Articles in English

A 19th-century illustration of the interior of the Hagia Sophia, before it became a museum in 1935. Credit Mansell/The LIFE Picture Collection, via Getty Images

President Recep Tayyip Erdogan of Turkey on Friday issued a decree ordering the Hagia Sophia, a majestic 65,000-square-foot stone structure from the sixth century in Istanbul, to be opened for Muslim prayers. The same day, a top Turkish court had revoked the 1934 decree by Mustafa Kemal Ataturk, the founder of the Turkish republic, which had turned it into a museum.

The Hagia Sophia was built as a cathedral and converted into a mosque, and then a museum. It has for centuries been the object of fierce civilizational rivalry between the Ottoman and Orthodox worlds.

The reconversion of the Hagia Sophia into a mosque was an old dream of Turkey’s Islamists.…  Seguir leyendo »

On Wednesday, Macedonians vote in their first parliamentary election since the country changed its name in January 2019 to North Macedonia. In mid-March, the covid-19 pandemic prompted the government to postpone the elections, originally scheduled for April.

The name change settled a long-standing dispute with neighboring Greece. In exchange, Greece agreed to stop vetoing Macedonia’s accession into NATO and the European Union. The Macedonian public was divided on changing the country’s name, but Prime Minister Zoran Zaev of the Social Democratic Union of Macedonia (SDSM) succeeded in winning parliamentary approval.

NATO accession proceeded smoothly — Macedonia became the alliance’s 30th member in March.…  Seguir leyendo »

Houses are pictured in the Maale Adumim settlement in the West Bank east of Jerusalem. The Israeli government has delayed plans to annex Jewish settlements in the West Bank and in the Jordan Valley. Photo: Getty Images

Observers of the Israel-Palestine conflict have been anticipating Israeli Prime Minister, Benjamin Netanyahu’s, announcement to annex parts of the West Bank. It has been a tumultuous year for Israeli politics which has seen three inconclusive elections and resulted in a sharing of power between Netanyahu and Benny Gantz of the Blue and White party. However, since the coalition government was sworn in, Netanyahu has appeared to not lose any time in moving forward with his plans.

Annexation has long been Netanyahu’s political aspiration and was part of his recent re-election platform but the anticipated announcement from the Israeli government didn’t come straight away.…  Seguir leyendo »

Kim Hye-jeong, deputy head of the Korea Sexual Violence Relief Center, holding up a sign Monday declaring solidarity with the accuser of Seoul’s mayor, Park Won-soon. Credit Yonhap/EPA, via Shutterstock

An elaborate public funeral was held on Monday in Seoul, South Korea, in honor of the city’s mayor, Park Won-soon, a prominent human rights lawyer and confidant of President Moon Jae-in. Mr. Park was found dead last week, by suicide, hours after a personal assistant in his office filed a claim of sexual abuse and harassment against him.

In his suicide note, Mr. Park said nothing about the accusations, but wrote, “I’m sorry to everyone.”

This news, in its painful complexity, has shocked the Korean people, a fifth of whom live in Seoul. Mr. Park, a third-term mayor, was known to his constituents as a friend to the poor and homeless; a man who, as an activist and lawyer, had successfully litigated the nation’s first sexual harassment case and won accolades from feminist groups.…  Seguir leyendo »

China finalized Hong Kong’s national security law (NSL) in late June, imposing a number of restrictions after a secretive process without public consultation and legislative deliberation. A mid-June survey conducted by the Hong Kong Public Opinion Research Institute (PORI) shows a majority of Hong Kongers firmly oppose the law, even before the full impact of the measure was clear.

Critics call the NSL “the end of Hong Kong” because it operates above the Basic Law (Hong Kong’s mini-constitution), making it easier for Chinese and Hong Kong authorities to target political activities challenging Beijing’s authority.

What will this mean for Hong Kong’s pro-democracy movement?…  Seguir leyendo »

The global coronavirus pandemic has revealed how dangerously dependent we have become on Internet access.

The education system quickly shifted online in March. Telemedicine visits have replaced various health-care services. For many people, earning a living or running a business is contingent on e-commerce and Zoom meetings. And certain contact tracing protocols rely on cellphone data to track anyone who has been in the vicinity of a person infected with the coronavirus.

But not everyone has Internet access, and some people have much better access than others. In the face of a growing reliance on connectivity, the digital divide has prompted scholars to question more seriously the Internet’s importance and whether the ability to access it is a human right.…  Seguir leyendo »

With Trump’s US missing in action from the global stage, the European Union should be stepping into the vacuum. Germany, which has just taken over the bloc’s rotating presidency, could use the next six months to provide the leadership to boost Europe’s global impact. But is it ready to shake off its traditional reticence?

Immediate economic challenges will dominate EU leaders’ first in-person encounter since the lockdown, on 17 and 18 July. And Berlin is right to prioritise agreement on the EU’s new seven-year budget and a pandemic recovery plan, a task complicated by internal rifts and new forecasts warning of an even deeper recession than expected across the 27-nation bloc.…  Seguir leyendo »

Migrant workers plant paddy in a field at Jhandi village in Patiala, India. Photo by Bharat Bhushan/Hindustan Times via Getty Images.

The World Bank estimates that the magnitude of internal migration is about two‐and‐a‐half times that of international migration. Within India, an estimated 40 million internal migrant workers, largely in the informal economy, were severely impacted by the government’s COVID-19 lockdown.

With transportation systems initially shut down, many had no recourse to travel options back to homes and villages, resulting in harrowing journeys home. Those who were able to make it home found, in some instances, villages refusing entry because of fears of transmission.

The shocking images of migrants forced to walk in desperation showed the enormity of the crisis as well as some of the challenges posed by an extended lockdown in India where so many people live hand to mouth and cannot afford not to work.…  Seguir leyendo »

Police officers clashing with protesters at a shopping mall in Hong Kong on July 1. Credit Lam Yik Fei for The New York Times

Last year, in July, a month after the protests over an extradition bill began in Hong Kong, I renewed the lease on my flat. For the first time since I turned 18, I would be living in the same apartment for more than two years. It felt like an accomplishment, like I was a real adult.

My place is almost 300 square feet, and it has a view of trees and steps, which is such an improvement from my last flat that sometimes just looking out the window makes me emotional. I ordered a cheap Ikea carpet and put up old posters.…  Seguir leyendo »

South Korean women stage a protest against hidden-camera pornography in Seoul on August 4, 2018. (Chung Sung-Jun/Getty Images)

Son Jong-woo is the creator of “Welcome to Video,” once the world’s largest known child pornography website. In 2015, when he was 19, he started the website in the dark web, warning its members, “Do not upload adult porn.” Over the next three years, the site would balloon to more than 1 million downloads worldwide, trading in cryptocurrency and trafficking videos featuring the sexual assault, including rape, of minors. One of the site’s most popular searches was for “2-year-olds.” By the time Son was arrested and the website shut down in 2018, the 32-nation investigation had caught more than 300 suspects (the majority men from South Korea) and rescued at least 23 children in the United States, Britain and Spain.…  Seguir leyendo »

Predictions for Poland’s 2020 presidential elections, showing percent chance of each outcome. Figure by Gianluca Passarelli based on his data archives and data from the Polish interior minister.

Poland’s President Andrzej Duda faces a second-round runoff election Sunday. Duda failed to clear 50 percent in the June 28 first-round election, which meant Poland would have to hold a runoff between the top two finishers. Duda faces Warsaw Mayor Rafal Trzaskowski in Sunday’s final vote.

In the first round, Duda had 43.5 percent of the vote, placing him ahead of Trzaskowski, the candidate of the centrist Civic Platform, with 30.5 percent. At first glance, these results suggest that Duda should easily win the presidency in the second round. However, our research suggests that the presidential elections in Poland could offer a further surprise.…  Seguir leyendo »

Examining the global response of indivudual countries and the World Health Organization (WHO) to coronavirus. Photo Illustration by Rafael Henrique/SOPA Images/LightRocket via Getty Images.

When the resolution was passed by World Health Organization (WHO) member states at the World Health Assembly (WHA) in May requesting an evaluation ‘at the earliest appropriate moment’ of lessons learned from the WHO-coordinated international health response to COVID-19, it was generally thought the appropriate moment would be when the pandemic was on the wane.

Yet the Independent Panel for Pandemic Preparedness and Response has actually been established at a time when – as noted by WHO director-general Dr Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus in his announcement of the panel – the pandemic is still accelerating.

In most of the world the virus is not under control, and cases have actually doubled in the last six weeks.…  Seguir leyendo »

A sign in English and Spanish directs voters to an early-voting location in Surprise, Ariz., in April 2018. (Anita Snow/AP)

As the United States heads toward the November election, Republican and Democratic candidates will be spending hundreds of millions of dollars courting Latino voters across the country. Latinos voted in record numbers in 2016, mostly against Trump, and are likely to be crucial in 2020.

So what works best at encouraging them to vote?

Here’s what we found in recently published research: English-language mailers work better than bilingual ones at getting Latino voters to the polls, as we’ll explain.

Why does the language matter?

Past research has found that Latinos are mobilized when encouraged to vote in their preferred language. When that’s done through ads on Spanish- or English-language television or radio, it’s easy to match the audience’s language preferences — because the audience has already chosen which language they prefer when they tuned in.…  Seguir leyendo »

President Nelson Mandela of South Africa addresses an audience at an event co-hosted by Chatham House, the CBI and COSAT on July 10, 1996.

As with any history, Chatham House has a long and complex one. Progress has come in fits and starts, sometimes driven by wider social change, but often led by individuals within the institute. When examining the institute’s work on Africa, five seminal moments from the history really stood out.

The Founders

Lionel Curtis is credited as the founder of the institute, having proposed the idea at a meeting at the Hotel Majestic while attending the Treaty of Versailles talks.

Curtis served in South Africa during the Second Boer war and subsequent period of unification. He was one of the cohort of officials that served under Lord Milner, later dubbed ‘Milner’s Kindergarten’.…  Seguir leyendo »

Alexei Druzhinin/TASS via Getty Images President Putin presenting his identification document to validate his vote in Russia’s constitutional amendment referendum that would permit him to remain president until 2036, Moscow, July 1, 2020

On July 1, after “recovering,” by decree, from the coronavirus pandemic, Russia held a vote on a package of constitutional amendments. Introduced by Vladimir Putin back in January and expanded by the State Duma over the following months, the 206 changes are touted as protecting Russia’s sovereignty, defending Russian history, and boosting Russians’ economic well-being. The amendments also nullify the previous presidential terms of Vladimir Putin, allowing him to run again for the presidency when his current, fourth term expires—in effect, extending his twenty-year grip on power indefinitely. “Russia’s strength,” explained the chairman of the Duma when talking about amendments, “is not oil and gas, but Vladimir Putin.”…  Seguir leyendo »