Coup d’oeil: Left behind edition

So it’s the blog that’s been left behind. I’ve managed to stay right here at home in America for almost three months, and it’s been bliss. Regular workdays, dinner parties with friends, some time in the country, a routine!

I’m headed out to Jakarta tonight for a couple of weeks on a research trip, and maybe things will pick up around here while I’m traveling. Although, I guess I haven’t even gotten around to posting pictures from my trip to Istanbul in April….

Here are a few things that have been keeping me busy:

  • The Becket Fund’s own Luke Goodrich explaining how Sharia-based arbitration works in the US, at the UK Guardian: Sharia Across the Pond.

Coup d’oeil has mainly been posting her reading elsewhere:

  • Considering I am flying there tonight, I should maybe be more freaked out by the simultaneous bombings in Jakarta a couple of weeks ago, but the thing is statistically it’s safer now….
  • The Templeton Foundation asks, Does evolution explain human nature? I love this format. Answers ranged from “Obviously, says the monkey,” to “Except where it matters,” “Not entirely,” “More fully by the day,” to “Yes.” My favourite paper title might be “Totally, for a Martian.”  HT Ard Louis.

Eva in Paris

  • Foreign on State-Sponsored Sufism in Pakistan, backed by US think tanks.  I used to read Ali Eteraz’s blog. Unfortunately, he doesn’t give any mention to promoting religious freedom for all as a solution to extremism, but it’s still quite a good piece explaining why state-sponsored religion as a counter to extremism isn’t helpful.
  • Better than reading: Love Thy Enemies. A backer of Mir Hossein Mousavi helps evacuate an injured riot-police officer during riots in Tehran on June 13, 2009.

Love Thy Enemies


  • The Same-Sex Future, at the New York Review of Books. The Becket Fund’s book is one of four reviewed. A thoughtful piece.
  • Ben’s wedding in Martha Stewart Magazine!! “A wooded park in Brooklyn comes alive — whimsy peeks out through spring-green trees, wonder perches on budding blooms, and joy showers down from the heavens — as a creative couple says ‘I do.'”


  • Honduras: Stop calling it a coup! “The Supreme Court ruled [Zelaya’s referendum to extend his presidency] unconstitutional, and it instructed the military not to carry out the logistics of the vote as it normally would do. The top military commander, Gen. Romeo Vásquez Velásquez, told the president that he would have to comply. Mr. Zelaya promptly fired him.”
  • Steven Chu on the Daily Show giving Jon Stewart a Nerds of America T-shirt. Love it. Especially when Stewart tells Chu he’s the “first cabinet member from the Obama administration who looks alive.”

International Law Fellowship at The Becket Fund

Job Posting:
International Law Fellow

The Becket Fund for Religious Liberty, a non-profit religious freedom law firm representing people of all faiths, is now accepting applications for an 18-month law fellowship, with the potential for permanent employment at the end of the fellowship period. The position is full-time, based in Washington, DC, and reports directly to the International Law Director.

Responsibilities include:

• litigation and scholarship in international religious freedom issues;
• research and writing on substantive issues pertaining to international religious freedom, including drafting of briefs, statements, speeches, reports, and articles;
• implementing and teaching a legal training program on international religious freedom;

Qualifications. The candidate must have a law degree from an American law school and a demonstrated commitment to the Becket Fund’s mission of protecting religious liberty for people of all faiths.

Advanced studies in education, international relations, human rights, the Middle East, North Africa, and/or South(east) Asia, would be helpful, as would French, Arabic, Chinese, or other foreign language skills. Potential for travel abroad.

All may apply, but candidates with at least one year of substantive litigation or clerkship experience preferred.

Applications will be considered on a rolling basis.

Interested candidates should send a resume, writing sample (of any length on any topic, but preferably a legal or philosophical piece), and date of availability to Ben Kemmy (bkemmy AT becketfund DOT org).

Fellowship salary competitive for public interest attorneys. Excellent benefits.

Interview in Today’s Zaman

A Turkish daily interviewed me during a recent trip to Istanbul on different religious liberty models in European states.

Expert: Religious freedom hot topic everywhere

There is great controversy in many European countries over religious expression, and Turkey is not alone in its debates on this issue, according to an expert in international law specializing in religious liberty.

“The strict separation of state from religion [in Turkey] reaches to the point that it necessitates the state to control religious expression. And when you have state control of religious expression, it often necessitates that the state should choose between different ideologies to promote,” according to [–], international law director for the US-based non-profit law firm Becket Fund for Religious Liberty.

Read on.

Moderating UN Geneva Summit panel on Sunday

This is also Durban related.  Take a tour round the summit website, where you can watch the live webcast of the entire conference.

On April 19, 2009, one day before the international community gathers in Geneva to address racism, intolerance and persecution in the High-Level Segment of the UN Durban Review Conference (DRC), a coalition of human rights, anti-racism and pro-democracy activists will assemble to place the most pressing situations on the world agenda.

The civil society conference will be hosted at the Centre International de Conférences Genève, adjacent to the Palais des Nations UN compound.

My session runs 16:30 – 18:00, Geneva time, which is 6 hours ahead of EST.
Session IV: Freedom of Expression and “Defamation of Religion”
UDHR Art. 18: Right to freedom of thought, conscience and religion
UDHR Art. 19: Right to freedom of opinion and expression
[–], International Law Director, the Becket Fund
Mohamed Sifaoui, Journalist, Algeria
Floyd Abrams, U.S. advocate for First Amendment press freedom
Patrick Gaubert, President of LICRA and Member of the European Parliament
Steven Groves, Heritage Foundation
Caroline Fourest, French Journalist

Click here for the full program.

The chronicles of Gertrude and Charles, Vol. I

Attention: Do not be surprised or put off by literary or imaginary characters that may appear in these pages. Regards.

Dear Sir Noted Stop Will be on the lookout Stop Hope to see you soon Stop Affectionately yours Gertrude Stop


A “friend” is delivering this. Received your latest. Am concerned for your safety in Lisbon. Do not delay there and make plans for Paris with haste.
Send money.

Yours always,

Dear Charles,

Timothy delivered your note. So glad you’re not lying in a ditch and have repented of your wild ways. Don’t worry about me, am having gorgeous time with the pygmies and haven’t any time for Paris, but enclosed find a check. It should be enough for passage home.

Ever your own,

P.S. Do give Daisy my love and buy her an ice cream when you think of it.

Dearest Gertrude,

I can not thank you enough for your assistance. It arrived just in time for me to purchase a ticket on a steamer leaving Tangiers for Majorca. As you may have heard, I had a bit of difficulty with the roulette there, the cheats! I am at the Hotel Dalt Murada. It is a fine place, but perhaps beyond my means because I was taken in by a Sicilian canasta sharpie on the passage. I am the victim of my own innocence, others always taking advantage. Perhaps dear, you could provide some assistance? Oh, come to think of it, doesn’t your good friend Betsy vacation here this time of year? Surely she would not be inconvenienced by me.

I can not believe that you are forsaking Paris for your blessed pygmies. How will I ever understand you? Still, your heart for science and exploration is charming. All in all, I am relieved you are not in Lisbon!

Surely I will give your love to Daisy when I ever make it home.

Yours always,

Charles, my dear,

No, no no! Homeward you must go. You mustn’t leave poor Daisy waiting, and wearing her sad beanie, and longing for you. It’s simply not respectable, and mother will be worried sick besides. I’ve rung Betsy and she’d love to have you but do stay away from her poodle this time, the poor thing hasn’t recovered yet, you naughty boy. I’ve wired passage home to Betsy and you must promise me you’ll leave just as soon as you can bear the high seas again.

Your very own,

P.S. I Quite agree about the Sicilians, but after that fiasco in Monaco, I thought you would know better!

My one and only Gertrude,

How could I deny you anything? But of course I will return home to sweet Daisy at the earliest opportunity. Do not think me heartless. You, mother and Daisy are constantly in my thoughts.

Thank you so much dear for the arrangements with Betsy. I assure you, that I had nothing to do with her poodle. It was solely Jeremy’s doing. I will leave here shortly, please contact me at Betsy’s. Hopefully the barmaid will not figure out where I have gone. I promise, no problems with the militia this time. Oh, do you have any friends at the Consulate?

My fondest,

P.S. Since Monaco I have been a martyr to my own innocence. What is your poor Charles to do?

Charles! Not another barmaid! I am greatly distressed and know not what to do with myself. Also I am laughing so hard I can hardly speak. Love, Gertrude

“We do not remember days, we remember moments.”

(Cesare Pavese, The Burning Brand)

These are some of the things I can’t forget from the last three months of travel.   For the sake of unity, I’ve chosen only images from New Zealand.

Doubtful Sound, Fiordland, New Zealand
Doubtful Sound, Fiordland, New Zealand
Doubtful Sound, Fiordland, New Zealand
Doubtful Sound, Fiordland, New Zealand. I swam in these waters, brisk and blissful.
Doubtful Sound, Fiordland, New Zealand • I went swimming in these waters
Doubtful Sound, Fiordland, New Zealand
Casey coaxing Abel into the penguin hole, Oamaru, New Zealand
Casey coaxing Abel into the penguin hole, Oamaru, New Zealand
Tea at Janet Frame's kitchen table, Oamaru, New Zealand
Tea at Janet Frame's kitchen table, Oamaru, New Zealand
Milford Track, Fiordland, New Zealand
Cloud fall over Milford Sound, Fiordland, New Zealand
Cloud fall over Milford Sound, Fiordland, New Zealand. I took this through a window, and you can see the reflection of our Cesna wing.
Lake Te Anau by Cesna
Lake Te Anau by Cesna, Fiordland, New Zealand
Leaving Milford Sound by Cesna, Fiordland, New Zealand
Leaving Milford Sound by Cesna, Fiordland, New Zealand
Caitlins Coast, New Zealand
Caitlins Coast, New Zealand
Off the Caitlins coast, New Zeland
Evidence of the strong winds off the Caitlins coast, New Zeland
160-million-year-old petrified forest, Caitlins, New Zealand
160-million-year-old petrified forest, Caitlins, New Zealand
The road from Kenepuru Saddle, Queen Charlotte Track, Marlborough, New Zealand
The Queen Charlotte Track is 71 km long if you don't take any divesions, and runs along mountains surrounding Queen Charlotte Sound on the northern tip of New Zealand's Southern Island. This was the road from Kenepuru Saddle on the track.
Maximum load one person • Queen Charlotte Track, New Zealand
Maximum load 1 person • One lane bridge on the Queen Charlotte Track, New Zealand
Torea Bay, Queen Charlotte Sound, New Zealand
Torea Bay, Queen Charlotte Sound, New Zealand
On the Queen Charlotte Track, New Zealand
On the Queen Charlotte Track, Marlborough, New Zealand
Honeydew on Birch on the Queen Charlotte Track, Marlborough, New Zealand
Honeydew on birch off the Queen Charlotte Track, Marlborough, New Zealand
Hammock strings over a brook at Lochmara, Marlborough, New Zealand
Hammock strings over a brook at Lochmara Lodge, Marlborough, New Zealand. I spent a lot of time in that hammock on the last day of the 85-km trek.
In memory of Bing Lucas, New Zealand architect, Queen Charlotte Sound overlook, New Zealand
Fastened to a bench at an overlook. In memory of Bing Lucas, 1925-2000, Queen Charlotte Sound, New Zealand