The Romantics — Eternity

This is the third part of a three part BBC documentary series on the Romantics, hosted by Peter Ackroyd. You can also watch the first episode ‘Liberty‘ and the second, ‘Nature‘.

Peter Ackroyd reveals how the radical ideas of liberty that inspired the French Revolution opened up a world of possibility for great British writers such as William Blake, Samuel Taylor Coleridge and William Wordsworth, inspiring some of the greatest works of literature in the English language. Their ideas are the foundations of our modern notions of freedom and their words are performed by David Tennant, Dudley Sutton and David Threlfall.

The Romantics — Nature

This is the second part of a three part BBC documentary series on the Romantics, hosted by Peter Ackroyd. You can now watch the first part ‘Liberty’ here, and the third, ‘Eternity‘.

Peter Ackroyd summons the ghosts of the Romantics to tell the story of man’s escape from the shackles of industry and commerce to the freedom of nature.

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Sectarianism and Honesty

the Syrian dictator accompanied by the Sunni mufti

This was published in the excellent Ceasefire magazine.

Ba‘athism began as a conscious attempt to supercede the sectarian and regional divisions which plague the Arab world. That’s why many of its early ideologues were Christians or members of other minority groups. The Ba‘athist slogan umma arabiya wahida zat risala khalida – One Arab Nation Bearing an Eternal Message – employing the word for ‘nation’ which previously designated the international Muslim community, and the word for ‘message’ previously associated with the Prophet Muhammad’s divine message – suggests that this variety of Arabism actually intended to supercede religion itself, or to become a new religion.

In Iraq it all went wrong very quickly. Saddamist Ba‘athism in effect designated ethnic Arabs of the Sunni sect as true Arabs, the Shia majority as quasi-Persian infiltrators, and the Kurds as an enemy nation. Saddam even wrote a characteristic pamphlet called ‘Three Things God Should Not Have Invented – Persians, Jews and Flies’, and so demonstrated the slip from nationalism to fascism.

Syria was somewhat different, somewhat more sophisticated. Despite the fact that the president and his top spies and generals were Alawis from the Lattakkia region, only Sunni Islam and Christianity were taught in the state’s religious education system (to the chagrin of traditional Alawi shaikhs). When the president prayed in public he prayed in the manner of the majority, Sunni-style. In the last couple of decades the regime sought to broaden its base by coopting Sunni businessmen as well as soldiers from the minority groups. And the majority’s rituals and religious festivals were never banned as they were in Iraq.

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The Romantics — Liberty

This is the first in a three part BBC documentary series on the Romantics, hosted by Peter Ackroyd. You can now also watch ‘Nature‘, the second part of this series, and ‘Eternity‘, the third.

Peter Ackroyd reveals how the radical ideas of liberty that inspired the French Revolution opened up a world of possibility for great British writers such as William Blake, Samuel Taylor Coleridge and William Wordsworth, inspiring some of the greatest works of literature in the English language. Their ideas are the foundations of our modern notions of freedom and their words are performed by David Tennant, Dudley Sutton and David Threlfall.

Could The Use Of Flying Death Robots Be Hurting America’s Reputation Worldwide?

ONN’s First Responders panel debates drones.

The First Responders debate the U.S. military’s use of drone planes to rain fiery death upon Afghanistan from above. (Aired 10/11/11)

Critical Muslim

I’d like to draw your attention to the Critical Muslim, a new quarterly journal which looks like a book. I co-edit the journal with Ziauddin Sardar, who is perhaps Britain’s most prominent ‘critical Muslim’. The CM is concerned with the politics, economics, culture, law and literature of the Muslim world – and of course the Muslim world today includes locations such as London and Lima. Our writers are convinced and sceptical Muslims, religious and cultural Muslims, and non-Muslims. We publish a range of perspectives, usually but not always with a somewhat leftist leaning. And the CM has a sense of humour.

I’m very proud of the arts section. The first issues include a story by the accomplished British-Pakistani writer Aamer Hussein, poetry and prose from upcoming Iraqi writers (one of whom is the very highly-rated Hassan Blasim), a selection of the Arabic poetry (Qabbani and others) which accompanied the Arab uprisings, essays on the Palestine Literature Festival and the Erbil Literature Festival (in Iraqi Kurdistan), a great story of cross-cultural love (and disappointment) by young British writer Suhel Ahmed, poetry from the great Mimi Khalvati, an essay on Muslim jazz, and much more.

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Welcome to Israel 2012

Welcome to Palestine 2012 is already a huge success. Israel has already set up a welcoming committee, the only way a military regime meeting opposition knows how: As in last year’s Fly-in, hundreds of border patrol personnel and police officers will await the delegation. Detention facilities are already ready for 1500 children, women and men, expected to arrive in Ben Gurion Airport. But why tell when I can show? Here’s your typical, run of the mill article on Channel 1:

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Punishment and Profits: Immigration Detention

Josh Rushing brings another episode of Al Jazeera’s excellent Fault Lines.

The detention and deportation of immigrants has reached an all-time high under the Obama administration. Fault Lines investigates the business of immigrant detention and finds out how a few companies are shaping US immigration laws.

Has time run out for a two-state solution?

Diana Buttu and Robert Malley discuss the dwindling prospects for peace in Palestine with Shihab Rattansi on Inside Story Americas.

The Israeli architect of the Oslo Accords has called on the Palestinian president to declare the so-called peace process dead. Should Mahmoud Abbas ignore US pressure and dissolve the PA? Matthew Doyle, Diana Buttu and Robert Malley discuss.

The Passion of Bradley Manning

Essayist, lawyer, and PULSE contributor Chase Madar’s much-awaited book The Passion of Bradley Manning: The Story of the Suspect behind the Largest Security Breach in U.S. History is out this month from O/R Books.

The following is an excerpt from Kelly B. Vlahos’ recent review of the book at Antiwar.com:

It might be too easy to invoke Manning as martyr two days after Palm Sunday, when Christians observe the betrayal, humiliation and crucifixion of Jesus Christ two thousand years ago. While it is not our intention to compare Manning to the Christian Son of God, who according to Gospel, rose from the dead, humanity’s sins forgiven, on Easter Sunday, author Chase Madar lays out a deft argument that Manning has indeed sacrificed everything for his country’s sins in his aptly entitled new book, The Passion of Bradley Manning.

“I wanted to write a full-out defense of his alleged deeds — a political and moral defense,” Madar told Antiwar.com in a recent interview. And he has. As Madar points out, there are “many people in history who have died and sacrificed for their cause.” The Passion makes an industrious case that Manning did what he did for a cause: to give the people the information they need and deserve about what their government is doing in their name. Transparency — Robin Hood style.

“What I find remarkable and praiseworthy is, he was not — despite having this terrible time getting bullied and messed with constantly — leaking these things to get revenge,” Madar said. “He was a true believer in patriotic duty and military service, I think. If you look at the chat logs, he was very clear about his motives for leaking, that this was what the public should know, so that we as a country could make better decisions.”

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