Phil Marfleet

States of exclusion

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The nation state with distinct borders is a recent idea, tied up with the development of capitalism. It is workers and the poor who suffer at its edges, writes Phil Marfleet.

Why are borders so important to the modern state? Why do politicians and the media obsess about “border security”? What lies behind the politics of exclusion?

Until the early modern era (17th to 18th centuries) borders between local kingdoms and principalities in Europe were fuzzy and seldom closely controlled. Mobility of goods and people was essential to sustain regional economies — most of the population was tied to the land but many people moved relatively freely as merchants, artisans, itinerant labourers, pedlars, seafarers and pilgrims.

Under pressure

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After Mohamed Morsi's victory in Egypt Phil Marfleet looks at the fractures in the Muslim Brotherhood's base and the challenges that face the left

Egypt has a new civilian president, but one shackled by the army and the Mubarak state. Mohamed Morsi of the Muslim Brotherhood takes office without a parliament and with the country's generals breathing down his neck. He is also under intense pressure from the revolutionary movement, which expects results promptly from an elected leader.

The generals, the Islamists and the Egyptian Revolution

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After the recent election Egypt's parliament is dominated by Islamists, especially representatives of the Muslim Brotherhood. But, argues Phil Marfleet, the Brotherhood faces immense pressure from Egyptians to deliver real change and break with the military

Egypt's new parliament, which convened on 23 January, is overwhelmingly Islamist. Seventy three percent of the People's Assembly, the lower house, is composed of members of the Muslim Brotherhood and the Nour Party. This suggests a stunning electoral performance by the Islamists and a tricky time ahead for revolutionary activists who do not embrace their agendas. But the picture is much more complicated - as Islamists discovered only 48 hours after the Assembly convened.

Briefing: The main currents of Egypt's Islamists

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Salafis

Salafis have been concerned mainly with details of ritual, dress and personal morality. They are often referred to in Egypt as "Sunnis", with the implication that they are concerned overwhelmingly with the Sunna ("the way"/"the path") associated with key traditions of Islam and with the practice of the Prophet Muhammad. They are followers of the salaf (predecessors or forefathers) - the Prophet and the founding community of Muslims of the 7th century AD.

Can the Islamists limit Egypt's revolution?

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The Islamist mass rally in Cairo on 29 July showed the deepening alliance between some Islamists and the ruling army council. But, argues
Phil Marfleet, the Islamists are an unstable coalition whose ability to contain the revolution is far from established.

The first appearance of Islamists in a mass rally in Tahrir Square in late July brought predictable reactions in European and American media: Islamic activists were "hijacking" the revolution; they would soon overwhelm its secular activists; they would demonstrate that radical change was impossible in a predominantly Muslim society.

Act II of the Egyptian Revolution

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The revolutionary process in Egypt is deepening. There is now a protracted struggle going on to shape Egypt's future, as the ruling Military Council seeks to counter militancy from below. Phil Marfleet looks at Act II of the Egyptian Revolution

Act I of the Egyptian Revolution culminated with the fall of the dictator. Act II is a far more complex process in which Egyptians address the problem of the dictatorship. How to consolidate and expand their new freedoms? How to continue the momentum of change? How to alleviate the problems of everyday life? How to challenge military rule?

Boycott, divestment, sanctions

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The flotilla attack sparked protests and solidarity worldwide. Phil Marfleet reports on the growing Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions (BDS) movement, which can offer a focus for solidarity with Gaza.

Gaza has been under occupation for over 40 years but international interest has seldom been as intense and international solidarity rarely as effective as since the recent killings at sea.

Palestine: Boycott of Israel Gains New Support

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An international campaign for Boycott, Disinvestment and Sanctions (BDS) against Israel is growing rapidly.

Outrage at Israel's assault on Lebanon is certain to increase the pace of activity. In Britain university lecturers are spearheading the campaign. In June the national conference of the Natfhe lecturers' union agreed to encourage all members to consider their relations with Israeli universities. There was overwhelming support for a resolution which called for lecturers to break links with universities known to be involved.

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