Posts Tagged: Middle East

Middle East

Life in Saudi Arabia: The Digital Generation Vs. The Authorities

Saudi Arabia has the world’s highest Twitter and YouTube usage per capita. It seems surprising, notes The Guardian, that a country with a monarchy, no parliament or political parties, enforced gender segregation and modesty police has such a flourishing social media world. But in a society where movie theaters and bars are non-existent and seventy percent of the population is under thirty, social media appears to be an outlet to escape boredom. Read the full story here. Saudis use Twitter like many Americans, for swapping jokes, sharing news, complaining about work, pointing out government inefficiencies and the like. Twitter has given…

Life in Syria: Syrian Radio Host Speaks Out

Recently NPR’s Morning Edition spoke with Syrian radio personality Honey al-Sayed. A popular morning host, al-Sayed loved her job, until civil war broke out in the country and both sides of the fighting wanted her to be their mouthpiece. One morning she woke up and decided to leave the country–the pressure was too much. She had a visa to the U. S. and now lives in Washington, D. C. She continues to host a radio show via an online broadcast, to reach Syrians in the States and back home. Read the full story transcript or listen to the interview here. NPR…

To Consider: Immigration in Europe, What Can We Do?

Many international news headlines are telling the tragic tale of immigrants fighting their way from places of oppression and poverty to places of freedom and opportunity, often spending all of their money paying traffickers to bring them to Europe. The story of the boat that sank off Lampedusa on October 3, killing 360 migrants, continues to unfold. BBC News reports today (11 November 2013) that a Somali man associated with the people traffickers has been arrested for torturing and raping the migrants in the camp in Libya before the boat set sail. In reading these stories every week, we wondering how…

Islam in the Middle East: Saudi Arabia Backs Rebels

A column in Reuters this week explores a recent move by Saudi Arabia to unite rival Islamist groups under a single Saudi-backed command. The move by Saudi Arabia to consolidate the rebel groups is in response to the rise of Al Qaeda in Syria. Rebel and diplomatic sources said it was Saudi Arabia which nudged rebel brigades operating in and around Damascus to announce this week that they have united under a single command comprising 50 groups and numbering some thousands of fighters. There are many layers to the conflict in Syria. This story helps explain which players in the Middle East…

Islam in Syria: Life for the Hazara People

The story of the Hazara people group is like that of many persecuted peoples. The Atlantic recently ran a short feature on the plight of the Hazara now residing in war-torn Syria. Read the full story from The Atlantic here. The Hazara are Shia Muslims that trace their ancestry to Asia with one theory being that they descend from Mongol soldiers left behind in Afghanistan by Genghis Khan in the 13th century. They once were the majority in Afghanistan until large numbers were massacred in 1893, and today the Taliban continues to attack them. The largest number of Hazara live in Afghanistan…

Islam in Syria: Minaret of Ancient Mosque Destroyed

Al Jazeera reported that the minaret of the ancient Umayyad mosque in Aleppo, Syria has been destroyed, according to Syrian state media. Both sides of the fighting in Syria blame the other: Syrian rebels blame the army, while the state blames rebel fighters. The Umayyad mosque is currently in rebel control. Read the full story here . Aleppo’s largest and oldest mosque, Umayyad is situated in the city’s UNESCO*-listed Old City. It held various Islamic relics and ancient artefacts and is purportedly the home of the remains of Zechariah, John the Baptist’s father. According to Al Jazeera, “both rebels and…

Islam in Syria: Shi’ite Fighters Defend Damascus Shrine

Shi’ite fighters from Iraq and Lebanon have joined Shi’ite Syrian fighters in southern Damascus to defend the shrine of Sayyida Zeinab against Sunni rebels fighting Syrian President Bashar al-Assad. According to a story from Reuters, the Abu al-Fadl al-Abbas brigade was formed several months ago and fights mainly around the shrine. A Reuters’ source said “the brigade was set up in response to the perceived danger to the shrine and mosque from Sunni fighters who desecrated other places of worship for Shi’ites, who are a minority in Syria.” Read the full story here. The brigade is named after a “seventh century martyr…

Islam in Iran: Iran Launches Islamic YouTube, ‘Mehr’

YouTube was banned in Iran in 2009, though many Iranians still use the site by bypassing Internet filters. Iran has now launched its own version of YouTube called Mehr, according to a story by Irish Independent (12/10). This video sharing site is “in full adherence with its strict interpretation of Islam” and is run by state broadcaster IRIB (Islamic Republic of Iran Broadcasting). Read more about the hows and whys here.

Islam in Saudi Arabia: Paris Hilton Opens Store in Mecca

American socialite Paris Hilton has stirred up a small frenzy in Mecca with the opening of her new store in the Makkah Mall in Saudi Arabia. The combination of Hilton’s personal image with holiest city in the Muslim world is, in a word, ironic. The store sells luxury handbags and accessories, and is one of 255 shops in the mall that opened in 2011.  This is Hilton’s 42nd store and the fifth one in Saudi Arabia. CNN looks at the discussion here. In addition to the presence of Hilton’s stores in the country and particularly in the city of Mecca, many…

Islam in the Middle East: Hardliners Flexing Their Muscles in Egypt

In a story from Reuters yesterday (11/07/2012), we read about Islamist hardliners in Egypt that are muscling their way through society to impose Islamist ways on all people, Muslim or not. There is concern in Egypt’s Christian population (approximately ten percent): Will they be protected or intimidated under new Egyptian president Mohamed Mursi? Read the full story here.  

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