Rageh Omaar

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In Africa this past week a completely peaceful presidential election was held. International observers said it met all the western standards for a free election. What's more, the incumbent president fully accepted the result the minute it was announced and handed over power to his successor and bitter political rival – and on accepting his victory, the president-elect thanked and congratulated the outgoing president for his services to his country.

What makes this election remarkable, and an important example not just to Africa but to the whole of the developing world – especially Muslim countries – is that it took place in Somaliland, a self-declared republic that broke away from the rest of Somalia 20 years ago, which doesn't get a penny of international assistance, and which hosts an estimated 600,000 refugees from the continuing civil war in the rest of Somalia.…  Seguir leyendo »

I could not have been in a better place to witness Barack Obama elected president of the United States. I may have been thousands of miles away from that windswept Chicago park where he made his victory speech to a delirious multicoloured and multi-faith crowd, but the Middle East is where much of the "change" he has promised to America and the rest of the world will be first tested.

I was in northern Syria, close to the border with Lebanon, filming a documentary about the impact of the Crusades on relations between the west and the Islamic world. The five Syrians I was with, Muslims and Orthodox Christians and, like most people in the Middle East, still in their 30s, each said they had prayed for an Obama victory.…  Seguir leyendo »