23 year old Yifat Schwartz studies media sciences at Sapir College in southern Israel. She fled from rocket attacks from the Gazastrip to Jerusalem. But the rockets followed her. On Friday a rocket landed in the vicinity of Jerusalem.

We were in a lecture when the leader of the military wing of Hamas was killed in the Gaza Strip. All phones were going off, some girls rushed off immediately and said to the teacher: "Excuse me, but we live far away, we have to go before it starts." Some of us stayed and studied more. After a while we heard three bombs crash and screams from outside and everyone panicked. I went outside and saw students weeping. "This is war!" someone shouted, "we have killed a really important leader, they will fight back," I started to tremble. After five minutes, the college was empty. I stood 20 minutes in traffic with my car.

Who is a "hero of Islam"?

The answer to one of the most sensitive questions of the early 21st century can be very different. Latifa Ibn Ziaten experienced this herself, to her horror. Her 30 year old son Imad was shot seven months ago. He was a paratrooper in the French army. "My son was proud to serve his country," Latifa said at the memorial service in spring. His murderer was Mohammed Merah, a 24-year old Islamic terrorist who killed three Muslim soldiers of the French army and then three Jewish children and a rabbi infront of an Orthodox Jewish school.

Ibn Ziaten Latifa, a 52-year old woman with a headscarf, went after the ceremony to the district where the killer was brought up, in the "Cité des Izard" of Toulouse. "Who is Mohamed Merah for you," she asked the young people in the street. "A hero of Islam," they shouted. "But he killed my son," she said. The boys felt uneasy. Before them stood a fellow muslim. They apologized for their remark. Latifa went to eat couscous with them. A short time later she started her own movement "for youth and peace." She wants to raise awareness that the underprivileged children of immigrants in "Cité of Izard" are part of the narrative of their new home: French from the Maghreb are citizens of the Republic, not the antithesis.

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Tariq Ramadan, 50, is the pop star of European Islam - he has lots of fans and enemies. The professor of "Contemporary Islamic Studies" teaches at the Faculty of Oriental Studies at Oxford. Since January 2012, he leads a "Research Center for Islamic Legislation and Ethics" in Qatar, which was made possible by Sheikha Mozah bint Nasser al Missned, wife of the reform-minded Emir of Qatar, Hamad bin Khalifa al Thani. Ramadan lives with his family in Geneva, where he grew up. As the grandson of the founder of the Egyptian Muslim Brotherhood, Hassan al-Banna, the devout Muslim belongs to the religious aristocracy of Islam.

It is high time to consider circumcision from a feminist perspective, says Tessa Szyszkowitz.

It is July in the garden of my parents in the south of Vienna. We sit in the shade under the beech tree and I tell my son Adam, who has just turned eight, that his Brit Mila took place in this house on the eighth day of his life. "My circumcision? Ugh," he says. "Let's go on the swing!"

But this is what happened. Our garden had been transformed by Chaya Molcho and Joshua Elbaranes into Schlaraffenland ("land of plenty"). The chief rabbi sang Yiddish rap, the Jewish wedding band played along and the entire family clan with all our friends from here and there was dancing Hora like crazed dervishes on the lawn. Before all this, little Adam was circumcised among the bookshelves in the living room of my parents by Vienna's best mohel. In his secular life, he is the kosher butcher of the second district in Vienna.

French star philosopher Bernard-Henri Lévy is in favor of military intervention in Syria, he thinks the travel ban for Grass to Israel is absurd and he defends Dominique Strauss-Kahn against the international mob.

It's Sunday morning last week and Bernard-Henri Lévy, France's most famous living philosopher, is at work. He walks into the lobby of the Hotel Bristol in Paris on his cell phone. When he has finished his conversations after half an hour, he approaches us and apologizes for the delay. The phone rings again. Levy disappears. Philosophy means for the 63-year-old star intellectual not to wallow in the seclusion of a library about abstract concepts, but to do very specific things, such as: To turn the war in Bosnia-occupied Sarajevo into a movie in 1992 or go to Pakistan to investigate the murder of U.S. journalist Daniel Pearl by Al Qaeda in 2002, or in 2011, to convince Nicolas Sarkozy, then French President, of the need for military intervention to overthrow the Libyan dictator Muammar al-Gaddafi. And now? Levy switches off his mobile phone.

French Middle East expert Gilles Kepel on the rebellion in Syria, the crucial phase of the "Arab Spring" and the Muslims in the suburbs of Paris.

Gilles Kepel, 56, is the leading expert on Islam in France. He comes from a Czech-French family and taught at the renowned Parisian elite university "Institut d'Etudes Politiques". For three decades he has observed political Islam and radical Islamism in the Arab world and in France. His best-known books include "Prophet and Pharaoh", "The spiral of terror: The way of Islam, September 11 in our suburbs", “The Black Book of Jihad: The Rise and Fall of Islam ". In February 2012 he published "Ninety-three", a tribute to Victor Hugo, and a study of the social revolution in the Parisian suburbs. Kepel met profil on the margins of a conference of "Rencontres Valmer: Beyond the Arab Spring" orgnized by the "Center for Mediterranean Integration" and the French Foreign Ministry in Marseille.

After tea with the queen © Shona McGrahan

After tea with the queen © Shona McGrahan

Die Queen begeht ihr 60. Thronjubiläum. Was Sie immer schon über die britische Königin wissen wollten. Und noch ein bisschen mehr.  

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© 2018 Tessa Szyszkowitz