Mapping Democracy

    About Fikrun

    Fikrun wa Fann was a cultural magazine published by the Goethe Institute from 1963 to 2016 that supported and shaped the cultural exchange between Germany and Islamic countries. Together with the publishing of the last issue, “Flight and Displacement” (issue 105), in autumn of 2016 the maintenance and updating of this online portal was ceased.


    Democracy is being discussed in very different contexts at present; for instance, as the political system of the future in the Arab states of North Africa seeking a new political order after the overthrow of their dictators. By Stefan WeidnerMore ...
    Playing elections in Afghanistan. Photo: Martin Gerner © Goethe-Institut

    Cosmopolitanism and Democracy
    From Kant to Habermas

    Cosmopolitanism acknowledges that humans are moral persons who have a right to be protected under the law because of the rights they enjoy by virtue of the fact of their humanity. By Seyla BenhabibMore ...
    Residents of Baghdad go to the polis. Photo: Majid/Getty Images © Goethe-Institut

    What Is a Democrat?
    An Attempt to Define the Democratic Personality

    It is extremely difficult to define exactly what makes a democratic person. In order to develop democratic ideas, people first need the freedom to be able to imagine political alternatives. By Reginald GrünenbergMore ...
    The results of local elections in Algeria in 1997 were challenged by all opposition parties. Photo: Michael von Graffenried/ © Goethe-Institut

    Taking Oneself Seriously Again
    Asking the Simple Questions in a Different Way

    While people in the Arab world are attempting to take the first steps towards true democracy, it seems that the established democracies of the West are being increasingly eroded. By Ingo SchulzeMore ...
    Congress of the Front of Socialist Forces in Algeria 1996. Photo: Michael von Graffenried/ © Goethe-Institut

    Literature and Democracy: The Algerian Example
    Acceptance Speech for the Peace Prize of the German Book Trade

    Algeria has produced some eminent writers and artists, but our prizewinning author fears that the inflexible power structures in his country mean that there are still many difficulties to be overcome in the pursuit of democracy. By Boualem SansalMore ...

    Suitcase Carriers, Red Hand, Black Panthers
    A Review of Algeria Fifty Years After Independence

    Following a brutal colonial war, Algeria became a haven for revolutionaries from all over the world. But after the bloody civil war of the 1990s there are few signs of the Arab Spring blossoming in Algiers. By Susanne StemmlerMore ...
    Woman showing the ink on her finger as proof she has voted on election day in Pujehun, Sierra Leone. Photo: Kelly Fajack, Getty Images © Goethe-Institut

    The Islamic Ennahda Movement
    How Democratic Is the New Political Dawn in Tunisia?

    The success of the Ennahda Movement in Tunisia has aroused considerable anxiety about Islamisation of the country, but its election programme provided no reason for such fears. By Lutz RoglerMore ...
    Electoral office in Afghanistan. Photo: Martin Gerner © Goethe-Institut

    Too Fast Too Soon
    Observations on Democracy in Afghanistan

    After the fall of the Taliban, the West wanted to transform Afghanistan into a democratic state. Ten years later almost all of those early hopes have been dashed, and democracy has become something of a dirty word. By Martin GernerMore ...
    Hassan Hajjaj (Morocco/UK): M.U.S.A., 2010. From the book Arab Photography Now, Berlin 2011/Rose Issa Projects/Kehrer-Verlag © Goethe-Institut

    Iranian Islam and Democracy
    The History of an Appropriation

    A great deal of thought has been devoted to the issue of democracy in the Arab world over the last few decades. This article examines the discourse about democracy and human rights in Iran. By Katajun AmirpurMore ...
    Turkish President Erdoğan promising better health care as part of his campaign during the Turkish parliamentary elections of 2011, Istanbul. Photo: Stefan Weidner © Goethe-Institut

    A Model for the Arab World?
    What Turkey Is Doing Differently

    Since the Arab revolutions of 2011, if not before, Turkey has generally been seen as a possible positive model for the Arab states. But how good a model is Turkey really? By Zafer ŞenocakMore ...
    Polling station during the parliamentary elections of 2004 in Jakarta, Indonesia. Photo: Stefan Weidner © Goethe-Institut

    Indonesia as a Model of Muslim Democracy
    Developments, Problems, and Opportunities

    In the wake of Islamic resurgence and the growing democratic movements in North Africa and the Middle East, it is relevant to see Indonesia as a model of Muslim democracy. The country has shown a stable democratic government, civil liberties, and tremendous economic growth. By Luthfi AssyaukanieMore ...
    Tarek Eltayeb (Austria/Egypt, left) and Saif Ar-Rahbi (Oman) at the conference on Arab literature in exile which took place in Kuwait in March 2012. Photo: Stefan Weidner © Goethe-Institut

    Exile That Enriches
    The Cultural Achievements of Iranian and Arab Authors in Germany

    Since the 1970s Germany has increasingly become the destination of choice for emigrés from the Arab world and Iran. Many of them stayed in Germany and have contributed equally to cultural life in Germany and in their home countries. By Stefan WeidnerMore ...
    Hartmut Fähndrich, Maha Hassan, Kersten Knipp, Alawiyya Sobh and Boualem Sansal at the Arab Literature Festival in Frankfurt, January 2012. Photo: Markus Kirchgessner © Goethe-Institut

    Seismographs of the Revolution
    The Arab Literature Festival in Frankfurt

    The motto of this year’s Arab Literary Festival, which took place in Frankfurt in January, was ‘Moving Towards Freedom’. Significant Arab authors met with their German counterparts and discussed developments. By Kersten KnippMore ...

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