News

Iran’s Kurds are growing restless, too

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THE Kurds of Iran are calling for independence just as lustily as their cousins in Iraq, perhaps even more so. While the mood in the streets of Iraq’s Kurdish cities was generally subdued and nervous after their referendum on independence on September 25th, wilder celebrations erupted across the border in Iranian Kurdistan. In the Kurdish cities of Baneh, Sanandaj and Mahabad demonstrations lasted for two days, even as armoured cars drove through the streets heralding a wave of arrests. Crowds sang the anthem of the Republic of Mahabad, the Kurdish state that briefly held sway in north-western Iran in 1946. Kurdish flags flew from lampposts. Some Iranian Kurds talked dreamily of a state they call Rojhelat, or East Kurdistan, which would slough off the “occupation” by Ajamastan, a pejorativ

Egypt’s Shia come out of hiding

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SINCE the dawn of Islam, Shias have been trying to penetrate Egypt. Ali, the Prophet Muhammad’s son-in-law and the first imam of Shia Islam, sent a loyal follower to govern the area. But no sooner had he arrived than he was captured by Sunni opponents, sewn into the belly of a donkey and burnt. Later the Fatimids, a Shia dynasty, captured Egypt and ruled it for two centuries. But Saladin overthrew them and, according to Shia lore, massacred thousands while levelling much of Cairo. “Kharab al-Din,” spits a Shia librarian in Alexandria, twisting Saladin’s name to mean destroyer of religion. Since then Shias in Egypt have pretended to be Sunnis. Some cloak their traditions in the mystical rites of the Sufis. They join their moulids, or birthday celebrations, for saints and camp at the shri

South Africa’s ruling party is at war with itself

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DEEP in the southern hills of KwaZulu-Natal, mourners came to bury Sindiso Magaqa on September 16th. In July gunmen ambushed Mr Magaqa and two other councillors from the African National Congress (ANC), South Africa’s ruling party, as they sat in a car. (Mr Magaqa died in hospital on September 4th.) Three other ANC politicians from the same area were gunned down between April and May. Across the province, there have been at least 40 politically motivated killings since the start of 2016. Most of the violence has occurred within the ANC, which is steeped in corruption at all levels. On September 27th thousands of South Africans marched in protests against the graft and the country’s scandal-plagued president, Jacob Zuma, who heads the party. Nowhere is the rot within the ANC more evident