Ali Ettefagh at PostGlobal

Ali Ettefagh

Tehran, Iran

Dr. Ali Ettefagh serves as a director of Highmore Global Corporation, an investment company in emerging markets of Eastern Europe, CIS, and the Middle East. He is the co-author of several books on trade conflict, resolution of international trade disputes, conflicts in letters of credit, trade-related banking transactions, sovereign debt, arbitration and dispute resolutions and publications specific to the oil and gas, communication, aviation and finance sectors. Dr. Ettefagh is a member of the executive committee and the board of directors of The Development Foundation, an advisor to the United Nations High Commission for Refugees, and an advisor to a number of European companies. Dr. Ettefagh speaks Persian (Farsi), English, German, French, Spanish, Italian, Arabic and Turkish. Close.

Ali Ettefagh

Tehran, Iran

Dr. Ali Ettefagh serves as a director of Highmore Global Corporation, an investment company in emerging markets of Eastern Europe, CIS, and the Middle East. more »

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France's Choice Defies Logic

The Current Discussion: France has rejected a citizenship application from a burqa-wearing Moroccan woman on the grounds that she has "insufficiently assimilated" to French culture. Should cultural assimilation be a requirement for citizenship?

This is indeed an eye-opener, but not a shock. For the last eight years, we have seen cropped versions of human rights laced with knee-jerk reactions of governments. It is an intriguing contrast of human rights stacked against predisposition of governments to cast aside constitutions, cool-headed interpretations of constitutions and rule by imperial decrees. This particular case is a leap beyond the logic that separates the church from the state, especially in one of the EU melting pot countries.

The hyper-mad combination of intolerance, ignorance and distorted logic is mistaken as fact for reason and clever mixture of modern thought. Poisoned vocabularies of fights, war, fundamental threats and defense seem to bully otherwise strong, vibrant societies. Since 9-11, the anti-Muslim angle has climbed its own exaggerations to points where minds fail to function. Thanks to an extraordinary dismissal of common sense, not to mention the divisive panic in the media, the borderlines between radicalism, crimes and terrorists, religious practices and cultural behavior are all diffused as to let choice of dress (in the land of top fashion design, among all places) fill the logical void with hate, prejudice or trash talk. Laws and administrative views now tilt towards impeachment of personal choices; breaching personal freedoms seems to be fair and just.

The recent decision of the Conseil d’État, essentially a body of decision making in the interest of the French state — not the people - is a remarkable change of principles in a democracy that promotes Liberté, Égalité & Fraternité. It seems to have summed up people’s appearances and dress as a “threat” to the state. It might as well be the secret Lettre de Cachet (a form of royal warrant issued without a trial) of 17th- and early 18th-century imperial France, a summary decree against people who had not committed crimes but who had fallen out of favour or were deemed as dangerous to the royal family. One such warrant was issued against Voltaire—a notable philosopher and a major contributor to the Age of Enlightenment in European liberalism and social democracy who fought for civil rights, right to a fair trial and freedom of religion that eventually underpinned the rule of law in France. Sadly, Voltaire was also a hardened anti-Muslim and generally a racist who thought non-Europeans were inferior. I wonder if that defect in logic is carried forward to the 21st century? Or, in line with medieval practices of holding people without charge in Guantanamo, is this merely a renaissance of the Spanish Inquisition and the Alhambra Decree on the rebound—where the president is the son of Hungarian and Jewish Greek immigrants, and where the justice minister, Madame Rachida Dati, is the daughter of a Moroccan bricklayer and Algerian mother?

Successful civilizations and liberal democracies tend to find a cause for convergence and cross enrichment within their societies. Mandated assimilation to the diktat of the State can only lead to formation of ghettos and invisible walls within the society, especially in a European Union made up of 27 different cultures. Achtung: this case of a Moroccan and married to a French citizen will be most fascinating to follow to the European Court of Human Rights.

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