Mecca

Writing in today's New York Times, Julia Moskin observes, "Among young Parisians, there is currently no greater praise for cuisine than 'très Brooklyn.'" Had Moskin written that sentence 20 years ago, she'd be spotlighting a French mania for hot dogs, egg creams, or perhaps pizza. But today the phrase "signifies a particularly cool combination of informality, creativity, and quality." That Brooklyn has become more chic than Manhattan is hardly news to New Yorkers, or even most Americans. But I'm a little surprised to learn that word has spread across the Atlantic.

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The worst moments in the siege of Dammaj came in late November and early December of last year. During those weeks, the villagers in this little-visited, extraordinarily pious settlement in the northwest corner of Yemen had no access to the only hospital in the region, and dwindling supplies of food. Meanwhile, from day to day, snipers in the hills picked off the citizens as they walked to their mosque. The origins of this conflict lie in the age-old Sunni-Shia split. The attacking army is made up of fighters who adhere to a tradition within Shia Islam known as Zaydism.

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Mitt's Content Farm

One of the more dispiriting assaults on the written word in recent years was the advent of the "content farm," Web sites that spat out low-cost, high-volume copy written solely to manipulate Google's search algorithms to maximize "uniques" (i.e., readers) and thereby boost ad rates. Even journalism sites like the Huffington Post resorted to this trick ("What Time Does The Super Bowl Start?").

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Many Damascenes these days prefer to watch the government-run TV stations. Elsewhere, the news is bad. The local channels, with local announcers, speaking in proper Syrian Arabic, are often sweet. Often the broadcasters on these stations are beautiful young women. They smile a lot. Their channels say that in some outlying districts, vandals and religious fanatics have moved in, and have had to be removed by the army. But now all is back to normal. One cannot trade one’s Syrian pounds for dollars in Damascus anymore.

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Almost no one in America cares about foreign affairs, especially not for Barack Obama’s foreign affairs. For he has made of almost his entire conduct of peace and war an amateurish mess, crude, provincial, impetuous, peaceably high-minded but stupid—and full of peril to the world, to its democracies, to the United States itself.

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The New Republic’s Jonathan Chait recently underscored a view about Islamic militancy versus the West that is widely held on both the left and right and should be challenged. To quote Mr. Chait: It is precisely because radicalism is so pervasive and powerful within the Muslim world that it is so vital to cultivate people like [Imam Faisal Abdul] Rauf.

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The triumph of Saudi science, as reported by the Telegraph: A standard time by which other clocks were set was needed to organise global travel and communications, but in the Islamic world the idea that it should be centred on a part of London is seen as a colonial anachronism. As Mohammed al-Arkubi, manager of one of the hotels in the complex, put it: "Putting Mecca time in the face of Greenwich Mean Time.

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A dazzling essay by Fouad Ajami in yesterday’s Wall Street Journal made the point, apropos Faisal Shahzad, that the bestowal of citizenship “gave him the precious gift of an American passport but made no demands on him.” It also allowed him to travel 13 times to Pakistan and back over the last seven years—just one exemplar of the hundreds of thousands (more likely millions) of youngish men who have both domicile and liberties in the West but burn with fire for the perilous fevers of the Old Country.

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Not so long ago, the proliferation of internet technology and even of literacy was thought to be a boon to democracy and freedom. On that calculus, the more web sites and web addresses there were, the more the business of society would be accomplished through the franchise of reason and discussion. We are long since past that illusion: The urban bomb is the instrument. Contemporary Islam is the setting for this just dawning realization, and it is the setting whatever the president says to the contrary. Yes, of course, there are Muslims who are quite like Quakers ...

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In late February 2004, Janjaweed militias and Sudanese government forces waged a three-day, coordinated assault on Tawila, a village in northern Darfur. Government aircrafts destroyed buildings, while the Janjaweed broke into a girls’ boarding school, forced the students to strip naked at gunpoint, and then gang-raped and abducted many of them. Video footage shows fly-covered corpses strewn among the village's smoldering ruins.

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