Daily Chart The Plague Of Global Terrorism Essay
The twenty first century has brought with it a myriad of new questions for the subject of human rights. These ‘new questions’ can be considered as ‘challenges’ to the human rights discourse1 begging attention and serious consideration.
Among the many questions are ‘Can Human Rights Survive?’2 raised by Conor Gearty; ‘The question after September 11 is whether the era of human rights has come and gone’3 pondered by Michael Ignatieff and ‘How resilient is the human rights norm in the counter-terrorist era?’4 posed by Rosemary foot.
A great many of these questions have been the result of an appreciation of the impact of the terrorist events of September 11 2001. There has been overwhelming unanimity and agreement among scholars, writers and practitioners that while terrorism is by no means a new phenomenon the events of September 11 signaled the birth of a ‘new brand of terrorism.’
Jayantha Dhanapala explains that ‘The terrorist attacks in the US on 11 September 2001 by their unexpected boldness, their diabolically elaborate intercontinental planning and the tragic scale of the death and destruction they wrought, are now widely regarded as a watershed in the global history of terrorism and political violence. This does not minimize the impact of terrorism in countries prior to 9/11……It is however a realistic assessment of the repercussions of a terrorist attack on the nerve centers of the sole superpower in the world and the global reaction to it. Nothing after 9/11 will be as it was before’.5
This ‘new brand of terrorism’6 has consequently given rise to a ‘new brand of counter-terrorism’ measures.7 Having said this, it should be stated that neither ‘terrorism’ nor ‘human rights’ are new phenomena. What is equally important to recognize, however, is that the attacks of September 11 has in fact created new challenges, new threats and hence new questions for the human rights movement.8
This article thus seeks to explore the question of the ability of sustaining human rights in the new and challenging context of counter terrorism.9 It seeks to do so by specifically engaging in a determination of a role for the United Nations’ human rights treaty monitoring bodies in its struggle for safeguarding human rights while countering terrorism.
As much of scholarly thinking and writing in this area has thus far been on the Counter Terrorism Committee, the work of the Secretary General, the Security Council and the General Assembly, this article seeks to probe the role of a less explored mechanism of the United Nations and one which it argues can gain increased currency for its potential to make a contribution to the work of the United Nations in this area, namely the human rights treaty monitoring bodies of the United Nations.
The article employs a thematic approach by examining the work of the human rights treaty monitoring bodies in some of the specific aspects and specific rights which have been among the more contentions in the fight against terrorism. This list is not meant to be either comprehensive or exhaustive.
While the article acknowledges and does not for a moment suggest that this mechanism is intended to be the panacea for the problem raised, it is explored with the understanding of its potential in contributing to the work of the larger United Nations human rights machinery in its aim of protecting human rights while countering terrorism.
Further, as there have been warning signs of the appearance of the first signs of the ‘marginalization of human rights treaty bodies as effective monitors of counter-terrorist policies,’10 it is prudent to take a moment to increase focused study on this mechanism and uncover its potential role in this subject. Moreover, this article draws inspiration from the Report of the Policy Working Group on the United Nations and Terrorism11 which was set up to draw attention to the far-reaching impacts of terrorism for the United Nations and propose courses of action to meet such challenges. Accordingly, this article seeks to contribute to the body of knowledge and understanding that might eventually lead to the achievement of this aim.
Taking a moment to step back and view the broader discussion it needs to be pointed out that the underlying acknowledgment in this article is that the United Nations cannot and should not be perceived as being obligated with the sole responsibility of undertaking the task of protecting human rights while countering terrorism since a multitude of other actors and actions are necessary to strengthen, reinforce and build on the work of the United Nations.12
Therefore, what the article seeks to expound is the role that the United Nations might play through its human rights treaty monitoring bodies within this larger framework.
PART 1: COUNTER-TERRORISM AND HUMAN RIGHTS: THE ESSENTIAL RELATIONSHIP
The existence of a relationship between counter terrorism and human rights is rarely, if ever, disputed.13 Hence, ‘[t]here seems to be widespread agreement on both the direct and indirect link between terrorism and human rights.’14 What has been the subject of much contention, however, is the formulation that the relationship ought to take in the battle against terrorism.
1.1 The controversial divide
Though some writers have identified specific human rights as significant casualties in the struggle against terrorism,15 it has been argued that the notion of ‘equality of esteem’16 which goes to the heart of all human rights is under greatest threat as a result of ‘judging people not by the fact that they simply are but by where they are from and by which culture or faith it is to which they belong.’17 The fundamental flaw then springs from the categorization of people into ‘good’ and ‘bad’,18 as this distinction is seen to be drawn on arbitrary grounds.19
The disturbing consequence of such a paradigm is that ‘[it] creates an “ethical dilemma”20 [and one that]leads them to see human rights not as a subject concerned with the powerless individual wherever he or she might be….but rather as an idea which finds its clearest expression in the West…In this way “human is taken out of “human rights,”21 the particular is superseded by the general, and the subject becomes one that is more about the values than it is about the people.’22
1.2 Mutually exclusive objectives?
Another stream of thought with regards to this relationship is the argument that citizens must be willing to surrender some of their human rights so as to attain the larger goal of achieving security for the community at large.24 What is to be noted is that even within this paradigm there are to be found several shades of opinion across the spectrum. To state the two extreme positions would be that on the one hand, it is asserted that ironically the apparatus which safeguards the citizen from abuse of state authority is also the same structure that stands in the way of the state in dealing with challenges that confront the security of the nation. 25 On the other hand, it is in such exceptional situations that the notion of social compact comes into play as a framework governing state behavior.26
This school of thought is disputed on two grounds. Firstly, that it is too narrow a paradigm which fails to take account of the broader implications of the particular State’s decision on the inter-state dynamic and secondly, that such a strategy is shortsighted and will likely be self-defeating in that ‘[i]t ignores the long term costs on restriction on freedoms.’27 Further, the sustainability of such a strategy is seriously doubted since ‘what might seem to be an expedient route to head off immediate violence generate grievances reaped in the form of stronger support for violence.’28
1.3 Mutually reinforcing imperatives?
A more popular viewpoint in the discourse on counter terrorism and human rights is one which advocates a human rights approach to achieving security.29 This is an approach which sees the two concepts as mutually reinforcing imperatives.30 ‘Partly as a result of September 11 2001….we may be witnessing a “boomerang effect” in which we must focus on both national and human security and yet realize that excessive focus on one aspect of security at the expense or detriment of the other may well cause it to be “boomeranged” by a poor balancing of ends and means in a changing security environment.’31 This is the viewpoint advocated by the United Nations32 and international human rights non-governmental organizations.33 This view might be justified on the grounds that to adopt an approach which ignores human rights would be to equate actions of the state to that of the terrorists and in some instances, even lower, which would augur well for the terrorist and be to the detriment of the state as the terrorist would then likely benefit from negative media scrutiny of government action which would in turn result in heightened sympathy for the terrorists grievance.34 What needs to be mentioned here is that even under the broad ‘umbrella’ of this argument that proposes a human rights-compliant counter-terrorism strategy there exist diverse positions.35 This approach might be challenged on several counts. Firstly, it grants human rights a ‘higher’ status and hence tends to consider the security dimension with scant attention.36
Secondly, if fails to appreciate the inherent tensions that persist between the objectives of the two concepts.37 Thirdly, it assumes that human rights are indispensable in the fight for security.38 Further, such an approach encapsulates an oversimplification of the nature of the relationship between human rights and counter terrorism and evades accounting for the complexities that lie within it.39
1.4 A nuanced approach
While some writers agree on the central point that ‘[t]here is simply no basis for balancing between the two considerations’40 and that ‘[h]uman rights must always be observed in the fight against terrorism,’41 others distinguish this from the prospect of securing a balance ‘”within” the human rights system – and under the monitoring of the established human rights bodies…’42 For instance, writers like Virginia Held argue that ‘[w]here rights conflict, we may order them by priorities or stringency; this however is not a matter of maximizing, but of seeking consistency. Some rights may be deemed to have priority over others, or to be more basic than others, but our aim is not to engage in trade-offs at a consistent scheme in which all the rights of all persons can be respected and none need be violated.’43
The arguments for ‘balancing’ also veil a significant fallacy in that it frames the relationship between human rights and counter-terrorism as a stand-off, a mere pitting of two notions against each other which is a pedestrian and unsophisticated reflection of the true situation.44
Another problematic aspect of the relationship between counter-terrorism and human rights is the issue of whether human rights abuses of terrorists classify as individual actions or whether they should be categorized as group behavior.45 Moreover, a related though separate issue under scrutiny is whether there exists a connection between terrorism and human rights that can be encapsulated within a framework of cause and effect.46
1.5 Final Thoughts
While the debate surrounding the relationship between counter-terrorism and human rights continues unabated, what becomes necessary then is an analysis of which approach can reap the best results for the people of the world. An examination and analysis of the work of the United Nations human rights treaty monitoring bodies can undoubtedly bring perspective to this issue as the following section will reveal.
PART 2: THE UNITED NATIONS, HUMAN RIGHTS AND
COUNTER-TERRORISM – A VIEW FROM THE HUMAN RIGHTS TREATY MONITORING BODIES
2.1 ‘The other side of the coin’
A necessary starting point for any discussion on the United Nations’ – the human rights treaty bodies included – role in the protection of human rights while countering terrorism is a consideration of States’ duty to protect its citizens from acts of terrorism. This then is ‘the other side of the coin’ in the topic under consideration.
In the case of Delgado Paez v Columbia before the Human Rights Committee (hereafter HRC), the HRC accorded a broad and liberal interpretation to the State’s obligation to protect its citizens from acts of terrorism. Referring to Article 9 of the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights 47 (hereafter ICCPR), the HRC contended that merely on account of the fact that mention is made of the right of security of person once does not inevitably lead to the conclusion that this ‘was intended to narrow the concept of the right to security only to situations of formal deprivation of liberty.’48 Accordingly, in the case of Delgado Paez v Columbia, the HRC arrived at the decision that deprivation of liberty did not only include arrest or detention but also extends to include threats to life of citizens under its jurisdiction which the State had knowledge thereof.49 (see Delgado Paez v Columbia (Case No.195/1985)
This decision might be criticized as placing too heavy a burden on the State. However, this might be refuted on the argument that the imposition of the condition of ‘knowledge’ as necessary to amount to state culpability resonates with a degree of fairness when considering the States’ point of view.
This decision may also be challenged from a contrary standpoint. The lack of a blanket state responsibility opens room for arbitrariness and corruption in regressive regimes that are likely to find in-roads to evade such perceptions of knowledge and awareness, the element of perception being crucial to this qualification. Thus the effectiveness of such a standpoint depends on the good offices of the State’s implementation machinery.
Further, it must be noted that this duty on States does not grant it absolute or unfettered powers in fulfilling its obligation.50 It calls on State Parties ‘to take reasonable and appropriate measures to protect them.’51 Arguably, as ‘reasonably’ and ‘appropriate’ are matters of subjective calculation, a high degree of state integrity, both actual and perceived, becomes necessary if this duty/right is not to be made mockery of.52
2.2 A question of legitimacy
The HRC has time and again reiterated the need for counter-terrorism measures adopted by State Parties to be consistent with human rights standards, norms and principles. These suggestions appear to be made with such emphasis and clarity that they seem to advocate the view that the legitimacy of such measures in fact is conditional upon its adherence to established human rights rules.53 In 2002, the HRC declared that ‘It (the State Party) should ensure that legitimate action against terrorism does not become a source of violations of the Covenant.’54 In another statement, it went further to state that ‘The State Party is under an obligation to ensure that measures taken to implement Security Council Resolution 1373 (2001) are in full conformity with the Covenant.’55
It appears then that such adherence to human rights law by States when effecting counter-terrorism measures is not a mere option for States or a recommendation even, rather it is an ‘obligation’ 56 which States ‘must ensure.’57
2.3 The ‘amoebic’ nature of human rights law
International human rights law is not rigid,58 either in scope or in application. This ‘flexibility’ 59 and ‘responsive’ 60 characteristic augurs well for human rights proponents as this, in theory at least, takes human rights law one step closer to effectiveness. In practice, however, this argument is less sustainable. Nevertheless, it does not weaken the argument that human rights are adaptable to situations of grave crises, inter alia, states of emergency which may include occasions of terrorism. This reveals the fact that human rights law is dynamic in nature, a ‘living’ concept which is capable of growth and evolution so as to meet the needs of challenging situations. Care, however, should be taken in ensuring that this malleability does not cause the human rights laws to be ‘bent out of shape’ and eventually beyond recognition where the very fundamentals are eroded.
General Comment No 2961 of the HRC engages the issue of states of emergency in detail. Though ‘suspension’ of rights in such states of emergency is provided for, it is far from providing a ‘blank check’ for State action or inaction. There are certain rights which are catalogues as non-derogable in any situation and other rights when derogable are subject to specific and stringent conditions, both substantive and procedural.62 These requirements include that of necessity: ‘only when the life and existence of the nation is threatened;’ 63 must be reasonably time-bound given the particular situation at hand: in numerous instances the HRC has denounced the indefinite prolonging of a state of emergency and its attendant derogation of rights for extended periods of time, calling for the ‘reviewing [of] the need to maintain the state of emergency.64
While it is clear from these statements that the UN human rights treaty monitoring bodies have sought to erect high thresholds of qualification, the lack of clear and specific guidelines on situations which will qualify as a ‘state of emergency’ has resulted in a near mockery of the system of derogation.65 In defense of the UN human rights treaty system, it might be argued that it is not possible to foresee and hypothesize every likely set of circumstances that qualify for such derogation and thus it has done what it could best do in the circumstances, namely, outline general guidelines to be applied appropriately to a variety of situations that is characteristic of the diverse membership of the UN. Hence, it might be argued that anything more than a guiding framework for consideration is neither feasible nor advisable, both theoretically and practically.
Nevertheless, what might help to go some distance in minimizing such abuse is for the UN, through the HRC perhaps, to ‘preview’ cases, that is, adjudicate before such a decision is implemented by the State, that might qualify as a ‘state of emergency’ rather than merely limiting itself to a retrospective66 function in this regard. The latter becomes meaningless as the State has already made a decision and considerable damage is done to the human rights of its citizens.
This proposal might be challenged as being a bold suggestion given the deference to the principle of state sovereignty that is accorded near-sacred status by most, if not all, states. A ‘middle ground’ however would be to set up a ‘hybrid’ structure comprising both state agents and UN personnel which will help to give neutrality and credibility to decisions on state emergencies, on the one hand, while not disregarding the notion of sovereignty, on the other. The political, administrative and financial contingencies and ramifications involved in such a project, however, needs to be seriously considered, albeit a topic for a separate discussion and not within the reach of the present article.
Thirdly, the requirement for precision in measures regulating states of emergency and the accompanying duty of notification has been emphasized by the HRC. In Comments, Concluding Observations and cases before it, the HRC condemns the broad emergency powers that are in excess of Article 4 of the ICCPR and calls for conformity with it.67
The need for justification and for specifics have been stressed by the HRC in cases such as Landinelli Silva v Uruguay and Salgar de Montegro v Columbia.68 In the latter case the HRC held that ‘…the State Party concerned is on duty bound, when it invokes article 4(1) of the Covenant in proceedings under the Optional Protocol, to give a sufficiently detailed account of the relevant facts to show that a situation of the kind described in article 4(1) of the Covenant exists in the country concerned.’69
The need to respect the non-derogable rights as laid out in article 4 of the Covenant has been emphasized time and again by the HRC. For instance in 2000, ‘The State party should take measures to bring its Law on Public Emergency into compliance with article 4 of the Covenant.’70 Further, the HRC has declared that no leeway may be given on the purported justification that such measures are ‘temporary decrees’71 or merely because they are ‘provisional’72 in nature.
Moreover, what is discernible from the view of the HRC is that the legitimacy for State action against terrorism is not derived from the Constitution or legislation of that State which itself might be morally or ethically bankrupt, namely, by not being in congruence with international human rights law and standards, but rather from the principles enshrined within the international human rights law system.73 Hence, ‘formal legitimacy’ can be distinguished from a ‘spirit of legitimacy.’ This view may be challenged on the basis that it unduly accords supremacy to the international regime and thus encroaches on the doctrine of state sovereignty. This concern may be diluted by the argument that what should remain sovereign in any event is the ‘higher moral view’ or notion of justice.74 In such a situation, the provision of the human rights of the international legal regime, the ICCPR included, will prove to be the easy winner.
The other aspect that the HRC flags is the role that should be played by the judiciary in effecting consistency with article 4 of the Covenant: ‘Constitutional and legal provisions should ensure that compliance with article 4 of the Covenant can be monitored by the courts.’75
What this seems to suggest then is that the HRC recognizes the potential contribution in judicial review of State action.76 Thus, the judiciary is seen as a ‘check’ on arbitrary behaviour of regressive regimes.77 However, it needs to be mentioned that in States with corrupt judiciaries, such judicial intervention can prove to be counterproductive in that the corrupt judiciary can put a ‘stamp of approval’ on corrupt measures implemented by the State concerned and thereby hurl the effectiveness of article 4 into desuetude.
2.4 The right to life 78
A first glance, the human right to life appears to be absolute. However, on closer and further reading it appears to suggest a ‘softer’ position. Article 6 paragraph 1 of the ICCPR79 reads that ‘no one shall be arbitrarily deprived of his life.’ However, paragraph 2 appears to accord some flexibility to countries which have not established the death penalty stating that ‘sentence of death may be imposed only for the most serious crimes…’ Article 4 paragraph 2 states that ‘no derogation from article 6 may be made under this provison.’80 However, a State might attempt to seek an in-road by bringing an ‘emergency situation’ under the pretext of ‘not being arbitrary’. Hence this is a significant gap in the text of article 6 which could be open to abuse by States who attempt to masquerade a situation as a state of emergency in order to prove that the action complained of is not arbitrary within the meaning of Article 6 of the ICCPR81.
Thus, it would serve the human rights regime well if the wording of Article 6 is made explicit in order to prevent a state of emergency being used by an accused State to justify a violation of the right to life on account of not being arbitrary. The jurisprudence of the HRC elucidates the fact that the right to life is construed liberally and accorded a broad interpretation to even include situations ‘where the use of weapons by combatants has led to the loss of life and deprivation of freedom of large numbers of persons, regardless of the fact that the state of emergency has not been formally declared.82 It is striking that even such situations which bear out actions of substantial magnitude and consequences has led to the HRC arriving at the conclusion that such grave circumstances do not justify derogation from this right.
Such a finding carries merit to the extent that it upholds the value of human life and the right of every human being to claim such a right. Thus, at a theoretical level, the argument appears impeccable. However, descending to the realm of practical reality, and arguably the level that eventually counts, a question which arises is how one may justify such a stance especially in light of a juxtaposition against a situation where the very value that is being argued for seems to lend legitimacy to the violation of that very value and that too, on a larger scale.
What is clear then from the HRC’s position is that it is seeking to adopt a ‘corrective’ rather than a ‘retributive’ approach when dealing with such cases.83 It is shocking if not disturbing that even in situations where among the persons killed include children, the HRC is satisfied with merely ‘urge(ing) [the State party] to enforce rigorously the strict limitations on the operational rules as to the use of firearms and the use of rubber bullets against unarmed civilians.’84 It might be argued on behalf of the UN that employing such conciliatory terms as opposed to the outright condemnation is in keeping with its diplomatic role in international affairs.
However, two matters are worth considering at this point. Firstly, would it not be reasonable and more acceptable even if the UN uses this as its first course of action, it additionally attaches a warning to such a judgment? Thus, it is arguable that the UN should play a stronger role in ratcheting up pressure against States which becomes tantamount to ensuring the effectiveness of such provisions.
The second issue is that in the post 9/11 era where new forms and methods of terrorism are becoming increasingly apparent, are such ‘soft’ measures advisable? Should not the UN adopt more stringent ‘corrective’ orders against violating status? 85 It is noteworthy in the first case that even when there has been no formal declaration of a state of emergency; the HRC was willing to deem that article 4 was applicable.
Furthermore, it must be acknowledged that the treaty monitoring bodies can play a crucial role in ‘fleshing out’ provisions of the treaties in a meaningful manner by applying the principles and rules contained within the articles in the treaties to actual factual situations on the ground, thereby giving life to the textual expressions of these rights. Such a contribution will not only aid the normative development86 of the law but would also serve an additional purpose of being a source of guidance to national jurisdictions87 in developing their own jurisprudence when implementing counter-terrorism measures.
In the case of Suarez de Guerrero v Columbia, 88 the HRC concluded that the claimant was arbitrarily deprived of life given the facts of the case, namely the intentional killing of persons by the police during a search operation; lack of warning to casualties; the fact that they were not given a chance to surrender or make an explanation of the reasons for being where they were or doing what they did; lack of necessity and proportionality of police action. To underscore the arbitrariness was the fact that the casualties were only suspects. The chain of causation and burden of proof were both satisfied. Decisions such as this, therefore, can provide useful guidance in giving substance to the right to life in counter-terrorism operations.
Nevertheless, what remains clear from the HRC treatment of the right to life is that the value of this right is to be upheld at all costs in emergency situations. However, there might appear to be extenuating circumstances given the exigencies of the situation which allow for departures, but even when this is possible, it is not easy to establish and satisfy the high thresholds of qualification. Therefore, despite a prima facie reading of the article suggesting the right to be non-derogable, the above discussion has illustrated how this is not a reflection of the true situation. The narrow approach taken by the HRC in limiting the availability of this in-road is commendable in that is safeguards and upholds the importance of this right to a human being, given that it goes to the very core of his/her existence and being, and arguably upon which all other rights rest.89
2.5 The right to freedom from torture and cruel, inhuman or degrading treatment
The right to freedom from torture and cruel, inhuman or degrading treatment is absolute and non-derogable as laid down in article 7 of ICCPR: ‘No one shall be subjected to torture or to cruel, inhuman or degrading treatment or punishment.’90
This non-derogable aspect has been reinforced by the HRC in General Comment No.20 on article 7 which specifically states that ‘the text of Article 7 allows for no limitation.’91 The HRC goes further to elaborate that the situation of a state of emergency or even the defence of being commanded by those of higher rank cannot be used to justify violation of this right.92
This provision then places on every state agent executing counter-terrorism measures a personal responsibility and caution against violating this right. The non-availability of the defense of superior orders or invoking a state of’ emergency appears to be a protection against regimes, particularly but not exclusively regressive ones, from abusing their powers. It appears that though prima facie this might seem to be a ‘negative’ right, one calling for restraint on the part of the state, on close reading it seems that it entails a more ‘positive’ responsibility in that it requires state officials to take measure to prevent abuse of this right.
Moreover, the HRC points out that from a deprivation of the right in Article 7 can flow a violation of numerous other rights: ‘The Committee is aware of the difficulties that the State Party faces in its prolonged fight against terrorism, but recalls that no exceptional circumstances whatsoever may be invoked as a justification for torture, and expresses concern at the possible restrictions of human rights which may result from measures taken for that purpose.’93
While not for a moment relegating the seriousness of the right to life, the above explanation by the HRC is arguably irrelevant and inapplicable to the right to life since a violation of the right results in an end in itself whereas a violation of the right to be free from torture can be executed both as a means to attain an end or to be an end in itself which arguably becomes more dangerous for human rights protection, in theory at least.
From the counter-terrorism perspective, this right becomes particularly relevant in the context of interrogation techniques used by state officials. The HRC has, however, remained firm in its stand that even ‘moderate physical pressure’94 which might significantly enable the extracting of information be it even for a noble end such as the ‘protection of life’ 95 would constitute ‘abuse’ 96 and a ‘violation of article 7.’97 Thus it is clear that the UN HRC is not willing to compromise on serious violations of human rights even if it may undermine the immediate effectiveness of counter-terrorism operation techniques. This then is remarkable when considered from a human rights perspective, but will likely be frowned upon by those arguing from a security perspective particularly in the new climate of terrorism ensuing post September 11.
Moreover, the HRC has declared that the detaining of persons as “bargaining chips” 98 in order to induce dialogue constitutes an abuse of article 7 (and 6).99 The prohibition of this form of administrative detention, despite the fact of not involving direct physical harm speaks volumes for the HRC’s attitude of adopting an expansive interpretation when considering this right. A similar liberal stance in the appreciation of this right is also seen in HRC’s approach to extended solitary confinement. While acknowledging the merits of segregating prisoners for reasons of safety or social stability, the HRC points out that ‘segregation involves substantial isolation and may be extended over long periods of time, (and thus) the Committee recalls its General Comment No.20 in which it noted that prolonged solitary confinement of a detained or imprisoned person may violate article 7.’100
The Committee against Torture (CAT) has also been very clear on its position on the right to freedom from torture reinforcing the attitude of the HRC. ‘….State party to the Convention….is precluded from raising before the Committee exceptional circumstances on justification for and prohibited by article 1 of the Convention. This is plainly expressed in article 2 of the Convention.’101
The issue of detention and its conditions has been raised and addressed in connection with the right to freedom from torture and the right to respect for the inherent dignity of the human person 102. Given the fact, however, that it has gained increasing relevance in the counter-terrorism era of post 9/11, it warrants special and separate examination and the following discussion seeks to achieve the same. Furthermore, the significant attention and subsequent contribution by the United Nations treaty monitoring bodies in this area calls for special acknowledgement.
The HRC has gone one step beyond the ICCPR in proclaiming that article 10 is a non derogable right. This has been irrespective of the fact that article 4 of the ICCPR which catalogues the non derogable rights has not included article 10 as one of the rights that offers no grounds or scope for limitation.
‘In those provisions of the Covenant that are not listed in article 4, paragraph 2, there are elements that in the Committee’s opinion cannot be made subject to lawful derogation under article 4: ‘Although the right prescribed in article 10 of the Covenant is not separately mentioned in the list of non-derogable rights…..’103 the rationale motivating this position is ‘that here the Covenant expresses a norm of general international law not subject to derogaton.’104 The HRC draws such a conclusion by alluding to the preamble and the ‘filial’ relationship between articles 7 and 10 of the ICCPR.
While it appears reasonable to see a linkage since both rights ‘feed on’ and ‘feed off’ each other, it remains unclear how the HRC could elevate this right to a ‘norm of general international law’ and thereby distinguish it from other rights. Admittedly, while it is possible for the substance of an article to be the subject of a norm and a right concurrently, it is perhaps advisable, on the arguments for certainty and clarity at least, that it is specifically and explicitly mentioned in the Covenant as such to avoid a situation whereby every right would be accorded the status of a norm of international law and hence non-derogable. This is, however, not to argue against such a proposition, the merits or demerits of which are a subject of a separate discussion, but merely to signal how it becomes problematic in the face of States learning of such a stance only after having effected measures derogating from such rights and without prior knowledge. Hence, for the sake of certainty and clarity, explicit provision is recommended.105
Alternatively, to maintain simplicity in the matter would be to operate on the basis that detention in the context of counter-terrorism measures at least is likely in most cases to fall within the ambit of article 7. The decision in Polay Campos V Peru 106 is a case in point. ‘In the Committee’s opinion this total isolation of Mr. Polay Campos for a period of a year and restrictions placed on correspondence between him and his family constitute inhuman treatment within the meaning of article 7 and inconsistent with the standards of human treatment required under article 10, paragraph 1, of the Covenant.’107 Further, the Committee made the following ruling regarding the condition of the claimant’s detention: ‘….his violation for 23 hours a day in a small cell and the fact that he cannot have more than 10 minutes sunlight a day, constitute treatment contrary to article 7 and article 10, paragraph 1, of the Covenant.’108
Thus, what emerges from an examination of such cases is the HRC’s inclination to adopt a broad interpretation of non-derogable rights. Further, this is reflective of a general tendency of the United Nations human rights treaty monitoring bodies to place on the state the onus of protecting its citizens to the extent required to preserve the inherent dignity of each of their person. Therefore, the view of the HRC seems to be one that reflects the position that article 7 provides the ‘meaning’ 109 and article 10 establishes the ‘standards’110 for implementation.
2.7 Other relevant forms of detention: Pre-trial and administrative detention
Pre-trial and administrative detentions are relevant to the discussion on counter-terrorism and human rights.111 The UN treaty bodies have laid down important principles to govern such issues and their implications for human rights arising in the context of states’ counter-terrorism measures. Elaborate guidelines and specific prescriptions for when a state uses these measures is described by the HRC in General Comment No. 8 on article 9 of the Covenant: ‘If so-called preventive detention is used, for reasons of public security, it….must not be arbitrary, and must be based on grounds and procedures established by law (para 1), information of the reasons must be given (para.2) and court control of the detention must be available (para. 4) as well as compensation in the case of a breach (para. 5). And if, in addition, criminal charges are brought in such cases, the full protection of articles 9(2) and (3), as well as article 14, must also be granted.’112
An emerging framework that seems to be crystallizing is one that is not subject to strict procedural requirements and a limited construction of rights enshrined under the various articles in the ICCPR.113 What the HRC and other treaty bodies seem to be moving towards is expounding the rights in such a manner that they embrace the core values and principles enshrined within and underpinning all the rights in the ICCPR.114 An example of this is the following. ‘Safeguards related to derogation, as embodied in article 4 of the Covenant, are based on the principles of legality and the rule of law inherent in the Covenant as a whole.’115 Accordingly, the HRC has stated that article 9 of the ICCPR should be safeguarded as a non-derogable right.116
Once again, this ruling is despite the fact that it is not included in the list of non-derogable rights contained in article 4 of the ICCPR : ‘The Committee is of the opinion that the principles of legality and the rule of law require that the fundamental requirements of fair trial must be respected during a state of emergency.’117 Following from this logically, the HRC affirmed that ‘[i]n order to protect non-derogable rights, the right to take proceedings before a court to decide without delay on the lawfulness of detention, must not be diminished by a State party’s decisions to derogate from the Covenant.’118
This right was found to be violated in the case of Fals Borda v Columbia 119 where though the claimants were released following a ruling of the court. ‘they had not….had a possibility themselves to take proceedings before a court in order that court might decide without delay on the lawfulness of their decision.’120 This is an indication of the HRC’s interest to protect the right and despite the same result being reached the HRC was not satisfied. What mattered then was that the right should have been made available to the claimants. The outcome was not relevant to the court’s ruling.
Certain elements of article 9 have been held to be non-derogable where for instance ‘the Committee considers that this reservation [to article 9 of the Covenant] does not exclude, inter alia, the obligation to comply with the requirement to inform promptly the person concerned of the reasons for his or her arrest.’121
The HRC in 2000 echoed the position that ‘the application of the Act raises problems of compatibility with articles 9 and 14, para 3 (g) of the Covenant,’122 where the HRC noted that the Act provides for ‘periods of detention without charge under the Act (in question) have been increased, that person may be arrested on suspicion of being about to commit an offence, and that majority of persons are never charged with an offence.’123
Another aspect of pre-trial detention that has been addressed is the time frame for it to remain in effect. The Committee on the Rights of the Child (CRC) in 2002 expressed ‘concern that the Organization Act 7/2000 on terrorism increases the period of police custody…for children accused of terrorism.’124 The HRC in 1996 called on the State concerned ‘to reduce the duration of pre-trial detention and to stop using duration of the applicable penalty as a criterion for determining the maximum duration of pretrial detention.’125
This can be cited as yet another instance where no specific guidelines or criteria are proposed. Nevertheless, this approach might be welcomed as one which respects the sovereignty of the state concerned to make its own decisions. Moreover, it might be construed as being suggestive of the role that treaty bodies wish to carve out for itself, namely, that of highlighting and flagging areas of concern in States’ behavior in counter-terrorism measures and then reverting back to the State to decide on remedial action, thereby informing the state of the need for reform but leaving it to the States’ to decide on the particular remedial measures to be taken in such a situation.126
Yet another aspect of pre-trial detention that has been discouraged by the HRC is the practice of incommunicado pre-trial detention. In 2002 ‘[t]he Committee…notes that nationals suspected or convicted of terrorism abroad and expelled…have not benefited in detention from the safeguards required to ensure that they are not ill-treated, having notably been held incommunicado for periods of over one month (articles 7 and 9 of the Covenant).’ 127
It is worth taking a moment to reflect on the fact that treaty monitoring bodies are called ‘monitoring bodies’ for a reason, perhaps in keeping with their mandated task. Hence, it would be futile to expect them to be responsible for the task of implementation. If they were meant to be responsible for implementation, they might have been labeled ‘treaty implementing bodies’ instead. However, this is not to say that treaty monitoring bodies are completely excluded from the implementation process. Such would be an oversimplification of its mandated role. Arguably, it is fair to say that monitoring is but one facet of the implementation process as the treaty bodies are responsible for the monitoring of the implementation activities of State parties but are not responsible for any deviant or lack of action by State parties.
Moreover, the role of the treaty monitoring bodies in the normative development of the content of the respective treaty provisions is significant. 128 They bring the provisions ‘alive’. Hence, they play an effective facilitative role between the textual and technical contents of the treaty provisions and the State parties’ application of the same.
2.8 The right to a fair trial
The right to a fair trial129 has been seen to be one of the most contentious human rights in counter terrorism operations. The HRC has accorded the right to a fair trial the elevated status of being a peremptory norm of international law and hence argues that certain aspects of article 14, despite being absent under the catalogue of non-derogable rights in article 4, are non-derogable in any situation: ‘State parties may in no circumstances invoke article 4 of the Covenant as justification for acting in violation of humanitarian law or peremptory norms of international law, for instance by….deviating from fundamental principles of fair trial….’130 In General Comment No.29, the HRC has made it clear that the list in article 4 is not exhaustive when it declares that ‘the category of peremptory norms extends beyond the list of non-derogable provisions as given in article 4, para 2’ 131.
What emerges as a pattern then is that despite the fact that derogation is apparently present in the structure and vocabulary of the United Nations human rights treaty system, the treaty bodies are reluctant to make allowances for such derogations and hence making them a rarity, as opposed to being a given. It does so by erecting ‘clogs’ by way of high thresholds reflecting the hesitant approach in allowing human rights to be abandoned. Accordingly, it is fair to conclude that the treaty bodies play a useful role in curtailing and limiting the abuse of these rights and thereby contribute to building the resilience of human rights by minimizing their vulnerability to exploitation in the hands of regressive regimes and hence playing a crucial role in sustaining the ‘resilience of the human rights norm.’132
The HRC goes on to justify its decision by arguing that ‘as certain elements of the right to fair trial are explicitly guaranteed under international humanitarian law during armed conflict, the Committee finds no justification for derogation from these guarantees during other emergency situations…[and that] the principles of legality and rule of law require that fundamental requirements of fair trial be respected during a state of emergency.’133
Several aspects of the right to fair trial have been explicitly acknowledged Among others is the presumption of innocence which is a requirement in accordance with the rule of law and principles of legality: ‘Only a court of law may try and convict a person for a criminal offence. The presumption of innocence must be respected.’134
A more controversial aspect of the right to fair trial has been the intervention of military and special courts in hearing cases related to terrorism. The HRC calls for the prohibition of ‘the trial of civilians by military tribunals in any circumstances.’135 In this regard, the HRC expresses concern on several counts.
Firstly, the fact that such military and special courts are given too broad a mandate: “It [military courts] is not confined [to trying] criminal cases involving members of the armed forces but also covers civil and criminal cases where, in the opinion of the executive the exceptional circumstance of a particular case do not allow the operation of the courts of general jurisdiction…and [the Committee] is concerned that these courts have jurisdiction to deal with civil and criminal cases involving non-military persons, in contravention of articles 14 and 26 of the Covenant.’136 Secondly, the HRC notes the lack of legal training and capability by such courts to try cases involving human rights violations in particular: ‘the Committee recommends that the jurisdiction of the military courts with respect to human rights violations be transferred to civilian courts and that investigations of such cases be carried out by the Office of the Attorney General and the Public Prosecutor’.137 Thirdly, it notes the structural deficiency of the court structure with no system for appeals procedures and thus questions the credibility of the judgments meted out: ‘The Committee notes with alarm that military courts and state security courts have jurisdiction to try civilians accused of terrorism although there are no guarantees of those courts’ independence and their decisions are not subject to appeal before a higher court [article 14 of the Covenant].’138 In 2002, the Committee against Torture expressed similar concerns on the need for an appeals system in cases of terrorism: ‘The Committee recommends that the State party…ensure that all persons convicted by decisions of military courts in terrorism cases shall have the rights to their conviction and sentence being reviewed by a higher tribunal according to law.’139 Fourthly, the HRC points to the lack of adequate mechanisms for redress where the HRC contends that ‘the Committee considers that the pardon does not provide full redress to the victims of trials conducted without regard for due process of the law [and proposes]…the need to establish an effective mechanism, at the initiative of the State, to revise all the convictions handed down by the military tribunal in treason and terror cases….’140 Fifthly, the HRC disapproves the ‘system of trial by “faceless judges,” in which the defendants do not know who are the judges trying them, denied public trials and which places serious impediments, in law and in fact, to the possibility for defendants to prepare their defence and communicate with their lawyers.’141
Finally, the HRC has explained why the rationale for a fair trial is defeated by the concept of a ‘faceless system of adjudication’ in cases such as Polay Campos v Peru 142 and Gutierrez v Peru.143 In the former case, the HRC explained that ‘this system fails to guarantee a cardinal aspect of a fair trial within the meaning of article 14 of the Covenant: that the tribunal must be, and be seen to be, independent and impartial. In a system of trial by “faceless judges,” neither the independence nor the impartiality of the judges is guaranteed, since the tribunal is ad hoc, may comprise serving members of the armed forces. In the Committee’s opinion such a system also fails to safeguard the presumption of innocence, which is guaranteed by article 14, paragraph 2.’144 These cases are then illustrative of an added role emerging for the treaty bodies. By comparing and applying principles it aids the development of principles of human rights law by applying them to new situations and new phenomenon and is testimony once again to its responsive nature. 145 In this way, the treaty bodies can make a meaningful contribution by being receptive to and conscious of how new challenges and threats to the international human rights regime might be thwarted or dealt with.
2.9 Freedom from discrimination
In 2002, the HRC declared that ‘while it understands the security requirements relating to the events of 11 September 2001, and takes note of the appeal of [the State concerned] for respect for human rights within the framework of the international campaign against terrorism, the Committee expresses its concern regarding the effect of this campaign on the situation of human rights [in the State concerned], in particular for persons of foreign extraction…’146
This reveals the UN’s position on discrimination in the context of terrorism. The HRC prohibits ‘any discrimination and guarantee[s] to all persons equal and effective protection against discrimination on any ground such as race, colour, sex, language, religion, political or other opinion, national or social origin, property, birth or other status.’147
Given the fact that this rights has been featured repeatedly post 9/11 due to its violation, the UN Committee on the Elimination of Racial Discrimination (UNCERD) has specifically engaged with the issue of racial discrimination in the context of counter-terrorism activities. In a statement made in 2003, the UNCERD ‘….draws the State party’s attention to its statement of 8 March 2002 in which the Committee underlines the obligation of States to “ensure that measures taken in the struggle against terrorism do not discriminate in purpose or effect on grounds of race, colour, descent, or national or ethnic origin.” 148
The HRC has explicitly acknowledged the vulnerability of Muslims and Arabs 149 to discrimination in the wake of post 9/11 terrorist attacks. It has unreservedly expressed the need for protection of individuals ‘in particular Arabs and Muslims, from stereotypes associating them with terrorism, extremism and fanaticism.’150 Hence, the treaty bodies can play a useful role in drawing international attention to new trends and phenomena which affect human rights protection and promotion.
The HRC is seen to be relatively proactive in this domain. The treaty bodies have responded to the urgency of the situation. The HRC is seen to be urging specific action. For example, ‘The State party is….requested to undertake an education campaign through the media to protect persons of foreign extraction….’151
The language employed by the UNCERD is also reflective of the seriousness of this violation and the negative consequences it holds for human rights. For example, ‘The Committee recommends that the State party monitor this situation carefully, take decisive action to protect the rights of victims and deal with perpetrators, and report on this matter in its next periodic report.’152 This then is an illustration of the treaty bodies exercising an authoritative function, one which the UN in general, and the UN treaty monitoring bodies in particular will be well advised to use more often so as to do justice to the inherent potential it possesses to ensure the protection and promotion of human rights in its struggle against terrorism.
Having the benefit of knowledge and experience of dealing with various countries and similar situations, the treaty monitoring bodies can bring in rich advice to aid states’ in their efforts to counter terrorism while safeguarding human rights.153 The following are illustrative of this. ‘….the Committee requests the State party to ensure that application of the Anti-terrorism Act does not lead to negative consequences for ethnic and religious groups, migrants, asylum seekers and refugees, in particular as a result of racial profiling.’ 154 A better example is seen in a case involving asylum seekers: ‘while it (the Committee) notes that this practice by the…Immigration Service was successfully challenged in the High Court and the practice of detaining asylum seekers has been suspended except for a small number of cases, it also notes that the High Court’s decision has been appealed by the Immigration Service and that the practice may resume if the appeal is successful.’155
2.10 Final Thoughts
In this part of the article, a clear role for the human rights treaty monitoring bodies is seen to emerge in more than one respect. However, it must be remembered that the treaty monitoring bodies, not unlike the larger United Nations human rights system and indeed the United Nations in general is fraught with significant challenges which need to be addressed to the extent that they have an impact on the role that the human rights treaty monitoring bodies may play in protecting human rights while countering terrorism. Such a discussion will be the focus of the following section.
PART 3: CHALLENGES AND WAYS FORWARD
3.1 Biases – warranted or not?
Experience shows that the human rights movement has paid extensive emphasis on abuses perpetrated in American and Western regimes and has failed to give equal, if not adequate, attention to human rights abuses in ‘less open societies.’ 156 The United Nations could play a crucial role in rectifying this in-equilibrium by becoming ‘a strong, independent and authoritative new human rights presence [which] would be the single most effective way of putting pressure on human rights-abusing regimes across the world.’157
To extend the argument is to contend that in order to secure an increased chance of safeguarding human rights in situations of counter-terrorism is to call for change in the current perception of the human rights movement from one which is seen as being biased against the exercise of a States’ executive authority only.158 It would be prudent for the human rights movement to chart a more strategic course by projecting an image of genuine concern for the threat to human rights per se, irrespective of who the perpetrators might be, as opposed to being perceived as being only preoccupied with government conduct in such situations.159 Regaining the confidence of the organs of state and the larger populace would contribute significantly to achieving the greater goal of fostering support for the protection of human rights principles in executing counter-terrorism measures.160
3.2 A change of heart
Having said this, a related, albeit separate, concern must be acknowledged. A prevailing challenge to the human rights regime is the trend that human rights laws and principles are being flouted not by regressive regimes only but by liberal democracies who previously were among the most vocal in subscribing to and advocating the upholding of the human rights norm in the most trying of circumstances.161
What might be somewhat valuable in addressing such concerns is the adoption of ‘a much clearer intellectual strategy’162 and ‘engaged scholarship’163 by the human rights movement. While the former calls for a ‘…proper understanding of the historical origins of the term, and should also express a clear view as to what civil liberties does (and, more to the point, does not) encompass,’164 the latter calls for an abandonment of ‘detachment’165 and ‘neutral[ity]….[in] assess[ing] critically the impact on his or her subject of the anti-terrorism law that he or she is scrutinizing.’166 Here then is a potential intervention point for the United Nations human rights treaty monitoring bodies to play a valuable role. Through the interpretation of human rights and development of a normative framework for specific human rights through its General Comments, Concluding Observations and case decisions, the treaty monitoring bodies can ‘contribute to advancing knowledge of human rights’167 which has been described by some as qualifying as ‘research outputs.’168
3.3 The slippery slope
Another challenge that remains for the protection of human rights in the counter-terrorist era is the availability of derogations, which poses in the long-term the likely ‘risk of norm termination.’169 The treaty monitoring bodies yet again can play a part in mitigating this risk. If the treaty bodies continue to adopt the attitude which doesn’t seek ‘to justify violations by reference to this narrow exception or that technical derogation….’170 and instead, opt for a principle base framework where ‘a set of values that transcend the particular case reflect the strength of a civilization rather than a way of treating human kind.’ 171 a more meaningful appreciation of the flexibility of the international human rights regime is upheld and a mockery of the system can be averted.172
This view finds positive reinforcement in the 2009 Report of the Eminent Jurists Panel on Terrorism, Counter-Terrorism and Human Rights, Assessing Damage, Urging Action, where the Panel recommends that ‘States should take explicit precautions to ensure that any measures, intended to be exceptional, do not become a normal part of the legislative framework.’173 The treaty monitoring bodies then continue to play a crucial role in this regard by keeping states ‘on their toes’ and ‘in check’ by reinforcing the language of human rights protection through all its work. Furthermore, the availability of a framework for interpretation174 can prove to be a useful tool when the treaty bodies carry out its adjudicative and other functions.
3.4 The neglected rights
Another worrying phenomenon has been the negligible interest shown in the upholding of economic, social and cultural rights (ESCR) in the counter-terrorism context when compared with that accorded to civil and political rights.175 What is surprising of this tendency is its prevalence despite little disagreement on the existence of a connection between counter-terrorism measures and its bearing on ESCR: ‘…it is clear that terrorism and measures adopted by States to combat it are both influenced by and have an impact on the enjoyment of economic, social and cultural rights of affected individuals….’176 To deconstruct the multi-dimensional nature of this relationship into two of its major characteristics is to, on the one hand, acknowledge the necessity of fulfilling ESCRs in order to thwart the occurrence of circumstances of inter alia, deprivation and inequality, which become an active breeding ground for the beginning or continuation of terrorism177 and on the other hand, the restriction or absolute deprivation of benefiting from such rights hampered by particular counter-terrorism measures.178 Moreover, as civil and political rights and ESCR are considered ‘indivisible, interdependent and interrelated,’179 any comprehensive strategy designed to uphold human rights must necessarily include the integration of ESCR into such a strategy.180
There can be said to be some optimism in that there is beginning to appear a slow emergence of interest in this area as is reflected by, among others, the recent United Nations Counter-Terrorism Implementation Task Force Working Group on ‘Protecting Human Rights While Countering Terrorism’, Expert Seminar on ‘The impact of terrorism and counter-terrorism measures on the enjoyment of economic, social and cultural rights (ESCR)’, held in November 2008 which focused solely on the issue of counter-terrorism and ESCRs coupled with increasing scholarly interest181 in this area. This then is a positive sign. However, a great deal remains to be done and this interest needs to be nurtured, sustained and built on.
The UN treaty monitoring bodies can play an important role in contributing to reverse the current situation by generating interest and awareness through contributing to redefining the terms of the debate on counter-terrorism in such a way so as to include ESCRs.182 It can then move on to more stringent measures for fostering greater acceptance of these norms in the human rights agenda in the context of counter-terrorism. At the above mentioned seminar, ‘[i]n the fourth panel, participants noted that human rights treaty bodies, in particular the Committee on the Elimination of Racial Discrimination, the Committee on the Elimination of Discrimination Against Women and the Human Rights Committee, are well placed to monitor the implementation by States of counter-terrorism measures and their compliance with international human rights law including the ICESCR. Participants highlighted that the CESCR has looked at the impact of counter terrorism measures183 as well as terrorism on ESCR.’184
Further, the Task Force proposed ‘[i]n line with recommendations made by the Special Rapporteur on HR/CT-A/HRC/6/17 para. 74 (b)…that CESCR and other treaty bodies whose mandate include ESCR should develop a systematic practice of addressing counter-terrorism measures by States while monitoring implementation of respective treaties. More generally, human rights-based ESCR monitoring should be strengthened.’ 185 Thus a clear role for the UN treaty monitoring bodies has been carved out in the realization of ESCRs in the counter-terrorism context and is testimony to the potential that the treaty monitoring bodies carry in ratcheting up the movement for the inclusion of ESCRs into counter-terrorism strategies. It would be able through its norm-setting, recommendatory, and monitoring roles to create and sustain a robust programme for the mainstreaming of ESCRs into the counter-terrorism discourse.
3.5 A crippling dependence
Another considerable force that the United Nations machinery, human rights treaty bodies included, continue to reckon with is the dependence on the cooperation of Member States to ensure the success of its tasks: ‘Although, international organizations provide important linkages and standard-bearers throughout the world system, the principle centers of power remain with states….[hence] the role of the United Nations in checking/reversing these abuses remain severely limited and largely dependent upon the political will of the Member States.’186
Hence, this dependent variable which goes to the core of the human rights treaty monitoring bodies’ activities should be kept in mind as one of the continuing and significant challenges facing the United Nations system. It has been argued that this phenomenon has been further compounded in the post 9/11 era. ‘The record shows a degree of shift away from liberal and cosmopolitan element of United Nations agenda and values and back toward a statist, power-based and security-oriented focus in international society.’187
However, all is not lost and there is reason for optimism with the emergent mobilization of voices of civil society and non-governmental organizations in the area of human rights protection which has and will continue to have a chilling effect on the ‘insurmountable obstacle to UN action….’188 It is contended that the ‘[t]raditional limitation based on Article 2(7) [of the United Nations Charter] are receding. As a result, the margin of action by United Nations has expanded.’189
3.6 The competition begins
At an institutional level, a considerable challenge to the continued relevance and popularity of the human rights treaty monitoring bodies is the ‘evolution of United Nations treaty monitoring bodies’ “competitor” bodies, such as regional human rights bodies; but also inter-state and transnational legal systems with inherent human rights competencies, such as the ICJ….’190 An important reason why victims of human rights abuses will find the prospect of petitioning at, for instance, the European Court of Human Rights more attractive is that unlike the decisions of cases before the United Nations treaty bodies which lack legal ‘teeth’, the European Court of Human Rights’ decisions ‘constitute an enforceable title.’191 However, some experts do not see the non-enforceability of the United Nations treaty monitoring body decisions as a significant drawback.192
3.7 The weak link
A related challenge, albeit worthy of separate consideration, is the lack of adequate follow-up measures of treaty monitoring bodies’ General Comments, Concluding Observations and case decisions.193 It is imperative that greater creativity, sustained initiative and focused attention be brought to bear on devising a framework structure for ensuring the follow-up of the work of treaty monitoring bodies both nationally and internationally and with the cooperation of all stakeholders, inter alia, States concerned, the donor community, media, civil society, international, regional and national non- governmental organizations, and National and transnational judicial structures.194 This remains crucial to the overall success of the work and role of the treaty monitoring bodies, both actual and perceived. These may include, but not be restricted to, steps to foster greater involvement of a considerably isolated local non-governmental organization network that has been the result of cumbersome technical requirements; greater involvement in state reporting by key national stakeholders who should submit accurate and verifiable information; avoidance of generalities and ambiguity by treaty monitoring bodies when formulating General Comments, Concluding Observations and case reports; and ratcheting up confidence in the treaty body complaints procedure nationally to restore credibility in a system that has thus for been disrepute for its inefficiency and slow pace.195
3.8 The diplomatic faux pas
A considerable challenge that has plagued the functioning of treaty monitoring bodies since its inception is that in an attempt to secure universal ratification, the treaty system has compromised on standards and with the availability of a system of reservations and derogations has thus created for itself the dangerous situation where ‘norms risk dilution.’196
3.9 Systemic challenges
The sluggishness in meeting reporting deadlines and at times complete negligence even to submit a report by State Parties has oft been recorded as a major challenge in the treaty body system.197
Further, in situations where States actually do in fact execute their reporting obligations, it has become apparent that on many an occasion they fail to realize the larger goal of inducing and stimulating change at the national level, be it policy, legislation or judicial attitudes.198
Proposals for reform199 have included suggestions for the fusion of committees to form a ‘mega-committee which would examine all reports.’200 Such a proposition, however, is a solution as much as it is a problem. Admittedly, while improving efficiency, preventing conflicting jurisprudence and duplication of work outputs of the treaty monitoring bodies on the one hand,201 it rids the system of one of its greatest strength, the possibility of rendering concentrated expertise as has been meted out by each specialized body under the stratified regime of treaty monitoring bodies.202
A persistent quandary confronting the treaty body system is that while ‘they are encouraged to become more outspoken and effective in their supervisory roles…they must ask States whose action they condemn, to streamline the treaty system and make it stronger and more effective by giving them wider legal powers and more resources.’203 Hence, what can help to overcome this challenge is the mobilization of States’ support to pursue this much needed reformation of the treaty monitoring body structure.204 It is in a situation such as this, perhaps, that the international human rights non-governmental organizations can play a crucial part through the collaboration efforts of its networks.
3.10 Final Thoughts
Following from the role that emerged for the UN human rights treaty monitoring bodies in the discussion in part two, the third part of the article expounds a secured role that the treaty monitoring bodies can claim given the significant potential they are seen to carry for the contribution to the larger United Nations’ human rights system in upholding human rights in the context of counter-terrorism. Despite the somewhat daunting challenges they face what remains clear is that there has been no indication of a collapse in spirit to defend the noble cause of human rights. If anything, the preceding discussions have made it clear that what seems to have transpired, on the contrary, is renewed vigour and resolve in standing for what they were originally created to champion.
The road ahead is undoubtedly a long and winding one. While the United Nations human rights treaty monitoring bodies have contributed to the upholding of human rights in the face of a ‘new brand’ of terrorism and counter-terrorism,205 the challenges they face206 make their task daunting, now more than ever.207 It becomes apparent then that while the human rights monitoring bodies do in fact have part to play, it must be remembered that it is merely but one component in the larger United Nations human rights machinery. Further, the entire United Nations system constituting the work of the human rights, legal and political branches of the system in the area of counter-terrorism by itself is not placed in a self-sufficient position that it may command success purely through its own initiative. The dependence on State parties for the success of its activities will continue to plague all the work of the United Nations208 particularly in matters such as counter-terrorism where national state interest and sensitivity is understandably very high.209
Having said this, it must be recognized that the United Nations human rights treaty monitoring bodies do and can continue to play a valuable role in sustaining the ‘resilience of the human rights norm’210 in this age of battling against terrorism. Its contribution through normative development towards the understanding of the core and penumbra of human rights principles is among its greatest strengths.211 Further, by continually instilling the importance of mainstreaming human rights into the counter-terrorism discourse,212 it serves as an ever-present reminder of the relationship between counter-terrorism and human rights213 and the futility of sacrificing one in the name of the other.214
Moreover, the human rights treaty monitoring bodies carries with it a potential to occupy the niche of playing a leadership role215 in spearheading the human rights perspective216 in the counter-terrorism debate. Accordingly, it can serve a useful complementary role to the work of the international human rights community including academia, human rights non-governmental organizations and practitioners.
While appreciating that the implementation and enforcement aspects of the human rights treaty system have been recognized to be amongst its weakest links,217 it might be proposed that the United Nations should not be expected to be a champion of implementation and enforcement activities given the inherent discrepancy of State dependence that exists in realizing the goals of its tasks.218 This has and will always remain the prerogative of the Member States.219
Instead, the United Nations, human rights treaty monitoring bodies included, could and should see itself as a leader in norm-creation and norm-sustainment.220 However, the fact that even sustaining the norm is ultimately dependent on the legal and political will of Member States 221 leaves the United Nations ‘walking a thin line’ in serving the people of the world.
1 J.E. Krasno (ed), The United Nations: Confronting the Challenges of a Global Society (Lynne Rienner Publishers 2004), see section on “Twenty First Century Human Rights Challenges”.
2 C. Gearty, Can Human Rights Survive? The Hamlyn Lectures 2005 (Cambridge University Press 2006).
3 M. Ignatieff, “Is the Human Rights Era Ending?” New York Times, 5 February 2002.
4 R. Foot, “The United Nations, Counter Terrorism, and Human Rights: Institutional Adaptation and Embedded Ideas” (2007), 29 Human Rights Quarterly 489-514.
5 J. Dhanapala, “The United Nations’ Response to 9/11” in M. Ranstorp and P. Wilkinson (eds), Terrorism and Human Rights (Routledge 2008).
6 B. Duner, “Disregard for Security: The Human Rights movement and 9/11” in M. Ranstorp and P. Wilkinson (See note 5 above).
8 M. Gaur, Terrorism and Human Rights (Anamika Publications, 2003): “The post September 11…scenario is gradually unfolding itself in all its ramifications…The questions of human rights in the face of continuing terrorism has emerged as a major issue worldwide…The problem become more complex in the case of excesses and curtailment of fundamental rights and liberties of ordinary citizens in counter terrorism action”.
9 Inspired by the question raised by Rosemary Foot: “How resilient is the human rights norm in the counter-terrorist era?” in R. Foot (see note 4 above).
10 J. Fitzpatrick, “Speaking Law to Power: The war Against Terrorism and Human Rights” (2003), 14 E.J.I.L. 2 pp. 241-264.
11 Report of the Policy Working Group on the United Nations and Terrorism, A/57/273 5/2002/875
12 C. Joyner, “The United Nations and Terrorism: Rethinking Legal Tensions Between National Security, Human Rights and Civil Liberties” (2004), Policy in International Studies, International Studies Perspectives 5,240 257.
13 H.J. Steiner (ed.), P. Alston and R. Goodman, International Human Rights in Context: Law Politics and Morals third edition (Oxford University Press 2007).
14 P. Van Krieken, Terrorism and the International Legal Order (Springer, 2002).
15 A.P. Schmid, “Terrorism and Human Rights: A Perspective from the United Nations” in M. Ranstorp and P.Wilkinson (see note 5 above).
16 C. Gearty (see note 2 above).
18 C. Gearty (see note 2 above), referring to Michael Ignatieff, The Lesser Evil, Political Ethnics in an Age of Terror (Princeton University Press 2004).
21 Ibid: “And who is this “they” that fill the category of lesser (because evil) humans?”
22 Ibid: A.P. Schmid (see note 16 above): “…should [terrorists] be allowed to enjoy human rights [?]. The answer is “yes.” That is exactly the difference between a situation of the Rule of Law and a situation where the law is arbitrary. Do they have the same rights as victims? Again the answer is ‘yes’…Everybody is equal before the law”.
24 L.K. Donahue, “Security and Freedom on the Fulcrum” in Ranstorp and Wilkinson (see note 5 above).
28 Ibid; see further in the article for an analysis based on the ‘utility calculus’ and rights based theory and how they fail to support the argument for sacrificing human rights.
29 L.K. Donahue (see note 24 above); C. Gearty, “Rethinking civil liberties in a counter terrorism world”, Field Day Review (2007); International Federation for Human Rights Analysis Report, Counter Terrorism versus Human Rights, The Key to Compatibility, October 2005 available at http://www.fidh.org/IMG/pdf/counterterrorism429a.pdf .
31 P.H. Liotta, “Boomerang Effect: The Convergence of National and Human Security” (2002), 33 SAGE Publications (4) pp. 473-488.
32 See for example K. Annan, “Message to the African Union’s High Level Inter Governmental Meeting on Terrorism”, Algiers, 11 September 2002.
33 Amnesty International, Human Rights Under Sustained Attack in the “War on Terror”, 2 November 2005. Available at: http://web.amnesty.org/library/Index/ENGEUR450502005: Human Rights Watch, Anti Terror Campaign Cloaking.
34 P. Hostettler, “Human Rights and the ‘War’ Against Terrorism” in M.N. Schmitt and G.L. Beruto (eds), Terrorism and International Law: Challenges and Responses (International Institute of Humanitarian Law 2003).
35 R. A. Wilson, Human Rights in the ‘War on Terror’ (Cambridge University Press 2005); also see for varying standpoints M. Freeman, “Order, Rights and Threats: Terrorism and Global Justice in R.A.Wilson” (above); Neil Hicks, “The Impact of Counter Terror on the Promotion and Protection of Human Rights: A Global Perspective” in R.A.Wilson (above).
36 B. Duner in M. Ranstorp and P. Wilkinson (see note 7 above); for opposing views, see P. Vedel Kessing, “Terrorism and Human Rights” in Stephanie Lagoutte et al, Human Rights in Turmoil: Facing Threats, Consolidating Achievements: (Martinus Nijhoff Publishers2007): “There is a doubt as to whether the fight against terrorism in general might supersede human rights concerns”; S. Taylor Jr., “Rights, Liberties, and Security: Recalibrating the Balance After September 11”, in Gus Martin (ed) The New Era of Terrorism: Selected Readings (Sage Publications 2004).
37 B. Duner (see note 7 above).
39 ibid: ‘He eloquently opines, ‘If human rights and democracy are important protective devices then of course we would expect that relatively few democracies would be hit by terrorism….It should be noted that some countries may have seen terrorist deeds on their soil not in spite of being democracies but rather because they were democracies or wanted to perfect their democratic system’; see article further for analysis of ‘instrumentality’ and ‘trade-offs’
40 P. Vedel Kessing (see note 37 above).
43 V. Held, “Terrorism, Rights and Political Goals” in Igor Primoratz (ed) Terrorism: The Philosophical Issues (Palgrave Macmillan 2005).
44 V. Lowe, Human Rights and Non discrimination in the ‘War on Terror’ (Oxford Monographs in International Law 2008); for opposing view see D. Luban, “Eight Fallacies About Liberty and Security” in R.A.Wilson (see note 36 above); For arguments supporting a balancing of interests see Van Krieken (see note 15 above).
45 See Working paper prepared by Special Rapporteur on terrorism and human rights, Specific Human Rights Issues: New Priorities, In Particular Terrorism and Counter Terrorism, A preliminary framework draft of principles and guidelines concerning human rights and terrorism, E/CN.4/Sub.2/2004/47; Van Krieken (see note 15 above).
46 Ibid; also see discussion/treatment of this issue in C. Bourloyannis-Vrailas, “United Nations Human Rights Standards as Framework Conditions for Anti-Terrorist Measures” in W. Benedek and A.Yotopoulos – Marangopoulos (eds), Anti-terrorist measures and human rights (Martinus Nijhoff Publishers 2004).
47 U.N.Doc.A/6316 (1966) (hereafter ICCPR).
48 Delgado Paez v Columbia (Case No 195/1985, Views adopted on 12 July 1990).
49 (see Delgado Paez v Columbia (Case No.195/1985).
50 The digest of jurisprudence of the United Nations and Regional Organizations on the Protection of Human Rights while Countering Terrorism (Office of the United Nations High Commissioner of Human Rights 2003).
51 See note 48 above.
52 Also see Committee for the Elimination of Discrimination Against Women, A/54/38 para. 78 (1995); For regional endorsements of this duty to protect by states see decision of the European Court of Human Rights 28 March 2000, para. 62 Kilic v Turkey; “Inter-American Court of Human Rights decision” in Neira Algeria case, January 19, 1995 para. 75.
53 see note 50 above.
54 CCPR/CO/76/EGY, para. 16 (2002).
55 CCPR/CO/75/NZL, para. 11 (2002).
57 See note 56 above; ibid; further see CCPR/CO/77/EST, para. 8 (2003); CC/PR/CO/75/MDA, para. 8 (2002) and CCPR/CO/73/UK para. 6 (2001).
58 H.Duffy, The ‘War on Terror’ and the Framework of International Law (Interights, 2005); Report of the Eminent Jurists Panel on Terrorism, Counter-terrorism and Human Rights, International Commission of Jurists (2009).
62 United Nations General Comment No 29 on States of Emergency (article 4), CCPR/C/21/Rev.1/Add.11;
CCPR/C/79/Add. 78 para. 10 (1997); CCPR/C/79/Add.109 para. 12(1999);
H.J. Steiner et al (see note 13 above) Chapt. 5; R. Burchill, “International Human Rights Law: Struggling between Apology and Utopia” in A. Bullard (ed), Human Rights in Crisis (Ashgate, 2008).
63 CCPR/C/79/Add. 76, para. 25 (1997).
64 CCPR/CO/76/EGY, para. 6 (2002); Also see CCPR/CO/71/SYR, para. 6 (2001) and CCPR/C/79/Add.93, para. 11 (1998).
65 B. Duner (see note 6 above).
66 P. Vedel Kessing (see note 36 above).
67 For examples see CCPR/C/79/Add. 42. para. 9 (1995); CCPR/CO/72/GTM, para. 11 (2001) and CCPR/C/79/Add. 78 para. 10 (1997).
68 See cases such as Landinelli Silva v Uruguay  34, Views adopted on April 8 1981 and Salgar de Montegro v Columbia  64, Views adopted on 24 March 1985, para. 10.3.
69 Salgar de Montegro v Columbia 64, Views adopted on 24 March 1985, para. 10.3.
70 CCPR/CO/69/KGZ, para. 12 (2000).
71 CCPR/C/79/Add. 100, para. 7 (1997).
73 For this line of thinking see for example T.R.S. Allan, “Constitutional Dialogue and the justification of Judicial Review” (2003), Oxford Journal of Legal StudiesVol. 23 No 4 563.
74 T.R.S. Allan, “Human Rights and Judicial Review: A critique of ‘due deference” (2006) 65Cambridge Law Journal (3)671: ‘A legal culture of justification demands the supremacy of reason and reason is persuasive argument closely tailored to a situation at hand’.
75 CCPR/C/79/Add. 76 para. 38 (1997); Also see CCPR/C/79/Add. 56 para. 13 (1995); H. Niemi and M. Scheinin, Reform of the United Nations Human Rights Treaty Body System Seen from the Developing Country Perspective (Institute for Human Rights, Abo Akademi University 2002).
76 H. Niemi and M. Scheinin (ibid).
77 ibid; For this line of thinking see for example J.H. Choper, Judicial Review and the National Political Process: A Functional Reconsideration of the role of the Supreme Court 2 (University of Chicago Press,1980); C. Scott & P. Macklem, “Constitutional Ropes of Sand or Justiciable Guarantees? Social Rights in a New South African Constitution” 1992, 141University of Pennsylvania Law Review.
78 Article 6 International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights (ICCPR), U.N.Doc.A/6316 (1966): ‘Every human being has the inherent right to life. This right shall be protected by law. No one shall be arbitrarily deprived of his life.’
79 [U.N.Doc.A/6316 (1966)].
80 [U.N.Doc.A/6316 (1966)].
81 [U.N.Doc.A/6316 (1966)].
82 CCPR/C/79/Add. 54 para. 27(1995).
83 J. Dhanapala (see note 5 above).
84 CCPR/C/79/Add. 93 para. 17 (1998).
85 See part one for arguments by S.Taylor in S.Taylor Jr., “Rights, Liberties, and Security: Recalibrating the Balance After September 11”, in Gus Martin (ed) The New Era of Terrorism: Selected Readings (Sage Publications 2004).
86 J.A. Mertus, The United Nations and Human Rights: A guide for a new era (Routledge 2005), Global Institutions Series; N.D. White, The United Nations system: towards international justice (Lynne Rienner Publishers 2002); K. Mechlem, “Treaty Bodies and the interpretation of human rights” (2009), 42 Vanderbilt Journal of Transnational Law 3.
87 S. N. MacFarlane, “Charter Values and Response to Terrorism” in J. Boulden and T.G. Weiss, Terrorism and the United Nations – Before and After September 11 (Indiana University Press, 2004); ICJ report (see note 60 above).
88 Suarez de Guerrero v Colombia 45 Views adopted on 31 March 1982 (paras 12.2, 13.1, 13.3).
89 M. Gaur (see note 9 above); C. Gearty, “Terrorism and Human Rights” in Essaya on Human Rights and Terrorism, Comparative Approaches to Civil Liberties in Asia, the EU and North America (Cameron May, 2008); For opposing view see P. Vedel Kessing (see note 37 above).
90 V Art 7 ICCPR (see note 79 above).
91 General Comment No.20, 10/3/1992.
92 Ibid. at para. 3.
93 CCPR/CO/76/EGY, para. 4 (2002).
94 CCPR/C/79/Add.93, paras 19, 21 (1998).
100 CCPR/C/79/Add.93, para. 20 (1998).
101 A/52/44, para. 258 (1997); A/51/44, paras. 180 222 (1997) Inquiry under Article 20;
Also see A/51/44, paras. 180-222 (1997) Inquiry under article 20: ‘Under article 2, paragraph 2, of the Convention (Torture Convention), no exceptional circumstances whatsoever, whether a state of war or a threat of war, internal political instability or any other public emergency, may be invoked as a justification for torture.’
102 Art 10 ICCPR.
103 General Comment No.29, CCPR/C21/Rev. 1/Add.11, para. 13 (2001).
104 General Comment No.29, CCPR/C/21/Rev. 1/Add.11, para. 13(2001).
105 B. Duner (see note 6 above).
106 Polay Campos v Peru Case  577, Views adopted on 6 November 1997 (paras. 8.4, 8.6 and 8.7).
111 Digest of jurisprudence (see note 50 above).
112 General Comment No. 8 30/06/82 para. 4 (1982).
113 C. Gearty (see note 89 above).
115 General Comment No. 29, CCPR/C/21/Rev.1/Add.11, para. 13 (2001).
119 Fals Borda v Columbia 46, Views adopted on 27 July 1982 (para.12.3).
121 CCPR/C/79/Add.81, para.24 (1997).
122 A/55/40, paras. 422-451 (2000).
124 CRC/C/15/Add.185, paras 53-54 (2002).
125 CCPR/C/79/Add.61, paras. 12,18 (1996).
126 This is along the liens of the ‘weak-form’ review proposed by the likes of Tushnet. See M. Tushnet, Weak Courts, Strong Rights: Judicial Review and Social Welfare Rights in Comparative Constitutional Law (Princeton University Press 2007).
127 CCPR/CO/76/EGY, para. 16 (2002).
128 J. A. Mertus (see note 86 above); N.D.White (see note 86 above); K. Mechlem (see note 86 above).
129 Article 14 ICCPR (see note 79 above).
130 General Comment No.29, CCPR/C/21/Rev. 1/Add/11 paras. 11, 16 (2001).
132 Rosemary Foot raises this question (see note 4 above).
133 General Comment No.29, CCPR/C/21/Rev.1/Add.11 (2001)
134 Ibid; Also see General Comment No.13, E/C.12/1999/10.
135 CCPR/C/79/Add.79, para. 20 (1997).
136 CCPR/CO/71/UZB, para. 15 (2001); CCPR/C/79/Add.78, para. 14 (1997).
137 CCPR/C/79Add. 76, para. 34 (1997); CCPR/C/79/Add. 67, para.350 (1996); CCPR/C/79/Add.78. para.14/(1997).
138 CCPR/CO/76/EGY, para. 16 (2002).
139 CAT/C/XXIX/Misc.4, para. 6 (2002).
140 CCPR/C/79/Add.72, para. 10 (1996).
141 CCPR/C/79/Add.67, para. 350 (1996).
142 Polay Campos v Peru  577, Views adopted on 6 November 1997 (para.8.8).
143 Gutierrez v Peru 678, Views adopted on 26 March 2002.
144 Polay Campos v Peru 577, Views adopted on 6 November 1997 (para. 8.8).
145 H. Duffy (see note 58 above).
146 CCPR/CO/74/SWE, para. 12 (2002).
147 Article 26 ICCPR (see note 78 above).
148 A/57/18, para. 514, Statement on racial discrimination and measures to combat terrorism, para. 5 of the Statement; CERD/C/62/CO/7, para. 24 (2003).
149 ICJ Report (see note 60 above
150 CCPR/CO/74/SWE, para. 12 (2002);
Also see CERD/C/60/CO/9, para. 15 (2002) and A/57/18, para. 338 (2002): ‘The Committee notes with concern that in the aftermath of the events of 11 September 2001, Muslims and Arabs have suffered from increased racial hatred, violence and discrimination.’
151 CCPR/CO/74/SWE, para. 12 (2002).
152 CERD/C/60/CO/5, para. 121 (2002).
153 Craig Scott in H. Niemi and M. Scheinin (see note 75 above).
154 A/57/18/ para. 338 (2002).
155 A/57/18/ para. 427 (2002).
156 C. Gearty (see note 2 above).
161 ICJ Report (see note 58 above).
162 C. Gearty, Reflections on Civil Liberties in an Age of Counter-Terrorism in Essays on Human Rights and Terrorism (see note 89 above).
163 C. Gearty (see note 89 above).
164 C. Gearty (see note 162 above).
165 C. Gearty (see note 89 above).
167 K. Mechlem (see note 86 above).
169 J.E. Krasno (see note 1 above).
170 C. Gearty (see note 89 above).
172 See discussion of examples in part two.
173 ICJ report 2009 (see note 60 above).
174 For human rights framework in giving effect to counter terrorism measures, see B. Ramcharan, A United Nations High Commissioner in Defence of Human Rights (Martinus Nijhoff Publishers 2005).
175 “Human Rights, Terrorism and Counter Terrorism”, Fact Sheet No.32, Office of the United Nations High Commissioner of Human Rights available at http://www/ohehr.org/EN/PublicationsResources/Pages/ FactSheets.aspx
177 Ibid; United Nations Counter – Terrorism Implementation Task Force Working Group ‘Protecting Human Rights While countering Terrorism’, Expert Seminar on ‘The impact of terrorism and Counter-Terrorism measures on the enjoyment of economic, social and cultural rights’ (ESCR) (2008), 5-7 Geneva.
Pre- and Post-9/11 Literary Analysis
Professor Julia Keefer, Ph.D.
Notes on Close Textual Analysis
Student Examples of Close Textual Analysis
Course Objectives: This is a global literature course, introducing students to close textual analysis, primary and secondary source research, and creative role-playing to better understand the aesthetic, cultural, political, philosophical, structural, and psychological components of the work. The objective is not just to enhance understanding and appreciation of literature and the skills to analyze literature, but to see literature embedded within the entire global spectrum, a useful exercise for non-majors in business, media, communication and even health science. Students will be introduced to a wide range and depth of material from all over the world and be asked to read and write critically and creatively on a weekly basis. It is just as important to have analyze the material closely, as it is to interact creatively with the literature. The point of alter ego monologues is to allow students to enter another life subjectively as well as objectively, and to explore a perspective and culture different from their own. Creative writing majors can prepare a portfolio deconstructing the literature, business, political and social science majors can design a project that explores the marriage between literature and their field of interest.
This course can also include classics like Aristotle's Poetics to analyze definitions of terror, the Apocalypse or Revelation section from the Bible, and Shakespearean plays such as Richard III.
The Secret Agent by Joseph Conrad
The Devils by Dostoyevsky
All Quiet on the Western Front by Erick Maria Remarque
The Penal Colony by Kafka
No Exit by Jean-Paul Sartre
The Myth of Sisyphus, Rains of New York, and The Rebel by Albert Camus
Snow by Orhan Pamuk
Falling Man and Mao II by Don De Lillo
Extremely Loud and Incredibly Close by Jonathan Safran Foer
Terrorist by John Updike
Saturday by Ian McEwan
How to Survive as an Adjunct Professor by Wrestling (Parts II and III) by Julia Keefer
Hiroshima by Marguerite Duras
Shalimar the Clown by Salman Rushdie
Wild Thorns by Sahar Khalifeh
Martyr's Crossing by Amy Wilentz
The Day the Leader was Killed by Naguib Mahfouz
The Yacoubian Building by Alaa al Aswany
Night Song by Chris Abani
The Water Cure by Percival Everett
Gardens of Last Days by Andre Dubus III
A Disorder Peculiar to this Country by Ken Kalfus
The Emperor's Children by Claire Messud
The Road by Cormac McCarthy
City of Tiny Lights by Patrick Neate
The Attack, Swallows of Kabul, and The Sirens of Baghdad by Yasmina Khadra
This Blinding Absence of Light by Tahar ben Jelloun
Bel Canto by Ann Patchett
The Patience Stone by Atiq Rahimi
One Man's Bible by Gao Xingjian
Weekly poetry of your choice inspired by fear and terror
In addition to close textual analysis, you will be expected to develop a project of your own from the beginning of the semester, related to your major, interests, and career objectives. This can include a creative writing webfolio deconstructing the literature, compare/contrast of various cultures, literature and business, science, sociology, politics etc.
Round my neck,
from time to time, there was the hallucination
of a noose, and now and then, the weight
of chains binding my feet.
Then one fine day
love came to drag me, bound and manacled,
into the same cavalcade as the others.
from Faiz Ahmad Faiz, Loves Captives
translated by Naomi Lazard
While I will lecture on all material, your work need only include an in-depth analysis of five works of your choice, although you should acquire and peruse all books to be further studied at a later time.
Summer 2007 Breakdown
May 14: Introduction to theme, close textual analysis, and terror-criticism, a combination of formalist, historical, eco-, liminal, techno-criticism. Difference between modern, postmodern, and terror-criticism. Organize projects. See The Secret Agent. Read Conrad and Remarque.
May 21: Discuss projects. Lecture on Conrad. See All Quiet on the Western Front. Classical versus Contemporary Terrorism. Read Safran-Foer and Shalimar the Clown by Rushdie. Prepare 2-3 project proposals with list of five books.
June 4: Analyze project proposals. Close textual analysis lecture. Jonathan Safran-Foer. Salman Rushdie. Liminal. Aporia. Visual/verbal expression. Read Parts II and III of Keefer.
June 11: Michael Steinberg Reading. Read Hiroshima and The Penal Colony. Discuss online.
June 18: Show Hiroshima. Close textual analysis lecture. Kinds of narrative. Un-clashing Civilizations by Keefer. Read Pamuk.
June 25: First draft of Comparison/Contrast close textual analysis due. Lecture on Snow by Orhan Pamuk. Bring No Exit and The Myth of Sisyphus and the Rains of New York to class next week.
July 2: Mid century existentialism. Act out No Exit by Sartre. Read essays by Camus. Read Khalifeh and Wilentz for next week.
July 9: Two versions of the Israel-Palestine conflict--Khalifeh and Wilentz. Read Mahfouz and Alaa al Aswany.
July 16: Lecture on Mahfouz and Alaa al Aswany. Allegory and censorship. The Yacoubian Building and The Day the Leader was Killed. Rough draft of final project due. Read Terrorist and Windows on the World.
July 23: Falling Man by Don DeLillo. McEwan and Beigbeder. British and French responses to 9/11.
July 30: Global food fest and presentation of projects.
Professor Julia Keefer and her Major Twentieth Century Writers/Students Present
Global Literature and Food Festival
When: July 30. 6:30-9:30 pm
Where: 194 Mercer, Room 301, then 306
What: A Global Literature and Food Festival
APPETIZERS AND SPIRITS
Al Aswany, Alliteration, Analogy, Anapest
Babaganoush, Baklava, Beaujolais
Becket, Beigbeder, Borges
Brie, Broccoli, Bordeaux
Camembert, Caesura, Camus
Climax, Conclusion, Confrontation, Conrad, Consonance, Crisis, Cummings, Dactyllic, DeLillo, Dramatic Structure
Duras, Eliot, Ellison, Endives, Hersey
Lawrence, McEwan, Mahfouz, Marquez, Morrison, Metaphor, Meter, Nabakov, Narrative, Onomatopoeia, Ordinary World/Special World
Personification, Plot Point, Poetry, Proust, Pynchon, Pyrrhic, Rhyme, Rhythm
Catalyst, Central Dramatic Question
Iambic, Improvisation, Ionesco, Irony, Joyce, Kafka, Kebab, Keefer, Khalifeh
Knish, Lamb Shishkebab
Rushdie, Safran-Foer, Salad, Sartre, Simile
Scallion Pancakes, Shrimp, Spinach, Spondee, Steak
Story, Theme, Updike, Watercress, Wiesel, Woolf, Wilentz…WOW!
Literature and Food, Literature and Sex/Love, Literature and Violence/Terrorism, Literature and Politics, Literature and Religion, Literature and Science, Literature and Business, Literature and Health, Literature and Sickness, Literature and the Environment
Literature and Life
We will analyze different kinds of narrative, comparing Arabic with British, American, Chinese, Iranian, Russian, Turkish, Greek and French, looking at cyclical, pass-the-ball, superimposed, step narratives, interior monologues, stream of consciousness, American straightforward plainspeak, multiple narrators, shifting points of view and time. We will analyze dramatic structure and show how Aristotle's Poetics has been transformed with twentieth century organic drama, screenwriting, ordinary world/special world paradigms and other innovative structures. Through oral interpretation of the texts we will analyze the musicality, phrasing, syntax, and vocabulary of the various authors.
Course Requirements: You must do close textual analyses every other week uploaded to FILES for the cyberspace sessions, creative writing alter ego monologues through the same books for the meatspace sessions, and two oral presentations for the meatspace sessions, including primary and secondary sources which will grow into an 8-10 page final paper. The alter ego monologues will grow into an 8-16 page webfolio.
Grading:You will be given Satisfactory or Unsatisfactory for the weekly assignments, but letter grades for the close textual analyses, oral presentations and creative webfolios. The last day will involve a skit with role playing as alter egos. The creative webfolios and oral presentations make up 50% of the grade; participation, attendance, and WEEKLY assignments make up the other 50.
Method of Instruction:
Cyberspace Sessions will consist of uploading Close Textual Analyses into FILES. Choose a passage, at least one page, from each book in that cluster, write it out triple spaced; then analyse it in terms of language, vocabulary, sentence structure, paragraph organization, figures of speech, rhythm, narrative voice, characterization, relationship of dialogue to description, relationship to plot, structure and rest of novel or play, cultural implications and other extrinsic factors related to politics, philosophy, geography etc. Keep all your analyses, usually three, in one document and upload to FILES. Cross edit each other's work. We will have frequent discussions in the listserv about the books, the analyses, and related topics.
Meatspace Sessions will consist of creative role playing based on monologues you write in your character's voice, oral presentations on each of the authors, viewing of pertinent audio-visual material, and discussion and lectures on cross-cultural and cross-disciplinary issues related to the global literature.
Required Reading: Books are organized into seven clusters for the meatspace classes. Einstein's Dreams by Alan Lightman is daily meditation. Bring it to the first class. Clusters will be reworked with the addition of contemporary literature.
Cluster One: No Exit by Jean-Paul Sartre, The Plague by Albert Camus,
Cluster Two:All Quiet on the Western Front by Erich Maria Remarque, Night by Elie Wiesel
Cluster Three: The Day The Leader Was Killed by Naguib Mahfouz, God Dies by the Nile by Nawal el Saadawi, and War in the Land of Egypt by Yusuf al-Qa'id, Un-clashing Civilizations by Julia Keefer, from How to Survive as an Adjunct Professor by Wrestling
Cluster Four: Wild Thorns by Sahar Khalifeh, Martyr's Crossing by Amy Wilentz, Satanic Verses or Fury by Salman Rushdie
Cluster Five:Red Azalea by Anchee Min, Soul Mountain or One Man's Bible by Gao Xingjian
Cluster Six:Mao II by Don DeLillo, News of a Kidnapping by Gabriel Garcia Marquez, The Hostage by Zayd Mutee'Damaj, Black Water by Joyce Carol Oates
Attendance/Participation Policy: The professor is not in a position to evaluate excuses so do not give her any. Weekly reading and writing assignments are clearly listed. If you fall drastically behind, a medically documented incomplete is possible but not recommended. Since you can access this course any time, anywhere, there should be no reason why you cannot complete assignments. If you have to miss a class, check SYLLABUS and OUTLINE as well as printed lectures, and email class listserv for any other problems. No one expects you to be perfect but you must write and read, and then ask questions if you don't understand.
Notes for Hybrid Course
Joyce Carol Oates
11'09''01 Film anthology
Gabriel Garcia Marquez
Erich Maria Remarque
Enter the Hell of New York with selections from Camus, Morrison and Lili Tomlin.
Go Red with the Peking Revolutionary Opera. Visit Red Azalea and Brave New World in Self versus State.
Explore Feminism and the Body.
Expand your timespace in Einstein's Dreams.
Camus, Albert. "The Myth of Sisyphus. "The Rains of New York."
Morrison, Toni. Selections from Jazz.
Oates, Joyce Carol. Lethal. (above)
Sartre, Jean-Paul. "No Exit. "
Wagner Jane. (performed by Lili Tomlin) "The Search for Signs of Intelligent Life in the Universe."
Screenwriting versus Personal Writing
Experiments in TimeSpace
The Biological Rhythms of Drama
Keefer's Advanced Sequencing
Myth and the Movies
Literature and Terrorism
In an age of terror, how does literature help us transcend our reality, lend perspective to our confusion by pulling us into the past and other cultures, and give expression to our anguish and fear through catharsis? They survived it; so can we. In this course we will define terrorism the way the Arabs define it, as any organized violence, by an individual, group or state, legitimate or illegitimate, against a civilian population, either intentional or unintentional. Because this is about twentieth and twenty first century literature, we will include the two World Wars with All Quiet on the Western Front, Night, No Exit, The Plague about Algerian terror as well as the German occupation and natural scourges, to Islamic militant terrorism in Egypt in The Day The Leader Was Killed, Satanic Verses, God Dies by the Nile and War in the Land of Egypt, to Israeli/Palestinian terror in Martyr's Crossing and Wild Thorns, to the terror of hostage-taking and kidnapping in Mao II, News of a Kidnapping, and The Hostage, to the terror of totalitarian regimes such as China in Red Azalea and Soul Mountain.Black Water is both a personal and stylistic meditation on terror as well as an indirect indictment of the terror a powerful political leader has over an innocent civilian. Because one objective of fiction/drama is to create a combustive drama for the reader's catharsis, literature and terrorism are really competing with each other. Sometimes real life provides so much terror that the reader hides in literature for escape, seeking fantasy, happy endings, funny, harmless stories that eschew the turmoil of an unlivable situation. Often cultures will move through a transformation like New York did after 9/11, moving from the transformation of reality into tragedy with heroic stories, to silly, innocuous escapes, to some social comedy, and finally to stories that deal with fictional terror. No one can take too much of one thing. When New Yorkers were coughing from the smoke and toxins downtown, they did not go to the movies to see sci fi representations of Manhattan blowing up. Enough is enough.
But literature is different from film because we can choose when and how often to put the book down. Instead of watching a naturalistic representation, we recreate the story in our minds to excite, soothe or incite us. Many of the writers we will study had personal experience of a world war, the holocaust, the Israeli checkpoints, prison for their writings or gender brutality such as clitorectomies. Some could not write for years afterwards; others wrote on toilet paper in prison. It is significant that terrorism demands a certain amount of intelligence in order to achieve its devastating effect. Formalist agenda about character, plot, style/language, theme, setting/geography, descriptive techniques and narrative point of view must be supplemented and developed to deal with how "literature engages with contemporary critical understandings of nationalism, race, gender, sexuality, global multiculturalism..." I would add cyberspace to the list. I also believe that it is stultifying to repress critical reflection on difference to be politically correct. Not only does it make us oblivious to the richness of difference, but we also lose our sense of humor.
One of the most influential persons of the twentieth century was Albert Einstein, not only for his theories on relativity, but because he revolutionized the way humans perceive time and space in all domains from art and literature to atomic warfare. The twentieth century novel broke with traditional structures as it questioned the linearity of time, the certainty of empirical relality, and the "reality" of the external word by focusing on stream of consciousness techniques, interior monologues and a nonlinear use of time/space. James Joyce, Virginia Woolf and Marcel Proust were the innovators of this new novel, but we see their influence in the works of Joyce Carol Oates BLACK WATER, Gao Xingpian's SOUL MOUNTAIN, Don DeLillo's MAO II and Salman Rushdie's SATANIC VERSES.
No Exit is a good way to explore basic dramaturgy: unities of time, space and action, character conflict (different objectives) and orchestration, crisis/climax/resolution, and relationship of theme, HELL IS OTHER PEOPLE, to central dramatic question, WHAT KIND OF HELL WILL EACH PERSON EXPERIENCE? In terms of content, it deals with the German occupation of France during world war II, and the Empire drawing room satirizes the stultifying life of the French bourgeoisie in contrast to the new Marxism Sartre probably misunderstood. It is the most accessible introduction to the philosophy of existentialism, existence precedes essence, in contrast to the Cartesian saying, "I think, therefore I am." Sartre was a prolific writer of fiction, drama, literary theory and philosophy. He popularized existentialism with sayings such as "I am therefore I think," "Man is nothing more than the sum of his actions," and "Hell is other people." We will act out scenes from his brilliant, provocative, well-structured play, NO EXIT, to be found on my website. During the anthrax scare in the Fall of 2002, students identified with the characters and situations in Camus' The Plague. Both works are essential to an understanding of their times, and yet they transcend their times so that they speak to us now in the darkest moments of our war on terror. The Plague introduces us to the formal elements that make a good novel, the third person narrative that clinically but compassionately describes the struggles of Dr. Rieux to help Oran survive the plague. Unlike drama, description and narration assume paramount importance as the world transforms from before plague, to plague, to post-plague. If we recall the anthrax attacks after 9/11, we remember how easily Manhattan could be transformed into Oran. This is also as wonderful study in character transformation as each person's true character is revealed when he is confronted with the existential dilemma of possible or imminent death.
While No Exit is a battle of individuals, The Plague charts the growth, collapse and renewal of a community through a skillful, meticulous attention to description and narration, the chief elements of novel writing. Each culture has different expectations regarding characters, plausibility, and levels of introspection, censorship, conformity to cultural values, as well as the kinesthetic thrust of the drama. Western dramatic structure is more linear, moving to that one big climax, while Arabic literature is recursive, with many climaxes. American literature often wants "three-dimensional" characterization and transformation while Arabic literature can sometimes go for good versus evil. Spanish rhetoric/narrative styles are more circumlocutious, less direct. Indian writers are often more diverse, layered, even chaotic than Arabic ones. Rushdie versus Saadawi. Is this because of the pluralism of their religion versus Islam's relentless monotheistic focus? Contemporary American audiences expect a higher degree of plausibility, unless dealing with science fiction. Yet there is much cross cultural influence. Oates' Black Water is as recursive and thematic as an Arabic poem. DeLillo's Mao II has the plurality, variety in tone, playful satire and chaos of a Rushdie work. Martyr's Crossing is written in the same studied, skillful style as many New Yorker fiction pieces. And most significantly, Soul Mountain combines the reflective, vast space of pre-modern China with the effects of the repressive Communist regime and then a deconstructed narrator, an I, she, he, you, who plows through these mountains with the introspection of a French postmodern writer. Perhaps that is one reason it won the Nobel Prize. What makes cultures different? History, geography, ethnicity, language. But adaptation and change occurs in response to the land, to the struggle for survival. Arabs are desert peoples. In the desert the people see forever; their God is the sun, their enemy excessive dryness. The vast mountains of China created a collective culture in contrast to the vast mountains of America where ambitious individuals forged a frontier through the wilderness, killing the indigenous people. So as our cultures mix and mingle, delicious new concoctions of literature will be created. The point of this course is to preserve the distinctness, the diversity and the difference of cultural flavors, rather than looking at the more homogeneous products of American mass culture with which we are already familiar. By studying the narratives of diverse people we come to an empathy and understanding for "the other," so that we are not trapped in that good versus evil, us versus them, binary crusade of many American politicians.
Major Twentieth Century Writers is a course in cross-cultural communication as well as literary analysis. Ask yourselves why members of some cultures seek solitude, whereas those of others feel sad or even incomplete if they are not continuously in the company of other people? Why do some cultures worship the Earth, whereas other molest it? Why do some cultures seek material possession while other believe they are a hindrance to a peaceful life? Are some cultures more visual, kinesthetic, linguistic, rhythmic than others? As we analyze different styles of communication and expression, we weave a fine line between political correctness and legitimate diversity, homogeneity from the global melting plot, and specific differences that foster both creativity and a combustive clash of civilisations.
ALTER EGOS:It is important you have a subjective as well as a scholarly experience of this great, global literature and therefore, each student will choose an alter ego, a major character from one of the books who will journey with you through the literature, enjoying the different countries and cultures, and perhaps changing the plot by falling in love with one of the characters or creating havoc, mayhem or good. Pick a character from a book you love but try to choose someone whose culture, religion and/or gender are different from your own. Find out as much as you can about the character and then let your imagination and experiences through the other novels transform the character to your liking. If you are confused, see what past students have done with their characters in the webfolios at twenty/twenty.html,
ORAL PRESENTATIONS/RESEARCH PAPERS: Choose two of the authors to compare and contrast, perhaps related to your alter ego. Read the books carefully but also do internet and library research on a dilemma, looking at the works embedded in their sociocultural context, using both primary and secondary sources and focusing on literary theory, intellectual history, political or military or religious issues, depending on your major and interests. Make sure you have a clearly stated thesis that you develop through argumentation and close textual analysis. For example, if your major is religion/philosophy, you might want to analyze the Rushdie affair. Students will have a meatspace class for their oral presentations, and are encouraged to use audiovisual aids as well. Last year Jane Schreck did a middle eastern dance and brought in her costumes, films and photos as she led us into a deeper understanding of the world depicted in Nawal el Saadawi's writings.
CLOSE TEXTUAL ANALYSES: Every other week we will upload close textual analyses from the assigned books. Choose a few paragraphs from each book, copy them down triple spaced and anlyse every work for implicit and explicit meaning, structure, relationship to the whole etc. We may have related assignments such as writing a short memoir or poem to help you further understand the microcosmic aspects of the literature.
This course is organized into six distinct sections, each with a macro (sociological, historical, philosophical, psychological aspects) and micro component (the text itself.)
Cluster 1: One of the most important figures of the twentieth century was Albert Einstein. Not only did he revolutionize science with his theory of relativity, but literature, art, philosophy were all transformed by our nonlinear views of time and space. The novel of James Joyce, Virginia Woolf and Marcel Proust played with time, memory, and space in creative ways undreamt of in previous centuries and cultures. With film, art and contemporary literature we have poked holes in the unities of time and space, opening up narrative to infinite possibilties. Throughout the semester let your imagination play with time and space in your own lives. I have chosen Alan Lightman's EINSTEIN'S DREAMS as your nightly bible. Read a chapter every night before bed and meditate on that timespace change. For more ideas on Einstein, go to twenty/zeller.html or twenty/einstein1.html. As you analyze the books, pay special attention to the use of time and space.
Alan Lightman was born in 1948 in Memphis, Tennessee. Lightman says that ever since he was a child he built rockets and wrote poetry. He majored in physics at Princeton, reasoning it was easier to be a scientist turned writer than the other way around. In 1974 he received his doctorate in theoretical astrophysics from Caltech in 1974. Between 1976 and 1899 Lightman taught astronomy and physics at Harvard, moving to MIT in 1989 because there he was given the chance to teach both of his loves--as a physicist and as the director of the Program in Writing and Humanistic Studies. Lightman credits Rushdie and Marquez, two other writers on our list, for influencing his work because they are writers who distort reality to see it more clearly. He also enjoys reading writers from other cultures, so he can enter worlds unlike his own. He tries to bring readers into the scientific world in EINSTEIN'S DREAMS which he wrote in 1991 at his summer home on a small island off the coast of Maine.
Our first cluster will examine THE PLAGUE by Albert Camus and NO EXIT by Jean-Paul Sartre. On the macro level, we want to get an introduction to Existentialism and the new Marxism and to how these great writers used literature to further their ideologies; on the micro level we want to examine the works, through close textual analysis, to see how the form of a play differs intrinsically from that of a novel. Jean-Paul Sartre (1905-1980) was born into a well-to-do, highly educated family and graduated first in his class in philosophy from the Ecole Normale Superieure, one of the most schools in Europe. He met Simone de Beauvoir, the second wave French feminist, and thus began a life-long partnership. Sartre was greatly influenced by German philosphers such as Friedrich Nietzsche, Martin Heidegger, Karl Jaspers, Edmund Husserl, thinkers who questioned the existence of God, universal truth, immortal life and many accepted "truths" of Western civilisation, in favor of a more phenomenological approach to existence. During the Enlightenment, the French philosopher Rene Descartes said, "I think, therefore I am." Sartre is quoted as saying, "I am, therefore I think;" in other words, existence precedes essence, hence the name Existentialism. What this means is that human consciousness develops as a response to phenomena in the "real" world, as opposed to more Platonian ideals of consciousness coming from man's soul or a higher being.
Sartre spent 1933-34 in Germany and when he returned he wrote his book NAUSEA. Like many twentieth century intellectuals, he also had his stint in prison, in a German prisoner-of-war camp in 1940. When he was released in 1941, he became part of the French resistance against the German occupation, and sought to combine his Existentialist theories of human individuality and freedom with the collective responsibility of the new Marxism. Death, without the hope of eternal life, creates anxiety but forces man to act in the present, to make hard choices, to exercise his freedom, so that he carves out a life, that is in essence, the sum of his actions. But this existential philosophy should not make a man more selfish, but more responisible; his choices must include a responsibility for humanity as well as himself. In this respect Existentialism is a Humanism , the title of another of Sartre's works. I use the pronoun "he," because Sartre did, although his partner was a strong feminist.
I received a Master's degree in French Literature from the Sorbonne in Paris at a time when Sartre, Camus and the influence of existentialism on the theatre of the absurd was most in vogue, before the post-structuralists and postmodernists like Foucault, Derrida, Kristeva and Barthes had taken over Parisian intellectual life. In fact my specialty was theatre of the absurd and the title of my thesis was "La Chute de la Tradition Theatrale," which involved an analysis of the aesthetic as well as philosophical distinctions between classical dramaturgy and theatre of the absurd such as Eugene Ionesco, Samuel Beckett and others, and how the media of television and film had forced an anti-naturalist trend on the theatre. I also performed in French theatre as I was completing my degree there. NO EXIT has a classical structure with existentialist themes, so it is different from works by Ionesco and Becket.
Albert Camus (1913-1960) was born in Algeria to a poor, working class family but because of his talent and brilliance, received distinction in philosophy at the University and moved to Paris. He published THE STRANGER in 1942, about an existential, alienated protagonist Meursault who murders a man, for no apparent reason, and who is subsequently condemned to death. It is as much an indictment of capital punishment and society's social norms as it is an existentialist narrative, written in sparse, pristine prose. In 1947 he published THE PLAGUE, charting the inception, process and resolution of this disease in a fictional North African town. It is a metaphor of the German occupation during World War II but could apply to any event. During the anthrax lockdowns after 9/11 last semester, students identified strongly with this novel, with the different responses to the epidemic, and with the personification of the disease and its devastation. After 9/11, we New Yorkers know how it feels to be in a lockdown. Like Sartre, Camus was aware of the social/cultural/psychological constraints of existentialism, but he was more religious or spiritual. My professors at the Sorbonne thought that he would have become more and more Catholic had he not been killed in a car accident at 46. In fact, Sartre and Camus did split and dissociate from each other after the war.
Both were prolific writers, spreading their energies across novels, short stories, essays, plays and expository books, which is one reason why Existentialism became a popular movement. However, I feel that Sartre was more gifted as a dramatic and argumentative writer, and Camus as a novelist and lyrical essayist.
Read NO EXIT (it's all online, don't buy it) and THE PLAGUE together for comparison and contrast. Note that they both adhere to unities of time, space and action, although THE PLAGUE takes a little longer to unwind. NO EXIT conforms to Aristotelian dramaturgy on most levels. It is simply the conversations of three newly deceased characters, coward Garcin, lesbian Inez, and baby-killer Estelle in hell, which is a Louis XIV drawing room. They are waiting to see when hell will begin until they finally realize that "Hell is other people." There are no mirrors: they must look into each other's eyes for all self-affirmation and approval. And here is the rub because each character wants and needs something from the others that they cannot give him or her. NO EXIT is an excellent example of how interpersonal conflict is combusted into intense, riveting dramatic action. Every stage is carefully orchestrated until the door opens-- and no one can escape. There are unable to exercise their human freedom to choose. But the hell is in essence, of their own choosing, because they lack the strength of the existentialist hero who can become the sum of his actions.
Working only with dialogue, the bourgeois drawing room and a few limited props, Sartre is able to create a play that continues to be performed all over the world as a great work of theatre, as well as a mouthpiece for the chief tenets of Existentialism. The play was originally commissioned as something short and easy to take on tour, with no changes in scenery and only three actors. Sartre was also asked to ensure that none of the three actors felt jealous of the other two by being forced to leave the stage or getting the best lines; consequently, he began to think in terms of a situation where three characters would be locked up together--first, in a cell during an air raid, and then in hell. In this inferno, "hell is other people," because Estelle sees no truth, Joseph hears no truth, and Inez speaks no good, according to former student Jerry Harman. In contrast, THE PLAGUE uses methodical description and precise narration to suck us into another hell, that of a population avoiding and finally facing the ravages of the plague. This is a brilliant sociological study, of how characters work with and against each other to fight a common evil. Dr. Rieux is like Giuiliani after 9/11, making himself stronger by administering to the needs of the population, working night and day with that indefatigable Hizzoner energy.
Note how important descritive writing is to the art of the novel. Sartre often lacks the patience to describe as thoroughly as Camus, preferring to whip and hack and demolish his world with dramatic and philosophical conflict. Camus documents, describes and patiently recreates a world palatable to all our senses, a world that is often a metaphor for some philosophical injusitice or condition he would rather not attack directly through expository writing. Yet he focuses on the community more than the unconscious exploration of the characters.
Since you need to pick a character to play for the semester, you might enjoy playing any one of the characters in these two great works. For the close textual analysis assignment, pick passages from the two books to analyze to show the difference between dialogue and description aesthetically, the main difference between a play and a novel.
I chose the books in Cluster Two,ALL QUIET ON THE WESTERN FRONT and NIGHT, to give us a better understanding of the World Wars on the macro level, and the effect of memoir or naturalistic memory on the historical/political novel on the micro level. The tradition of naturalism in literature was fortified in the second half of the nineteenth century with the works of Emile Zola and the Victorians. For the first time, readers wanted to see reality with all its warts, and not use literature for escape, romance or entertainment. These books are in this tradition although they have more twentieth century aesthetic and psychological dimensions. ALL QUIET documents the trench warfare of World War I where soldiers were in another kind of hell for months at a time, fighting against young men for reasons they did not really understand.
NIGHT documents the holocaust and what it took to survive the concentration camps. Both books were drawn from personal experience. Both Remarque and Wiesel suffered, in part, from post traumatic stress syndrome from their experiences during these terrible wars. For a time they ran away from their suffering, and were not able to catharsize their pain fully until these books were published.
Elie Wiesel is the author of 36 works dealing with Judaism, the Holocaust and the moral responsibility of all people to fight hatred, racism and genocide. Born 1928 in Romania, Wiesel led a religious, communal life until 1944 when he and his family were deported by the Nazis and sent to concentration camps. The following words were written with his blood, embedded forever in his memory: "Never shall I forget that night, the first night in camp, which has turned my life into one long night, seven times cursed and seven times sealed. Never shall I forget that smoke. Never shall I forget the little faces of the children, whose bodies I saw turned into wreaths of smoke beneath a silent blue sky. Never shall I forget those flames which consumed my faith forever. Never shall I forget that nocturnal silence which deprived me, for all eternity, of the desire to live. Never shall I forget those moments which murdered my God and my soul and turned my dreams to dust. Never shall I forget these things, even if I am condemned to live as long as God Himself. Never." Is this how you feel about 9/11? What are your memories of the event? What is your "night?" But it was Wiesel's steely will to survive that enabled him to leave Auschwitz, Buchenwald and Gleiwitz after the liberation in 1945 and eventually study at the Sorbonne, which nurtured the French writers, Gao Xingjian and your illustrious Professor Evergreen. Wiesel became chairman of the President's Commission on the Holocaust and was awarded the Congressional Gold Medal of Achievement.
In May 7,2002, Wiesel wrote a letter to George W. Bush just before Ariel Sharon's arrival in Washington with the following pleas: "Please remember that a majority of Israelis favor a Palestinian State alongside Israel if the terror is stopped, whereas a majority of Palestinians, including Yasir Arafat support suicide killing operations against Israel. Please remember that while Palestinian Terrorists were hiding explosives in ambulances, Israeli reservists in Jenin were taking up collections out of their own funds to repay Palestinian families for the damage done to their homes. Please remember that the maps on Arafat's uniform and in Palestinian children's textbooks show a Palstine encompanssing not only all of the West Bank but all of Israel, while Palestinian leaders loudly proclaim that 'Palestine extends from the Jordan River to the Mediterranean Sea, from Rosh Hanikra (in the North) to Rafah (in Gaza). Please remember Danielle Shefi, a little girl in Israel. Danielle was give. When the murderers came, she hid under her bed. Palestinian gunmen found and killed her anyway. Think of all the other victims of terror in the Holy Land. With rare exceptions, the targets were young people, children and families. Please remember that Israel--having lost too many sons and daughters, mothers and fathers--desperately wants peace. It has learned to trust its enemies' threats more than the empty promises of 'neutral' governments. Today, more than ever, Israel must be trusted to decide what concessions are or are not possible within the framework of its own security. Please remember that Ariel Sharon, a military man who knows the ugly face of war better than anyone, is ready to make 'painful sacrifices' to end the conflict. In fact it was he who carried out the handing over of Yamit, displacing thousands of Israelis, in exchange for peace with Egypt. Please remember that while Israelis mourned alongside us for our nation's tragedy on September 11th, Yasir Arafat was busy suppressing footage of his constituents dancing in the streets. Please remember that American Jews share your moral outrage at international terrorism as well as your determination to defend democratic ideals and religious freedom in the world. As diversified as we are in our political views, we are united in our hope that you, the leader in the campaign against the world-wide terror, will recognize that terror is Israel is but another of its facets, another result of the hatred being systematically taught to Arab children by the Palestinian Authority and state-funded schools elsewhere in the Muslim world. Years ago, we had hopes that we were entering a new era, an era of peace that would see Palestinians living alongside Israelis, in an alliance that would make the entire area flourish. If the Palestinian leadership can be persuaded to stop the abomination of terrorist attacks on innocent civilians, it may still not be too late."
Think about that letter when we get to cluster four and analyse WILD THORNS and MARTYR'S CROSSING.
For the close textual analysis assignment, copy out two passages from each of the books that seem the most moving to you. Then write down your memoir from 9/11. Then look at the relationship of the memoir to the event, to what the personal story gives you that you cannot get in a history book or traditional novel. How does the memoir get closer to reality and give the novel depth and breadth? How does the novel based on memoir allow the personal story to be catharsized completely? How does your memoir give dimension to mainstream news coverage of 9/11?
Cluster Three: Inspired by my trip to the middle east and love of Egyptian culture, (another Western orientalist? not exactly!) I chose the next three books to analyze cross-cultural story expectations, Islamic feminism and the recursive, poetic aesthetics of Arabic story-telling, as well as the different time/space elements. In GOD DIES BY THE NILE the sexual abuse of young girls, the clitorectomies, the stoning of the adulteress, many of the injustices present in contemporary Islam are ruthlessly described by Nawal el Saadawi, the first female Egyptian doctor whose writing was so controversial she was imprisoned by Sadat. THE DAY THE LEADER WAS KILLED is a collection of monologues by three characters about their domestic/love problems around the time Sadat was assassinated, but again, the focus is on the injustice of the arranged marriage that Randa must submit to for social approval and financial necessity, in spite of her love for Elwan, and the grandfather's wisdom, pain and ultimate impotence. Sadat's murder is wedged in between Elwan's beating of his rival to death, which seems almost like a unconscious eruption of rage and jealousy. For more ideas about cross-cultural feminism, go to twenty/bodyf.html.
Neither book has the linear kinesthetic thrust of the traditional western crisis/climax/resolution. In GOD DIES there are so many crises/climaxes that Zakeya's murder of the village leader seems only one of many. When asked where Allah is, she says, in prison, that she killed him-- he is buried on the banks of the Nile. El Saadawi's structure is Arabic in its recursive themes of sun rising and setting on every scene, but also multi-orgasmic with its many climaxes. Mahfouz weaves his climax into the fabric of Egyptian domestic life, never giving in to its finality, always letting each character finishthe integrity of his monologue, asserting his own microcosmic reality. WAR IN THE LAND OF EGYPT is also written with very different story expectations than typical Hollywood fare. None of these books have really happy endings, unless one could say that ending up in prison is a happy ending.
Naguib Nahfouz is the best-known and most studied Arab novelist in the Anglophone world. Mafouz was born in a warren of ancient alleys in the heart of Islamic Cairo, behind the al-Hussein Mosque, in the neighborhood of Gamaliya, in December 1911. His father, a minor civil cervant, was highly traditional, and his mother was doting, his childhood lonely but unremarkable. After attending Islamic elementary schools and a secular high school, he entered Cairo University (then King Faud 1) University and in 1934 graduated with a degree in philosophy. He rememberes that period, which coincided with the anticolonial movement against the British, as the happiest of his life--as "the golden age of patriotism....when the times themselves were listening to you," he wrote in his 1961 novel The Thief and the Dogs.
Until 1971, all his works were written late at night, for he spent his days as a government bureaucrat: as an official film censor, an adviser on the arts, and a minor functionary in various ministries, including the Ministry of Religious Affairs. A private, timid man who married late in life, Mahfouz is a strong believer, a bit of a mystic, and a Fabian socialist of the most passionate sort. Mahfouz married a Christian woman at age 43 and had two daughters and no grandchildren. He has never liked to travel, leaving Egypt some three times in his life. By the late 1950s, social realism had become the defining characteristic of his work. His well-ordered, punctilious, conservative daily life was the antithesis of the world he created in his books. Note what he says in this book we are studying: "We live in a repugnant age of slogans. And between the slogans and the truth is an abyss, into which we have all fallen and lost ourselves."
He published his first novel in 1939 and since then has written thirty-two novels and thirteen collections of short stories. This prolific writer's work appears to have gone through four stages. The first (1939-44) consisted of three novels based on the history of ancient Egypt, focusing on a cherished theme, the heroic struggle of the Egyptians and their patriotic Pharaohs to expel the Hysos, as foreign ruling invaders, from their country. Like Camus' THE PLAGUE, THE STRUGGLE OF THEBES bore a relevance to Egyptian sociopolitcal reality, the British occupation. In 1945, Mahfouz left the history of Phaoronic Egypt to write A NEW CAIRO. This led to the publication of THE CAIRO TRILOGY, in 1956-57, a realistic study of Egyptian urban society between the two World Wars. In THE MIRAGE, published in 1948, Mahfouz experimented with a psychoanalytic novel, inspired by Freud. In 1959 another stage began with OUR QUARTER, an allegory of human history. In the mid seventies he returned to the fourth stage where he asserts the unique voice of Arabic narrative forms in THE THOUSAND AND ONE NIGHTS and THE DAY THE LEADER WAS KILLED.
Mahfouz' world view is similar to Sartre's social commitment and responsibility, a far cry from the nihilism of Islamic extremists. His work reveals the irony of a European intellectual woven through the ancient Arabic storytelling. In 1988 the Swedish Academy gave him the Nobel Prize and wrote that "through works rich in nuance-- now clearsightedly realistic, now evocatively ambiguous, Mahfouz has formed an Arabic narrative art that applies to all mankind." His characters are warm and human, in spite of and because of their grotesque flaws from the tyrannical merchant of the Cairo Trilogy, to his debauched and fanatical sons, to the weak and wayward women who tempt and distract them. Yet there is a robust sensuality, a deep reverence for Islam, a generous tolerance and the creation of world so ripe and vivid that you want to savor it forever. CHILDREN OF THE ALLEY with its autocratic rulers and echoes of prophets found in Judaism, Christianity and Islam, proved most controversial and prompted a religious fatwa calling for his death in 1989.
In 1994 there was a near-fatal assault on Mahfouz by Islamic terrorists, wonderfully described by Mary Anne Weaver in her book, A Portrait of Egypt (1999) when he was stabbed while sitting in his car. since then he has only been able to write for 30 minutes at a time because of injuried nerves. He must keep armed guards around his apartment even now, in 2002.90 year old Mahfouz was recently interviewed (2002) for the New York Times. He says that even now he struggles to write every day: "A writer must sit down to write every day, pick up his pen and try to write something-- anything-- on a piece of paper. Perhaps they will succeed, or maybe come up with a new idea that will blossom eventually. Perhaps they will complete a short story, and perhaps nothing will happen at all."
Like many of the writers we are studying, Mahfouz is intensely involved in political, social and philosophical debate. At 90 his eyes and ears are so impaired that a friend arrives every morning to read the headlines for an hour. He gave his first interest payments from his Nobel Prize to Palestinian charities and now defends suicide bombers, a common position among Arab intellectuals:
"They are people defending a cause by sacrificing with their souls, and this is the highest level of noble resistance, although the death of civilians is regrettable. We have to remember that this is not a regular fight, a regular war where you can choose your target and fight only soldiers. This is a desperate situation where you blow yourself up and whoever happens to be on the site."
At the same time he shows little patience for those who want to destroy Israel or censor freedom of expression or intercultural exchanges between Jews and Arabs. At the end of the interview, after discussing death, he said:
"That is the way of life. You give up your pleasures one by one until there is nothing left, and then you know it is time to go."
Think of the elements of THE DAY THE LEADER WAS KILLED, describing the time when Mohammad Atta lived in Egypt: the decline of the Egyptian system, the emergence of an authoritarian state, a middle-class urban family torn apart by economic stagnation and uncertainty, the sexual tensions of a young couple in a society in which men and women are kept strictly apart, the rise of corruption, and of militant Islam, as the almost inevitable result of a system that seems to be spiraling out of control.
Elwan could be like many of the cafe drifters, unable to find a job or buy or furnish an apartment, unable therefore, to marry Randa the woman he loves, and forced to share that dingy, cramped room with his grandfather. Think of what he says in that coffeehouse, a coffeehouse where Mafouz probably did most of his writing: "We are a people more acclimatized to defeat than to victory. It is just a Mafia which controls us--no more, no less. Where are the good old days?...My pride wounded, my heart broken, I have come to this cafe as a refuge from the pain of loneliness....How many nations live side by side in this one nation of ours? How many millionaires are there? Relatives and parasites? Smugglers and pimps? Shi'ites and Sunnis?--stories far better than A Thousand and One Nights What do eggs cost today? This is my concern. Yet, as the same time, singers and belly dancers in the nightclubs on Pyramid Road are showered with banknotes and gratuities. What did the imam of the mosque say within earshot of the soldiers of the Central Security Force? There is not one public lavatory in this entire neighborhood...[Sada] He's a failure--"my friend [Menachem]Begin, my friend Kissinger," is all he can say; his uniform is Hitler's; his act, the act of Charlie Chaplin. He's rented our entire country--furnished--to the United States..."
There are many Saudi extremists who feel that Saudi Arabia has been rented, furnished, to the US as well. While Mafouz chronicles Eyptian urban life in Cairo, el Saadawi and al Qa'id describe the corruption of the authorities, usually the Imam, in the rural outskirts.
Nawal el Saadawi in "BREEDING TERROR or AN UNCIVILISED CLASH OF CIVILIZATONS": "Once again we are facing the fundamentalist, absolutist dichotomy of God versus the Devil, and of Good versus Evil used to mystify people, to confuse them, to veil their minds. The language which George W. Bush uses is no different from that of the pope, or that of bin Laden. All three speak in the name of God against the enemy, against the Devil. The church and the mosque are not just spiritual bodies with a spiritual agenda, but also geopolitical, economic and even military bodies, but their agendas here are clothed in spiritual robes....This war on terrorism is being used to halt the rising wave of opposition to unbridled transnational exploitation of nature, human resources and human life. In the global patriarchal capitalist system war ahas been and remians the economic stimulus required to stave off recession and protect accumulation of profits. But I wonder how many bombs will be needed, and how many innocent people must die in order to ensure that the Dow Jones and the Nasdaq will begin to climb once more....State terrorism is the elder brother of individual terrorism except that it claims the legitimacy of laws upheld by a powerful few."
Like American and Israeli leaders, she feels that fear is the great enemy, not because we can't shop till we drop, but because it will make us accept anything in the name of security or the war against terrorism. "Fear can help the Big Brother to drive us with a big stick into an Orwellian world." El Saadawi believes we should eradicate the original roots of all kinds of terrorism by restoring religion to the personal realm and developing secular huimanist societies that are able to abolish colonial and neo-colonial principles as well as the hegemony of the multinational corporations of the World Economic Forum. She speaks at the World Social Forum, advocating peace, love and justice from the grassroots up, abolishing all patriarchal systems that breed double standards and binary thinking. What do YOU think?
El Saadawi was born into a well educated family in 1931 in the village of Kafr Tahal, Egypt. Along with Shakespeare, Aristotle, Sartre, DeLillo, Lightman, she is one of my heros because of the energy, curiosity, intelligence and strength which with she has embraced and attacked so many areas of human knowledge and discourse: medicine, literature, politics, religion. She even has a great website. www.nawalsaadawi.net. After her imposed clitorectomy, she has been a strong advocate for feminist rights, criticizing the sexism of the American cosmetics industry as well as Islamic fundamentalism. In 1955 she became Egypt's Director of Public Health, but her book WOMEN AND SEX (1972), condemning clitorectomies and the veiling of the female mind even more than her body, aroused the anger of male authorities who put her in prison because of her continued research and writings in this area. After his assassination in l981 (read Mahfouz) she was freed and continued her political, medical and literary fight for the rights of oppressed peoples, particularly women. She claims that Westerners are particularly oppressed by their governments because they believe they are free even though they are the greatest true believers of them all and their democracy an illusion of freedom and equal rights.
In spite of her didacticism, her writing can be beautifully simple and poetic with ancient themes like the rising and setting of the sun in GOD DIES BY THE NILE. While DeLillo begins writing by deconstructing the sentence, by falling in love with words, she distrusts words, because they are weapons manipulated by Machiavellian politicians:"Language should be clear, so we understand each other. No monopoly, no playing, no games, no political games, no linguistic games, because I am really fed up with the linguistic games of the so-called 'postmodern era.'...We find ourselves lost in an avalanche of words which appear very dissident, and which multiplya dn reproduce themselves endlessly....We drown in these words; we are suffocated by them. It is the zero-sum game of words in which you lose your power to understand." For el Saadawi, language is a weapon, at least to those who imprisoned her, a weapon she will not give up even if it means her body would be imprisoned again. Like many great writers of our times, writing is her jihad, and as founder and president of the Arab Women Solidarity Association, her strong stance offers a welcome antidote to many solution to the clash of civilisations.
Like many of the books in this syllabus, WAR IN THE LAND OF EGYPT was banned in its country of origin in the seventies. Unlike much of the Arabic literature, this story is steeped in irony and black humor as it recounts the fiasco that occurs when a village elder persuades a poor night-watchman to send his own son as a stand-in for the elder's son who was drafted into the Egyptian army on the eve of the 1973 October war. Like Mahfouz, Yusuf al-Qa'id makes use of multiple narrators, but Qa'id's characters do not each present the entirety of the plot; in fact, there is eventually no overlap in their narrations, and therefore little or not repetition of events. This permits the plot to unfold as it would in a standard narrative, devoid of multiple voices, which enhances the story's dramatic impact while maintaining the variety of perspectives and giving us a microcosmi catalogue of Egyptian social types. The characters are conscious of their roles, as well as their co-narrators, which leads to more conflict between the characters. The story is embedded in Qa'id's sociology where schisms between rich and poor, city and country, mystery and myth deepen the conflicts between characters. After all my years of reading and writing, al-Qa'id has given me a more pristine understanding of narrative.
Born in 1944, Yusuf Qa'id is one of the most important representatives of the new generation in style and sociological message, even though (or maybe because) he was born in a small village from a long line of poor, illiterate peasants, and received all his education in his native land. His trilogy, THE COMPLAINTS OF THE ELOQUENT EGYPTIAN, involves an author writing a novel, drafts of which are incorporated into the text, along with other documents. Another of his novels, IT IS HAPPENING IN EGYPT NOW foreshadows interactive hyperfiction as it invites the reader to create the novel along with the author, providing documents for that purpose.
Choose short passages from each of the three books that illustrate the unique features of Arabic story telling, the recursive themes and structure, multiple and/or mysterious or flattened climaxes, multiple narrators. Sometimes I like to compare Western ballet to Middle Eastern dance to help students understand the difference between the gravity-defying, competitive discipline of pointe work with the earthbound, undulating, repetitive sensuousness of belly dancing. Or compare the round, voluptuous spaciousness of Mosque architecture to the jagged, stuffed, ambitious and upward bound soaring of a skyscraper. See if you can find the same similarities in the literature. In spite of her didacticism, El Saadawi's writing can be beautifully simple and poetic with ancient themes like the rising and setting of the sun in GOD DIES BY THE NILE. While DeLillo begins writing by deconstructing the sentence, by falling in love with words, she distrusts words, because they are weapons manipulated by Machiavellian politicians:"Language should be clear, so we understand each other. No monopoly, no playing, no games, no political games, no linguistic games, because I am really fed up with the linguistic games of the so-called 'postmodern era.'...We find ourselves lost in an avalanche of words which appear very dissident, and which multiplya dn reproduce themselves endlessly....We drown in these words; we are suffocated by them. It is the zero-sum game of words in which you lose your power to understand." For el Saadawi, language is a weapon, at least to those who imprisoned her, a weapon she will not give up even if it means her body would be imprisoned again. Like many great writers of our times, writing is her jihad, and as founder and president of the Arab Women Solidarity Association, her strong stance offers a welcome antidote to many solution to the clash of civilisations.
Note how the climaxes of WAR IN THE LAND OF EGYPT and THE DAY THE LEADER WAS KILLED seem like seeds embedded in a labyrinth and the narrative objective is to unravel the story within the community. GOD DIES BY THE NILE is multi-climactic, with horrendous evenets occurring in almost every chapter, in a way that leaves the reader exhausted or breathless. But the structure almost comes from the placement of the sun in each of these events and the interface of the Ordinary World of the village with the Special World of the wilderness of Om Saber, Metwalli the necrophiliac, the runaway women and men and the sites of death orgies. How different these structures are from the typical Hollywood movie, which is essentially a cliffhanger!
When I was in Egypt, I got the worst sunburn of my life, so I am particularly aware of the influence of the sun on the writings. In the desert, sunrise and sunset are the big events, the only changes in that eternal landscape. For your close textual analysis, pay particular attention to the relationship of geography to spirituality, dreams, symbols, and the role of women in this fiercely patriarchal world. Arabic languages are written from right to left; metaphors, similes, long arrays of adjectives and repetition of words are frequently used by Arabs in communicating all ideas, witness the political rhetoric of Osama bin Laden. Again, there are some wonderful characters to play in these books as well as great places to take your character. Don't forget your alter ego can change the story, fall in love with the oppressed women, take people out of jail, or change the plot any way you so desire. Have fun!
Cluster Four: MARTYR'S CROSSING, WILD THORNS and SATANIC VERSES were chosen to bring light to the middle eastern conflicts and to help us understand role criticism, an outgrowth of theories of multiple selves, developed by Foucault, Derrida, Kristeva, Sherry Turkel and other thinkers in the second half of the twentieth century. Do a novelists' characters reflect their thoughts? Which role are YOU playing now? Do we have one integrated self, or are we made up of a kaleidoscope of selves? Are you starting to integrate your alter ego in your own life? Is he helping you or wrecking havoc?
Salman Rushdie still cannot fly Air Canada because the airline is afraid some Islamic extremist will bring down the plane in an effort to fulfill the fatwa issued by Iran after publication of SATANIC VERSES. Yet this is a book of fiction. Islamic rebuttal to Western condemnation of Fatwa against SATANIC VERSES: Semseddin Turk , the President of the MIT Islamic Society writes "Because of the unequivocal attempt at associating itself with real events, THE SATANIC VERSES is dangerously, even criminally, misleading for a Western audience that knows little about Islam and Muslims. Rushdie's metaphors and symbols are strongly reminiscent of and reinforce traditional Western prejudices and myths about Islam. THE SATANIC VERSES is one of the most slanted works in a regular cycle of intentional or unintentional misrepresentations of Islam and Muslims in media sources and textbooks. Because of its wild implications and virulent language, the novel constitutes an unprecedented assault on Islam, and indirectly, on the Abrahamic religions preceding it."
The novel aptly begins with Saladin Chamcha and Gibreel Farishta falling from an expoding airplane, hijacked by Shiite terrorists, to the shores of Britain. Chamcha is an anglicized Indian who has lived in England since youth, while Gibreel, a religious movie star, recently recovered from an illness where he lost faith in Islam, comes to England to pursue Alleluia Cone who he fell in love with in India. Upon arrival, Saladin grows horns and hooves and thick hair develops all over his body, while Gibreel acquires a halo, metamorphosing into forces of good and evil which Rushdie then blurs by making Saladin embrace his Indian heritage while Gibreel begins to doubt his pro-Western choices. At the end Saladin is bettered by his transformation while Gibreel, who was the "angel," commits suicide to escape from his dilemmas. What Muslims most object to are the dreams of Gibreel, the story of Jahilia and Mahound, the latter referring to the prophet Mohammed and the former referring to the city of "ignorance," or Mecca. He then refers to the great personalities of Islam as "fucking clowns," "riff-raff," and "goons." The verses of the Koran are "revelations of convenience." They particularly hate his discussion of sex where "sodomy and the missionary position were apporved by the archangel, whereas the forbidden positions included all those in which the female was on top." Mahound is guilty of "fucking as many women as he liked," including mothers and daughters.
Westerners rebut that Muslims are being too literal and unimaginative, confusing postmodern, deconstructionist fictional techniques, irony, and suspension of disbelief with deliberately malicious anti-Islamic propaganda, thereby repressing freedom of speech. Muslims protest against the use of obscene, violent language when dealing with respected Muslim religious leaders. Nikos Kazantzakis also received similar criticism, without eternal death threats, for THE LAST TEMPTATION OF CHRIST.
In an open letter to Rajiv Ghandhi, Rushdie states: "The section of the book in question (and let's remember the book isn't actually about Islam, but about migration, metamorphosis, divided selves, love, death, London and Bombay) deals with a prophet who is snot called Muhammed living in a highly fantastical city...in which he is surrounded by fictional followers, one of whom happens to bear my own first name. Moreover, this entire sequence happens in a dream, the fictional dream of a fictional character, an Indian movie star, and one who is losing his mind at that. How much further from history could one get?
Rushdie was born to liberal, prosperous Muslim parents in Bombay June 19, 1947. In August 14 of that year, Pakistan divided itself from India as part of an agreement ending the period of British colonialism in South Asia. The result was a chaotic and extremely violent period as 6 million Muslims moved north to the newly-established Islamic state and 8 million Hindus and Sikhs moved south fleeing it. In 1961 he moved to England to study at Rugby School and then Kings College, Cambridge. In 1980 he published MIDNIGHT'S CHILDREN which won the Booker Prize but gained a law suit from Indira Gandhi who won her libel case before she was assassinated. In 1983 he published SHAME and in 1988 SATANIC VERSES. Like India, SATANIC VERSES is dense, multicultural, creative, rich, magical, chaotic, a complex "chutneyfication" of echoes and allusions that Rushdie infuses with biting satire. Like Wittgenstein, Rushdie seeks to attack questions ather than provide pat answers and paradigms, to break down the rigid, self-righteous orthodoxy of extemist Islam.
The theme is a search for identity in a post-colonial, pre-colonial vein. People of Anglo-saxon stock are almost entirely absent form the London of THE SATANIC VERSES. Instead the city swarms with immigrants: Indians, Bengalis, Pakistanis, Jamaicans, German Jews, etc. He reminds the English that they too were colonized, by the Romans and the Normans. Interestingly, he rejects both martyrdom and triumphant nationalism as inadequate foundations for a satisfactory self-identity, questioning the credibility and beneficence of orthodox, traditional Islam. Gibreel's dreams challenge the Koran's claims to infallibility, accuse Islam of the repression of women, call into question the probity and honesty of the Prophet himself. He spares no institution or person in his quest to answer the question, what kind of idea are we? Underneath its complex structure Rushdie reaffirms beliefs in individual liberty and tolerance, freedom of expression, skepticism about dogma, and belief in the redemptive power of love. Again Rushdie voices some of the issues developed by Sartre in his affirmation of human freedom and responsibility in a world devoid of absolutes. Rusdie writes about the novel in his essay, "Is Nothing Sacred?" "Because whereas religion seeks to privileg one language above all others, the novel has always been about the way in which different languages, values and narratives quarrel, and about the shifting relations between them, which are relations of power. The novel does not seek to establish a privileged language, but it insists upon the freedom to portray and analyze the struggle between the different contestants for such privileges. (420) ...while the novel anaswers our need for wonderment and understanding, it brings us harsh and unpalatable news as well. It tells us there are no rules. It hands down no commandments....And it tells us there are no answers; or rather, it tells us that answers are easier to come by, and less reliable, than questions. If religion is an answer, if political ideology is an answer, then literature is an inquiry; great literature, by asking extraordinary questions, opens new doors in our minds. (423) "In the twentieth century, the novel came to be viewed as primarily oppositional, critical of the culture which produced it. Rather than providing values, it challenges them. Modern novels are praised for their courage in exposing hypocrisy, challenging tradition, exploring forbidden themes. If blasphemy is not the most common of techniques in western fiction it is because so few writers take religion seriously enough to feel it worth attacking. "(Rushdie:"In God We Trust"376-377)
In 1988 VikingPenguin published SATANIC VERSES at which point a Saudi newspaper in London denounced him. Threats and complaints followed and in 1989 the book was burned before TV cameras in England, 5 members of an extremist group attacked the American Culture Center in Islamabad, and in Kashmir, sixty were injured and one died in a protest. For these questions and his plIn an age of terror, how does literature help us transcend our reality, lend perspective to our confusion by pulling us into the past and other cultures, and give expression to our anguish and fear through catharsis? They survived it; so can we. In this course we will define terrorism the way the Arabs define it, as any organized violence, by an individual, group or state, legitimate or illegitimate, against a civilian population, either intentional or unintentional. Because this is about twentieth and twenty first century literature, we will include the two World Wars with All Quiet on the Western Front, Night, No Exit, The Plague about Algerian terror as well as the German occupation and natural scourges, to Islamic militant terrorism in Egypt in The Day The Leader Was Killed, Satanic Verses, God Dies by the Nile and War in the Land of Egypt, to Israeli/Palestinian terror in Martyr's Crossing and Wild Thorns, to the terror of hostage-taking and kidnapping in Mao II, News of a Kidnapping, and The Hostage, to the terror of totalitarian regimes such as China in Red Azalea and Soul Mountain. Black Water is both a personal and stylistic meditation on terror as well as an indirect indictment of the terror a powerful political leader has over an innocent civilian. Because one objective of fiction/drama is to create a combustive drama for the reader's catharsis, literature and terrorism are really competing with each other. Sometimes real life provides so much terror that the reader hides in literature for escape, seeking fantasy, happy endings, funny, harmless stories that eschew the turmoil of an unlivable situation. Often cultures will move through a transformation like New York did after 9/11, moving from the transformation of reality into tragedy with heroic stories, to silly, innocuous escapes, to some social comedy, and finally to stories that deal with fictional terror. No one can take too much of one thing. When New Yorkers were coughing from the smoke and toxins downtown, they did not go to the movies to see sci fi representations of Manhattan blowing up. Enough is enough. ayful satire, Rushdie was condemned to death by the Ayotollah Khomeini of Iran in the following fatwa: "I inform all zealous Muslims of the world that the author of the book entitled SATANTIC VERSES--which has been compiled, printed and published in opposition to Islam, the Prophet, and the Koran--and all those involved in its publication who were aware of its content, are sentenced to death."
He elaborates: "I call on zealous Muslims to execute them quickly, wherever they may be found, so that no one else will dare to insult the Muslim sanctities. God Willing, whoever is killed on this path is a martyr." Rushdie defended himself as follows: "Nowadays...a powerful tribe of clerics has taken over Islam. These are the contemporary Thought Police. They have turned Muhammad into a perfect being, his life into a perfect life, his revelation into the unambiguous, clear event it originally was not. Powerful taboos have been erected. One may not discuss Muhammad as if he were human, with human virtues and weaknesses. One may not discuss the growth of Islam as a historical phenomenon, as an ideology born out of its time. These are the taboos against which THE SATANIC VERSES has transgressed (these and one other: I also tried to write about the place of women in Islamic society, and in the Koran). It is for the breach of taboo that the novel is being anathematized, ...THE SATANIC VERSES is not, in my view, an antireligious novel. It is, however, an attempt to write about migration, its stresses and transformations, from the point of view of migrants from the Indian subcontinent to Britain. This is, for me, the saddest irony of all; that after working for five years to give voice and fictional flesh to the immigrant culture of which I am myself a member, I should see my book burned, largely unread, by the people it's about, people who might find some pleasure and much recognition in its pages. I tried to write against stereotypes; the zealot protests serve to confirm, in the Western mind, all the worst stereotypes of the Muslim world." (The Book Burning 25) Even though his book was fiction, Rushdie was personally blamed for its ideas. The extremists lack humor and suspension of disbelief as well as tolerance. But the book itself as well as the political controversy are good examples of the dilemmas of role criticism, which we will examine in the American Jewish and Palestinian interpretations of occupations and Israeli checkpoints.The story of the Satanic Verses is not mentioned either in the Koran or in any of the early oral or written sources. As a magical realist, Rushdie chooses to focus all his attention on these figments, instead of writing a more accurate, comprehensive version of Islam. But he is a novelist, not a scholar.
One of my students was recently reprimanded in the New York subway in July 2002 for reading SATANIC VERSES. Accosted by a Muslim woman, she was told "not to believe anything in that book." Is that the point of novels, to make us believe, or is suspension of disbelief just the willingness to enter a FANTASY world created by the author? Why do so many cultures, American included, expect fiction to be naturalistic, true to life? Why do some of us take irony, humor, satire, fantasy so literally?
Ever since I spent the night in a Greek freighter in the harbor of Alexandria, listening to Egyptians throwing grenades into the sea in the hopes of bursting the eardrums of Israeli frogmen who were planting bombs in their ships, I have been unable to take sides in the middle eastern conflicts. I see humans on both sides; rights and wrongs committed by all states. In MARTYR'S CROSSING and WILD THORNS we will explore the humanity on all sides, the longing, frustration, guilt, despair and rage that has caused the holy land to be so unholy for so many years.
Sahar Khalifeh was born in 1941 during the British mandate in Palestine in Nablus. She left a frustrating marriage to study literature and feminism in America. Her first novel was confiscated by the Israelis, which shows that militant Iran is not the only country guilty of censorship. Her second novel was first published in Cairo. She has taught at Iowa and Bir Zeit University and probably knew some of the suicide bombers, maybe even the women. She founded the Women's Affairs Center in Nablus. In WILD THORNS we see militancy as a necessary venue of resistance to Israeli occupation. But Khalifeh does not let didacticism make her prose laborious and heavy; the novel is rich and succulent like ripe olives and we see, hear and feel the characters-- the underground, militant high schoolers we have recently seen so often in the news, the shopkeeper who sells groceries to Israeli soldiers, or the village mothers who ululate in solidarity as their homes are bulldozed. Although it was written in 1975, the novel offers us a deeper understanding of what is going on in 2002 with the seige of the Church of Nativity, the bulldozing of homes in Jenin, and the terrors of the suicide/homicide bombers/martyrs.
Khalifeh's characters are not drawn with the same good vs evil morality we saw in GOD DIES BY THE NILE. After Usama assasinates the Israeli officer, "sombre images fill Adil's mind. The dead officer, his grieving widow, the little girl stretched out on the ground, her pale, bare legs partly covered by Um Sabir's veil. People running through the streets, someone yelling, 'Leave a pig alone!' Bitterness flooded his heat. My cousin kills a man and I carry off his daughter. Tragedy or farce? Still, the memory of the Israeli woman's head on his shoulder, despite all the boundaries that divided people, seemed top opne the horizons of this narrow world." (172)
Those who compromise, however, are usually the ones to survive, so Adil must suffer to see his family home blown up by the Israelis: "Take a deep breath, Adil told himself. Tears. Dust. Fog. He could smell lemonwood through the acrid aroma of dust and crumbling stone. The lemon tree was burning in the rubble of the courtyard. The soldiers looked so arrogant in their dark cars. A thirst for reenge, for rebellion, stirred deep within him. I'm not cruel, but I'm filled with rage and bitterness, filled up to here. And these cowering crowds. And you yourself, Adil, a god of patience, that's what they say. What could be worse than admitting you're an impotent god, unable to assert your own rights or anyone else's? The process of ascent and fall goes on. A god-like ascent to the heights of Mount AIbal. And descent through seaweed into the gutters and decaying refuse. You search for yourself in other people's eyes, Adil. You find yourself mirrored in the eyes of the hungry, the nake, the homeless, those who live in tents. The winds and storms toss you in all directions. But the will to live still beats within you, defiant and instinctive. What can you do? Your spirit is bottled up; it can't find a way out. You experience sorrow, repress your emotions, and wait. Nevertheless! This mind of yours at least keeps you awake, wards off the drunkenness of indifference. Your heart rages and storms, yet the energy's suppressed by the machinery of oppression." (206)
But unlike the suicide bombers, Adil only thinks the thoughts and then goes back to his job working for the Israelis: "If only you were more cruel or harder of heart, you'd blow up everything you could lay hands on, from the Atlantic to the Gulf and on to the world's furthest reaches. You'd leave no two stones standing. You'd uproot the trees, exposing the infections beneath the earth's surface to the light of the sun, to the breezes of spring. You'd turn everything upside-down. And begin again. Slowly, very slowly. Here a seedling. There a tree. Here a flower. And you, young Sabir, a tall, broad-shouldered palm. Your hands would bring rocks from the depths of the earth and from the mountains. Those stones would shine like raw diamonds. We could colour them, decorate them, and build them into rows of beautiful houses that would stretch as far as the eye could see and stand for all eternity. The soldiers' metal detectors could ring all they liked, we wouldn't hear them." (207)
These are the thoughts Adil has as his enormous, ancient family house lays in ruins, the house that Khalifeh first described as "...a real, old-style mansion. There were marble pillars, high valuted ceilings and an open courtyard paved with huge stones. In the middle of the courtyard was a pool, surrounded by lemon trees and sweet-smelling jasmine. Arabesque plasterwork decorated the walls, stained glass lanterns reflected the light and the anitque chests in every room were inlaid with mother-of-pearl." (33)
As his world crumbles, Adil meditates on the poetry of nuclear terrorism-- to destroy all and begin again. Yet for Adil, he sees it only as a wish-fulfillment, a dream upon which he would never act. The novel closes as people go about their business, selling newspapers and other goods, buying vegetables, fruit and bread, surrendering to the same sad survival that Wiesel's holocaust victims did. Does Khalifeh give you insights into the souls of these men, that you don't see in the other two novels?
MARTYR'S CROSSING is Amy Wilentz' first novel. She is a journalist, a chronicler of Haitian life and politics and an essayist for The New Yorker. She said in an interview with Kate Manning that the key to writing a novel is to create at least one character whom everyone will love, so that when he is not there, you want him back. Now that she has finished the novel, she feels lost without Doron, George, Marina and Ahmed. She says that she likes Ahmed the best because he is self-centered, self-important, and based loosely on a former PLO fighter and Bethlehem politician, who lived in a tent on a mountain until he was forced to move into an Israeli settlement. Wilentz said that Marina was the most difficult character to write because she is the closest to herself. Even though she is a journalist, she tried to put the politics around the characters' situations so that we never lose our emotional grip on the story. She says that Doron is not crazy when he dresses up in Palestinian clothes to search for Marina in Ramallah; it is because he sees the other side as human that he succumbs to his suicidal situation at the end. Many of the scenes between George and Marina were similar to those between Amy and her father. When asked about gender and fiction, Wilentz said: "MARTYR'S CROSSING is very much a guy's novel. It's full of history and politics and explosions and what, I'm told, is a rather ripping plot, amazingly enough, since plot is something I hate thinking about." (Appendix)
In this cluster we are focusing on character. Note how Wilentz goes against type and makes Ari Doron, the Israeli border guard, an almost psychotic, but highly empathic, sensitive, wandering Jew-- wandering into enemy territory in his Palestinian disguise to get himself killed. See how puny, skinny and almost wimpy the jailed Hamas leader Hajimi Hassan is. Only Ahmed Amr, and Yizhar, the Israeli boss, and George Raad, the American/Palestinian writer/intellectual seem truer to type. When does stereotype work and when does it become shallow? Can going against type create unbelievable characters or just reflections of the author? In her effort to go against type has Wilentz just created mirrors of herself? Does her over-the-shoulder third person narrator who speaks in the same staccato, verbless sentences for everyone help or hurt the interior monologues of characterisation? Does the precipitous inciting incident give you enough time to develop empathy for Ibrahim, the asthmatic baby? What techniques does she use to enhance suspense in the thriller structure? Notice the clarity of the central dramatic question: "Will Hamas find The Soldier indirectly responsible for Ibrahim's death?" and the way Wilentz relentlessly focuses on this question from every perspective. Wilentz' transparent, communicative style prunes descriptive, interior monologue, dialogue and diversion to create the forward momentum of her American style narrative, unlike Rushdie's more coded novel that requires research into Indian culture, the Koran, immigrant London and his fertile imagination in order to understand all the allusions. Wilentz is a perceptive writer, an accomplished journalist who seems to understand Israel better than Palestine. Based on my trip to Israel in the seventies, I was particularly impressed with her economical, but brilliant description:
"Doron hated the desert wind: it coated cars with a film of yellow sand, it go up your nose, it made you cough, and worst of all, it reminded you that Jerusalem, with its McDonald's and Burger Kings and nice red buses and nice red post offices and its green gardens and flowering terraces and public buildings flanked by foundatins, was actually right on the edge of an ancient desert where camels and cactuses and Bedouins were the only successful species. " (109)
Contrast the difference in the traditional American suspense structure of MARTYRS CROSSING with the Arabic narrative of WILD THORNS and the wildly nonlinear, deconstructionist narrative of SATANIC VERSES, which nevertheless, has a beginning, middle and end. Note the preponderance of dialogue again in the Arabic novel, the use of compound words in SATANIC VERSES to accentuate the "chutneyfication" of language, and the clean, New York nineties style of MARTYR's CROSSING. See how Rushdie and Wilentz play with good and evil, while Khalifeh sticks to her political agenda and didacticism, albeit embedding it in a rich poetic language and imagery.
To clarify the sociopolitical context of this cluster, read the following speech given by President Bush on June 24, 2002: