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French universities and its imaginary radicals

French Muslims are in the news again, and not for the right reasons. The French Minister for Higher Education has recently sparked outrage after warning of the spread of Islamo-gauchisme in universities and academia.

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French universities and its imaginary radicals scaled

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French Muslims are in the news again, and not for the right reasons. The French Minister for Higher Education has recently sparked outrage after warning of the spread of Islamo-gauchisme in universities and academia.

What is Islamo-gauchisme ?

The term “Islamo-gauchisme” or “Islamo-leftism” was first coined in the early 2000s by the French historian Pierre André Taguieff. He used it to describe a political alliance between far-left militants and Islamist radicals against the United States and Israel. More recently, it has been used by far-right figures and even some of Macron’s ministers against left-leaning academics who are accused of supporting studies justifying Islamism and even terrorism. This accusation has been made against renowned scholars who have been working in the field of social sciences for years and have a deep understanding of the recent dynamics regarding policies relating to Islam in France. This term however has been used against all the academic work, which does not comply with a specific understanding of France’s republican values and definition of secularism.

Speaking to CNews television last Sunday, the Minister for Higher Education Frederique Vidal said “Islamo-gauchisme corrupts all of society and universities are not impervious.” She added that some scholars were advancing “radical” and “activist” ideas. Referring also to scholars of race and gender, Ms. Vidal accused them of “always looking at everything through the prism of their will to divide, to fracture, to pinpoint the enemy.” 

The National Centre for Scientific Research (CNRS), a state organisation, has been appointed to lead an investigation on the eventual presence of Islamo-gauchisme in the works of academics. The CNRS have said they would comply with the task after getting more details on the subject while also univocally denying the government’s accusations. The CNRS has also strongly condemned the “attempts to delegitimise different fields of research such as post-colonial studies” and made it specifically clear in a long press release that “Islamo-gauchisme is not a scientific reality.”

The Conference of University Presidents has even dismissedIslamo-gauchisme” as a “pseudo notion” popularized by the far right. It went on describe the government as “talking rubbish.” 

The Minister has faced tremendous backlash and was asked to comment further about the aim of the investigation, which she said would help determine “what is academic research and what is activism and opinion.” 

This debate has emerged a few weeks after a video of students queuing for hours in the cold in front of the Linkee charity to get free food has spread on social media. With France’s economy hit hard by the coronavirus pandemic, university students have been facing difficult times. The increased cost of living, high rent and joblessness means that more and more students can’t afford to even get a meal. Though French authorities have promised all students meals for just €1, many continue waiting in long lines for food aid.

So to many students, the recent comment made by Ms. Vidal point to a false debate which is not as urgent and concerning as the precariousness of French students. They are also appalled by this new investigation aiming at, they feel, curbing academic freedom.

A serious threat to academic freedom 

Law professor Noé Wagener stated: “Deputies of the President’s party, in addition to those of The Republicans party, now firmly believe that higher education has become a hotbed of ‘separatism.’ The idea that there is academic work that is ‘bad’, because it is dangerous for social life, has become entrenched in their minds and may lead to legislative initiatives that restrict academic freedom.”

These accusations are emerging, as a new generation of younger French activists are also increasingly vocal about the problem of racism in France and the legacy of the country’s colonial past in Africa and the Middle East. A phenomenon that the French ministry attributes to the influence of American culture. 

Movements against racism over the last year such as Black Lives Matter, which resonated in France after arriving from the US, have led some to argue that the country is importing American racial and identity politics sometimes derided as “woke culture”.

Both Macron and Education Minister Blanquer have spoken out about the danger of focusing on race and discrimination. They see this as fostering divisions between communities and undermining France’s founding ideal of a united society.

Sarah Mazouz, a Sociologist at the CNRS, said that the government’s attacks on these social theories “highlight the difficulty of the French state to think of itself as a state within a multicultural society.”

Whether the government admits it or not, this recent debate only adds fuel to the fire and is merely a new addition to the recent measures curbing fundamental freedoms and fostering division within the society. 

All views expressed in this editorial are solely that of the author, and are not expressed on behalf of The Analyst, its affiliates, or staff.

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1 Comment

  1. Sultana Bhatti

    22 February 2021 at 10:43 pm

    Secularism is all well and good but if France is not ready to confront, acknowledge and learn from its own colonial past it means it won’t be able to heal divisions at home and move forward itself. Censorship will cause more harm- they must know this?

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Human Rights

Amnesty International in India calls for the release of Mohammed Zubair

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zubair journalist

Mohammed Zubair, the co-founder of ALT news was arrested on Monday the 27th of June for allegedly inciting enmity among people by hurting their religious sentiments and the chair of board of Amnesty International India has called for his release.

Mohammed Zubair was taken into custody by the Delhi Police for “promoting enmity between different groups on ground of religion, race and place of birth, residence, language, etc and doing acts prejudicial to maintenance of harmony” and for “outraging religious feelings of any class by insulting its religion or religious beliefs under the Indian Penal Code for his satirical tweets that were posted in 2018 which criticised the censorship and rising discrimination against minorities under the current government of India where the Bharatiya Janata Party holds key power.

Prateek Sinha who is the other co-founder of ALT News had tweeted about Zubair’s arrest mentioning that they were not given a copy of the First Information Report (FIR) and that the Police was taking the journalist to an undisclosed location.

Speaking about the arrest, Aakar Patel, the chair of board for Amnesty in India said:

“The Indian authorities are targeting Mohammed Zubair for his crucial work combatting the rise in fake news and disinformation and calling out discrimination against minorities. The arrest of Mohammed Zubair shows the danger facing human rights defenders in India has reached a crisis point.

Patel also spoke out concerning the FIR issue. He said “The fact that he was not provided a copy of the FIR and was detained incommunicado during the initial hours following his arrest shows just how brazen the Indian authorities have become. Harassment, intimidation unlawful and arbitrary arrests, and imprisonment of human rights defenders for tirelessly seeking truth and justice has become alarmingly commonplace in India.”

He also called on the Delhi Police to immediately and unconditionally release Mohammed Zubair and to end the relentless harassment of journalists, human rights defenders, and activists. Patel also said that Zubair’s arrest is a clear violation of the right to freedom of expression, abuse of power by authorities and sends a message that dissent is not tolerated in the country.

It should be noted that the arrest of Mohammed Zubair comes after the suspension of the official spokesperson of BJP who made derogatory remarks on the Holy Prophet Muhammad of Islam and his youngest wife after which the country has been in a state of turmoil since.

All views expressed in this editorial are solely that of the author, and are not expressed on behalf of The Analyst, its affiliates, or staff.

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Economics

African states refuse to back renewal of sanctions on Democratic Republic of Congo

African states refuse to back renewal of sanctions on Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC).

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African states refuse to back renewal of sanctions on Democratic Republic of Congo

Kenya, Gabon and Ghana are amongst the African states refuse to back renewal of sanctions as they voted against the UN Security Council renewing Western imposed sanctions regime on the government of the Democratic Republic of Congo on 30th June 2022. As well as these three countries, China and Russia also abstained from the vote.

The sanctions included an arms embargo, a travel ban and asset freezes, as well as the state being banned from providing weapons to non-government entities operating in the democratic Republic of Congo. One other facet of the resolution is a notification requirement which some representatives claimed served as a hindrance to the DRC’s ability to limit armed groups and defend their country. It is worth noting that the DRC has children as young as 6 working in mines for large corporations.

Gabon’s Edwige Koumby Missambo stated that the requirement impeded the Democratic Republic of Congo’s power to effectively and immediately counter the activities of anti-government armed groups, and that it should be lifted in definitive terms so the Congolese Armed Forces could defend their country. She said that the international community should respect the sovereignty of the country and put the interest of civilians first and foremost. Missambo said that, “Halting operational capacities in the area of security of a state that is led by democratically elected authorities is tantamount to giving license to armed groups whose agenda is to foment terror and chaos among civilians.”

Gideon Kinuthia Ndung’u of the Kenyan delegation, while praising the steps of the new resolution to lift the notification requirement on non-lethal military equipment used for humanitarian and training purposes, stated that it did not properly address the appeal made by the Democratic Republic of the Congo to fully lift the notification requirement. He said that there was a failure to acknowledge the recent steps that the government of the DRC had taken for better security and control of its weapons and ammunition management system.

Nicolas de Riviere of the French delegation which was the main drafter of the resolution voiced his regret that the resolution did not receive unanimous support as some African states refuse to back renewal of sanctions.

All views expressed in this editorial are solely that of the author, and are not expressed on behalf of The Analyst, its affiliates, or staff.

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Crime

Udaipur, India: Hindu tailor beheaded by two extremist Muslims 

Unfortunate incident of Hindu tailor beheaded by two extremist Muslims in Udaipur, India 

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Hindu tailor beheaded by Muslim extemists

Kanhaiyai Lal Teli, a Hindu Tailor beheaded by two extremist Muslims in Udaipur in the western state of Rajasthan, India. Tell was murdered by the two Muslim extremists who came into his shop on Tuesday. Mr Lal was stabbed multiple times, his throat was slit, and he was then beheaded. The act was filmed on a mobile phone and posted online.  In the video, Mr Teli could be heard screaming.

The attack came following rising religious tensions between Muslims and Hindus in India after the ruling Bharatiya Janata Party’s (BJP) now ex-official Nupur Sharma made derogatory comments regarding the Prophet of Islam.Sharma made the comments on live television and sparked countrywide protests, some of which turned violent, as well as being strongly condemned by many Islamic countries. Three Islamic countries summoned their Indian ambassadors to address the comments. Following global condemnation, Sharma was suspended  by the BJP and her comments were retracted. Another party official expressed support for Sharma’s comments and was expelled from the party. 

The controversy gave way to protests across India as well as rising communal violence between Hindus and Muslims.  In the Eastern Indian state of Jharkand, two Muslim men were killed in a protest on June 10, which was held calling for Nupur Sharma’s arrest.

Kanhaiya Lal had posted support for Sharma’s comments on a Whatsapp status, to which some Muslims took offence, and he was arrested but afterwards granted bail. His wife Jashoda claimed that they had received death threats from extremist minded Muslims in the days before her husband’s murder and had skipped work following his bail because of the threats. Mr Teli also filed a complaint with the police concerning the death threats. His killer’s pretended to be customers to the shop and first had their measurements taken by Mr Teli.

The perpetrators cited vengeance for Mr Telis’s Whatsapp status supporting Umur Sharmar’s comments. Brandishing knives they used to kill Mr Teli in another video in which they claimed responsibility for the murder, they addressed Prime Minister Modi; “Listen, Narendra Modi, you have lit the fire but we will douse it…I pray to God that this dagger will one day reach your neck too.”

The murderers were arrested within hours of the killing while attempting to flee the city on motorbikes. The chief minister of Rajasthan, Ashok Gehlot announced their arrest on Twitter and stated authorities would “ensure strict punishment and speedy justice”.

A prominent Muslim religious organisation, Jamaat-e-Islami Hind, condemned the incident and said it was “barbaric, uncivilised and there is no room for justification of violence in Islam..no citizen should take law in his own hands. Let the law prevail.” 

The BJP party has been accused of helping cause rifts between Hindus and Muslims and marginalising the lattersince Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi came to office in 2014.

Following the attack, authorities shut down internet across the state of Rajasthan over concerns that it would cause further unrest within the community. The murder gave way to protests in Rajasthan. 

All views expressed in this editorial are solely that of the author, and are not expressed on behalf of The Analyst, its affiliates, or staff.

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Economics

Africa taken Hostage on Ukraine – Russia Conflict 

Africa taken Hostage on Ukraine-Russia Conflict, which can be seen as in March this year, 26 African states failed to votes in agreement with the UN resolution condemning Russia’s invasion of Ukraine.

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Africa taken Hostage on Ukraine – Russia Conflict

In March of this year, twenty-six African states failed to vote in agreement with the UN resolution condemning Russia’s invasion of Ukraine. Seventeen African states abstained from the vote, eight were not present, and Eitrea remained the only African nation to vote against it. Out of the 54 nations that make up Africa, 28 voted in favour of U.N resolution.  In contrast of Africa’s 51%, 81.29% non-African countries represented in the U.N voted in favour of the resolution – and what’s more, only four heads of African states showed up, with the rest sending representatives.

But why is there such a marked divide on the question of Russia-Ukraine, compared to the rest of the world? Why is Africa taken Hostage on Ukraine – Russia Conflict? And what did they have to say about it? 

Memories of Apartheid

For some African nations, their reluctance to take sides in this world-engulfing conflict can be traced back to recent history. When Europe was backing the apartheid government of South Africa, it was Russia, then the Soviet Union – ever the opportunist superpower searching for political and financial hegemony -which provided military training, ammunition and morale to the South African movement fighting to take back their country from the racially discriminatory system of Apartheid headed by the government in Pretoria. 

As veteran South African freedom fighter Obbey Mabena said, speaking to the CNN’s David Mckenzie on the struggle for apartheid, “We had to decide if we wanted to continue living on our knees, or to die fighting.  We found that there is a country like the Soviet bloc that is ready to give us everything that we need. To give us food, uniforms, to give us training, weapons.”

Mackenzie asks, “So these were Russian soldiers treating you with respect?”

“With the greatest of respect, they came there, they were friends with us. For the first time we came across white people who treated us as equal beings …Russia is our friend. Our friend’s enemy is our enemy.”

The response by Ukraine’s most powerful backer, the United States, did not seem to be pleased with the outcome of the African vote on the UN resolution in March, condemning Vladimir Putin’s invasion of Ukraine. As US ambassador to the African Union Jessica Lapenn said  that, “we look for a strong African response to Russian aggression and welcome the opportunity to partner with Senegal and other Africans on both the response to Russia’s aggression but also to address the implications of it globally”.

Global Food Crisis 

Indeed, that may be the case. In a recent address to the African Union, mirroring earlier attempts to garner support from the continent for Ukraine’s plight, Ukrainian President Volodimir Zelensky claimed that Africa  had been taken hostage by Russia citing the looming food crisis as shortages of grain and fertiliser to the continent come as a result of Russia’s naval blockade of Ukraine’s Black Sea port.

Africa taken Hostage on Ukraine-Russia Conflict-  image of Odessa harbour, Ukraine
Africa taken Hostage on Ukraine-Russia Conflict – Odessa harbour, Ukraine

Before the war began, Russia and Ukraine were Africa’s biggest exporters of wheat, accounting for about 40% of its total exports – currently twenty million tonnes of grain have been left stranded at the Black Sea port of Odessa due to Russia’s naval blockade, ushering in a new crisis for the continent. President Macky Sall, Head of the African Union met with Russian President Vladimir Putin earlier this month to highlight the detrimental effects of the blockade on Africa’s food supply.

While possible, it is more difficult to grow wheat in Africa than other countries due to the climate, and the lack of equipment available for timely harvesting, hence, much of it is imported.

The Red Cross reports that in Africa, “Over 100 million people are struggling without the food that they need.” One of the reasons cited for this is the global rise in prices due to the conflict in Ukraine. 

Divided Loyalties 

But that’s not the only way – nor the least detrimental – that the conflict between Russia and Ukraine is hurting Africa. Sanctions aimed at Russia by the West have particularly hurt Africa’s economy, from Russia being one of the main providers of Africa’s defence and military equipment, to Western sanctions halting investment into the Russian economy and impeding billion dollar nuclear energy deals that help provide electricity to many countries in the north of the continent.

That effect has petered out to impact the looming food crisis even further, as the Russian Swift banking system has been suspended by Western states, making it impossible for Africa to pay for its food imports like grain and fertiliser from Russia. Such has been the effect that some have considered diversifying the region’s wheat sources, the first time in years.

China, an ally to Russia in the war, is now Africa’s biggest trade partner.  Speaking to Forbes, Daan Roggeveen,  who writes about urbanisation in China and Africa, said, “Right now you could say that any big project in African cities that is higher than three floors or roads that are longer than three kilometres are most likely being built and engineered by the Chinese. It is ubiquitous.”

And of course, the West provides $134 billion of aid each year.

The foreign minister of South Africa, Naledi Pandor, the UN resolution vote against Russian activity in Ukraine states that, “The response we got was, take it or leave it. And in the face of that arrogance, we thought the only decision we could make was abstain. Perhaps our colleagues in the West don’t understand the fact that we are very weary of aligning to one position or another.”

For a continent in which its loyalties are immensely divided, between its trade partners, food exporters and aid providers, that indeed may be the case.

So perhaps Zelensky’s claim that it is only Russia that has taken Africa hostage- tha     needs to be re-examined. Rather, it seems Africa is being held hostage by the world, as each brings up past favours and debts to coerce the unaligned continent into fighting for their side, in a war that will reap no benefits for the continent itself. And perhaps, like in the past, it will be left struggling in the aftermath without support or compensation.


All views expressed in this editorial are solely that of the author, and are not expressed on behalf of The Analyst, its affiliates, or staff.

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Daily Brief

Argentina’s Economy Minister Quits

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Martin Guzman
  • Argentina’s economy minister, Martin Guzmán, resigned from his post after a week of economic crisis in a 7 page letter published on Twitter.
  • Guzmán initiated office in 2019 taking lead in restructuring Argentina’s debt.
  • In addition to the global rise of food and energy costs, Argentina is battling with 60% inflation.
  • In his letter of resignation, Guzmán calls for a “political agreement within the governing coalition.”
  • Many speculate his statement was in reference to his deputy – Cristina Fernández de Kirchner – whom he was openly at odds with when approaching the country’s economic problems.
  • Prior to the resignation, Fernández took to criticizing economic policy starting with Guzmán’s inflation strategy.

All views expressed in this editorial are solely that of the author, and are not expressed on behalf of The Analyst, its affiliates, or staff.

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Health

The End of Roe v. Wade Has Dangerous Consequences for Women’s Health

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Seal of the United States Supreme Court.svg

When the Supreme Court overturned Roe v. Wade, they did not just steal bodily autonomy from women, but also their future health. By overturning Roe, the Supreme Court has now put pressure on physicians prescribing life saving medications to women.

Abortion has now been banned in six states, and that number is likely to rise swiftly to 16 states. Twelve states have passed trigger laws. Some states have not completely banned abortions, however they have implemented gestational age limits on abortions. While other states have not decided whether or not to ban abortions, the courts and lawmakers will be deciding the fate of women. Only 20 states have abortion protections in place.

These new bans have also brought into question the future of birth control. Will states begin restricting or even outlawing birth control? Although Republicans have dismissed concerns about banning birth control, Democrats have been warning that it is a distinct possibility. Indeed, after Missouri’s strict new ban on abortion went into effect, one major hospital system in Kansas briefly stopped providing emergency birth control, even to victims of rape. 

But the potential healthcare ramifications of these laws do not end there. Many drugs cause birth defects in pregnant women, which raises the question: If women cannot legally terminate a pregnancy, can these drugs legally be prescribed to women of child-bearing ages in states with abortion bans?

“I believe that prescribing is going to become much more defensive and conservative,” rheumatologist Mehret Talabi told Medscape. “Some clinicians may choose not to prescribe these medications to patients who have childbearing potential, even if they don’t have much risk for pregnancy.”

Teratogens are medications which can cause birth defects. Many teratogenic medications include treatments for acne, cancer, rheumatoid arthritis and psoriasis.

“Doctors are going to understandably be terrified that a patient may become pregnant using a teratogen that they have prescribed,” Talabi said. “While this was a feared outcome before Roe v. Wade was overturned, abortion provided an escape hatch by which women could avoid having to continue a pregnancy and potentially raise a child with congenital anomalies.” “

Other physicians also shared their fears that doctors would now be wary of prescribing many medications, some of those with little data on pregnancy. 

Dr. Megan Clowse, a Duke University rheumatologist who works with women who are or wish to become pregnant, told Medcape: “Women who receive these new or teratogenic medications will likely lose their reproductive autonomy and be forced to choose between having sexual relationships with men, obtaining procedures that make them permanently sterile, or using contraception that may cause intolerable side effects..”

Dr. Clowse noted that many drugs commonly prescribed to patients with rheumatic diseases, including methotrexate, mycophenolate and cyclophosphamide, are linked to birth defects and loss of pregnancy.. 

“I am very concerned that young women with rheumatic disease will now be left with active disease resulting in joint damage and renal failure,” she said.

One of these drugs, methotrexate, is an effective cancer treatment and many rheumatic conditions, but has also been used to cause abortions. “If legislators try to restrict access to methotrexate, we may see increasing disability and even death among people who need this medication but cannot access it,” Dr. Talabi said.

Mayo Clinic gastroenterologist Dr. Sunanda Kane told Medscape she feared that several of the teratogenic medications used in her field to treat viral hepatitis, constipation and inflammatory bowel disease, would now be affected. While she said doctors in her field generally only prescribe medications with high teratogenic potential to women of childbearing age when they use multiple forms of birth control to prevent pregnancy, she noted that doctors may be less likely to prescribe such drugs if abortion is not available as a legal option. 

“The removal of abortion rights puts the lives and quality of life for women with rheumatic disease at risk,” Dr. Clowse added. “For patients with lupus and other systemic rheumatic disease, pregnancy can be medically catastrophic, leading to permanent harm and even death to the woman and her offspring. I am worried that women in these conditions will die without lifesaving pregnancy terminations, due to worries about the legal consequences for their physicians.”

All views expressed in this editorial are solely that of the author, and are not expressed on behalf of The Analyst, its affiliates, or staff.

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