Foreign Correspondence, Vol 70
Why more non-Muslims are fasting this Ramadan
Hello, and happy Friday! It’s hard to believe that Ramadan 2023 is already half way done. This time next correspondence, Eid may finally be upon us (moon-sighting pending, of course).
In the meantime, we have two more holidays to celebrate. Happy Easter and Chag Sameach to all those celebrating!
What I’ve written
This Ramadan, I noticed an uptick in the number of non-Muslim documenting their experience fasting for the holy month on social media. So naturally, I wrote about it:
These individuals aren’t participating as would-be converts to Islam. Some, including Sless, like the self-discipline that Ramadan instills. Others have chosen to observe the month in order to learn more about Islam and the spiritual fulfillment that the month entails. Many have cited supporting a Muslim friend or a wider Muslim community as their reason for participating, while others say they were inspired to do so because they are living in a Muslim-majority country. Keep reading here
Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu has paused his government’s contentious judicial overhaul—for now. I wrote about how, regardless of what happens next, Israel’s democratic reckoning has barely begun.
For Israelis to truly defend their democracy, some observers have argued, they must first be willing to recognize its pre-existing flaws, foremost among them the occupation. They must also be willing to extend their fight not just to the rights and freedoms of Israeli Jews, they say, but of Palestinians both within Israel and those living under Israeli military rule. “There is a huge leap that has to be made in order to move from protecting your own rights, defending your own freedoms and way of life, to fighting for liberating others,” says Michael Sfard, an Israeli human rights lawyer. Still, he adds, this protest movement has presented an opening for that leap to start taking shape. Keep reading here
Following the resignation of Nicola Sturgeon, Scotland and the Scottish National Party have a new leader in Humza Yousaf. I wrote about the significance of his rise:
Yousaf’s victory isn’t historic for Scotland alone. He is the first Muslim politician elected to be a national leader in a Western democracy, according to Sunder Katwala, the director of the British Future think tank. Yousaf is also the first ever ethnic-minority leader of a devolved U.K. government. That his victory comes so soon after the election of Britain’s Prime Minister Rishi Sunak last year and Ireland’s Taoiseach Leo Varadkar returning to power in December 2022 means that, for the first time in history, the British, Scottish, and Irish leaders are all of South Asian origin. Keep reading here
What I’ve read
This great profile of America’s weirdest state (The Atlantic)
Hold on to those thoughts. DeSantis is a politician who preaches freedom while suspending elected officials who offend him, banning classroom discussions he doesn’t like, carrying out hostile takeovers of state universities, and obstructing the release of public records whenever he can. And somehow Florida, a state that bills itself as the home of the ornery and the resistant, the obstinate and the can’t-be-trodden-on, the libertarian and the government-skeptic, has fallen for the most keenly authoritarian governor in the United States.
This exclusive interview with Imran Khan (TIME)
It’s indicative of Pakistan’s malaise that its most popular politician in decades sits barricaded at home. But the nation has always been beyond comparison—a wedge of South Asia that begins in the shimmering Arabian Gulf and ascends to its Himalayan heights. It’s the world’s largest Islamic state, though governed for half its history by men in olive-green uniforms, who continue to act as ultimate arbiters of power.
This piece on the real problem with Joe Biden’s Summit for Democracy (The New Statesman)
It is laudable that the Biden administration is at least trying to focus attention on the global challenge to democracy and the real threat posed by the advance of authoritarianism. Similarly, it represents progress that the US is co-hosting this year’s summit with Costa Rica, Zambia, South Korea and the Netherlands. This helps to dispel the image of the event as merely a Western-dominated club whose membership is decided in Washington. Yet the limits of what can be achieved by what is, at its heart, a very large and complex Zoom call should be clear.
What I’m thinking about
Qatayef. If you don’t know what that is, get to know.
Until next time,