On 2016, the Statistics Agency of Bosnia Herzegovina published the results of the country’s first population census since 1991. Bosnia and Herzegovina is one of six sovereign states born out of the ashes of the Socialist Federal Republic of Yugoslavia, following a vicious war that destroyed the federation’s infrastructure and tore its social fabric apart. The Federation of Bosnia and Herzegovina was divided into two entities, the Federation of Bosnia and Herzegovina and the Republika Srpska, while the state presidency rotates between the representatives of the three constituent peoples: Bosniaks (as Bosnian Muslims are now called), Croats and Serbs.
All posts in the government are rigidly distributed among the various, constituent demographics, according to their share of the Bosnian population as reflected in the 1991 census, regardless of their political programs or public service record. Given this state of affairs, the new census results have become an explosive political issue. Out of the 258-page document issued by the Statistics Agency, one page addressing the “population by ethnic / national affiliation and sex” has consumed Bosnia’s politicians. This is far from surprising, since these figures will influence how power is distributed in the Bosnian state. Bosnia’s ruling class has conveniently chosen to ignore what unites Bosniaks; instead, these politicians are working hard to remind these populations of what divides them.

Despite the countless rounds of sectarian skirmishes that tormented Lebanon in the past, the youth camp’s lessons on Lebanese history, religion, and coexistence have received little support from Lebanese authorities.

When members of Chaml initially put forward their proposal to bring non-sectarian, non-violent education schemes to Lebanon’s public schools in 2015, they unwittingly crossed a red line with the Ministry of Education. Concepts of ‘secularism’ and ‘non-sectarianism’ are still deeply controversial and highly misunderstood terms in Lebanese society. The term ‘secularism’ is often interpreted by many Lebanese as an attack on their personal identity, as if the blanket has been pulled from beneath their feet with nothing to break the fall. Since 1926, the Lebanese Constitution has imposed a permanent confessional political model on the country, based on power sharing between various religious communities. Currently, Lebanon officially recognizes eighteen sects, which are each allowed to apply their own laws in certain matters.

This system has had a serious impact on education. Lebanese schools are free to approach religious education without oversight from the Ministry of Education, creating a learning environment heavily skewed in favor of the beliefs, traditions, and historical narratives of the local, dominant sect. There are, for example, at least seven different history textbooks in circulation in the Lebanese school system today. “So why do we continue to distinguish between Muslims or Christians or those from other sects? Why do we let these ideas in?” said Sandy Chaya, a sixteen-year-old from the village of Sawfar.

The Balkans is not the past. The Balkans is the present. Balkanisation, the process of fragmentation or division of a state into smaller regions that are often hostile or uncooperative with one another, is the future of France, the UK and other European nations. It is already their present.

In August, 49-year-old tailor Zhang Chaolin, a Chinese Frenchman, died in hospital after being attacked by three teenagers. He had been walking in a quiet street in the north Paris suburb of Aubervilliers. Estimated at more than 600,000 people, France has Europe’s largest Chinese community. But they have not been in the country as long as more prominent migrant groups, including those from Africa. Meriem Derkaoui, the suburb’s communist mayor, condemned Zhang’s murder as “racist targeting”. Frederic Chau describes his family home’s doormat as being like a border between France and China when he was growing up: “I rejected my origins, I wanted to be whiter than white”. Now, he has fully embraced his Cambodian and Chinese origins, and is proud of them.

Casey review raises alarm over social integration in the UK. Among the findings, Casey claims that while segregation has reduced over the population as a whole, in a number of local areas ethnic or migrant groups have become increasingly divided and that fears of being labelled racist have prevented society from challenging sexist, misogynistic and patriarchal behaviour in some minority communities. She pointed to research by Demos that found 50% of non-white students were in schools where ethnic minorities were a majority. Casey gave the example of one non-faith, secondary school where a survey had found the pupils believed the population of Britain was between 50% and 90% Asian.

A recent report has revealed that the Muslim Brotherhood (MB) is well established in Sweden and has been operating in Sweden since the late 1970s in the guise of a number of Muslim-Swedish organizations. These have not only given the MB a dominant position within so-called Muslim civil society, but also enabled it to amass considerable Swedish taxpayer funds that have helped consolidate its position. The authors of the report conclude that the MB’s activists are “building a parallel social structure, which poses a long-term challenge in terms of Sweden’s future social cohesion”. The prevalent idea of multiculturalism, and the accompanying identity politics, plays directly into the hands of the MB. A video ad from a charity backed by the Swedish government constitutes a particularly blunt example of this kind of thinking. In it, Swedes are told, “Sweden will never be what it once was. Sweden needs to be a safe space for refugees. It is time to realize that the New Swedes will claim their space. And bring their culture, language and habits. It is time to see this as a positive force. It is time to create a country together that is proud, inclusive and sustainable. Something new — The New Country“. The last sentence is spoken by a young woman in a hijab.

A Perch of Birds, Hector Giacomelli

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