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Phedre/Democracy/Venice Biennale/Religion and Women

Presented by Rana Mitter. With a review of Helen Mirren's portrayal of Phedre, John Keane on the future of democracy and a debate about whether the world's religions oppress women.

Rana Mitter presents the arts and ideas programme.

Susannah Clapp has the first review of The National Theatre's production of Phedre, in which Helen Mirren stars as the eponymous tragic Greek heroine destroyed by her passion for her own stepson.

Rana talks to politics professor John Keane about his new book charting the history of democracy. Far from witnessing the triumph of democracy, the 21st century - according to Keane - will actually see its destruction and mutation. Are today's democracies sleepwalking their way into trouble?

Sylvia Smith reports from the world's oldest art festival - the Venice Biennale - which has an increasing focus on Arabic art. The Gulf States have opened their first pavilions in the 2009 exhibition.

And does God hate women? Yes, says American philosopher Ophelia Benson, who argues that religion encourages the oppression of women and attacks Western liberals for not speaking out against religious misogyny. Rana debates this controversial claim with Ophelia Benson, Madeleine Bunting and Humera Khan.

45 minutes

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Free Thinking

Free Thinking

Radio 3’s new home for arts and ideas.