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Thursday, 25 August 2016 16:36

My European Bookshelf

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Photo: jvoves (Flickr); Licence CC BY 2.0 

What is Europe? Is Europe more a geographical, cultural, political or economic concept? What defines the European identity? These are all questions E&M has pondered from the very beginning, and over the years we’ve come up with many very different answers. Indeed, our vision of what Europe is and should be is influenced by many factors. With this new regular feature, My European Bookshelf, we wanted to consider one of those factors: literature. In this space, E&M has invited young Europeans to share the books that have shaped their understanding and perception of Europe. 

European Youth Title imahe
Photo: duncan c (Flickr); Licence: CC BY-NC 2.0

Europe is on the edge. Brexit, the anti-democratic developments in Eastern Europe with authoritarian governments in Poland and Hungary, and the rise of the far-right in Germany with the AfD and Pegida movement as well as in France (Front National) anticipate the imminent collapse of the European Union as the biggest peace project in our common history. Nevertheless, in all the debates on which direction our continent and the world should take, the political elite ignores young people. They fail to recognise that they cannot set the course for the future without paying attention to those who will be most affected by today’s decisions.

The rise of the far-right is symptom of a lack of political alternatives with one big loser: young people.
Nigel Farage
Photo: European Parlament (flickr) Licence: CC BY-NC-ND 2.0

A few weeks ago, in Brussels, an unpopular fellow named Nigel Farage flouted his Brexit victory in the face of his fellow Members of the European Parliament (MEPs). After boos from Europeans of many persuasions, Martin Schulz reminded the MEPs that “a major quality of democracy is you listen to those even if you don’t share their opinion.” British and American “liberals” are aghast that such tolerance would take place.

“Is that what democracy’s about? I thought it was about protecting the institutions of the EU, no matter what the people say,” a Labour supporter in London reported to your correspondent. He declined to be named for this article, describing himself as “a voice of the people.” When asked if the votes of 52% of British citizens should be overruled, he said, “Yeah, that’s right.”

Refugees in Riace
Photo: piervincenzocanale (flickr); Licence: CC BY 2.0

Our editor Nicoletta Enria points you in the direction of a few articles guaranteed to make you ponder. Read about refugees who revive a small Italian village in Calabria, the growing trend of “voluntourism” and how European countries deal with non-physical abuse. 

Nicoletta, Baby and Legs editor

nicoletta

A non-conventional Refugee story

The other day I had a rather depressing conversation, or more precisely argument with some people I went to school with about the refugee crisis and more specifically refugees in Italy. This really reminded me of the importance of fair representation of refugees, reminding people that they are not just a mass of displaced people making their way through Europe but are humans coming from a variety of cultures, countries, religions and social backgrounds. This article and photo reportage by Al-Jazeera’s Thomas Bruckner really fit this criteria by representing refugees as humans and casting a light on the positive impact they have had on some societies. In this reportage he casts a light on the story of the mayor of the village of Riace, Domenico Lucano who saw the presence of refugees in Italy as an opportunity to save the shrinking community of Riace and thus started the ‘refugees welcome’ project. I found this article particularly important in standing against the majority of articles about refugees that focus on depicting refugees as a mass of people on rickety boats and the societal problems they cause in society. The photographs show the community of Riace which is not ‘hosting’ refugees but rather incorporates them, reminding us that refugees are humans seeking safety. This really made me think of the importance to keep stories like this circulating to fight against prejudice and diminutive stereotypes. When reporting on a phenomenon like the refugee crisis today, it is of vital importance to keep the bigger picture in mind

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