News and Analysis (11/22/18)

Thirty years ago “soft power” was associated with “the infectious attractiveness of American music, films and youth culture,” but today many associate the term with “religious soft power in the realm of Islam” projected by Saudi Arabia and Iran”:

Iran resorts to gas rationing instead of ending its absurd gasoline subsidies that push prices at the pump down to under  2 cents per gallon, but fuel “very high levels of smuggling …. Much of it heads across the border to Pakistan, where petrol costs 10 times, and diesel around 40 times, as much as” …

… and “Iran’s labor law does not recognize the right to create labor unions independent of government-sanctioned groups such as the Islamic Labor Council”:

European “[o]fficials acknowledge that European action against Iran over the Denmark operation could well be stronger if the Trump administration wasn’t bullying them on their policies towards Tehran, and other matters such as trade and defence spending”:

“The Quran has 6,236 verses, none of which tell the faithful to stifle blasphemy by force” …

… and “Datuk Mujahid Yusof Rawa reminded [Malay] Muslims” that Islamic law requires a system of “rahmatan lil alamin” under which everyone prospers” and that “prohibits any form of discrimination based on faith, descent or differences” …

.. yet “[p]olice have arrested four Finnish nationals … for allegedly distributing religious material in a public place”:

Iran’s FM tweeted that Trump “bizarrely devotes the FIRST paragraph of his shameful statement on Saudi atrocities to accuse IRAN of every sort of malfeasance he can think of. Perhaps we’re also responsible for the California fires, because we didn’t help rake the forests— just like the Finns do?” …

… in response to Trump statement defending the Saudi dictator in the murder of a journalist, an act by which Trump “has explicitly done the precise opposite of acting like an isolationist: he’s taken a side in the great power struggle in the Middle East”:

In a mostly Buddhist nation Muslim woman promotes sex education and in the process “has also become something of an ambassador for religious understanding”:

The Catholic convert to Islam “was granted the exemption after waiting years for approval”:

The High Court decision will allow “legal proceedings to evict 700 Palestinians from East Jerusalem’s Silwan neighborhood, even though the process by which it received rights to the land was flawed and raises many questions”:

“Rouhani was quoted on Friday by state television as saying that he wants to raise bilateral trade between the two countries from the current $12bn to $20bn in the coming year”:

Although “U.S. sanctions permit Iranian purchases of humanitarian goods like medicines,” precautions to avoid “accidentally triggering penalties …, along with panic buying and hoarding, mean some drugs are increasingly difficult to find”:

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