Saudi Arabia’s lifting of a ban on women’s driving raises a host of questions that transcend the issue of women’s rights and go to the core of the standing of the kingdom’s religious scholars and its impact on conservative opposition to Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman’s economic and social reforms.

Published in Middle East

Saudi Arabia’s long-awaited lifting of a ban on women’s driving, widely viewed as a symbol of Saudi misogyny, will likely serve as a litmus test for Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman’s ability to introduce economic and social reforms despite conservative opposition.

Published in Middle East

The United Nations has drawn up a contingency plan to feed up to 700,000 Rohingya Muslim refugees from Myanmar after some 480,000 fled to Bangladesh over the past month and arrivals continue.

Published in South Asia

Uproar about a launderette owner’s decision to bar non-Muslims from using his service has focused a spotlight on broader discriminatory attitudes in Malaysian society as well as elsewhere in Asia that are reinforced by Saudi-inspired ultra-conservative interpretations of Islam.

Published in Southeast Asia

The owner of a self-service laundrette in the historic town of Muar in the Malaysian state of Johor likely had little inkling of the hornet’s nest he would stir up by putting up a sign barring non-Muslim from using his services. Yet, the sign that went viral on social media reignited debate about the nature of Islam and Malaysian culture in a country struggling with creeping Sunni Muslim ultra-conservatism.

Published in Southeast Asia

When the German transatlantic liner the St. Louis set off with 900 German Jews seeking refuge, it was 1939 and they were trying to escape what became one of the most despicable events in European history. Neither Canada nor the United States offered to help the people on this ship and it sailed on to Cuba.

Published in Southeast Asia

Saudi Arabia's 85th birthday could prove to be historic -- one that could put to the test opposition to Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman's reform plans, even if he has cracked down on potential critics in recent weeks.

Published in Middle East

A leading national daily in Nepal recently posted about an art exhibition targeted towards helping the Rohingya community. While this sounded far-fetched at first, it later turned out to be about the 200 Rohingyas in Northern Kathmandu living in abysmal conditions in slums in leaky tents during the monsoon without blankets to prepare for the oncoming winter.

Published in Southeast Asia
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