spying). Although Yakunin was swiftly excommunicated for these disclosures, the picture painted by his revelations remains accurate to this day: In 2009, The Times of London’s Tony Halpin reported that each of the top three contenders for the Church’s leadership could be linked to the KGB. Given Vladimir Putin’s past connections to the KGB – sixteen years as an agent and, later, a year at the helm of one of its successors, the FSB – it is perhaps no surprise that the agency’s frocked friends would be in his favour. But the fervour with which they have expressed their devotion has been nothing short of religious, so to speak. In the run-up to the recent Russian

presidential election, Patriarch Kirill (codenamed ‘Mikhailov’ by the KGB), the Church’s current head, milked the most out of his position to pressure his subjects to turn out for Putin, having previously hailed his rule without irony as “a miracle of God”. Although Putin is less effusive in his public praise of the Church, the benefits flow both ways between these strange bedfellows: a small scandal occurred when Kirill was spotted sporting a Breguet watch worth $30,000 – three times the average Russian’s yearly salary. The Lord giveth and the Lord taketh away Whilst the Church has loyally led the cheers for Putin throughout his twelve-year reign, there have been some signs of late to suggest that it is not under his complete control. Most notably, at a tense time in the wake of last year’s fraud-ridden legislative election, Kirill defended pro-democracy protests as a “lawful negative reaction” against Putin and his party, United Russia. However, it is hard to tell whether we are witnessing the Church starting to shake off the KGB faction’s influence, or rather realigning itself to further its successors’ interests, which are not necessary identical to those of Putin. Whereas Russia’s government has acquired at least an air of transparency since the Soviet Union’s dissolution, the Russian Orthodox Church remains largely – to use Winston Churchill’s famous phrase – “a riddle wrapped in a mystery inside an enigma”. Dmitry Titkov is in his second year of a combined Bachelor of Commerce and Bachelor of Laws at the University of Sydney.

28

March 2013 | TheSydneyGlobalist

TheSydneyGlobalist | March 2013

28

yeowatzup via Flickr (CC BY 2.0)

Okkofi via Fotopedia (CC BY 2.0)

The Future

of the Past
destroyed and cannot be reconstructed. Although this practice constitutes one of the most persistent illegal trades, progress has been made towards the repatriation of trafficked relics. Several museums have returned illegally exported artefacts to their countries of origin, exemplified by the Louvre’s recent high-profile repatriation to Egypt of murals found in the 3000-yearold tomb of Tetiky. This has been followed by particularly vehement demands by the Egyptian Government for the restitution of other relics, most notably the Rosetta Stone, on display at the British Museum, as well as the bust of Queen Nefertiti that is exhibited by Berlin’s Neues Museum. This step represents a nascent change in the importance that source countries attribute to their cultural history. Whilst in the past, less wealthy states were reluctant to jeopardise access to foreign aid by requesting the return of stolen relics, these countries are now becoming more assertive in making such demands. This phenomenon raises an interesting question: will museums and auction houses move to return these objects on their own initiative, or will this process only occur after considerable legal or political pressure? At present, a workable solution to this issue remains evasive. Unilateral attempts by Western states to restrict the trade may ultimately be thwarted with increased demand for artefacts in countries such as China, where new wealthy classes continue to emerge. Given the difficulties inherent in regulating the sale of antiquities in recipient countries, a partial solution may lie in curtailing the supply rather than the demand for artefacts. This should ultimately entail more stringently protecting archaeological sites rather than regulating the seemingly unregulatable antiquities market within recipient states. Stephanie Constand is a final year law student and has completed a BA majoring in Germanic Studies.

Stephanie Constand explores the causes and implications of the illegal trade in antiquities.

D

uring the 2012 London Olympics, the controversial removal of the Elgin Marbles, sculptures that were taken from Greece around 1801, received renewed media attention. However, most activities surrounding the illegal trade in ancient artefacts do not receive such widespread publicity. The six billion dollar antiquities market operates as an economic system in which demand for ancient artefacts acts as a catalyst for the large-scale looting of archaeological sites. It is estimated that 93 per cent of the antiquities market is constituted by illicit trade. Source nations that supply artefacts tend to be less prosperous than market nations in which archaeological objects are sold. Archaeologist David Matsuda notes that most unauthorised excavations are conducted by ‘subsistence excavators’ who engage in such practices out of economic necessity and receive less than one per cent of the market value for their discoveries. In Central America, approximately 95 per cent of such extractions are performed by these individuals which, as Matsuda observes, operate under “the control structure of Mafia-like consortiums”. In the Mayan region alone, at least 1,000 ceramic objects worth more than $10 million are illegally excavated this way every month. However, according to UNESCO, there has been a particular proliferation of the illegal trade in areas affected by conflict. Porous land borders between Iraq and its neighbours and poor government control over national heritage have allowed the lucrative illegal trade to flourish in this region, with artefacts being funnelled through intermediate countries with lenient import laws. Experts believe that much blame also falls on private collectors who, eager to bolster their collections, act as catalysts for the

black-market. According to archaeologist Ricardo Elia, “collectors are the real looters, without their money and demand, there would be no market.” However, it is not only clandestine private collectors but also renowned auction houses that have been implicated in largevolume illicit trade, primarily due to the widespread practice of acquiring poorlydocumented objects from disreputable dealers. Estimates indicate that 80 per cent of the catalogues of international auction houses have no documented provenance.

Most unauthorised excavations are conducted by ‘subsistence excavators’ who engage in such practices out of economic necessity
Prominent auction house Sotheby’s was recently involved in a legal dispute with Cambodia regarding a 10th century footless sandstone Khmer statue. Archaeologists suggest that this relic was plundered during the destructive rule of the Khmer Rouge in Cambodia during the 1970s. In fact, the missing feet of the statue were recently discovered near the Prasat Chen Temple and have since been matched to the Sotheby’s statue. In light of these recent events, curators have argued that introducing stricter requirements for documentary evidence of provenance would curtail their ability to acquire new artefacts and, as a corollary, restrict the educative function of museums. While this may be somewhat true, the worth of the information gained through studying illegally obtained archaeological objects must be weighed against the harmful consequences of concomitantly promoting the further plundering of these relics. Archaeological sites are akin to nonrenewable resources; when a site is looted, details of provenance and context are

TheSydneyGlobalist | March 2013

29

Catholic Church (England and Wales) via Flickr (CC BY-NC-SA 2.0)

Can BENEDICT be Sued?
In light of the resignation of the Pope, Phoebe Saintilan examines the current efforts to sue Benedict XVI for crimes against humanity, and the shifting relationship between the Catholic Church and international law.

F

or nearly five decades, victims of clerical sexual abuse have been silenced by Canon Law, due to its focus on the avoidance of scandal and the protection of the offender’s reputation. Despite the multiplicity of reports conducted around the world, all calling for the adoption of reforms within the Catholic Church to achieve greater justice for victims, most are yet to be adopted. The endemic nature of clerical sexual abuse and the silencing of victims have catalysed an international movement to sue Vatican officials for crimes against humanity at the International Criminal Court. Although previously protected by head of state immunity, Pope Benedict XVI could now potentially face legal action. While the allegations of crimes against humanity have some legitimacy, whether suing the Pope at The Hague would be an appropriate solution remains a moot point. Nevertheless, such allegations have generated debate about the nature of the relationship between religion and international law. The human rights abuses occurring within the Catholic Church has only recently entered public discourse in Australia. A report by the Australian Broadcasting Commission’s Four Corners program on the miscarriage of justice for sexual abuse victims within the Catholic Church generated public awareness and garnered support for a Federal Royal Commission into the widespread issue of clerical sexual abuse. A Royal Commission has already been conducted in Victoria and the findings were not positive: Over one hundred children were found to have been sexually abused by priests, with many cases tragically ending in suicide due to a lack of justice and support from legal and Catholic authorities. The 1995 Royal Commission into the New South Wales Police Service found that “a very disturbing picture of neglect, indifference and concealment has emerged during the investigation to almost every aspect of the preventative investigation process.”

This disturbing case of human rights abuses within the Catholic Church is not a matter confined to the boundaries of Australia. Rather, it is an international human rights issue, and a multitude of reports have been conducted into the Catholic Church around the world. The inquiries exhibit a reoccurring theme: an overemphasis on the avoidance of controversy and the prioritising of priests’ reputation rather than justice for the victim.

a view to minimising the risk of public disclosure,’ effectively avoiding such issues from entering the public discourse and leaving the institution’s reputation intact. The Murphy Report was another landmark report conducted by the Irish Government in 2009, and contained over 320 allegations made by children of rape and molestation. The Report highlighted the necessity of reforms within the Catholic Church in dealing with the reporting of cases of sexual abuse. The Report states that a consequence of the overemphasis on the avoidance of scandal has been a miscarriage of justice for victims. While the Commission offered many recommendations, most are yet to be implemented. Akin to the Murphy and Ryan Reports, inquiries conducted worldwide highlight the widespread nature of clerical sexual abuse. The John Jay Report, conducted in the United States, found that between 1950 and 2002 approximately 10,667 individuals made allegations of being sexually abused by a priest. In most cases, the victim, nearly always a minor, had silently suffered and was prevented from reporting their abuse to authorities. Similarly, the Dutch Deetman Commission that was conducted

Inquiries exhibit a reoccurring theme: an overemphasis on the avoidance of controversy and the prioritising of priests’ reputation rather than justice for the victim.
The issue of sexual abuse within the Catholic Church is widespread. Clerical sexual abuse has a particularly disturbing prevalence in Ireland. The Ryan Report, conducted in 1992 by the Irish Government, found that since its inception, Irish Catholic institutions run by the Christian Brothers had adopted policies that protected the priest and silenced the victim. The Report found that the cases of sexual abuse within such institutions were ‘arranged with

30

March 2013 | TheSydneyGlobalist

TheSydneyGlobalist | March 2013

30

into the Roman Catholic Church estimated the number of clerical sexual abuse victims to be approximately 10,000. A disturbing picture has thus been painted worldwide, catalysing a global movement to sue Vatican officials for failing to address the endemic human rights issue of clerical sexual abuse. Underpinning the miscarriage of justice for victims of sexual abuse has been the rehabilitative principles deeply embedded in Canon Law. Canon Law, the official legal system of the Vatican, is the oldest internal legal system functioning in Western Europe. The punishments for accused priests under Canon Law include a simple ‘warning’ and counselling sessions with officials within the Catholic Church. Even more disturbing is the principle of ‘mental reservation’: The Murphy Report stated that “mental reservation is, in a sense, a way of answering without lying,” effectively allowing accused priests to lie to police and victims and avoid criminal prosecution. Drawing on the findings of reports worldwide, it can be concluded that current mechanisms to ‘punish’ offending priests have proven to be inadequate and ineffective. A circular pattern quickly becomes evident: following the confession of their sins and receiving counselling, priests are moved to a new parish where they are likely to reoffend. The Code of Canon Law states that as the Supreme Pontiff, the Pope possesses executive, legislative and judicial power. Thus, human rights lawyers including Geoffrey Robertson and non-government organisations such as the Survivors Network of Those Abused by Priests allege that, as the head of the Vatican, the Pope is responsible for the successive failures to address the endemic issue of clerical sexual abuse. Under the Rome Statute of the International Criminal Court, crimes against humanity are defined as “particularly odious offences in that they constitute a serious attack or grave humiliation or degradation of one or more human beings”. Such crimes extend to murder, extermination, torture and rape, and must be committed on a widespread or systematic scale. Geoffrey Robertson has stated that, whilst the Vatican renders the allegations of widespread sexual abuse “petty gossip”, the Holy See cannot remain ignorant to international law. The submission lodged at The Hague in 2010 by the Centre for Constitutional Rights holds the Pope and three other top Holy See

officials liable for crimes against humanity. The Centre for Constitutional Rights has argued that the four Vatican officials have exhibited a successive failure to punish accused priests and engaged in the “systematic and widespread practice of concealing sexual crimes around the world”. Pam Spees, a human rights lawyer currently working on filing the allegations, has stated “the point of this is to look at it from a higher altitude. You zoom out and the practices are identical: whistle-blowers are punished and the Vatican refuses to cooperate with law enforcement agencies.” However, Mark Ellis, the executive director of the International Bar Association, contends that if Vatican officials were sued in the International Criminal Court, the likely outcome would be unsuccessful. Ellis has stated that crimes against humanity require “a government policy, a plan, and a widespread attack against a civilian population.” Thus, whether such claims would succeed at the International Criminal Court remains a point of contention.

of the Rights of the Child) in its role as a ‘Permanent Observer’ at the United Nations. Nevertheless, the Vatican does not have a permanent population, or an official language. Geoffrey Robertson has argued that the Vatican’s claim to statehood is legally invalid, being predicated on treaties signed in the Middle Ages that are irrelevant in the 21st century. Robertson thus contends that the Vatican’s claim to statehood could potentially be challenged in the European Court of Human Rights. Regardless, the resignation of Pope Benedict XVI means that the former Pope will no longer be protected by state immunity from legal prosecution by the international community. However, whether taking the Pope and Vatican officials to the dock at the International Criminal Court would be beneficial remains a point of contention. Indubitably, if the international efforts are indeed successful and the Pope and Vatican officials are found guilty of crimes against humanity, this would have a detrimental effect on the Catholic Church. Further, the prosecution of religious leaders at the International Criminal Court, a court that has seen war criminals and dictators at the dock, would herald a broadening of the scope of international law and the entwining of religion and international law. An appropriate solution to the widespread problem of clerical sexual abuse would be a ‘think globally, act locally’ response. A domestic response, such as the adoption of policies ensuring the protection of children from potential sexual abuse coupled with the achievement of justice for victims, would be a targeted and effective approach tailored to the needs and severity of the problem in individual countries. Further, such a response would have a less harmful impact on the Catholic Church at an international level. The resignation of Pope Benedict XVI has provided a unique opportunity for the Catholic Chruch to repair its tainted reputation. The election of a new Pontiff, such as Ghanian Cardinal Turkson, could herald a shift in the Vatican’s policy towards the endemic issue. Nevertheless, whether it is a domestic response or bringing the matter before the International Criminal Court, action needs to be taken immediately to address this international human rights issue. Phoebe Saintilan is in her second year of a Combined Bachelor of Arts and Law, majoring in History.

A circular pattern quickly becomes evident: following the confession of their sins and receiving counselling, priests are moved to a new parish where they are likely to reoffend.
A major hindrance remains in the international efforts to sue the Pope: the Vatican’s claim to statehood and the subsequent legal immunity for its leaders. Indeed, by claiming statehood the Vatican has effectively evaded legal prosecution by the international community. A vital feature of international law is state sovereignty: the right of a state to govern over its people and affairs within its own territorial limits without interference from other nation-states. Thus, by claiming statehood, Vatican leaders have largely escaped criticism and legal prosecution. However, whether the Vatican satisfies the legal requirements of statehood is debateable. The Montevideo Convention of the Rights and Duties of States lays out the qualifications that a sovereign state must possess, including: a permanent population; a defined territory; government; and capacity to enter into relations with the other states. Evidently, the Vatican satisfies the requirement of a defined territory and became a signatory to an array of United Nations treaties (including, ironically, the Convention

TheSydneyGlobalist | March 2013

31

PROFILE: ALI SHARIATI
A REVOLUTIONARY SCHOLAR FOR IRAN
Nathan McDonnell reflects on the life of an Iranian scholar.

W

hat could Sartre have in common with Sufism? Surely Jean-Paul Sartre, an atheist French philosopher and revolutionary political activist of the 20th Century, could not be more different to Sufism, an ancient mystical tradition of Islam? Not so for Ali Shariati. For this sociologist of religion, philosopher and fierce political activist, his life project was the creative synthesis of diverse spiritual and political ideas refracted in a way that would inspire the Iranian people. He sought to articulate the yearnings of the masses that had deep spiritual sensitivities to Shi’a Islam but who, at the same time, were having to cope with the modern traumas of violent British and American domination, the tyrannical regime under the Shah, mass urbanisation and disabling poverty. The ideas of Shariati would have a powerful impact on strong democratic leftist currents leading up to, and during, the 1979 Revolution, until the atavistic Islamic fundamentalism led by Ayatollah Ruhollah Khomeini would hijack the Revolution and violently repress its progressive elements. Indeed, his ideas made him one of the most influential intellectuals of Iran in the 20th Century. But first, a word of history. Modern Iran has a long history of being dominated by British and U.S. imperialism, mainly because of Iran’s highly significant geostrategic location and natural resources. A defining moment in this was when, in 1953, the CIA – on behalf of British oil interests and at the approval of President Eisenhower – overturned the enormously popular, democratically elected government of Dr

Mohammed Mossadegh because it had nationalised the petroleum industry. As a consequence, the infamously repressive Shah monarchy of Iran effectively became a puppet government to the West, providing cheap oil contracts to British and U.S. companies whilst its people lived in poverty. It was into this political climate that Ali Shariati was thrown. Born in the Iranian rural suburb of Mashad in 1933, Shariati would work as a teacher before studying in France on a scholarship: He was enriched by the encounter with ideas from European philosophy and political activism. In France, Shariati met Sartre, and was involved in the Algerian struggle for independence. After receiving his doctorate in 1964, Shariati returned to Tehran in 1965, having been detained by the Government for a year, and started teaching at Houssein-e-Ershad Religious Institute. There, his lectures attracted not only 6,000 students to his summer classes, but also many non-students who had heard about his ideas through word of mouth and were fascinated. Later, the Iranian secret police were to close down his lectures. Shariati, and many of his students, were arrested and he was detained in extremely harsh prison conditions for 18 months. Even upon release, he endured tight surveillance. In 1977, only two years before the Revolution, he was allowed to leave the country for England and, in Southampton only three weeks later, he died apparently of a heart condition. It is more likely, though, that his death was linked to the international reach of the much-feared SAVAK: the Iranian

secret police. Shariati believed that the authentic Shi’a Islam was a revolutionary tradition that had become fossilised and irrelevant because of a conservative clergy, which focused only on spiritual piety and highly irrelevant technical theological questions whilst ignoring social injustice. In order to liberate religion from being degenerated and institutionalised by such a clergy, Shariati saw it necessary to re-excavate the history, hagiography, language and practice of Shi’a traditions, so as to reinvent it into something stirring and powerful, and demonstrate its revolutionary tradition. In this ambitious project, Cain and Abel became a parable for class exploitation and Fatima, a daughter of Muhammed, was made a strong and just woman who proved the feminist nature of authentic Islam. Against a politically passive clergy, Shariati sought to introduce a conception of Shi’a Islam as an engaged religion of action that was orientated towards urgently and radically addressing issues of injustice. Living in Iran in a time when a spirit of rebellion was growing against the U.S.backed Shah, Shariati spread his net wide in the search for contemporary political heroes and revolutionary ideas from which to draw inspiration. He found inspiration in the anti-colonial struggles and philosophies of revolutionary intellectuals like Che Guevara, the Vietnamese General Giap, Roger Garaudy’s Christian Marxism

32

March 2013 | TheSydneyGlobalist

TheSydneyGlobalist | March 2013

32

and the Algerian Franz Fanon – the latter of whom had shared his involvement in the Algerian struggle for independence from the French. Though Shariati was critical of overly reductionist and deterministic “vulgar Marxism”, the ideas of Karl Marx, too, had a penetrating influence on his thought. For Shariati, Marxism explained how British and American oil companies could make extraordinary profits from Iran’s petroleum reserves, whilst the majority of Iranians lived in depressing poverty. For Shariati, capitalism – in its turning of “man, who is the representative of God on earth … to a bloody wolf ” – was an “anti-human”, corrupting influence on human nature. His articulation of an ideal, ultimate socialist system was cleverly articulated as being infused with Shi’a spiritual yearnings, as well as the triumph of light over darkness as in Manichaeist cosmology. For Shariati, jame’eh-ye bi-tabaqeh-ye towhidi, the “classless, monotheistic society”, would offer both economic-political as well as spiritual salvation and would be a revelation

of God’s mercy and goodness. In this way, he quite deliberately read Marxist social science concepts into Islamic theology for the purpose of re-politicising Islam. Shariati also blended philosophical and cultural ideas, both indigenous and Western, in an attempt to express an authentic Iranian spirit. He used a term coined by Jalal Al-e-Ahmad, gharbzadegi (usually translated as ‘Westoxification’), in order to describe the state of aimlessness, alienation and nihilism of some of the Iranian youth who had discarded their culture for Western materialism and consumerism. For Shariati, this was a kind of cultural imperialism. He also had a strong spiritual interest in Sufism, the mystical tradition of Islam with an ancient history in Iran and throughout the Islamic world. Furthermore, he also nurtured an interest in European philosophy, most especially the German philosopher, Martin Heidegger, for his critique of the despair of technological modernity. If Shariati’s intellectual destiny could be summarised, it would be as the struggle to

articulate a Shi’a political modernism that urgently engages with the peculiar pains, passions and opportunities facing Iran in late modernity. His intellectual syntheses at the modern banquet of ideas excelled in theoretical creativity, whilst always submitting to, and indeed championing, the Islamic concept of the unity of all knowledge and experience under God. The precise relevance of Shariati’s work to the Iranian context in the 1970s, and his blending of Shi’a Islam, revolutionary Marxist and Third Worldist ideas with ideas from European philosophy, meant a highly mature and relevant modernism that is simultaneously theological, political, historiographical and philosophical. His dramatic re-invention of the traditions of Shi’a Islam was armed with theological and politically revolutionary instincts with which to heroically march into, and resolve, the challenges of modernity facing Iran. Nathan McDonnell is completing a Bachelor of International and Global Studies at the University of Sydney.

Puccaso via Flickr (CC BY-SA 2.0)

TheSydneyGlobalist | March 2013

33

Suzan Black via Fotopedia (CC BY-SA 2.0)

THE ILLEGAL ATHEISTS
Natasha Burrows explores (non)-religion and the state in contemporary Indonesia.

P

ancasila is the foundational ideology of the Indonesian state. Established at the time of Indonesia’s independence in 1945, the philosophy is headed by the belief in a ‘one and only God’. The State recognises six religions: Islam, Protestantism, Catholicism, Hinduism, Buddhism and Confucianism. For the most part, state-enforced religious diversity has been successful in Indonesia, although this has not been the case for atheists, who have been branded as criminals under Indonesian law. The oppression of atheists in Indonesia, where 87.2 per cent of the population identifies themselves as Muslim, is exemplified in the case of Alex Anan, a 30 year old civil servant. In June 2012, Anan was sentenced to two and a half years jail for posting the statement “God doesn’t exist” on Facebook. This was regarded as “deliberately spreading information inciting religious hatred and animosity”, according to the judge presiding at Anan’s trial. Despite the risk of prosecution, there is an active underground community of atheists in Indonesia. Anan’s lawyers estimate that there are around 2,000 atheists in Indonesia, although atheism’s illegality in Indonesia makes collection of official figures impossible. Social media has provided atheists with a sense of community, a way of interacting with other atheists and potentially bypassing the stigma of the wider Indonesian community. On Facebook, groups such as Indonesian Atheists have over 900 members. How atheists will continue to operate in Indonesia remains a question to be seen. But for a country that is quickly modernising, state-enforced persecution of atheists is holding Indonesia back. I spoke with Karl Karadi, founder of

the group Indonesian Atheists. Karadi is pessimistic regarding the protection of minorities in Indonesia, pointing to laws such as the anti-blasphemy law and the Internet law. Anti-blasphemy laws criminalise those who express hostility, hatred or contempt against religions. In 2008, the Indonesian government also passed the ‘Internet Law’ which allows the government to regulate all online content in Indonesia. According to Karadi, these laws “are often used to legitimate discrimination and attacks against minorities”. Additionally, Indonesian Law No. 23 of 2006 on Civic Administration requires that individuals state their religion on identity documents. Those who do not disclose their religious affiliation face discrimination, which includes refusal of employment. The Hong Kong-based Asian Human Rights Commission noted that the criminalisation of atheists does not merely carry institutional effects, but also has wider social consequences. Alex Anan, for example, has been shunned by his community, beaten by prison inmates and subjected to public calls for his beheading. Marriage in Indonesia requires a religious foundation, forcing those with no religion to lie if they want to get married. Atheism is so marred in Indonesia because of the nation’s turbulent history. During the 1960s, atheism was closely associated with communism. Throughout this period, communism was seen as a threat to the newly formed nation. This view was particularly promoted by then President Suharto, who came to power following an attempted communist coup in 1965. He used his power as President to persecute communists in Indonesia. Between 1965 and 1966, the Indonesian army killed approximately half a million Indonesians in the name of preventing

communism and purged politicians sympathetic to communism. During this time, identifying oneself as an atheist was akin to identifying as a communist. It is this historical context that continues to criminalise atheists in Indonesia. Whilst communism is no longer perceived as a political threat, atheism is. In modern Indonesia, social media has united atheists. It has provided means of empowerment to Indonesian atheists and given individuals a platform to express themselves. Karadi has noted that “Facebook and Twitter have made… possible what was previously impossible. Any censorship is rendered obsolete with the existence of social media. We can criticise religion as we can freely criticise the government.” However, as exemplified by the case of Alex Anan, social media has limitations. The cloak of anonymity only extends so far, and the Indonesian government has used posts on Facebook to prosecute atheists. As Karadi notes, “Social media won’t protect us from people who want to discriminate or harm us.” Thus, while the Internet has provided a platform of expression for Indonesian atheists, the fact remains that their beliefs are illegal. Chances of decriminalising atheism in Indonesia remain slim. Karnadi notes that “in order to change those discriminatory laws, the issue has to be framed as a larger issue threatening peace [and promoting] discrimination against minorities not only atheists.” For a country whose national motto is ‘unity in diversity’, it is time that the Indonesian government ended the persecution of this minority group. Natasha Burrows is in her third year of a Bachelor of Arts (Advanced), completing honours in Government and International Relations.

34

March 2013 | TheSydneyGlobalist

TheSydneyGlobalist | March 2013

34

Experiences that mean the world
The Melbourne JD Law degree

www.law.unimelb.edu.au/jd

Zoriah via Flickr (CC BY-NC 2.0)

Faith, SEX, AND STIGMA
Daniel Liu looks at the role of religious authority in the global HIV response.

T

he silhouette cast by his orange robes signals his arrival. Cheng Sophea kneels reverently with her son, and commences a traditional Buddhist prayer as Khun Khat enters her home in Kampong Speu Province, Cambodia. A special mantra of blessing follows, welcoming the venerable Monk’s visit. Khun Khat has been visiting Cheng Sophea regularly, offering invaluable spiritual support and counselling, as the 34-yearold mother struggles with the challenges of living with HIV while raising her 11-yearold son, Seung Panha. Khun’s assistance is part of the Buddhist Leadership Initiative (BLI), a UNICEFsupported program that enlists the help and resources of pagodas to support adults and children affected by HIV throughout the Greater Mekong region, encompassing Cambodia, Southern China, Laos, Myanmar and Vietnam. The BLI is facilitated through the collaborative assistance of several organs in the UN framework including UNWOMEN, UNDP and of course, UNAIDS. Working with local government and with UN financial backing, the monks play a vital role in delivering a range of HIVrelated services to communities, from spiritual support and counselling to testing, prevention, treatment and care referrals. Moreover, home visits, prayer sessions and workshops organised by pagodas help chip away at the deep-seated stigma that surrounds people living with HIV in this very traditional Buddhist country. “Buddhism teaches that we can’t live in isolation,” explains Khun Khat. “Even if you have difficulties or challenges, you have to live in the society.”

The Promise Religious groups have played an active role in the worldwide response to HIV, ranging from the help offered by small local pagodas in Cambodia to that of international mega church charities with global reach. Indeed, Catholic Church agencies such as Caritas International provide a quarter of all HIV patient care in AIDS ravaged Africa, estimated to be home to 69 per cent of all people living with HIV, and 72 per cent of all AIDS deaths. Assisting people living with HIV requires not only good doctors, nurses and access to the newest antiretrovirals. Equally important is the need to create an enabling environment for prevention and treatment, to bring hope and to guard the disempowered, amongst whom HIV is most prevalent, vigilantly against discrimination. Especially in heavily traditional societies, the epidemic is localised within groups that societies have traditionally deemed pariah or undesirable: notably men who have sex with men; sex workers; and people who inject drugs. It is imperative that public health interventions reach these vulnerable groups to combat the isolation and misery HIV positive individuals face, while also working to prevent new infections. It is within this context that religious organisations are welcome. Programs like the BLI in Cambodia bring together the resources and social capital of faith-based organisations to focus on alleviating the stigma associated with people living with HIV in the eyes of their communities. As pillars of moral authority in traditional societies, local religious authorities can often make the difference when it comes to breaking down social prejudice.

The Trials As bastions of traditional practices and beliefs, faith based organisations can at times add to the burden of stigma on salient issues in sexual behaviour and reproductive health. While many religious organisations see it is their duty to relieve the suffering that HIV brings, traditional views on contraception and same sex relationships hold many back from supporting certain prevention efforts, such as encouraging condom use and reaching out to homosexual men and transgender persons. Muslim countries were previously considered more resilient to HIV/AIDS, due to relatively high adherence to the religious and cultural norms of abstinence from premarital sex and monogamy. However, they too are facing a rapidly rising threat, with public health policy makers in certain States continuing to focus on only propagating abstention from illicit drugs and sexual practices, while ignoring those that currently live with HIV. The social stigma attached to HIV/ AIDS is much more pronounced in Islamic cultures, with many in the Muslim world considering HIV transmission a result of committing Zina, or sins of a sexual nature. In parts of Africa and Latin America where Catholicism is the dominant religion, the Catholic Church’s difficulty in reconciling its traditional views on sexuality with proven prevention methods, such as condom use, has proven to be a significant hurdle in implementing effective programs. This was not helped by the Roman Curia’s false postulation in 2003 that condoms didn’t prevent HIV. The World Health Organisation rejected the claim and declared it to be particularly “dangerous

36

March 2013 | TheSydneyGlobalist

TheSydneyGlobalist | March 2013

36

when we are facing a global pandemic which has already killed more than 20 million people, and currently affects at least 42 million”. The Hope Faith based organisations around the world must recognise that abstinenceonly sexual education is insufficient in helping significantly curb the tide of HIV infections, and that evidence and rights based intervention are feasible ways for the international community to overcome the epidemic. They must recognise their enormous potential in leading new faithbased efforts to remove stigma, in order to create an enabling environment to better combat the HIV/AIDS pandemic globally. On the other hand, instead of adopting a combative attitude towards religious organisations for their traditional stances on sex and sexuality, the secular international community should look for pragmatic ways to work in tandem with them, and tap into their networks and social capital to bring real change. In Cambodia for instance, where civil society is fractured, healing and community groups for people living with HIV are weak. It is left to religious leaders to open a space for dialogue that helps grassroots networks of people living with HIV to form and strengthen. This allows individuals living with HIV not only find comfort from religious leaders, but also solidarity amongst fellow sufferers. We are already seeing signs of a new found nexus between faith and action. In 2010, former Pope Benedict XVI created waves with his book Light of the World, in which he softened the Catholic Church’s stance on condom use significantly. While still opposing condom use in principle, the Pontiff conceded that “in certain cases, where the intention is to reduce the risk of infection, it can nevertheless be a first step on the way to another, more humane sexuality.” Reporter, one senior Zambian government AIDS official said that it is no secret that condom distribution does occur at institutions affiliated with the Catholic church. This official added that the Church would likely say it is merely working with those providing condoms but would not directly announce “we are distributing condoms.” Perhaps this is evidence of a new found compromise in which the Church can hold on to its principles, whilst still advocating practical solutions. Indeed, according to Robert Ngaiyaye, Executive Director of the Malawi Interfaith AIDS Association, while religious leaders aren’t exactly handing out condoms from the pulpit, they are at least talking about them. ‘Good Catholics use condoms’ was one of the many catch phrases coming out of the recent interfaith Faith and Aids conference in Washington DC. At this conference, Rev. Dr Nyambura Njoroge, program executive with the World Council of Churches, said, “without engaging people living with HIV, then we don’t have the facts.” Dr Njoroge further declared that, “justice thrives in non-judgmental, nonstigmatizing, non-blaming communities.” She could not be more correct. Working on the ground in Cambodia, I’ve come to realise that a vibrant, strong and

Gates Foundation via Flickr (CC BY-NC-ND 2.0)

fearless civil society is key. Building the confidence and ability for the most affected community groups to voice their concerns, needs and views are vital tasks in realising effective prevention, care and treatment of HIV/AIDS in every corner of the globe. To do this, sex workers, men who have sex with men, transgender persons and those experiencing drug addiction must receive an open and understanding attitude from government and society. They require sensitive outreach, legal services and compassionate laws and policies. This is not always easy, especially in a society like Cambodia, which is undergoing a healing process after decades of conflict. The task is made even more difficult if local spiritual leaders and groups become obstacles rather than partners. Religious leaders, if they are truly to be part of the solution, must push towards adopting more tolerant rhetoric and action, regionally and globally. Hopefully, this will mean people affected by HIV, like Cheng Sophea and her son, will not have to suffer in silence. Daniel Liu is a recent honours student from the Department of Government and International Relations. He has spent the last year in Cambodia working for UNAIDS, on the Joint United Nations Programme on HIV/AIDS.

Equally important is the need to create an enabling environment for prevention and treatment, to bring hope and to guard the disempowered, amongst whom HIV is most prevalent, vigilantly against discrimination.
Attitudes from religious leaders in other areas are already helping to make progress on the ground. In Zambia, parties have been able to work together, if at times uneasily, on HIV prevention and treatment, during the last decade. While not officially recognised, condom distribution in Catholic organisations is commonplace. According to the U.S. National Catholic

TheSydneyGlobalist | March 2013

37

Europe’s Far-Right Populist Movement
Greta Ulbrick explores the meaning of anti-Muslim sentiment in Europe’s far-right populist movements.

A

s Europe’s increasingly porous borders continue to absorb waves of immigrants fleeing Northern Africa in the wake of the dramatic political upheaval of last year’s Arab Spring, the attempts of governments across Western Europe to grapple with the social and economic challenges, presented by those arriving from Africa and the Middle East, have captured the attention of the globe. Perhaps unsurprisingly, the voices that have emerged as some of the most forceful in protest against Europe’s new multicultural reality are those representing the populist movements of the far-right. Indeed, the rising prominence of populist parties in recent years, as a determined and often brash presence within parliaments across Western Europe, has seen the increased circulation of a highly xenophobic debate – a debate which insists that governments harbour hostility towards the religious and cultural practices of Islamic communities that have sought to settle in nations such as Italy, France and the Netherlands. Anti-Muslim sentiment in itself is nothing new, having long dominated the rhetoric of such populist political groups as Italy’s Lega Nord and France’s National Front. However, as leaders of the European Union struggle to stop the crumbling economies of nations such as Spain, Greece and Italy from triggering the financial collapse of the Eurozone, Europeans enraged by the long-term economic mismanagement of current and past governments are listening more closely to the hard right. European populism, with its reassertion of cultural identity and its condemnation of ‘immigrants reliant upon the welfare state’, now holds greater appeal for voters who might have rejected such radical rhetoric in a more favourable economic climate – rhetoric which is often charged

with hostility towards religious and ethnic minorities, with Muslim communities arguably the most common target. Italy’s radically right-wing Lega Nord, for example, is infamous for its wildly xenophobic scorn of Islamic cultural and religious practices. The controversial Lega Nord politician Roberto Calderoli, who threatened to deconsecrate ground designated for the building of a new mosque in the Northern Italian town of Bologna by walking a pig across the soil, is demonstrative of the overt, coarse racism that has characterised the Lega Nord movement. Calderoli himself was forced to resign as Minister in 2006 following a stunt in which he donned a T-shirt printed with the controversial Jyllands-Posten Danish cartoons depicting the Prophet Muhammad during a live television interview, triggering outrage amongst Muslim communities globally. Nonetheless, the increasing prominence of Lega Nord as a legitimate choice for Italian voters raises questions of whether such vitriolic anti-Muslim sentiment will become more tolerated in the public sphere under growing economic unrest.

the party as part of Silvio Berlusconi’s coalition government, with four Lega Nord politicians taking on ministerial portfolios after Berlusconi’s victory at the 2008 federal election. Whilst current Prime Minister Mario Monti’s ‘Cabinet of technocrats’ will govern Italy until the next general elections in 2013, the strong results that Lega Nord saw in the 2010 regional elections would indicate that the party has consolidated its support base in recent years. The French government’s well-publicised introduction of legislation banning the covering of one’s face in public in April 2011 – a pointed attack aimed at those Muslim women who wear a niquab – demonstrates the extent of the hostility with which the orthodox religious practices of Muslim communities have been treated. Nicholas Sarkozy’s UMP party, in government when the law was passed, countered cries of xenophobia by justifying the law as seeking to uphold the dignity of women and to protect principles of gender equality. However, the nature of the law as restricting the performance of a particular custom specific to a small number of devout members of a religious minority has inevitably drawn criticism from human rights advocates across the globe, with some commentators arguing that the law effectively places wearers of the niquab under house arrest. Evidently, Muslim communities across Western Europe face the prospect that the far-right might exert its growing influence to pressure governments in policy-making decisions that seek to ostracise Islamic communities. Greta Ulbrick is in her third year of a Bachelor of Arts/Bachelor of Laws degree, majoring in Italian Studies.

Europeans enraged by the longterm economic mismanagement of current and past governments are listening more closely to the hard right.
Although Lega Nord has enjoyed popularity in certain areas of the country’s north over the last few decades, the party now constitutes the largest in the Veneto region, the seat of its founding in the late 1980’s, and has gained a substantial support base in the nearby regions of Lombardy and Piedmont. Of greater significance, however, is the crucial role played by

38

March 2013 | TheSydneyGlobalist

Europe TheSydneyGlobalist | FOCUS: March 2013 38

Cau Napoli via Flickr (CC BY-NC-SA 2.0)

A Strong Sense of déjà vu
Yannick Slade-Caffarel asks if you know your Left from Right.

O

ne was conspicuously short, the other is deceptively so, and both, as Jon Stewart has observed, have implausibly attractive partners. These, however, are not the only similarities between Nicolas Sarkozy and François Hollande, as exhibited by the actions taken by the new Socialist government towards the Roma people over the past summer. In a speech given at Grenoble in 2010, Nicolas Sarkozy declared war against the minority of lawbreakers in France. He attributed the existence of crime to “suffering the consequences of fifty years of insufficiently regulated immigration”, though the only ethnic group named in his speech were the Roma, a subgroup of persons with Romani ethnicity, commonly known as ‘gypsies’. The following day, Roma camps were being dismantled and, by the end of summer 2010, 128 had been destroyed. Deportations followed. In 2012, aiming to prove that Socialists, whilst fair, are not soft on crime, the Minister for the Interior, Manuel Valls, announced that: “it is simple, when ordered by the judiciary, camps will be dismantled.” Over the summer, Roma camps were once again being dismantled including, to media fanfare, one on the outskirts of Evry, the town in which Mr Valls was mayor for many years. In that particular case, eight days of alternative accommodation was offered. This was refused by many Roma, and would have seen the community dispersed through four different departments. In just over a week, the Roma community of Evry found themselves homeless and displaced. Despite legal requirements, children were unable to continue attending school.

The legal grounds upon which the destruction of these camps was ordered were either that the living conditions were deemed dangerous or the sanitary conditions unsatisfactory. The term Roma in France does not refer, like the European Union’s definition, to the Roma of all origins. It applies only to those originating from Romania and Bulgaria. This categorisation justifies a subversive a policy of deportation called the ARH or the ‘Humanitarian Aid to Return’. If they agree to return to their countries of origin voluntarily, Romanian and Bulgarian Roma receive €300 per adult and €100 per child, in addition to the costs of travel. Implemented by Nicolas Sarkozy, this policy has been maintained under François Hollande. Romania and Bulgaria are both now members of the European Union, though people of these nationalities in France do not as yet have the same rights as those of other member countries. They are permitted to enter freely though are only allowed to stay for 90 days. Therefore, if a Roma were to choose the ARH, it would be perfectly legal for these citizens, once home, to return directly to France. To extend their stay, it is necessary for Romanians and Bulgarians to apply for either a student or a working visa. In most cases, the solution would be to seek employment. However, until 26 August 2012, a prospective employer was required to pay a tax of €800 to the Office of Immigration for employing a Romanian or Bulgarian worker. Though this has since been abolished, the strong prejudice which remains renders the employment prospects of this population almost nil.

So, what else has changed? As one of 60 campaign promises, François Hollande declared that no camp would be dismantled without alternative accommodation being offered saying that, “we cannot accept that families be chased out of a place without a solution.” However, on 9 August 2012, one of the first destructions and evictions happened in the city of Lille without any alternative offer being presented to those displaced. Criticism, though, has been scarce or non-existent. It has been argued that this is justified as the Socialist implementation of these policies has been void of the populist rhetoric of Sarkozy’s time. Though it is possible to be cynical of the difference that this makes when the concrete reality of the actions seems all too similar, the extent to which Nicolas Sarkozy fostered xenophobia throughout his term was growing increasingly extreme, and to be rid of this is an important and welcome change. Though a change of rhetoric is not unwelcome, the Roma remain the French Government’s scapegoat. François Hollande has made them the example in his government’s display of their security credentials. Breathing a sigh of relief at having removed an increasingly xenophobic government from power, the French, and their European partners, are turning a blind eye. However, it is clear that these actions are discriminatory on cultural and ethnic grounds and are, under any circumstances, absolutely unacceptable. Yannick Slade-Caffarel is in his fourth year of a Bachelor of Arts (Languages), majoring in French and Political Economy.

FOCUS: Europe

TheSydneyGlobalist | March 2013

39

Alain Bachellier via Flickr (CC BY-NC-SA 2.0)

The Last Word

Thomas Jefferson, the patron saint of separating Church and state, once declared that “the legitimate powers of government extend to such acts only as they are injurious to others. It does me no injury for my neighbour to say there are twenty gods or no god.” Mohandas Ghandi on the other hand said in 1950 that “the most heinous and the most cruel crimes of which history has recorded have been committed under the cover of religion or equally noble motives”. These two statements illustrate the divergent attitudes people have historically taken towards religion. Some see it as a private matter with little ramification for others; others view it as an instigator of conflict. What is clear is that religion, and competing views regarding religion, have shaped our history and are a fact of our existence. This is a principle quite clearly enunciated by authors in this edition of The Sydney Globalist. Articles have dissected Islamic extremism, the persecution of Christians, the Hindu-Muslim divide and the occurrence of Atheism in a devoutly religious setting. They each pay particular attention to the role religion play in political, moral and philosophical discourse. They do so with an understanding of the historical pillars of these religions and their respective political impacts. Whether it is through the separation of Church and state, the rise of religious extremism or the secularisation of government, there is a consensus amongst contributors that the nature of religion is changing dramatically. In her article ‘The March of Extremism’, Sarah Copland criticises Pakistan’s infamous Blasphemy Laws, stating “the mechanism for suppression is selfenforcing”. Copland argues that, while the unapologetic nature of religious conservatism is exemplified by antiAmerican sentiment, “the blasphemy laws

give a killing edge to Muslim fanaticism”. Manna Mostaghim describes how Recep Erdoğan’s incarceration, justified by his reading of a poem that celebrated Islam in Turkish life, led to his political reincarnation into the position of Prime Minister. Mostaghim chronicles the secular divide of modern Turkey through the symbolism of the veil, and argues that “the Turkish female has, in essence, been robbed of political autonomy, and is only allowed to express political opinion via her prescribed dress code”. The religious debate “demonstrates the double standard employed in the expression of religiosity in Turkey while simultaneously revealing the Republic’s deep political and socioeconomic schisms”. James Farquharson takes a different take and reports on the ideological and religious dichotomy between the Theravada Buddhist sangha ¬– the Buddhist clergy – and the Tamil minority during the Sri Lankan Civil War. He argues that while the Jathika Hela Urumaya’s (JHU) party platform “combined elements of conservative Buddhist morality, virtue and Sinhalese nationalism”, they held an uncompromising attitude towards minority rights and persisted as the loud, and sometimes violent, voice of Buddhist and Sinhalese exceptionalism. He concludes that ethnic triumphalism is no guarantee for peace whereas an “equitable power-sharing system will be able to do so”. Contributions have not been limited to journalistic works. Nathan McDonnell, in his profile of the scholar Ali Shariati, compares the turbulent life and ideals of Shariati to the philosophy of Jean-Paul Sartre, articulating the issues of injustice, theology and revolution in an age of imperial domination and exploitation. Haidary outlines a similar argument on

Iran’s complex history, through the grainy lens of Argo, describing this dramatised representation as “a more nuanced image of a nation oft portrayed in the media as fanatical and unfoundedly hostile towards the U.S.”. And with the recent leadership change in the People’s Republic of China, we were grateful to have the Executive Director of the China Studies Centre share his thoughts on the tenuous U.S.-AustralianSino relationship, the future direction of the new Chinese government and his thoughts on what should be the key priorities of Australia in the “Asian Century”. Daniel Liu provides a first hand account of the relationship between faith-based organisations and their management of the HIV/AIDS pandemic in Cambodia. Having worked at UNAIDS in Phnom Penh, “where civil society is fractured”, Liu argues that taking into account the needs and views of affected community groups is necessary for devising new and effective prevention, care and treatment strategies for HIV/AIDS. He deems it imperative for there to be “new faith-based efforts to remove stigma in order to create an enabling environment to better combat the HIV/AIDS pandemic globally”. This brief overview highlights some of the talented contributors in this edition. It has been a momentous year both in the international political sphere and for the magazine. I would sincerely like to thank all the contributors for the 2012/2013 year for their submissions, and again reiterate that it is through the work and bright ideas of students that our magazine continues to be at the forefront of international affairs on campus. Hitesh Chugh is Deputy Editor-in-Chief of The Sydney Globalist.

40

March 2013 | TheSydneyGlobalist

TheSydneyGlobalist | March 2013

40

get ready to change the world
government & international relations

FacUlty oF arts
Find out more at

sydney.edu.au/ arts/government_ international_relations

thinking about a career working for the United nations, amnesty international, the Prime minister, the department of Foreign affairs and trade or the aBc? our graduates are already there.

CRICOS 00026A

TheSydneyGlobalist
www.thesydneyglobalist.org @SydneyGlobalist

TSG

Sign up to vote on this title
UsefulNot useful