Middle East and Newsletters Editor
Kareem Shaheen is the Middle East and newsletters editor at New Lines. He is a journalist, columnist, editor and consultant based in Montreal and was previously a Middle East correspondent for the Guardian, based in Beirut and Istanbul. He was nominated for the Frontline Club award for print journalism for his coverage of the Khan Sheikhun chemical attack. He studied war in the modern world at King’s College London. He was part of the magazine’s launch team.
Latest from Kareem Shaheen
This capacity to shape the public consciousness should give media practitioners pause. Journalists and editors have a penchant, for example, of adding contextual paragraphs explaining the background to breaking news events to their audience that tend to fall back on cliches and accepted conventional wisdom. This has the effect of shaping the overall narrative around an event before all the evidence has come to the fore.
In reality, media leads to gradual change through the gradual accumulation of data, anecdotes and imagery that ultimately shapes how society perceives certain actors, whether they are people or nation-states.
Readers will read every word, however long. The reader’s short attention span is a myth, as we found: Their disinterest is in the content they’re being fed, not in the important stories themselves.
The sermon itself was boilerplate and innocuous, urging good deeds and adherence to the pillars of the faith, standard fare for such an occasion. But it was interesting also for other reasons, such as the demonstration of the state’s power over the religious establishment as well as how it exerts influence over it to serve its political goals and shifts positions on what it will tolerate in terms of religious speech.
The ability of the state, so secure in its hold on power, to impose top-down revolutionary cultural, political and social change that instantly transforms (at least on the surface) attitudes about festering problems that have shaped people’s worldviews for decades, often their whole lives, is extraordinary.
Why do we yearn to go back always, even when we’ve had perfectly good reasons to leave? Why is wandering so difficult even when you’ve been welcomed with open arms?
It is of course difficult to divorce an individual case from the broader context of a resurgent religious right, which can feel like an assault on the liberal way of life and secularism itself as a key pillar of democracy. But I also don’t think it is wise to be outraged and fearful over every expression of the self that veers away from those precepts.
While the crime is horrific, it is not senseless. It is a perfectly logical outcome when society sees women as mere accessories who serve at the pleasure of the male master race.
The links between violent extremism and domestic violence, and how masculinity and the place of men in general in modern society interacts with these phenomena, is one that is not adequately explored in the mainstream.
The tone of gentlemanly shock was fascinating to me — it seemed meant to convey an inoffensive stupefaction at the ways of these Stone Age natives. It also came with the presumption that laws should not apply to their own citizens. It had nothing to do with the actual validity of the law per se but the prospect that citizens of a first-world country should be beholden to laws at all beyond their own shores, especially in “backward” Arab countries.
When words are so powerful, they alone can tell a story of abject loss and desperation. When words are so powerful, they expose the lies we tell ourselves about ourselves.
A weekly review of news, essays, podcast and more from New Lines. The week of May 02 to May 06, 2022.
It is of course difficult to discern truth from fiction in such works of art, particularly given the secretive nature of these dealings, but they all add up to a relentless sort of public framing that primes minds to think about events, groups and people in a certain way.
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It is gratifying to read about such courage and heroism under duress. Whatever the impetus, odes should be sung for it in celebration. The Turkish officer who protected Armenians from the Ottoman-era genocide is like Schindler, the personification of the better angels of our nature.
It is difficult to glean the actual impetus behind the initial decision to ban the broadcast in the first place. The scenes from the holy mosques are emotive to a lot of observant Muslims and cement Saudi Arabia’s role as the custodian of the holy mosques and an Islamic center. They are also powerful showcases of the state’s organizational prowess in pulling off such seminal events hosting millions of faithful every year.
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If any cause should inspire Muslim solidarity and empathy it is the plight of the Uyghurs, certainly more so than other ridiculous causes that have prompted widespread outrage like a cartoon of the Prophet Muhammad or a film in which an actress removes her underwear offscreen.
It creates a kind of societal schizophrenia in which people are publicly outraged over artists’ failure to adhere to the moral imperatives of their faith and cultural values but Muslim countries lead the world in Google searches for porn.
A suicide and the circumstances behind an ad call attention to mistreatment of women and girls.
Two separate incidents involving major Egyptian footballers have sparked a debate online and in the mainstream press on the role of religion in society.
Note from the editor: We wrote this news digest in the days before the ongoing coup in Sudan. The military…
Arabs are of course not of a single mind on any particular issue, nor is it possible to gauge public opinion under tyrannical regimes. But it is indicative of the fact that these authoritarians no longer see the pan-Arab Palestinian cause and supporting it as vital to their survival.
America does not deserve sole ownership of the Great Satan title. Why do Russia’s and China’s actions not spark similar outrage, a similar, simmering public consciousness that establishes them as foes to be thwarted in the broader culture?