"All humans are members of the same body Created from one essence"

"Human beings are members of a whole in creation of one essence and soul. If one member is afflicted with pain, other members uneasy will remain."

Monday, 28 February 2011

Syria, the Cradle of Civilization

I have been twice to Syria and I have found some of the friendliest people in the world! I have discovered the myriad charms of this country and I have taken pictures of some breathtaking scenery.

The Old City is encircled by high walls and oval in form. The main access from the new city is via the covered Souq al-Hamadiyya. The souq leads us to the centrepiece which is the Umayyad Mosque. It is one of the most magnificent buildings of Islam. We have visited the Shrine of John the Baptist in the prayer hall of the Umayyad Mosque and the shrine of Hussein, son of Ali, and grandson of the Prophet. He was killed by the Umayyads at Kerbala in Iraq.

On the first day of our arrival, my two teenagers and I were already heading straight to the Old City and then right through the Souq al-Hamidiyya. We have walked through the spice souq, the gold souq, and we visited the Azem Palace.

Souq al-Hamiddiya is a long, covered market that leads into the heart of the Old City. It is a cobbled street lined with brightly coloured clothing, small family businesses that specialized in copperware, handmade furniture, carpet, and crafts.

We made sure to stop at the ice cream place called Bekdach! It is indeed the souq Al Hamadiyya highlight!! We have eaten an extraordinary ice cream made with sahlab (like semolina powder). The ice cream is gooey and elastic and it is topped with crushed pistachio nuts!! And it costs only 25 Syrian pound.

Inside the old city, we have eaten at Beit Jabri. It is a wonderful relaxing place nestled in the shadow of the Umayyad Mosque's eastern wall. We have ordered hummus, baba ghanoug, tabbouleh, bastoorma, chicken and lamb kebabs, barbecued on charcoal!! and it arrived on the table with the warm Khoobz el Arabi!

We have visited Aleppo, Bosra, Krak des Chevaliers, Homs, Hama, and Palmyra... and all by Bus!!
In Hama, we have visited the norias; wooden water wheels up tp 20m in diameter standing there since the 5th century. The Norias were built to supply water to places near the Orontes river. They are still in operation and I have seen young people jumping from the top of the norias and diving...incredible! The city of Hama is said that it dates to the 4th millennium BC.

All major cities have a local bus and microbus system which work perfectly well.

In Damascus, I have visited beautiful churches where I could listen to the Aramaic language (Jesus original language)!! It was amazing!

The Syrian people are genuinely friendly. They are always ready to help and my two boys made many friends in the neighborhood where we lived (Rukn ad deen). Rukn ad Deen is a popular area and the apartments are very cheap, no power cuts, no water cuts but we had only a fan! During the summer, the boys were feeling quiet hot with just a fan and 48 degrees outside!!!

The kindness of the people shows in many ways: the vendor at the market who will let you taste all his fruits before you decide to buy or not, the lady at the shop who will invite you in for tea and will have a real discussion with you, the young boy who will help you carry your water melons up to the 4th floor...
I have visited many areas in Damascus: Baraamike, Al-Muhaajireen, Mazzah, Jabel, Kafr souse... and many other areas but Rukn ad Deen was interesting because you could get very close to the population, have interesting discussions with them, have tea with them...

The Syrian people are hospitable. They invite you to their house and the men are separated from women. The women will serve you their best food and they will make you feel at home. The people are generous, warm, and friendly and peaceful!

It is indeed one of the most beautiful destinations in this planet!

Saturday, 26 February 2011

Third Culture Kid? and Dave Calder Poem

This morning I was telling my teenager (16 years old!) that he was my sun, my rainbow, and that I love him. He wasn't really pleased about all these signs of tenderness but he he did not protest. It was at home (not at school of course ;) and his Dad was the only witness.

But later on, my husband told me: "You know, you were born in Niger, you grew up there, but you do not think like a person from Niger! You are not from there!"

Here again, "
with a smile and a fist" I said to him that I am certainly part of Niger since I lived there all my life until I turned 20!
A "
part of me says fiercely yes I am" and "a part of me feels no I am not" because "I belong where my parents belonged."

It was obvious that I was sad and my sadness was overshadowed by a sense of regret. For many people, their
identity is strongly bound up with their country or where they live. But I have been immersed both in Niger, French, and Arab environments and as a result I have found myself between cultures, not fully identifying with any.

My husband was laughing because I told my son that he was my rainbow. He explained to me that If I was thinking like a
Nigerienne, I wouldn't have called him my rainbow! Niger's climate is mainly hot and dry and people are dying of hunger. Rainbows represent the abundance of sun and the lack of rain. Therefore, a Nigerien would never call his child a rainbow!

My parents "
moved for some reason you may never understand they move / from their own town / their own land / and I grew up in a place / that is never quite my home."

Pollock and Van Reken (2001) define a Third Culture Kid as a person "who has spent a significant part of his or her developmental years outside the parent's culture" (p.19).
But I have spent all my life outside my parent's culture!!!

The "
third" culture refers to a created culture that is neither the "home" culture nor the "host" culture; it is the culture between cultures!

I have experienced multiple cultures which have influenced the development of my identity. I have built relationship to all of the culture, while not having full ownership in any. Although I did assimilate elements from the Nigerien culture, from the Arabic culture, and from the French culture into my life experience, the sense of belonging to a particular culture does not exist.

The poet said "and so you grow up both and neither / and belong everywhere and nowhere much the same / both stronger and weaker for the lack of ground /
able to fly but not to rest."

This is my life as a
Third Culture Kid who never quite fit in the three cultures yet managed to work all of them.

Therefore, I was a Third Culture Kid's Arab child raised in Niger and I had to deal with growing up between three different and most of the time conflicting cultures and traditions.

Some of you will say that there are many beneficial factors to being Internatioanl but it is very difficult to constantly hold the feeling that you do not belong to any country.

I would define myself as a global citizen who grew up in a culture other that my parents passport cultures. I grew up in a home that had integrated the norms of the three cultures into a new different culture, a blend of cultures which became ME!

I do share membership with all the cultures cited above, yet I also feel that I lack any true membership to one culture. Gordon (1993) said that adults like me may feel culturally separated from their parents' culture and we will seek comfort in others TCK like us, that is because for us "roots are not embedded in a place, but in people" (Gordon, 1993, p. 8).

I have not been able to develop an ethnic identity. According to Spence & Markstrom (1990), an etnic identity implies a "consciousness of self within a particular group."
To Phinney (2003), "ethnic identity is a dynamic, multidimensional construct that refers to one's identity, or sense of self as a member of an ethnic group."

But I have never been able to define an ethnic self-identification based on the perception and conception of myself as belonging to one specific ethnic group. Shannon (1988) said that "identity is not a single image but rather an ever-growing collage, a personalized patterning of multiple cultures."

According to Erikson (1959), adult Third Culture Kids had not resolved the developmental crises as successfully as their mono-cultural counterparts (Wrobbel & Plueddemann, 1990). Indeed, I had struggled with the developmental stages but also the cultural transitions ;)

I have grown up in highly cross cultural and mobile environments and I have developed my own voice which represents my Identity. I would never act the same as people in the home country, and most of the time I always had the feeling of being different. I am totally comfortable switching between three worlds and I am always trying very hard to explore the different cultures and find my place within them!

I have been living in Benin for 21 years and I got a Beninese citizenship after marriage. I have created a safe environment for my two children in order for their "Global Nomad" identity to flourish and grow without too many conflicts or clashes.

Berger, R. (1997). Adolescent Immigrants in search of identity: Clingers, eradicators, vacillators and integrators. Child and Adolescent Social Work Journal, 14 (4), 263-275

Erikson, E. (1968). Identity youth and crisis. New York: W.W. Norton and Company, Inc.

Gillies, W. D. (1998). Children on the move: Third culture kids. Childhood Education, 75 (1), 36-38.

Phinney, J. (2003). Ethnic identity and acculturation. In K. Chun, P. B. Organista, & G. Marin (Eds.), Acculturation: Advances in theory, measurement, and applied research (pp.63- 81). Washington, DC: American Psychological Association

Shannon, G. (1988). Making a home of one’s own: the young in cross- cultural fiction. English Journal, 77 (5), 14-19.

McCaig, N. (1994). Growing up with a worldview: Nomad children develop multicultural skills.

Wrobbel, K.A., & Plueddemann, J.E. (1990). Psychosocial development in adult missionary kids. Journal of Psychology and Theology, 18, 363–374.

Ground Zero Mosque

Is building the mosque close to Ground Zero insensitive to the tragedy of 9/11, as opponents say, and will it embolden and glorify the terrorists?

Or is this an issue of freedom of religion and tolerance as President Barack Obama and others project supporters contend?

The "Ground Zero Mosque" is the name given to a structure proposed for construction at 45–51 Park Place in Manhattan, New York City.

The official name of the project is Park51; it was given the title "Ground Zero Mosque" due to its location, which is approximately two blocks from where the towers of the World Trade Center stood prior to the terrorist attacks of 11 September 2001—a location now termed "Ground Zero."

The "Ground Zero Mosque" project has been the focus of great controversy, both because of its location and because part of the development would include a Muslim place of worship.

On the morning of 11 September 2001, the towers of the World Trade Center in Manhattan were struck by two commercial aircraft that had been hijacked by extremist Arab terrorists. A third hijacked plane crashed into the Pentagon near Washington, D.C., and a fourth—possibly intended to strike the United States Capitol Building—crashed in a field in Pennsylvania after the airplane's passengers attempted to thwart the hijacking. The most serious loss of life and property occurred at the World Trade Center site.

The founder of the company, Sharif El-Gamal, is a native New Yorker who converted to Islam as a young man. Though he originally planned to build condominiums on the site, El-Gamal was inspired by Imam Feisal Abdul Rauf, a leading American Muslim activist and religious scholar, to build a community center instead. Rauf, the leader of a New York City mosque for more than twenty years, is known for his moderate religious stance and openness toward other religious communities. He publicly condemned the 11 September terror attacks, and, in the aftermath of that tragedy, Rauf reportedly came up with a plan to construct a cultural center that would encourage people of all faiths to interact and discover common ground.

Rauf named his project Cordoba House, after the city of CordÓba, Spain. Located in southern Spain, the city was an important part of an Islamic empire that stretched northward into Europe from Africa, and flourished during the tenth and eleventh centuries. The city reflects a blending of Islamic and Western culture that highlights the positive influences of each.

The project was ultimately renamed Park51, after the address of the site; however, Rauf's planned worship center within the building retains the name Cordoba House.

First and foremost, Park51 is not a mosque, just as the famed Jewish Community Center at 92nd Street is not a synagogue but a cultural center that draws residents of all backgrounds and beliefs. (Rauf himself is a member of the Jewish Community Center of Upper Manhattan.)

In addition, the building sat unused for several years, and that other businesses in the immediate area—such as strip clubs and gambling establishments—are more offensive than a cultural center. The mayor of New York City, Michael Bloomberg has endorsed the project in the face of mounting opposition, contending that those people who protest the building of a mosque are ignoring the basic religious freedoms guaranteed in the United States Constitution. In addition, he has stated that the location near Ground Zero is a "very appropriate place" for building a mosque, to demonstrate to the world that America is a country that welcomes all faiths.

In August 2010, President Barack Obama stated that Muslims, like Americans of any other religion, have a right to build a mosque on private property regardless of location.

"But now the ugliness has become widespread. People are being assaulted because of who they are, and constitutionally protected attempts to build mosques are being thwarted out of fear and ignorance. Political and religious leaders must cease waffling on this issue and unequivocally support both the right of Muslim citizens to build a place of community and worship--open to all--and the appropriateness of building in proximity to a place where cunning and cruelty took the lives of so many." (2010 America Press, Inc. americamagazine.org)

"Ground Zero Mosque." Opposing Viewpoints Online Collection. Gale, Cengage Learning, 2010. Gale Opposing Viewpoints In Context. Web. 26 Feb. 2011.

"New York mosque fight stirs all the wrong passions." USA Today 16 Aug. 2010: 08A. Gale Opposing Viewpoints In Context. Web. 26 Feb. 2011.

"Mosque hysteria." America 13 Sept. 2010: 4. Gale Opposing Viewpoints In Context. Web. 26 Feb. 2011.

Friday, 25 February 2011

Syrians need Democracy

SYRIA (Syrian Arab Republic), republic, SW Asia, bounded on the N by Turkey, on the E by Iraq, on the S by Jordan, on the SW by Israel, and on the W by Lebanon and the Mediterranean Sea. Including the Golan Heights, which Israel occupied (1967) and later annexed (1981), Syria has a total area of 71,498 sq mi, (185,180 sq km).

In 2000,
Hafez al-Hassad, Syria's ruler since 1970, died and was succeeded by his son, Bashar. In his inaugural speech, the younger Assad promised to push forward with democratic reform, including increased freedom of speech and modernization of the state run economy.

Syrian President Hafez al-Assad died after 30 years in power. His son, Bashar al-Assad was elected president in a national referendum in which he ran uncontested!

Hafaz al-Assad rose to power in Syria as an army officer backing a coup by the Ba'th party against the military regime in 1963. By 1966, he had consolidated his position as the nation's president, and purged the government of leaders who had initially helped to form it. Assad replaced many of these purged leaders with family relatives. Though a dictator, Hafiz al-Assad (the father) initiated several popular social reforms, including an expanded public education system.
He granted equal rights to women.
During Assad's rule, Syria's foreign policy was dominated by a resistance to Israel's occupation of the Golan Heights, which the Jewish state had won in the Six-Day War.

Assad was 34 years old when he became president, Assad was studying in England in order to become an ophtalmologist. He presented new ideas in his speeches and he seemed to be willing to reform the country. But apparently all his effort at reform have been suppressed by the "Syrian old guard", established politicians in the government who are against change.

Bashar al-Assad is an inexperienced diplomat and he is unable to balance the competing demands of the public. Therefore, Bashar al-Assad pledge to pursue increased democratic reforms has never been fulfilled!

Southern Sudanese Secession

Is southern Sudan's secession from Sudan a good idea? Would the secession be mutually beneficial to both north and south Sudan?

I understand that the secession represents the will of the 99% of southern Sudanese voters who chose to vote for the separation in January 2011 election.

The two sides are separated by religion and by natural resources as well. 80% of Sudan's oil is located in the south. But most of the profits from Sudan's oil production are sent to the north!

Now that Sudan successfully secedes, nothing would stop the minority groups in Nigeria the Ivory Coast, or the Congo from asking for a secession too. Could the referendum in Sudan have a domino effect? I hope that the secession will not open a Pandora's box in Africa.

But we should respect the will of the southern people, of course, in wanting to form their own country. The southern Sudanese people have been ethnically marginalized and racially stigmatized.

In July, southern Sudan is expected to become an independent country.

The Burqas: For or Against?

Many countries are banning the wearing of the burqua from a security standpoint. Garments that cover the face pose a security threat because people cannot be identified at security check point.

The people who are against the
burqa in public say that the burqa is oppressive to women and it violates the principle of secularism important to many European countries.

But some other people argue that the bans on burqa in Europe are xenophobic and an attack to the Muslim world.

Italian police have fined a Muslim woman for wearing a face-covering veil in public, officials in the northern city of Novara said.

The $650 fine, thought to be the first in Italy, comes under a rule that bans people from wearing clothes that obscure their identity.

The critics of banning the burqa in public say that such legislation is an assault on the individual freedoms of women who choose to wear the burqa.

In a June 2009 speech at the Palace of Versailles near Paris, French President Nicolas Sarkozy declared, "The burqa is not welcome in France." Later that month, in a speech to France's parliament, Sarkozy called the burqa a tool of "enslavement" which France would not accept on its territory.

The percentage of women who wear the burqas in Europe is so small that some people wonder how it could be a threat to these nations.

Proponents of the ban also contend that the burqa is contrary to the principle of individualism that is the bedrock of most Western societies.
Cope writes:

[W]e recognize that individual liberties cannot exist without individual responsibilities…. We are free as long as we are responsible individuals who can be held accountable for our actions before our peers. But the niqab and burqa represent a refusal to exist as a person in the eyes of others. The person who wears one is no longer identifiable; she is a shadow among others, lacking individuality, avoiding responsibility.

Do you think that Western countries have the right to prohibit wearing the burqa in public?

Soad Saleh a professor of Islamic Law at al-Azhar university in Cairo, Egypt, points out that the burqa actually has its roots in the pre-Islamic culture of the Bedouins (nomadic Arab people with ancient roots in the desert of the Middle East).

Thursday, 24 February 2011

Race and Ethnicity: We must combat Prejudice

According to Hermstein & Murray (2008), almost every year, researchers in the U.S. ask a representative sample of U.S. adults to rank racial and ethnic categories with regard to overall intelligence.

Survey research shows that people in the United States tend to view some racial and ethnic categories as more intelligent and trustful than others.

Social scientists consider any such differences a reflection of environment and culture rather than innate intelligence!

Do we have to downplay our ethnicity as a way to avoid prejudice and discrimination? I do not agree with that!

The fact that some of the terrorist attacks have been carried out by Arabs encourages some people to link being Arab or holding an Arabic name with being a terrorist. Of course, this attitude is unfair because it blames an entire category of people for the actions of a few individuals!

According to Ali & Juarez (2003), Ali, Lipper, & Mack (2004), and Hagopian (2004), People holding an Arabic name around the world have been targets of an increasing number of hate crimes and many feel that they are subject to "ethnic profiling" that threatens their privacy and civil liberties.

Charles Hamilton (1967) described institutional racism as "racism at work in the operation of social institutions, including the economy, schools, hospitals, the military, and the criminal justice system."

Racial profiling, in which police or others in power consider race or ethnicity to be, by itself, a sign of probable guilt, illustrates the operation of institutional racism.

It is difficult to hold an Arabic name today because people would always look at you with suspicious eyes! When you are asked at the immigration to "Please, wait here" or "can you follow me, please", your heart will drop straight down at high speed! oh yes just because of your name!!! You are called Fatma or your name start with Abdul and that is it! They will keep you longer at any immigration post and then with no explanations or apologies, you will be asked to continue your journey.

But how can you continue your journey after you had experienced racial profiling! All these experiences at the airports, at the consulates to ask for visas, or at the embassies are great examples of intolerance and prejudice.

But we all live together in the same world and it should be a world were people live together in it and not against each other.

That is why I believe that teachers can fight discrimination, prejudice, and racism in classrooms through educational programs designed to recognize cultural diversity and to promote respect for all cultural traditions.

In France, a law passed in March 2004 that outlaws the wearing of "conspicuous religious symbols" in public schools. The law has aroused immense controversy because it forbids Muslims female to wear hijab. In December 2003, people demonstrated in Paris to protest a law forbidding Islamic veils in French schools.

But what most of the people in France do not understand, women who wear the hijab made the personal decision to wear it. They explain that at the root of the hijab is the philosophy that a woman should be regarded for her personality, mind, and abilities rather than her physicality. Well, that is their choice and we have to respect it! According to Mariam Rahmani, "the Hijab encapsulates the spirit of independent thought."

But in France, most of the people view the Islamic Hijab as a symbol of male oppression. But believe me, most of the women who have decided to wear the hijab have chosen to do so. Legislation of the law in March 2004 in France had only succeeded in ostracizing the women who have decided to cover their head!

We are all living in the same planet so no one should suffer discirmination because we choose to live differently, wear differently, or hold different names!

Wednesday, 23 February 2011

China Pragmatic China

China ignores the International Monetary Fund and World Bank policies (such as lending practices and total privatisation).

But Unlike the West, China has made sure to ensure sovereignty, self-determination, and mutual respect and it always has given the other countries liberty to develop in their own ways and to make their own foreign policies.

We cannot deny that, even if China is seen as an undemocratic country, its citizens are able to read and write and most of them enjoy high standard of living and high life expectation.

China has indeed adopted a pragmatic approach. China invested in human resource with the purpose of producing productive and innovative labour force.

Not A Long time Ago...

British women were granted the right to own property independent of their husband only in 1870!! In Almost all Western Countries, women did not gain the right to vote until the 20th century. Great Britain extended the vote to women in two stages, in 1918 and 1928, and the United States enfranchised them by constitutional amendment in 1920. France followed as recentlyas 1944. Switzerland did not permit women to vote in national elections until 1971!!! but women in Afghanistan, Iran, Iraq, and Pakistan were already casting ballots.

And in many Western cultures daughter could not inherit anything if there were sons in the family.

Democracy and the World

Democracy does not mean one man, one vote, one time,... right?

The new Arab generation is not motivated by religion or ideology, but by the aspiration for a peaceful transition to a decent, democratic, and "normal" government.

Arabs politicians who complain that Islamists are no democrats should be told that they are not DEMOCRATS either!

In 1991, the government of Algeria said that the ISF (Islamic Salvation Front) cannot be trusted and if they grab power, they could never be trusted to give it up again. Therefore, the government of Algeria cancelled the second round of the election in which the Islamic Salvation Front was going for a second round.

But look! who is still holding the power in Algeria?? Bouteflika! He is ruling Algeria with a tough hand since 1999, maintaining power through elections that we all know were rigged.

Mostafa Boshashi, head of the Algerian League for Human Rights, said: "Algerians want their voices to be heard too. They want democratic change.

Algeria has the eighth largest reserves of natural gas in the world, and is also oil-rich, but its youthful population suffers mass unemployment, a chronic lack of housing, and widespread poverty. Political corruption is also endemic.

Thousands defied a government ban to hold a pro-democracy rally in Algiers. They chanted "Bouteflika out!" - in reference to the country's President Abdelaziz Bouteflika.

About 30,000 police are reportedly deployed in and around capital, and extra police with water cannons are on stand-by.

Earlier this month, President Bouteflika said the country's state of emergency would be lifted in the "very near future". He said protests would be allowed everywhere in the country except in the capital.

President Bouteflika, when are we going to have democracy in Algeria? Algerians are longing for freedom and liberty. Algerians want a change of the system not a change in the system!

Maqam Shahid , the monument to the million martyrs of the war of independence, graces the heights of Algiers.

Youth of Algeria! your great grandparents made enormous sacrifices to create Algeria, a free Algeria. You must be ready to make great sacrifices to fight for DEMOCRACY! fight for a truly free country!

Tuesday, 22 February 2011

Democracy, DEMOCRACY

I am convinced that democracy will find deep roots on the African continent and the Middle East. Some people have tasted democracy and it is becoming the new domino effect.

I am convinced that since democracy has found its roots in capitals and towns from Cotonou to Capetown, it will reach the Middle East and the rest of the other countries in Africa which are not democratic yet. Democracy is a way of life that knows no borders and that no ocean can divide.

Many people think that Africa and the Middle East are not ready for democracy because of their ethnic tensions or tribe tensions. They are wrong!

These arguments are used by many leaders in order to justify their repressive rule and their corrupted regime and their authoritarian regime! I, myself, lived under an authoritarian regime in Niger for many years, then in Togo for two years, and now you can't believe my happiness to live in a democratic country where I am being able to take part in the elections!

Beninese people serve as pioneers effort for the rest of Africa, especially with the way the national conference was handled, and the spirit of national reconciliation which followed the national conference.

Benin has succeeded in implementing democratic elections and new freedoms despite our country's continuing poverty. Now Niger and Mali have new democratic government and an exuberant democratic spirit is bubbling in people's heads.

There is hope for Africa and there is hope for the Middle East.

I am going to bed now...

Is Turkey the Only Muslim Democracy?

"Indeed, God does not change the condition of a people until they change what is in themselves. (Qur’an, 13:11)

"I am like a compass. With one foot I stand securely on the foundation of my faith, with the other foot I wander throughout the seventy-two nations of the world." (M. J. Rumi (1207–1273))

The history of Turkish modernization has been inextricably linked with the question of secularism. Based on the laicite of the Second French Republic, the secularization programme of modern Turkey's founder, Kemal Ataturk, entailed the full subjugation of Islam to the State, its eradication from the public sphere and its limitation into a very narrowly defined private sphere.

Ataturk had a strong attachment to western ideas. He abolished the religious courts and schools, the adoption of the Swiss civil code as the basis of the nation's judicial system. These reforms continue to form the basis for modern Turkey.

Most recently, the transformation of the Justice and Development Party (Adalet ve Kalkınma Partisi – AKP) into the strongest proponent of Turkey’s European Union (EU) integration brought Turkey closer than ever to EU membership, challenged the monopoly which the Kemalist elite enjoyed as the representative of Western political values and suggested a
novel liberal version of secularism.

Republic of Turkey is described as the only Muslim secular state, a model for the Islamic world! Is Turkey a secular state?

The meaning of the term secular involves a neutral stance toward different religious beliefs. A secular state has no preferential links with any religion and neither promotes, nor obstruct religious belief among its citizens.

"The AKP understands ‘secularism’ as an institutional stance and method, which ensures that the state remains neutral and keeps an equal distance from all religions and ideas; differences of religion and/or different confessions and ideologies can be professed in social peace without them turning into conflict. The party thinks that, for secularism to work as an adjudicating institution (hakem muessesi) of the fundamental
rights and freedoms under constitutional protection, it needs to be supported by democracy and operate in a conciliatory environment.." (Grigoriadis, 2009)

Grigoriadis, I. N. (2009). Islam and democratization in Turkey: secularism and trust in a divided society. Democratization, 16(6), 1194-1213. doi:10.1080/13510340903271803

Elections in Republic of Benin

Benin is one of the 20 least developed countries in the world but I am proud to live in this democratic country. I have been living in Benin for 21 years.

Three weeks ago, my husband and I had been to the city hall in order to get our smart cards (finger prints, picture). Yes!! Benin has computerised its electoral list before President elections in March.

The Liste Electorale Permanente Informatisée (LEPI) is not a mirage for Beninese!

The Republic of Benin has decided to manage the secure biometric registration of voters. The program which targets all voting citizens, expects over six million people to be enrolled for the March 2011 persidential elections. The biometric registration is happening through a software which captures our demographic data, fingerprints, and digital photograph.

We are one of the poorest country countries on earth, but hey!!!! look at what Benin is doing for its citizens to help them be counted!

In Benin, the Constitution provides us with the right to change our government peacefully and the citizens of Benin exercise this right in practice through periodic, free and fair elections held on the basis of universal suffrage.

Altogether, 14 candidates will take part in the poll. They are Marie Elise Gbédo (lawyer), Mr Adrien Houngbédji (the opposition candidate), Boni Yayi (incumbent president), Abdoulaye Bio Tchané (chairman of the West African Development Bank (BOAD), Issa Salifou (MP), Antoine Dayori (MP), Cyr Kouagou, Kessilé Tchalla (former minister of Health in the government of Bini Yayi), Christian-Enock Lagnidé (economic operator), Jean Yves Sinzogan (economist), Salomon Joseph Biokou, Victor Prudent Topanou (former minister of Yayi), Joachim Dahissiho (MP) and Janvier Yahouédéou (MP).

The presidential election is the fifth since Benin’s accession in 1991 to democratic regeneration.

The Benin government has postponed until 6 March the first round of the presidential election from 27 February, official sources told PANA in Cotonou.

A dozen political parties and associations have formed a broad coalition dubbed ’Coalition ABT-2011’, to arouse the candidacy of the Chairman of the West African Development Bank (BOAD), Abdoulaye Bio Tchané, as president of the Republic of Benin in 2011, APA notes Saturday in Cotonou.

Benin officially the Republic of Benin, is a country in West Africa. It borders Togo to the west, Nigeria to the east and Burkina Faso and Niger to the north. Its small southern coastline on the Bight of Benin is where a majority of the population is located. The capital of Benin is Porto-Novo, but the seat of the government is located in the country's largest city of Cotonou. Benin covers an area of approximately 110,000 square kilometers (42,000 sq mi), with a population of approximately 8.8 million. Benin is a tropical, sub-Saharan nation, highly dependent on agriculture, with substantial employment and income arising from subsistence farming.