SPOTLIGHT: IRAN TO BOYCOTT HAJJ PILGRIMAGE

Tensions between Shia Iran and Sunni Saudi Arabia are once again threatening to escalate. The two archenemies are already entangled in proxy wars against each other, in Syria and Yemen, and diplomatic ties between the two have been cut since Saudi Arabia executed a Shia cleric at the beginning of this year. But Riyadh and Tehran are now taking their conflict to another level, the hajj.


Yesterday, Iranian authorities announced that their pilgrims won't be travelling to Saudi Arabia for this year's hajj, a spiritual journey that all Muslims are required to do at least once in their lifetime. Iran's Hajj and Pilgrimage Organization put the blame on the Gulf kingdom for its "continued obstructionism" and for politicizing the religious event. Resentment over the deaths of 465 Iranians in a stampede at last year's pilgrimage is still high in Iran, where the victims' families are still waiting for a formal apology from Saudi Arabia. No doubt this and the urge to protect its civilians against what it sees as Sunni retaliation against Shia Muslims also motivated Iran's decision.


But the conflict between these two key Muslim nations in the Middle East, which now adds the most vital of religious rites on top of simmering political and economic battles, should alert Western leaders. There are myriad firefights and full-fledged wars across the region to resolve. But as long as Saudi Arabia and Iran see each other as enemies, the Middle East won't be at peace.



WHAT TO LOOK FOR TODAY



ISIS UNDER PRESSURE IN BOTH IRAQ AND SYRIA

Iraqi troops battling ISIS terrorists have entered the city of Fallujah, a week after the beginning of the offensive to retake the city, AFP reports. Meanwhile in Syria, ISIS fighters also came under attack in the cities of Aleppo and Raqqa, where Turkish and Syrian warplanes respectively hit targets yesterday and this morning. The terrorist organization meanwhile claimed responsibility for a new wave of bombings in the Iraqi capital of Baghdad that killed at least 20 people early this morning.


SYRIAN OPPOSITION CHIEF NEGOTIATOR RESIGNS

Mohammed Alloush, the chief peace negotiator of Syria's main opposition group, announced yesterday he was resigning. He said the peace talks had failed to "stop the bloodshed of our people" and to "push Syria towards a political transition without al-Assad and his criminal gang," Al Jazeera reports.


— ON THIS DAY

From the Lincoln Memorial to Charles de Gaulle, here's May 30 in history, in 57 seconds.


VERBATIM

"California is the big enchilada," Bernie Sanders said on NBC's Meet the Press, making it clear he intends to fight until the end for the Democratic nomination. But he didn't really rule out the possibility of becoming Hillary Clinton's running mate.


— WORLDCRUNCH-TO-GO

A growing number of women have approached American self-defense trainer and martial artist Rick Henderson for training in the aftermath of the New Year's Eve attacks in Cologne, Germany, in which scores of women were sexually assaulted and robbed by gangs of men. "You should not need to fight but you should know how defend yourself, should the situation arise. No one has the right to grope you," Süddeutsche Zeitung's David-Pierce Brill quotes Henderson as saying.

Read the full article here, After New Year's Eve Attack, German Women Learn Self-Defense.


DEADLIEST WEEK OF THE YEAR FOR MIGRANTS

Between 700 and 900 migrants are feared to have died in the Mediterranean over the past week as they attempted to cross from Libya to Europe, Medecins Sans Frontières and the U.N. Refugee agency said yesterday. Departures from Libya to Italy have increased sharply since the European Union signed a controversial deal with Turkey to stop migrants from entering the EU via Greece.


EXTRA!

During ceremonies yesterday marking the centenary of the Battle of Verdun, German Chancellor Angela Merkel and French President François Hollande called for European unity by heeding lessons from the past. See how German daily Rheinische Post featured the commemorations on its Monday front page.


AMERICAN INDICTED IN TORCHED FRENCH POLICE CAR PROBE

French prosecutors have indicted a 27-year-old American for his alleged role in the torching of a police car, while two officers were still in the vehicle, during a protest in Paris on May 18, Le Monde reports. Four other people have also been charged for voluntary manslaughter.


— MY GRAND-PERE'S WORLD

Well-Deserved Shade — Villefranche-de-Rouergue, 1974


14 FEET

The United States Secret Service want to build a new, higher picket fence (at 14 feet, or 4.3 meters) around the White House to prevent fence jumping, which The New York Times says "has become a regular occurrence."


GREAT BARRIER REEF BLEACHED

Bleaching has killed 35% of corals in central and northern parts of the Great Barrier Reef, Australian scientists say, warning that global warming is the biggest threat to the World Heritage Site.


— MORE STORIES, EXCLUSIVELY IN ENGLISH BY WORLDCRUNCH

LIZARD TONGUE

Is Mark Clattenburg, the referee of Saturday night's Champions League final won by Real Madrid, really a lizard?

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Society

Germany's Legendary Clubbing Culture Crashes Museum Space

The exhibition “Electro” in Düsseldorf is an unlikely tribute to a joyful and uninhibited club culture, with curators forced to contend with limits of a museum setting ... and another COVID lockdown.

A woman with a "Techno" tattoo in front of the famous Berghain

Boris Pofalla

DÜSSELDORF — The last party at the Berghain nightclub in Berlin lasted from Saturday evening until Monday morning. On the first weekend of December, some clubbers lined up for nine hours outside the former power plant – and still didn’t make it past the doormen. A friend said that dancing in the most famous techno club in the world on its last evening was like landing a spot in the last lifeboat to leave the sinking Titanic on 14 April 1912.

It is surely a coincidence that the first comprehensive exhibition charting the 100-year history of electronic music in Germany opened in the same week that nightclubs across the country were forced to close. It wasn’t planned that way, but it’s like opening an exhibition about the cultural history of alcohol the day after the introduction of prohibition.

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