I first met Hala at a tented settlement in central Bekaa, East Lebanon. She had been here for a year, one in a million refugees who have fled Syria. They call her 'the orphan'; her tomboy walk and winter hat make her easy to spot. She speaks with a disturbing nonchalance; a hardness, common amongst many refugees I have met. Her hair is falling out.
Taking full advantage of the opportunity for peace in the Philippines will require a sustained effort on the part of central and local governments, by the rebel movements, as well as in civil society and the business community, over many years. Some of the factors they will need to take into account were identified at by our taxi driver last night.
When Tony Blair claims it is religious or cultural difference that will fuel 21st century wars, not the ideologies that caused past wars (The Observer, January 26, 2014) he shows only a skewed notion of religion's place in society and history. He projects a narrow idea of what it means to be religious, and diverts attention from other, more systemic problems.
Is gender equality an issue that can be assigned to the conventional notions of left and right? Undoubtedly, it stretches across the political pantheon. But more importantly - is anti-Islamism now a stance the left and right can unite over? This is a discussion that needs to take place outside Westminster.