16 years on… A reflection.

Today marks 16 years since one of the most tragic days in recent history. On the morning of Tuesday 11th September 2001, the world woke up to the tragic news of one of the most horrendous terrorist attacks on western soil in years. We pause to remember those 2,977 innocent victims who lost their lives, to send our prayers to their families & to pay tribute to the heroism of the first responders and volunteers who responded to New York’s time of need with courage and dedication.

Countless lives lost in an instant. Hijacked planes flying into the World Trade Centre – it was something no one had imagined in their wildest dreams. 2,977 lives were lost and a further 6000 others were injured. Families shattered, loved ones lost. It still sends shivers down the spine. The images of the collapsing towers engulfed in flames, the smoke and debris still feels fresh to this day. President Bush declaring in response

Terrorist attacks can shake the foundation of our biggest building, but they cannot touch the foundations of America.

He wasn’t the most loved President at the time and still continues to divide opinion; but at the time, his words provided assurance to people all over the world and helped show defiance to terrorists who tried to break the spirit of our freedom and tolerance.

I still recall – being a 9 year old child at the time. Hearing about the incident, going into school the next day – still deeply disturbed by the events of the day before. Only to see a devastated teacher at school who’s son had gone to New York on holiday. The look of desperation on his face was something I had never seen before. Glued to his phone – he was anxiously trying to get hold of his son but was having no luck. We learned from him a few days later that his son had been admitted to a New York hospital suffering from smoke related injuries but was safe.

This single fateful day reshaped the world we live in drastically. The idea of terrorist attacks on such a large scale in the West were unthinkable – especially at the turn of the new millennium, when significant world events had occurred to aid our quest for world peace. Peace in Northern Ireland had just become a reality – with the Good Friday agreement just a few years prior. A jubilant Tony Blair as British PM in Paris in 1997 had declared proudly:

Mine is the first generation able to contemplate the possibility that we may live our entire lives without going to war or sending our children to war.

Little did anyone know, that just a few years later – the attacks on September 11th would reshape global geopolitics in such a way that the western world would once again be plunged into a endless conflict with the Gulf states. One who’s effects still seems to continue to this very day.

Not only did the attacks on September 11th redefine America, but also the whole of the western world. The resulting wars in Afghanistan and Iraq paved ways for radical preachers to capitalise on the casualties of these wars and use the deaths of civilians as a fuel to ignite their fires of hatred in the hearts of many young people throughout the west. We continue to see the effects of this even today. After September 11th, terror attacks became more common throughout the west. From the 7/7 bombings in London the following year, to the recent attacks in Paris, Brussels, Manchester and London once again. Terror attacks on western soil orchestrated by home grown terrorists have become a sad but regular occurrence in our lives. While the root cause behind these can be attributed to many factors – ranging from hate preachers brainwashing innocent youth to lack of integration and hatred for western values. One thing remains true – the attacks of 9/11 have deeply scarred the world and its dark legacy continues to haunt us to this day.

On my visit to New York in 2012 for a conference, I decided to take some time out and visit the 9/11 memorial on ground zero that had just been newly opened at the time. Despite being 11 years on since the attacks, the area still has a deeply unsettling feel to it. As soon as you step into the vicinity of the grounds where the tall and grand towers once stood – every other thought escapes your mind. You can’t help but feel overcome with emotion. The scenes of suffering and terror that you once saw on the TV start to flash through your mind. The monument houses two fountains honouring those innocent lives that were lost, with plaques hearing the names of all those 2,977 kind souls who lost their lives in 2001 and the 6 who lost their lives in a bomb attack on the World Trade Centre previously in 1993.

Despite all these years, countless military operations and arrests; justice still remains elusive for the families of the victims of this tragic atrocity. The five men accused of masterminding these attacks remain in US custody – awaiting trial. Despite hoards of evidence stacked up against them including tapes of their ring leader boasting of orchestrating the attacks to press media in 2002, a date for the trial remains provisionally set to start in 2019. Despite there being enough evidence to convict, the trials have been repeatedly put off potentially due to some of the methods used to obtain information – with one of the convict alleged to have been given the controversial “Waterboarding” treatment 183 times in a single month alongside rectal rehydration. Thus potentially jeopardising the Prosecution’s claims.

The biggest disservice in all of this is to the families of the victims – seeking closure. From what it seems – Justice is a long way away for these families.

The 2,977 individuals who lost their lives on that tragic day act as a reminder to us all of our duties to fight any form of extremism – especially in these times where we are seeing a rise in extremist ideologies across our nations.

On behalf of everyone at Graduates of Democracy, I, as President of the board would like to pay my respects to all those who lost their lives, their families and loved ones. I would also like to take this opportunity to pay tribute to all the first responders and volunteers who responded in the toughest hour in New York’s history. Their heroism and selfless acts are a testament to the unwavering spirit of New York.

By Mu-Hamid Pathan


– President – Graduates of Democracy

– Former Member of UK Youth Parliament for Leicester South & Media representative for UKYP East Mids

– Mentor to Leicester Children’s Council

– Freelance Politics, policy and participation advisor

– Young Advisor to O2 mobile on youth strategy and Think Big CSR

– Steering group member for Young Researchers network


Twitter- @Muhamid_Pathan


The advance of economic patriotism

The last few days in Europe’s business community have been turbulent. For once it was not about the impact of the new American administration on the European economy, but about acquisitions. Big ones. Where many of us were worried about “America First”, it now seems that in Europe something similar is happening. Not Europe first or Brussels first, but the UK first, the Netherlands first, and Germany first. The developments of last week might prove to be characteristic for the future of Europe’s economy.

The most important news of last week was the failed attempt by American food giant Kraft Heinz to buy its Anglo-Dutch rival Unilever for the price of 143 Billion USD, which would Continue reading “The advance of economic patriotism”

Statement by Candidates of Board 2016-2017 regarding Election Results and Follow-up

This post is also published in the Official FB Page of the Graduates of Democracy, on the
Official Graduates of Democracy Blog and Twitter Account.

• This post is on behalf of the all the current candidates to the Board of the Graduates of Democracy.

SUBJECT: Conclusions of the ‪#‎poll‬ on electoral changes.

Dear Graduates of Democracy,

The poll on eventual electoral changes was over almost two days ago and the majority (31 people) opted to extend the candidacies deadline and consequently the election dates. Furthermore, in the winning option there is the commitment to provide more information on the elections. In this regards, please do comment under this post on what you would like to have more info.

Since the winning option did not propose any functional change, the discussion is now open for any adjustments and/or proposals for new functions, though we would like to advise that any other position be discussed at a later time, possibly after the elections. Said elections will continue to be for the following roles:
1. President
2. Vice President in charge of External Coordination
3. Vice President in charge of Internal Coordination
4. Director of Communication
5. Editor in Chief
6. Treasurer.

Earlier this month there had been some discussion for the establishment of an Ethical Committee in charge of establishing a common Charter of Conduct. Hugo Decis and Gabriele Bortolotti are working on it and invite anyone who wants to lend a hand to contact them. Furthermore, after the election, there will be the opportunity to discuss the roles and elect Working Groups Rapporteurs and National Representatives.

As we focus now on the imminent elections that will be held from 10/08/2016, 8:00 CET to 14/08/2016, 23:59 CET, we would like to invite anyone who has the interest to candidate himself or herself to post his or her candidacy in this group by 07/08/2016, 23:59 CET. To have a clearer perspective on the candidates we will post all the nominees statements on a google doc divided by role (https://drive.google.com/…/0ByDLfVKgXnvAWEo0Tkw3aEstc…/view…)
and on the blog. Cecilia Passaniti will undertake the duty of adding all candidacies in the Official Document.

Again we are stressing the fact that the point of the elections is to create a structure and an official frame as we expand and become more involved with external actors. However, this hierarchy is not aimed at the exclusion of anyone and we invite all the Graduates of Democracy to keep contributing to the debates and creating now proposals to allow this community to grow. Let us not forget the important opportunity provided by the Socialists & Democrats group to discuss our agenda in Brussels next October. Everyone is, in fact, invited and encouraged to input his or her contribution inside and out of the working groups’ topics.

For now, please put forward your candidacy or any suggestion on what needs to be explained further.
Also do not forget to register for voting by sending you email address and full name to: Schoolofdemocracy2015@gmail.com In the next days a Google Doc with the instructions on how to vote and the link will be uploaded. Voting registration ends 07/08/2016, 23:59 CET.

Kind regards,
2016/2017 Board Candidates

Statement by Candidates of Board 2016-2017 regarding Election Procedures and Debates

This post has been published on the Official FB Page of the Graduates of Democracy, on the Official Graduates of Democracy Blog and on our Twitter Account.

This post is on behalf of the all the current candidates to the Board of the Graduates of Democracy

Topic under discussion:


A poll to see how the majority of the Graduates of Democracy wants to proceed with the voting process and procedures within our group.

Dear everyone,

The candidates for the Graduates of Democracy Board of 2016-2017 have started working on the programming code for the voting platform.

Since there has been a lot of approval/disapproval of the methodologies that have been used during these months, allow us to perhaps ask the most relevant question:

How do we have to proceed with the current elections for the board of the Graduates of Democracy?

We would like to elaborate on why this statement has been issued. As most of you are aware of, there have been some complaints about the current elections. The candidates who have proposed themselves in the last days sat together and would like to solve this matter together with all of you.

All candidates agree that communications have been a problem in the current system. However, since we do not have an executive board at the moment it is difficult to appoint someone responsible for contacting everyone. We also don’t have access to all email addresses for privacy reasons and are, unfortunately, fairly dependent on Facebook for important discussions and topics. It is our expectation that Facebook will remain to be the most important source of information [together with the blog] but we will do our best to share all new developments regarding the elections, and procedure discussions, via all our channels.

The original idea for a board has been discussed for over a year already. It was also an important suggestion made by the S&D-Group itself to have a clear reference point for communication. Regardless, we completely agree that the matter of communication should be improved. We hope that a new treasurer will find financial space to upgrade our blog. This will give us the opportunity to buy a special Members Only section via WordPress. Besides being a great addition to the blog, it will also help us improve inside communication. The new board, most likely the Director of Communication, will have to retrieve all email addresses.

Because of these problems and the fact that we don’t want to feel people excluded, we propose the above-mentioned poll. Please feel free to vote [and comment] via the following –> link <–.

In conclusion, if there were to be a majority, candidacies for the different positions should be closed on 07/08/2016, 23:59 CET. Voting registration (a follow-up on this will be published) will close on 07/08/2016, 23:59 CET.
The debate videos among candidates to the presidency will be posted on August 9th.
Elections will be open from 10/08/2016, 08:00 CET to 14/08/2016, 23:59 CET.

Let us keep a respectful and tolerant environment.
Kind regards,
2016-2017 Board Candidates