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Athletes knock the legs from under global sports governance

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  By James M. Dorsey Sports governance worldwide has had the legs knocked out from under it. Yet, national and international sports administrators are slow in realizing the magnitude of what has hit them. Tectonic plates underlying sports’ guiding principle that sports and politics are unrelated have shifted, driven by a struggle against racism and a quest for human rights and social justice. The principle was repeatedly challenged over the last year by athletes as well as businesses forcing national and international sports federations to either support anti-racist protest or at the least refrain from penalizing athletes who use their sport to oppose racism and promote human rights and social justice, acts that are political by definition. The assault on what is a convenient fiction started in the United States as much a result of the explosion of Black Lives Matter protests on the streets of American cities as the fact that, in contrast to the fan-club relationship in much of

Jordan is where domestic and regional fissures collide

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  By James M. Dorsey Former Crown Prince Hamzah bin Hussein has papered over a rare public dispute in the ruling Jordanian family in a move that is unlikely to resolve long-standing fissures in society and among the country’s elite and that echo multiple Middle Eastern fault lines. Differences over socio-economic policies, governance, and last year’s normalization of relations between Israel, the United Arab Emirates and three other Arab states as well as leadership of the Muslim world were laid glaringly bare by a security crackdown that targeted not only Prince Hamzah, a popular, modest, and pious 41-year-old half-brother of King Abdullah, but also seemingly unrelated others perceived by the monarch as a threat. Reading tea leaves, the perceived threats may be twofold albeit unrelated: Prince Hamzah’s association with powerful conservative tribes who over the last decade have demanded an end to corruption and prominent figures with close ties to Saudi Arabia. The kingdom, hom

Battle for the Soul of Islam

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  By James M. Dorsey   This story was first published in Horizons   TROUBLE is brewing in the backyard of Muslim-majority states competing for religious soft power and leadership of the Muslim world in what amounts to a battle for the soul of Islam. Shifting youth attitudes towards religion and religiosity threaten to undermine the rival efforts of Saudi Arabia, Turkey, Iran and, to a lesser degree, the United Arab Emirates, to cement their individual state-controlled interpretations of Islam as the Muslim world’s dominant religious narrative. Each of the rivals see their efforts as key to securing their autocratic or authoritarian rule as well as advancing their endeavors to carve out a place for themselves in a new world order in which power is being rebalanced. Research and opinion polls consistently show that the gap between the religious aspirations of youth—and, in the case of Iran other age groups—and state-imposed interpretations of Islam is widening. The shifting att