Burqa Ban

Burqa Ban


Much controversy has been concocted in the media about the wearing of a traditional Islamic clothing for women, the burqa (also known as ‘burka’).


The views on this matter vary depending on location and/or opinion, for example that of the leader of the One Nation Party, based in Australia. The One Nation Party is a right-wing populist party, founded in 1997, and led by Pauline Hanson, who has proven to have quite stern views on the burqa, concerning its presence in the field of government. In order to make a point, Hanson wore this Islamic wear into the chambers, and described the situation as ‘really horrible’ and ‘uncomfortable’. She further stated that the burqa is ‘not what should belong in parliament’, thus dismissing her acceptance of wearing the burqa on political grounds.

Image result for burqa

In terms of location, the wear of a burqa is permitted in some places (part ban), while some countries do not allow it to be worn at all (full national ban). One of these countries include Switzerland, where a fine of €10, 000 is used as a penalty for violating this particular law.


UKIP (UK Independence Party) also wants the banning of the burqa, some may say a predictable opinion to have, due to their past views on certain controversial ethical topics. A few of these may be Nigel Farage, leader of UKIP, who is proposing to ban those with HIV from the UK and to legalise handguns.


In December 2017, Angela Merkel, Chancellor of Germany since 2005, has said that ‘the full covering… should be banned’. In European countries such as France, Belgium and The Netherlands, the burqa has already been banned in places such as schools, hospitals, and on public transport.


Another controversial figure in the burqa debate is Boris Johnson, the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs in the UK. In a column in the Daily Telegraph, Johnson described the burqa as ‘oppressive’, ‘weird’ and as not having any ‘scriptural authority… in the Qu’ran’ (the Islamic holy book).  He further compared the women who wear them as looking like ‘letter boxes’ and ‘bank robbers’, giving a sense of criminality to these Muslim women.


Many lashed out at Johnson’s blunt comments, one key figure being Mohammed Amin, the Chair of the Conservative Muslim Forum. ‘Boris is an educated man, he should know better’.


Christine Hamilton was another one of those who responded to Johnson’s comments in the Telegraph. As an English media personality, and a prominent supporter of UKIP (along with her husband), her response was acknowledged by a large number of people. Posting a photograph of the KKK (Klu Klux Klan), she captioned it: ‘If the #burka is acceptable then presumably this is too?’ Here, Hamilton is comparing a violent, racist movement targeting black people in the US to the international religion of Islam. Many replied in disagreement to Hamilton’s social media comment.


As Islam continues to be targeted in the media as a violent religion, and a large number Muslims continue to be verbally and physically abused on the street, decisions on the ‘burqa ban’ are ongoing, and could affect multiple Muslim women worldwide.


How is religion represented in the media?

How is religion represented in the media?

When talking about the representation of religion in the media, it is important to ask oneself whether and how these stories affect the understanding and attitude towards specific religions.

Usually, when the media reports about religion, it is shocking news about a crisis, a scandal, conflicts, or violence in the name of religion. This makes sense when considering that bad news receives more attention than everyday news. Also, it is the media´s responsibility and duty to report on this negative news about religious leaders and communities as well as on good news in order to inform about injustice. However, journalists need to reflect about what they write to not misrepresent entire religions.

Christianity is the most and in general best represented religion. Since the 1980s, references to Islam have increased a lot so that it has become the second most represented religion in the media. The majority of these references is framed around negative news relating to terrorism and/or extremism.

One of the problems when representing religion in the media is that sometimes bad stories about one certain religion dominate, even though it is only a small number of people that is responsible for it. This can confirm the prejudices of many people, can lead to a series of stereotypes, distrust, suspicion and to a misrepresentation of the beliefs of numerous people of an entire religion.

About the author:

Paulina (19) took part in the “My Europe” workshop in Vienna, Austria, in 2013 and became a member of the Youth Council for the Future. Personally she is interested in reading, swimming, playing the piano and cooking. Professionally Paulina would like to become a pilot in the future.

In Search of Globalization

Globalization defines our era perhaps more than anything else, transcending markets to become embedded in our nature, part of our social DNA. Decades of discussing, analysing and defining have not brought us any closer to a consensus on what “Globalization” truly means. Steger (2009) defines it as ‘not a single process, but a set of processes that operate simultaneously and unevenly on several levels and in various dimensions’. Kenichi Ohmae’s The End of the Nation State or Thomas Friedman’s The Lexus and the Olive Tree present the phenomenon as a by-product of the techno-economic development of the world, which has spread Western values across the world.

For decades, globalization was seen as ‘a powerful economic and technological bulldozer that effortlessly shovels up states and societies’ (Amoore, 2002). Recent years have seen some attempts in presenting socio-political resistance to Globalization, with media and academia alike talking about the unruly power of Transnational Corporations (TNCs), the protests against globalisation, the rummaging of third-world country and the economical ‘new slavery’.

One of the defining issues of globalization is deterritorialization, the way global connectivity surpasses borders, meaning that trade economic activities are no longer dependant on their geographic limits. People, goods and services are instantly available from all over the world, with countless examples of thriving international businesses on mega-resellers like Amazon or Alibaba. Some argue against free-markets with their quick access to products and materials, as it also brings huge socio-economic problems (e.g.: sweatshops for fast clothes), the export of pollution or global oligopolies. Deterritorialization is built on political systems, as trade and free movement agreements connect the world. In a changed perception of borders, EU nationals have free access to travel, work and live anywhere within it. The right to free movement is well established in the 1985 Schengen Agreement, which has abolished custom checks between the (currently) 22 EU members and Iceland, Norway, Switzerland and Liechtenstein. There is, however, opposition to it, as it permits the access of ‘cheap’ labour from Eastern Europe to the Western markets.

The interconnectivity of people, goods and services has led to enormous capital gain and growth, but it also led to the globalization of threats. The diminishing line between local and global and the transition of social relationships to a virtual or transnational state has brought forth a set of ‘trans-sovereign problems’ that include not just traditional global crime rings, but also cyber war, pollution, migration or epidemics (Karnprobst, Pouliot, Shah & Zaiotti). That does not take into account how interconnected economies are susceptible to great changes (Great Depression, Asian Crisis of 1997 or the Global Financial Crisis).

The exponential technological development connecting the world at much faster paces allows for a space-time compression, a phenomenon described by David Harvey and based on Karl Marx’s theory of the ‘annihilation of time and space’. Harvey found that ever since the early 70’s, there has been ‘an intense phase of space-time compression that has had a disorienting and disruptive impact upon political-economic practices, the balance of class power, as well as upon cultural and social life’. The technological ultra-speed plays a pivotal role in our perception of the acceleration time and space, which ‘mediates between postmodern culture and a post-Fordist regime of flexible accumulation in capitalism.’ (Lizardo & Strand, 2009)

This is not something new, however, with some arguing that globalization has been on-going for millennia, just getting exponentially accelerated. From the global dispersion of the population and the invention of writing and the wheel, traces of globalization can be observed. The Age of Empires rose out of the movement of people and goods. Modern-day China is recapturing the commercial prowess of the Silk Road. The British East India Companies or the Atlantic Slave Trade were nothing less than the interconnectivity of the world and the reimagining of the borders, not just physical ones but cultural ones, through defining what ‘civilisation’ is and placing ‘Others’ outside of it.

Globalization does not just shape what happens, but also how it is remembered. We remember the ‘Discovery of America’ by the bold and courageous men following Christopher Columbus, for ‘King and country’. The systematic destruction, slavery and genocide of the indigenous population have been all but forgotten. It remains the same today with the US export of ‘democracy’. One man’s Freedom is another man’s overturn of an elected government that refuses to abide US economic Imperialism (e.g.: Iran ’53, Guatemala ’54, Congo ’60).

Europe’s own instability can be traced back to the 1870 unification of Germany, which disrupted the balance of power. With the second largest population, Germany intensified its iron, coal and steel production. Between 1870-1914, Germany’s agriculture output doubled, and its industrial production quadrupled, thus looking for new colonies and markets to expand its trading power. Meanwhile, numerous monarchies were declining, leaving way for new constitutional and territorial arrangements. Nationalist movements were arising, claiming independence for states under the decaying empires. This state of tension led to the outbreak of World War One, a never-before seen conflict, a ‘Total War’ that engulfed countless nations and their entire populations.

With the victors (Britain and France) in a state of ruin, the United States emerged as the superior economic force. By 1929, US had 42% of the global industrial output, compared with Britain, France and Germany’s 28% (Hobsbawm 1994:97). The US replaced Britain as the world creditor, which is why the Wall Street stock market crash of 1929 shook the entire world in what would become the Great Depression. It showed that states were not independent and isolated bodies, but part of a global interconnected network. Soon after, the ‘Never Again’ sentiment of the First World War was forgotten and war broke again, in the deadliest conflagration in the history of mankind.

Recovering from WWII took an even greater effort, a complete redesign of the world, geographically, socially and economically. The latter was the task of the Bretton Woods conference, whose main goals were the establishment of a stable system of exchange rates and the financing of the post-war European economies. Led by UK and US, the biggest Western economic powers began reversing their Interwar protectionist ideologies. The IMF (International Monetary Fund) was created to enforce the newly tied to the dollar fixed exchange rates. The signing countries were to maintain the fluctuations of their currency to the dollar inside an established interval. The US would in return guarantee to exchange dollars for gold. At the same time, The World Bank was created to offer long-term loans to facilitate capital investment for production, post-war reconstruction and reconverting the economy for peacetime needs.

The direction set by the IMF and World Bank was ever-present: privatising, reducing or annulling economic regulations, supporting competition, government reduction and a stern financial following of the goals imposed by those adhering to the Washington-set neo-liberal agenda. While not solely American, the set of rules known as the ‘Washington Consensus’ was forcefully applied in post-communist Russia, leading to almost catastrophic results for the population, while allowing enormous gain for the wealthy, both domestic – oligarch – and foreign – Wall Street investors. Deterritorialization allowed a hugely international flow of capital into Russia, but it also allowed a drain of it resources.

The Russian ‘shock doctrine’ (Klein, 2007) was the forceful reforms meant to impose a very strong and sudden form of capitalism post-USSR Russia, whose process of democratization had started under President Gorbachev. TIME’s Person of the Year, he defied the Brezhnev doctrine and implemented policies of ‘glasnost’ (openness) and ‘perestroika’ (restructuring). Under his rule, Russia saw free local, parliamentary and presidential elections, freedom of press and an independent constitutional court. Economically, he favoured a Scandinavian model of social democracy with a regulated free market. However, the West – G7, US and IMF – had other plans: a sudden and short opening of the markets. After a failed coup in which Yeltsin emerged as the courageous leader of democracy, Gorbachev began to be seen to moderate. Soon after, Yeltsin was elected and with the backing of the Clinton White House and the financial support of the IMF, Russia was supposed to emerge as a stable capitalist democracy, in a painful process.

The economic reforms were based on the neoliberal ideals, ensuring the creation of a free market and the sudden privatization of the more than 200,000 state companies, which were up for grabs at submarket prices, with Western investors and the former Soviet elite rummaging through Russia’s failing economy. To make matters worse, he companies were being bought with public money. In an article for Moscow Times, Bivens and Bernstein explained that ‘a few hand-picked men took over Russia’s state-developed oil fields for free, as part of a giant shell game in which hone arm of government paid another arm.’ State funds that were supposed to go into the treasury ended up in private banks, which then used the funds to invest in the privatizing of Russia.

This meant the almost total collapse of the country, with a reduction of their living standard of 80% of the population and a 40% decrease in industrial production. Tens of millions of people faced extreme poverty. When people resorted to selling their possessions, the West saw this as the encouraging sign of a young and blooming entrepreneurship spirit. At the other end of the deal, Russia was the capitalist heaven, with obscene amounts of money being made in short-term speculations. It was that speculation that made Russia vulnerable to the Asian financial crisis of ’98, which ‘crashed definitively its already precarious economy’ (Klein, 2007).

Post-USSR Russia is the best example of the perils of a truly interconnected world, where decisions are made for a country. The general population has little understanding to what a millisecond could mean for the Wall Street crowd or how that ends up affecting them, until it does. It is important to remember that no political theory can be applied perfectly. No matter how contested, globalization is happening, taking our differences, borders and time in its whirlwind. Whether on a micro or macro level, it affects everyone, more and more, sometimes for the better and sometimes for the worst. There is no going back to a world without globalization. Some would argue that that world never existed. The first step to make it better is to understand it, to study it and to find the best way for our society to accommodate it and for it to accommodate our societies.




About the author:

Simona (23) participated in the “My Europe” workshop in Bucharest, Romania, in 2011. In the Youth Council for the Future, Simona is Project Coordinator of the Working Group Education. She is studying at the University of Bucharest.




  1. Steger, Manfred B., Globalization: a very short introduction, Oxford University Press, 2003, 2nd edition, 2009.
  2. Ohmae, Kenichi, The End of the Nation State
  3. Friedman,Thomas, The Lexus and the Olive Tree
  4. Amoore, Louise, Globalization Contested: An international political economy of work, Manchester University Press,  2002,
  5. Kornprobst, M., Pouliot, V., Shah, N., Zaiotti, R., Metaphors of Globalization Mirrors, Magicians and Mutinies, Palgrave Macmillan, 2008
  6. Lizardo, O.,  Strand, M.,  Postmodernism and Globalization., ProtoSociology 26: 38-72, 2009
  7. Hobsbawm, E., The Age of Extremes, Penguin Books, 1994
  8. Klein, N., The Shock Doctrine, Random House of Canada, 2007

History and Globalization: An Academic Pursue

History and Globalization: An Academic Pursue

In a world ravaged by new technology, one must wonder what will become of the discipline of History in our education systems: will millennials praise the growth of mankind, or will we keep on teaching our children that the wonders of their own Nations overcome those of the world?
From ever since children start school, from such a young age as five or six, they are taught the History of their own country, from the first gregarious communities to occupy the territory up until modern History. Yet, the core points of every History programme remain the same: “how did we affect the world?”, “How did we, as a society, evolved?”, “What happened to us?”
As much as one argues that national identity is something primary to every men or woman, globalization is a phenomena not to be ignored, and the Global Village, anchored on the Internet, is the new Nation that gathers all with access to the World Wide Web. However, world education leaders seem to purposely overlook the facts, and insist on leaving it in the hands of the younger to discover that there is a world out there, with History as rich as their own.
For a better understanding of this issue, let us point out two education systems that differ when it comes to relating national History and World History, and offer a possibility to “cover” the plot of World History in students’ curricula.
On the one hand, in England, a new subject programme was implemented in 2014, named “National Curriculum”, specifying what British students must study and what they should be learning at different ages. Even though the History programme refers the need to “gain a coherent knowledge and understanding of Britain’s past and that of the wider world”1, students must focus their attention on British History: local history, the Romans, Anglo-Saxons and Vikings in Britain, Britain and the wider world in Tudor times, Victorian Britain and Britain since 1930.
In Portugal, on the other hand, secondary school is divided in five areas of interest, each with specific compulsory subjects. The History programme2 relies on modules that will first provide the student with political, economic, and social context for every Age, and then introduce the country’s situation given said context. This programme’s main pretence is for the student to “develop a sense of self-criticism, the ability to accept different opinions and to recognise the existence of various working modules of society.”3 Yet, the issue remains: although Portuguese students have a clear image of what Europe as a whole has lived since the invention of Democracy, the rest of the world is a mystery until the 16th century. And even then, History programmes pursue a European-centred perspective.
These self-centred perspectives result, as Europe well knows, in a strong sense of nationalism, in an honest belief that our home country is the best of the entire world, this feeling often being expressed as arrogance and suspicion towards foreigners. It was this feeling of superiority that led to the advent of two world wars that left nothing behind but grieve and destruction.
The question now is how to prevent such feelings from forming? Investigators Robert Bain and Tamara Shreiner from Michigan University claim the answer to these concerns relies
on the creation of a new subject, a World History subject. In the USA, this is a high school subject, growing more and more popular every year. However, the teaching in these classes still goes much on a “Hollywood-based” view of History, opposing to the purest form of historicism Education Ministers should provide.
According to the authors, in order to make sure that World History is about the whole world, and not just the Western part, it is necessary to divide the subject in 4 independent structural patterns that, together, provide students with the most information about World History. They are: “World Civilization Plus”, which offers an expanded version of a familiar narrative that focuses on the development of civilization in the West, specifically Europe; “Social Studies World History”, which offers a multidisciplinary approach to broad themes such as “Time, Continuity, and Change,” but which still does not challenge the “Europe as the Center of the World Model”; “Geographic/Regional World History”, which considers change over time in differing regions and sometimes braids these strands together in separate courses on Africa, East Asia, South Asia, or Latin America in addition to a broadly based world history course; and “Global World History”, which the authors describe as a synthesis of “trans-regional and civilizational studies” that requires students to “look at and across regions of the world.”4
It is fair to wonder whether teaching such a subject is enough to erase the distrustful feelings that mandated international interpersonal relationships over the past few millennia. Ever since Ancient Greece, Xenophon argued that closed societies were better than open societies. Discussion on this topic has not evolved much since 500 B.C. However, it is also fair to argue that World History would help young students to understand other cultural options and thus, to more easily accept different views of the world.

Xenophon: Ancient Greek philosopher, argued that closed societies were better than open societies

This is not an easy discussion. There are numerous arguments in favour and against a subject such as World History. Apart from those already presented, one might ask how to ensure impartiality from those talking of History, given that there are always two sides to the same story. Even if we argue that World History should always be presented through both perspectives, the winning and the loosing, we are still left with the natural inability of Men to not take sides. These are questions we are far from answering with all due certainty.
The examples to prove this phenomena are more than well-documented. If a British student were to travel across the Ocean and discuss British History with fellow North-American students, he would be confronted with a certain difficulty, since what Americans call the “Independence War” is known to the British as the “Colonial Insurgence”. Moving Easter, the Second World War was known as the “Great Patriotic War” in soviet countries for many years.
However important National History might be in building a person’s character, providing them with knowledge that derives directly from their ancestor’s way of life it is fair to wonder how can anyone be expected to discuss, open-minded, freely, about subjects such as History, if they were never given the chance to study, in school, under an advisor and among their peers, the existence of other perspectives, different from their own?
The answer is, they cannot. That is why we advocate a European History subject, directed mostly to high schoolers. Hopefully, the understanding of Europe’s historical evolution as a highly interactive block, with more in common than in difference, will reinforce the bond that unites all of Europe under the same flag of peace and development for all. Consequently, it would diminish the nationalistic and xenophobic feelings that are spreading throughout Europe, today, as it would bring closer the various nations that form the Old World, as a single world, made of different opinions, based on discussion and the well-being of its population.


About the author 


Leonor Frade

Leonor Frade (18) participated in the “My Europe” Workshop in Lisbon in 2014. She has since then been a member of the working group on Gender Equality and now writes for the Education group. She is a Law student and enjoys discussions about politics, education, employment, science and philosophy. She presents the result of those discussions in short essays and hopes you will enjoy them. 



1 – https://www.gov.uk/government/publications/national-curriculum-in-england-historyprogrammes-of-study/national-curriculum-in-england-history-programmes-of-study, on december 5th 2017
2 – http://www.dge.mec.pt/sites/default/files/Secundario/Documentos/Documentos_Disciplinas_ novo/Curso_Linguas_e_Humanidades/historia_a_10_11_12.pdf, on december 5th 2017
3 – http://www.dge.mec.pt/sites/default/files/Secundario/Documentos/Documentos_Disciplinas_ novo/Curso_Linguas_e_Humanidades/historia_a_10_11_12.pdf, on december 5th 2017
4 – Robert B. Bain and Tamara L. Shreiner, “Issues and Options in Creating a National Assessment in World History,” History Teacher 38:2 (February 2005), 241–72

Persecuted Beyond Borders

Image result for lgbt italy

After such a great reception of the article we shared entitled ‘Persecuted beyond borders: why Italy needs LGBT refugee shelters’, the YCF decided to interview the author of this piece.

Claudia Torrisi is an Italian journalist who has a passion for social issues, migrations and human rights. She has a master’s degree in Law and has previously worked with some non-profit organisations and projects such as Chayn Italia.

Torrisi has an extremely open background, working in various positions such as a journalist, volunteer, web editor and even worked on the mayoral campaign in Rome during 2016. She is very versatile in her work and as published pieces with openDemocracy, VICE Media and more.

Her piece focuses on the need for centres for LGBT refugees in Italy and documents how some refugees feel unsafe in the current setup. She tells of how they feel attacked and scared, often sensing that they are isolated when they arrive. Many fear telling their stories and sharing their experiences with those they meet in the crisis centres. Their lives are put on hold as they fear criminalisation for their sexual status.

Join us on 15th November 2017 as we interview Claudia Torrisi live on our social media channels.

Everything seems impossible until it is done

Who are supposed to be the ‘climate-change refugees’? ‘Climate-change refugees’ or so called ‘environmental migrants’ are people who are forced to leave their home towns either temporarily or permanently due to sudden or progressive climate changes which compromise their well being and secure livelihood.

These changes may include increased droughts, desertification, sea revel rise, disruption of seasonal weather patterns such as monsoons, etc. Human activities like burning fossil fuels and cutting down forests contribute to global warming because they release greenhouse gases. Rising temperatures associated with global warming cause glaciers and ice caps to melt, which lead to droughts and desertification – the transformation of arable land to desert. These effects make it completely impossible for people in the region to feet on the crops and they are forced consequently to roam the world to look for better lives.    

Unlike the refugees who flee their homes due to conflict or political oppression, ‘climate-change refugees’ are not protected by international laws and may face greater political risks.

Unlike the refugees who flee their homes due to conflict or political oppression, ‘climate-change refugees’ are not protected by international laws and may face greater political risks. You have to admit, the word “refugees” should not be used in consideration of these people. It’s not them on whom we have to put the blame, because that is nature which caused it.

Nowadays, the problem of migrants is causing a great deal of wrangling in the whole world, including Europe. The European Commission has taken a comprehensive approach to tackle the refugee crisis in Europe, drawing on the various tools and instruments available at the EU level and in the member states. The European Commission gathers periodically at the summit to discuss these contemporary issues and to take corresponding measures. Statistics indicate that the number of migrants crossing Europe illegally by land and sea in 2015 has passed over one million. Of course, not all of them can be called the ‘climate-change refugees’. Some of them may migrate due to social instabilities, such as the terror attacks and the wars in the central and the Western Asia, although some people are migrating, simply because of the climate changes.Then what are the biggest challenges that ‘climate-change refugees’ are facing?

Firstly, wherever people happen to land, there would be significant traditional, cultural and religious differences. To adapt to the afterward circumstances, they would need sizeable amount of time. For example, if one has moved from Western Asia to Eastern Europe, traditional customs will have changed, from greeting others to food culture. This would affect everyone including youngsters and the next generations, trying successfully or not so to integrate into their new cultures.

Another challenge could be finding suitable jobs or finding themselves a place in the workforce.  Currently, migrant workers accounts for 150 million of the world’s approximately 232 million international migrants. Migrant workers contribute to the growth and develop in their countries of destination.
Especially having in mind the rising unemployment rate in the countries where they decide to reside. Furthermore, migration and the resulting unemployment rate have been one of the major issues in the traditional, as well as contemporary global economic scenario. And some criminal activities like robberies, thefts and various negative behaviors by unemployed migrants might arise and will disturb the public order in certain countries. To prevent these, the chances have to be given for refugees to be employed after the specific education system.

When properly managed, the refugees may have far-reaching potentials and their communities as well.

As Nelson Mandela, one of the most famous politicians said “Everything seems impossible until it is done”, other problems and challenges could occur that we might face. Yet we, as human beings have responsibilities to protect the refugees. When properly managed, the refugees may have far-reaching potentials and their communities as well. And consequently they would serve as part of the society which contributes for the economic growth of the country, overcoming ethnic differences and winning the fight for position among other people.


About the author:

Ri Kang Song (16) took part in the My Europe Workshop in Sofia on 28-29 November 2016 and won the fifth prize of the writing competition.