The removal of Egypt’s president Mohamed Morsi has done nothing to heal a deeply divided nation and an even more polarised political class. One of the many questions that will persist for some time is whether this was really a ‘military coup’ in the classical sense or whether it was ‘people power’ driven by mass demonstrations and enacted by the military.But this is a mere sematic debate that does not advance any particular practical argument, nor does it change a fundamental reality: that is any political action should always be judged by its outcome first and foremost and not simply by its discursive construction.
Egyptians and observers worldwide just woke up to the shocking but not un-expected news of the ousting of President Mohammed Morsi, the first ever democratically elected president in Egypt. Depending on which camp you align with, this is either a correction and restoration of the democratic project initiated following the overthrow of former president Hosni Mubarak just over 29 months ago, or simply a military coup against a legitimate President whose only crime is that he is an ‘Islamist’ president representing the ‘Justice and Freedom’, the political arm of the Muslim Brotherhood.
On Wednesday (15 May 2013) I had the honour of introducing a documentary film ‘Words of Witness’ as it premiered as part of the Human Right Arts and Film Festival (HRAFF). The documentary was made during the Egyptian uprising, by ﬁlmmaker Mai Iskander and follows Heba Aﬁfy, an online journalist reporting from the frontline of the revolution. I was asked by the Festival organisers to introduce the film and provide the audience with some updated reflections on the current political situation in Egypt and across the Arab Spring countries.
Increasing cultural and religious diversity does not and should not have a detrimental effect on social cohesion. Diversity should not be linked to a loss of a sense of collective action, but rather to a stronger community bonding and mutual trust. And under no circumstances, should cultural diversity be invoked to justify infringements on domestic laws and accepted norms of human rights. Indeed, cultural diversity should be employed as a key lever to engendering intercultural understanding in our increasingly multicultural society. Yet this is not always the case as recent events have shown.
Young people have been the focal point in recent debates about immigration, multiculturalism, cultural diversity, and the notion of living with difference. We have seen recently (March 2013) the release of the Federal government inquiry into 'Multiculturalism in Australia' with a sharper emphasis on social cohesion and successful integration for migrant youth. But within the broader multicltural debate, cultural identity and articulations of belonging and attachment remain central issues for migrant youth, regardless of how much time has elapsed since leaving their country of origin. Cultural identity is particularly salient for migrant youth who negotiate identity space comfortably alongside, in opposition to, or more commonly, somewhere in between their immigrant parents’ conceptions and understanding of culture and the receiving culture within which they live.