Ian Birrell

Ian Birrell is a former Deputy Editor of The Independent and co-founder of Africa Express

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In unison: Much of Mali’s music has been banned since last year’s Festival in the Desert

Musicians of Mali fight for nation's soul

As Islamist militants try to take over, suppressed artists show support for the French

It is vital to step in now and stop the deadly march of these extremist militias in Mali

If Mopti fell, it would plunge 120,000 into the arms of the Islamists, with their segregation of sexes, banning of music and brutal interpretations of sharia

For too long the West has been blind to Africa's true nature. Now, we risk being left behind

Turkey, France and Holland are building trade links with resurgent African nations

Churches' hostility to gay marriage only underlines their impotence

It may be low politics or high principle but the Government is right to push for this

Ms Dorries, to her credit, told Mr Wales they would not write a ‘whitewash’ report

When naive good intentions meet corrupt kleptocracy

Tagging along on an all-party trip to Equatorial Guinea, Ian Birrell saw how reality can quickly be forgotten

Man of the hour? 'Genius strategist' Lynton Crosby

Lynton Crosby is a disastrous signing for the Tories

He's been hailed as the "Wizard of Oz", but there are limits to the wizardry of the man who'll be running the Conservative election campaign.

Crisis stations: The 'Newsnight' blunder is the latest in a series of self-inflicted wounds

Epic blunder, but we must not let the BBC self-destruct

The Director General has stepped down, but the broadcaster needs yet more radical surgery

Michael Mates will challenge for the post of commissioner in Hampshire

At last! Commissioners will restore public trust in the police by devolving power and are long overdue

Lamentable leadership and the influence of unions have held back the men in uniform for too long. Now you can vote and exert some control over their actions

Climate of fear: A 'Panorama' exposé has heightened alarm about abuse

Killing kindness with red tape

Human warmth is at the heart of relationships between vulnerable people and their carers. But heightened fears about abuse mean simple friendship is increasingly viewed with suspicion

Cameron must modernise, not appease the reactionaries

David Cameron needs to remind people who he is – a compassionate and modern conservative.

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Day In a Page

Cameron, Miliband and Clegg join forces for Homeless Veterans campaign

Cameron, Miliband and Clegg join forces for Homeless Veterans campaign

It's in all our interests to look after servicemen and women who fall on hard times, say party leaders
Millionaire Sol Campbell wades into wealthy backlash against Labour's mansion tax

Sol Campbell cries foul at Labour's mansion tax

The former England defender joins Myleene Klass, Griff Rhys Jones and Melvyn Bragg in criticising proposals
Nicolas Sarkozy returns: The ex-President is preparing to fight for the leadership of France's main opposition party – but will he win big enough?

Sarkozy returns

The ex-President is preparing to fight for the leadership of France's main opposition party – but will he win big enough?
Is the criticism of Ed Miliband a coded form of anti-Semitism?

Is the criticism of Miliband anti-Semitic?

Attacks on the Labour leader have coalesced around a sense that he is different, weird, a man apart. But is the criticism more sinister?
Ouija boards are the must-have gift this Christmas, fuelled by a schlock horror film

Ouija boards are the must-have festive gift

Simon Usborne explores the appeal - and mysteries - of a century-old parlour game
There's a Good Girl exhibition: How female creatives are changing the way women are portrayed in advertising

In pictures: There's a Good Girl exhibition

The new exhibition reveals how female creatives are changing the way women are portrayed in advertising
UK firm Biscuiteers is giving cookies a makeover - from advent calendars to doll's houses

UK firm Biscuiteers is giving cookies a makeover

It worked with cupcakes, doughnuts and macarons so no wonder someone decided to revamp the humble biscuit
Can SkySaga capture the Minecraft magic?

Can SkySaga capture the Minecraft magic?

It's no surprise that the building game born in Sweden in 2009 and now played by millions, has imitators keen to construct their own mega money-spinner
The King's School is way ahead of the pack when it comes to using the latest classroom technology

Staying connected: The King's School

The school in Cambridgeshire is ahead of the pack when it comes to using the latest classroom technology. Richard Garner discovers how teachers and pupils stay connected
Christmas 2014: 23 best women's perfumes

Festively fragrant: the best women's perfumes

Give a loved one a luxe fragrance this year or treat yourself to a sensual pick-me-up
Arsenal vs Borussia Dortmund: Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain celebrates century with trademark display of speed and intuition

Arsenal vs Borussia Dortmund

The Ox celebrates century with trademark display of speed and intuition
Billy Joe Saunders vs Chris Eubank Jnr: When two worlds collide

When two worlds collide

Traveller Billy Joe Saunders did not have a pampered public-school upbringing - unlike Saturday’s opponent Chris Eubank Jnr
Homeless Veterans Christmas Appeal: Drifting and forgotten - turning lives around for ex-soldiers

Homeless Veterans Christmas Appeal: Turning lives around for ex-soldiers

Our partner charities help veterans on the brink – and get them back on their feet
Putin’s far-right ambition: Think-tank reveals how Russian President is wooing – and funding – populist parties across Europe to gain influence in the EU

Putin’s far-right ambition

Think-tank reveals how Russian President is wooing – and funding – populist parties across Europe to gain influence in the EU
Tove Jansson's Moominland: What was the inspiration for Finland's most famous family?

Escape to Moominland

What was the inspiration for Finland's most famous family?