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The Key to Understanding Iran Is Poetry

The Key to Understanding Iran Is Poetry

14 min read Share Poetry is ubiquitous in Iran: It is on tombstones, human skin, walls, cars, shirts and social media biographies. Carpet makers weave couplets into rugs, and artisans etch them into jewelry. Weddings, funerals and religious services would not be complete without a poetry recitation, and much of Iran’s popular music is classical poetry set to traditional and modern instrumentals. Nearly every home has at least one dīvān (collection of poetry), placed next to the Quran to signal its significance. Iran lives and dies by poetry.Notwithstanding their educational attainments,...

July 23, 2021
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Western Homophobes Denigrate Others But Act the Same

Western Homophobes Denigrate Others But Act the Same

6 min read Share Spotlight is a newsletter about underreported cultural trends and news from around the world, emailed to subscribers every Monday. Sign up .I loathe Pride month. Before you jump to any conclusions, I’m not some conspiratorial right-wing reactionary. I’m queer, nonbinary, Iraqi-Egyptian and am firmly on the left when it comes to my political positions. But I really do hate Pride.It’s not just the fact that even Udon noodle brands pretend to be bastions of gay rights for the month of June or that meaningless political platitudes like “being you is worth it” are blasted...

Jun 20
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How Jordan Peterson Ruined His Image With Muslims

How Jordan Peterson Ruined His Image With Muslims

10 min read Share On a hot, humid July night in 2018, I flew into Beirut airport, grateful for the driver meeting me and his air-conditioned car. A young, pious Shiite from the Lebanese south, he wouldn’t shake my hand, but he was friendly, if earnest. As we drove down the airport road, we talked about his life in Lebanon, including his recent move to Beirut from his family’s village and his hopes for the future now he’d moved to the big city. But his next question surprised me.“Have you heard of a Canadian psychologist called Jordan Peterson?”I had indeed, mostly from the publicity — or...

Jul 21
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Biden’s Bumpy Visit to Saudi Arabia Exposes U.S. Limits

Biden’s Bumpy Visit to Saudi Arabia Exposes U.S. Limits

8 min read Share President Joe Biden’s tour of the Middle East started with a faux pas. For a trip aimed at rapprochement with a state he wanted to cast as a “pariah,” optics were going to matter. Biden was determined to avoid a photo-op with Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman, who had Jamal Khashoggi, a journalist and a U.S. resident, hacked to death. To avoid shaking the bloodied hand of a tyrant, Biden used pandemic-era precautions as an excuse to fist-bump his way to the kingdom’s capital.But he lost his nerve at the very first stop. Faced with Israel’s intransigent former prime...

Jul 15
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The Shifting Cultural Role of Clothes

The Shifting Cultural Role of Clothes

12 min read Share A family discussion about what constitutes traditional Belgian and Egyptian clothing, sparked by the curiosity of our Belgian-Egyptian son, got me thinking about the relationship between fashion and identity.Iskander suggested that Egyptians and other Arabs were lucky because they still retain their own distinctive traditional dress, whereas Belgians had moved away from theirs. However, in reality, Arabs are not so different from Europeans.Every society has its traditional clothing, and almost every society has moved radically away from these traditions in recent times,...

Mar 25
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Where the Russian Gulag Once Thrived, Life Remains Isolated

Where the Russian Gulag Once Thrived, Life Remains Isolated

30 min read Share The antique Soviet Tu-134 touched down at Salekhard airport in a slicing crosswind, bunny-hopped twice, then juddered to a halt in front of the terminal with a macho squeeze of brakes. Outside the airport taxi drivers waited in their vehicles, waiting in a head-lit swirl of exhaust to close in on the single emerging foreign passenger. From the usual post-Soviet police lineup of grinning crooks, I chose the only one who hadn’t bothered to get out of his car. He was a mash-faced octogenarian with a bulbous alcoholic’s nose who introduced himself as “Ivanych” — short for...

Nov 3
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A New Syria in the South of Turkey

A New Syria in the South of Turkey

10 min read Share Gazali, seven months pregnant, with her two youngest children scampering by her side, shouldn’t be here. With her spine half broken due to the weight her back must bear, Gazali should not bend over to work the ground without proper tools.But she is here, she and a dozen others like her. They have no choice. “What could I do? I need the money. Now that the growing season has started, I can’t stop,” says Gazali, who earns 40 Turkish liras ($5) on the days she works. Her husband, Eyad, also works with her. They both earn the same amount.“Before the war, my life was very...

July 27, 2021
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The Rich History of China’s Islam

The Rich History of China’s Islam

15 min read Share Muslims in the People’s Republic of China are regularly in the news due to the ongoing Uyghur crisis. The continued surveillance, policing, and detainment of Uyghurs is intimately tied up with their practice of Islam, which has become criminalized through policies against things like wearing religious clothing, participating in ritual practices or engaging in Islamic education. The practical prohibition of overtly Islamic signifiers and activities also extends to China’s other Muslims populations, including the Sino-Muslim Hui community. The recent policies, as Kelly...

July 27, 2021
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The Death of Haiti's President Summons Ghosts Old and New

The Death of Haiti's President Summons Ghosts Old and New

18 min read Share If you are on the back of a moto taxi hurtling down Route Canapé Vert in Port-au-Prince at dusk, you will see the sun sinking fiery into the bay, just beyond a slew of impoverished neighborhoods — Village de Dieu, La Saline, Cité Soleil — often written about (if at all) because of the various armed groups that hold the populations there under their thumbs, but which are in reality home to hundreds of thousands of struggling, deeply disadvantaged people with no connection to crime or violence. On your left you will see an undulation of mountains dotted with the modest...

July 28, 2021
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In Lucifer, We Find Sympathy for the Devil

In Lucifer, We Find Sympathy for the Devil

10 min read Share When Fox Entertainment Group launched a series in 2016 about Lucifer escaping hell, no one could have related to the devil in the way we can now, in our time of pestilence. Maybe the mayhem of the real world has contributed to the show’s growing popularity, making it among the most streamed on Netflix, which acquired it from Fox in 2018.The series is based on Lucifer Samael Morningstar, a fictional character who appears in DC Comics, an American comic book publisher and subsidiary of Warner Brothers. Aside from its dualistic worldview of heaven and hell and a (generally)...

September 6, 2021
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New Lines contributor

New Lines contributor

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Olivia Snaije

Olivia Snaije

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Khaled Diab

Khaled Diab

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Asser Khattab

Asser Khattab

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Muhammad Idrees Ahmad

Muhammad Idrees Ahmad

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Amrou Al-Kadhi

Amrou Al-Kadhi

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Fazelminallah Qazizai

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Kevin Blankinship

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Ahmed-Waleed Kakar

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Haris A. Durrani

Haris A. Durrani

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Layli Foroudi

Layli Foroudi

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Brian Whitaker

Brian Whitaker

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Owen Matthews

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Rasha Elass

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Michael Deibert

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Kristian Petersen

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Adrià Rocha Cutiller

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Muhammad Ali Mojaradi

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Lydia Wilson

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