How to pandemic-proof a Hindu (or any other) pilgrimage

by Rashmee

Posted on April 24, 2021


/ FAITH, HOPE… One of my grandmothers died after contracting small pox at the Kumbh Mela less than a hundred years ago. Her husband, my grandfather, had already passed, so my father was left an orphan. He went on to become a doctor, both his profession and his personal story making him sceptical of large … Continue reading “How to pandemic-proof a Hindu (or any other) pilgrimage”

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There may be room for experienced optimists yet in the Middle East

by Rashmee

Posted on March 9, 2021


/ POLITICS & AMERICA A former Israeli prime minister once said that in the Middle East, a pessimist is simply an optimist with experience. It’s a clever but dispiriting observation. I wonder what he would make of recent indications that Turkey’s president may be ready to mend ties with Arab countries and thereby turn its … Continue reading “There may be room for experienced optimists yet in the Middle East”

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As Pope Francis visits Iraq, the real story may be mediaeval Baghdad’s inter-faith harmony

by Rashmee

Posted on March 6, 2021


/ FAITH, HOPE… As Pope Francis continues his three-day visit to Iraq, much of the media has described it as an attempt to “support one of the world’s oldest Christian communities”. And then this further point is made, as in The New York Times: “The ranks of Iraq’s Christians have dwindled to roughly a third … Continue reading “As Pope Francis visits Iraq, the real story may be mediaeval Baghdad’s inter-faith harmony”

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Europe has yet another moment on the Muslim issue

by Rashmee

Posted on December 6, 2020


In Austria, chancellor Sebastian Kurz will push a law this month to criminalise a mindset he has denounced as “political Islam”. In France, president Emmanuel Macron will, on December 9, give his cabinet the chance to review a draft law against what he has called “Islamist separatism.” Mr Kurz’s move potentially goes further than that … Continue reading “Europe has yet another moment on the Muslim issue”

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The third wave of bloodshed in France is not really about Islam but lone wolf criminality

by Rashmee

Posted on October 30, 2020


11 Mar 2004  Spain Madrid train bombings 193 killed, 2,050 injured[69] Al-Qaeda 7 Jul 2005  UK 2005 London bombings 56 killed, (inc. 4 perps.), 784 injured[70] Al-Qaeda 7–9 Jan 2015  France January 2015 Île-de-France attacks 20 killed (inc. 3 perps.), 22 injured[73] Al-Qaeda 13 Nov 2015  France November 2015 Paris attacks 138 killed (inc. 7 perps.), 413 injured[75][76] Islamic State 22 … Continue reading “The third wave of bloodshed in France is not really about Islam but lone wolf criminality”

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From America to Saudi Arabia, textual sacralisation induces a unique fervour

by Rashmee

Posted on October 25, 2020


  Just how sacralised has the American constitution become? Very. It would not be inaccurate to say it has become a secular religion, inspiring the same sort of fervour as a revealed religious text such as the Quran. In fact, exactly that sort of fervour, a righteous rage over the defence of something that’s considered … Continue reading “From America to Saudi Arabia, textual sacralisation induces a unique fervour”

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Like Trump, the 7th century Byzantine Empire invoked God

by Rashmee

Posted on October 9, 2020


Somewhat like Donald Trump, who was recently moved to discern the hand of God in Covid-19 therapeutic treatments, the seventh century Byzantine Empire constantly invoked God. Harried by the Arabs from across their shared border, the Byzantines were intensely conscious of the force of divine intercession. This started before the Arab invasions. In the first … Continue reading “Like Trump, the 7th century Byzantine Empire invoked God”

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Donald Trump is doing God. Today’s America is quite like 7th century Byzantium

by Rashmee

Posted on October 8, 2020


On October 7, President Donald Trump said his coronavirus infection was a “blessing from God”, presumably because it enableth him to bring the world news of an unproven antibody cocktail being developed by the drug maker Regeneron. Mr Trump has already released his videotaped musings on Covid-19 therapeutic treatments, describing them as akin to “miracles … Continue reading “Donald Trump is doing God. Today’s America is quite like 7th century Byzantium”

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Back to the culture wars then

by Rashmee

Posted on September 14, 2020


The gains from the Greek-to-Arabic translation movement were many. It proved to be a great investment for the Arabs. Not only did they create a vibrant environment of intellectual enquiry, they were able to use their very appetite for Hellenic knowledge as a cultural cudgel against their rivals next door, the Christian Byzantines. Interestingly, Muslim … Continue reading “Back to the culture wars then”

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What was the logic of the Greek-to-Arabic translation movement?

by Rashmee

Posted on September 13, 2020


Why did the second Abbasid Caliph Al Mansur (r.754-775) initiate the Greek-to-Arabic translation movement? He was no scholar but there was a very particular reason to lay claim to the fruits of Hellenic thinking. Al Mansur had an interest in astrology and may have been keen to form a dynastic ideology. This was to be … Continue reading “What was the logic of the Greek-to-Arabic translation movement?”

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Rashmee has lived and worked in several countries in the past decade, including Afghanistan, India, Haiti, Tunisia, the UAE, US and UK