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Protest emerges as a mixed blessing for World Cup host Qatar

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  By James M. Dorsey To watch a video version of this story on YouTube please click  here. A podcast version is available on Soundcloud,   Itunes ,  Spotify ,  Spreaker , and   Podbean. Protest on the soccer pitch has proven to be a mixed blessing for World Cup host Qatar, exposing double standards in the Gulf state’s position as well as that of its critics. Qatar embraced protest when it supported Qatari policies, such as the Gulf state's increasingly assertive denunciation of double standards in Western criticism of discrimination against LGBT people or its refusal to establish diplomatic relations with Israel in the absence of a resolution of the Israeli-Palestinian conflict. However, protesters and foreign media quickly encountered the limits of Qatari tolerance and notions of freedom of expression when they touched on politically sensitive issues, ranging from support for LGBT rights to solidarity with demonstrators in Iran, who have defied a brutal crackdown by s

The Qatar World Cup: Soccer upsets, politics, and sensitive situations

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By James M. Dorsey To watch a video version of this story on YouTube please click  here. A podcast version is available on Soundcloud,   Itunes ,  Spotify ,  Spreaker , and   Podbean. Barely out of the starting blocks, the Qatar World Cup has already produced a fair share of upsets as well as politically and personally sensitive situations and incidents. Qatar's 2:0 loss to Ecuador in the tournament’s opening match will have reinforced critics' conviction that the Gulf state should never have been awarded World Cup hosting rights, among other things, because of its alleged lack of a soccer legacy. Leaving aside the merits of the allegation and Qatari disappointment, the jury remains out on what Qatar's return on its massive investment in organising the World Cup will be regarding reputational capital. For Qatar, the ultimate evaluation of the return will largely depend on how it manages the tournament and potential flare- and hick-ups as dissidents try to turn Ira

Behind lofty declarations, major Muslim and Hindu groups compete for power

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  By James M. Dorsey To watch a video version of this story on YouTube please click  here. A podcast version is available on Soundcloud,   Itunes ,  Spotify ,  Spreaker , and   Podbean. As Indonesia passed the chairmanship of the Group of 20 (G-20) to India earlier this month, major Muslim and Hindu organisations, some backed by their governments, are battling to define the role of religion in global politics and whether the world's significant faiths need reform to harness the power of their convictions. The battle's outcome could determine what constitutes religious moderation, the state's role in defining what religion stands for, and whether notions of reform will involve significant jurisprudential and doctrinal reforms aimed at erasing concepts of supremacy and enhancing principles of pluralism and greater freedom. The stage for the battle was set at the Religion Forum-20 (R-20), a gathering of religious leaders in Bali, earlier this month in advance of a summ

US slow walks punitive measure against Saudi Arabia as regional tension spills into Qatar World Cup

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By James M. Dorsey To watch a video version of this story on YouTube please click  here. A podcast version is available on Soundcloud,   Itunes ,  Spotify ,  Spreaker , and   Podbean. Recent Saudi efforts to appease the Biden administration in the wake of the kingdom’s backing of last month’s OPEC+ oil production cut take on added significance in the wake of this week’s US midterm elections that have strengthened Joe Biden and weakened former President Donald J. Trump. Saudi insistence on a two million barrel a day cut in the wake of Mr. Biden's failed effort to persuade Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman to delay the cut, if not increase production, in advance of the elections, was widely seen in Washington as an effort to bolster Mr. Trump's Republican Party. If that was the Saudi strategy, it backfired. Mr. Biden's Democratic Party fared far better in the elections by holding onto control of the Senate and losing the House of Representatives to the Republ