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Social distancing brings more orderly lines to Naples, Italy
Social distancing brings more orderly lines to Naples, Italy
Rozena Crossman

Are some countries better at following rules than others? The U.S. is making global headlines as gun-wielding citizens from Michigan to D.C. take to the streets to show their disdain for mandatory confinement. Those Americans abiding by the lockdown rules will quickly tell you that this defiance is flamed by Donald Trump's leadership-by-chaos presidency, as he openly supports the protests against his own policy. To the rest of the world, however, Americans banging the drum of anti-government individualism were … just being Americans.

As over half of the world's population is currently in lockdown, the various national quarantine policies have been picked apart in medical, social and economic terms. But is there an anthropological factor? What role do culture and national identity and characteristics play in driving citizens' reactions? In the Ivory Coast, for example, where offering physical contact with the sick is a local tradition that has posed significant challenges to social distancing. On the other hand, residents of China, Japan and South Korea were already in the habit of wearing masks as a common courtesy long before the virus even started.

Yet navigating coronavirus is a complex emotional endeavor, and not all responses can be easily caricatured. In a recent article in La Stampa, Flavia Perina applauds her fellow Italians, who have now been in quarantine longer than any other country for their "unexpected discipline," after 96% of the five million patrol checks carried out found no violations of the rules.

The La Stampa article came just a couple of days after Queen Elisabeth's rare address to the British nation, in which she cited "the attributes of self-discipline, of quiet good-humored resolve and of fellow-feeling (that) still characterize this country." Perina concludes: "We're not English, nor German nor Prussian, we don't have that austere type of DNA … (but) when the rules are precise and objectives are clear, we fulfill our duty." Yes, around the world, culture is shaping how we're all living through this pandemic — just as the pandemic is bound to reshape our cultures.


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Geopolitics

Patronage Or Politics? What's Driving Qatar And Egypt Grand Rapprochement

For Cairo, Qatar had been part of an “axis of evil,” with anger directed at Al Jazeera, the main Qatari outlet, and others critical of Egypt after the Muslim Brotherhood ouster. But the vitriol is now gone, with the first ever visit by Egyptian President al-Sisi to Doha.

Egyptian President Abdel Fattah al-Sisi met with the Emir of Qatar in June 2022 in Cairo

Beesan Kassab, Daniel O'Connell, Ehsan Salah, Hazem Tharwat and Najih Dawoud

For the first time since coming to power in 2014, President Abdel Fattah al-Sisi traveled to Doha last month on an official visit, a capstone in a steadily building rapprochement between the two countries in the last year.

Not long ago, however, the photo-op capturing the two heads of state smiling at one another in Doha would have seemed impossible. In the wake of the Armed Forces’ ouster of the Muslim Brotherhood government in 2013, Qatar and Egypt traded barbs.

In the lexicon of the intelligence-controlled Egyptian press landscape, Qatar had been part of an “axis of evil” working to undermine Egypt’s stability. Al Jazeera, the main Qatari outlet, was banned from Egypt, but, from its social media accounts and television broadcast, it regularly published salacious and insulting details about the Egyptian administration.

But all of that vitriol is now gone.

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