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The Key to Understanding Iran Is Poetry

The Key to Understanding Iran Is Poetry

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, Iranians readily...

Jul 23
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A New Syria in the South of Turkey

A New Syria in the South of Turkey

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 different. I was a...

Jul 27
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The Rich History of China’s Islam

The Rich History of China’s Islam

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 Hammond points out in...

Jul 27
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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

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 abodes of others...

Jul 28
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In Lucifer, We Find Sympathy for the Devil

In Lucifer, We Find Sympathy for the Devil

How the popular Netflix show Lucifer offers perfect companionship to humans sitting in lockdown and thinking about the world gone awry. 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...

Sep 6
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Where the Russian Gulag Once Thrived, Life Remains Isolated

Where the Russian Gulag Once Thrived, Life Remains Isolated

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 Alexander Ivanovich....

Nov 3
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The Politics of a Fire Engine in Tunisia

The Politics of a Fire Engine in Tunisia

As the summer of 2011 drew to a close, the fire engine stationed in the Tunisian hilltop town of Thala was due to be taken back to the main city of the region — Kasserine — some 35 miles away. It happened every year: The government would allocate firefighting resources to Thala during the year’s hot months to deal with the wildfires that frequently broke out in the surrounding forests. But that year, the residents of Thala weren’t going to accept the status quo. About 80 people gathered in front of the fire engine to protest, blocking the fire engine from driving out of town. “We decided...

Nov 8
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The ‘Echo Chamber’ of Syrian Chemical Weapons Conspiracy Theorists

The ‘Echo Chamber’ of Syrian Chemical Weapons Conspiracy Theorists

Hundreds of people died — many of them in their sleep — when rockets laden with the nerve agent sarin struck Ghouta, a rebel-held area on the outskirts of the Syrian capital early one morning in August 2013. It was the deadliest chemical attack anywhere in the world since the 1980s. Considering that Ghouta was under fire from the Assad regime’s forces at the time, that the casualties were on the rebels’ side and that the regime had previously admitted possessing chemical weapons, there was one obvious suspect. The regime, however, insisted it was not responsible. Russia, as its chief...

Nov 4
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Frank Herbert, the Republican Salafist

Frank Herbert, the Republican Salafist

In 1965, Frank Herbert published the novel “Dune,” the first in a classic series about a planet called Arrakis that is rich in “the spice,” a precious resource of the distant future. The saga narrates the story of the Atreides, a family that comes to rule the planet and the indigenous Fremen. The tale is often understood as an anti-colonial epic. It projects into the eons Middle Eastern, African and Asian cultures, alongside indigenous traditions across the Americas. In particular, it imagines a thoroughly Muslim future. But the saga may appear contradictory. Herbert engaged thoughtfully...

Dec 31
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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

Owen Matthews

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Rasha Elass

Rasha Elass

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Michael Deibert

Michael Deibert

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Kristian Petersen

Kristian Petersen

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Adrià Rocha Cutiller

Adrià Rocha Cutiller

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Muhammad Ali Mojaradi

Muhammad Ali Mojaradi

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