When the world gets closer.

We help you see farther.

Sign up to our expressly international daily newsletter.

Egypt

'Opium' No More: The Changing Relevance Of Religion In Austerity-Hit Egypt

Is religion numbing Egyptians into acquiescence amid a number of merciless austerity measures?

In Egypt, religion has become the “coffee of the masses”
In Egypt, religion has become the “coffee of the masses”
Tarek Ghanem

CAIRO Karl Marx hated organized and institutionalized religion. Of all his economic and political thoughts, his words equating religion with opium are some of the most notorious: "Religion is the sigh of the oppressed creature, the heart of a heartless world, and the soul of soulless conditions. It is the opium of the people." He believed that religion has certain practical uses, much like a recreational, mind-numbing substance; that it has the potential to reduce the immediate suffering of those who are sick or injured, providing them with more pleasant illusions. But he also observed that it reduces their energy and willingness to confront the oppressive, heartless reality that capitalism forces upon people.

It feels like everyone in Egypt has been put through a social and psychological grinder ever since the Egyptian government began to enact the International Monetary Fund's loan policies. Catastrophic inflation rates reached as high as 30% in July 2017; another wave of price hikes in electricity, fuel, gas and water are affecting nearly all other services; and there was a recent 300% increase in metro ticket prices. More than a quarter of Egyptians barely hover above the poverty line, and another quarter is quickly sinking into destitution. Given this, what role does religion play in people's lives?

Keep reading...Show less
You've reached your monthly limit of free articles.
To read the full article, please subscribe.
Get unlimited access. Support Worldcrunch's unique mission:
  • Exclusive coverage from the world's top sources, in English for the first time.
  • Stories from the best international journalists.
  • Insights from the widest range of perspectives, languages and countries
Already a subscriber? Log in

When the world gets closer, we help you see farther

Sign up to our expressly international daily newsletter!
Geopolitics

Is Soft Power Dead?

With an activist Supreme Court creating a gap between democratic rhetoric and reality in the U.S., and Russia and China eager to flex military muscle, the full-force return to hard power looks bound for dominance.

U.S. flag and Chinese flag

Dominique Moïsi

-Analysis-

PARIS — Russia's war in Ukraine rages on, tensions are erupting in the South China Sea and now abortion rights are being stripped away in the U.S.: Looking around the world, we have to ask: what is left of the notion of soft power?

Stay up-to-date with the latest on the Russia-Ukraine war, with our exclusive international coverage.

Sign up to our free daily newsletter.

How can we talk about the power to convince when the power to coerce is increasingly the norm? And when there is such a gap between rhetoric and reality in the U.S. and in Russia and China, hard power almost seems to have become part of soft power?

“We will lead the world not by the example of our power, but by the power of our example,” Joe Biden said the day after his election. But what kind of example was he talking about? That of the Supreme Court’s judges, whose decision promises a terrible future to women and to all those who still wanted to believe in an enlightened and liberal America?

Keep reading...Show less

When the world gets closer, we help you see farther

Sign up to our expressly international daily newsletter!
You've reached your monthly limit of free articles.
To read the full article, please subscribe.
Get unlimited access. Support Worldcrunch's unique mission:
  • Exclusive coverage from the world's top sources, in English for the first time.
  • Stories from the best international journalists.
  • Insights from the widest range of perspectives, languages and countries
Already a subscriber? Log in
THE LATEST
FOCUS
TRENDING TOPICS

Central to the tragic absurdity of this war is the question of language. Vladimir Putin has repeated that protecting ethnic Russians and the Russian-speaking populations of Ukraine was a driving motivation for his invasion.

Yet one month on, a quick look at the map shows that many of the worst-hit cities are those where Russian is the predominant language: Kharkiv, Odesa, Kherson.

Watch VideoShow less
MOST READ