Seyla Benhabib

The current crisis is generating the myth of borders as controlled, says Seyla Benhabib. But this is only a myth. It is a fact that states are escaping their obligations under international and European law; while migrants themselves may be helping to keep the social peace between classes.

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What has emerged in the Arab world is a thoroughly modern mass democratic movement, writes Seyla Benhabib. Speculations that Islamic fundamentalists will hijack the transformation process are motivated by a cultural prejudice that forgets the contentiousness at the historical core of western democracies.

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Reset editor-in-chief Giancarlo Bosetti talks to Seyla Benhabib about the differing roles of religion in the US and Europe: “[The US] was founded by puritans who came in order to exercise religious freedom; therefore, the exercise of this freedom holds an important post in the public sphere, even if there exists at the same time a strong doctrine of separation between Church and state. In general, the American public sphere is more permeated with religious tones, even if they are not of a particular religion: just think of the famous phrase, ‘God bless America’. I’ve never heard a German chancellor say: ‘God bless Germany’!”

Never have there been more refugees in the world as today: an estimated 45 million in total. So what’s the current relationship between international law, emancipatory politics and the rights of the rightless? Seyla Benhabib on the urgent need to create new political vistas.