The Iranian author, Vali Nasr, has written an interesting book
called The Shia Revival: How conflicts
within Islam will shape the future. Its argument is exceptionally pertinent at a
time when European governments are edging toward arming Sunni extremists in
Syria. Nasr portrays Shiism as the more liberal, palatable strand
of Islam and a religion for underdogs. He
makes his point persuasively, although putting a progressive gloss on the
regime in Iran and Hezbollah does undermine his thesis. A lot of the material is focussed on Iraq, where there is a
Shia majority, which was suppressed during the presidency of Saddam
Hussein. The leading cleric, Ayatollah
Sistani, is depicted as a moderating influence, who opposed retaliation as Sunni
extremism threatened to cause sectarian civil war. The book’s opening chapter provides an erudite and
fascinating history of factions within Islam.
The split dates back to the origins of the faith and a dispute over the
prophet Mohammed’s successor. Th…
My first reaction this morning upon learning that Irish League referees, led by infamous Linfield fan Davy Malcolm, were considering strike action to get higher match fees, I suspect may have been shared with other supporters. ‘An extra £50? For that lot? They’re incompetent! I wouldn’t give them 50p’ and so on.
This is, after all, a group of men (and indeed women) who count amongst their number the appalling Frankie Hiles, a prancing, grinning imbecile from Coleraine who once expressed the opinion on local television that nothing was sweeter than seeing a team from Ballymena being defeated (albeit that the interview was concerned on that occasion with rugby). Hiles had officiated Ballymena United games on countless occasions before and has done so on many more since those remarks, with predictable consequences. An apposite analogy might be Mike Riley (from Leeds) admitting his loathing for all things Mancunian in an interview ostensibly about rugby league whilst conducting a ca…
An interesting post-script from a story from last year. When Estonia’s computer systems suffered attacks from hackers last April the government alleged that these attacks were launched from the Kremlin. A year later Estonia is braced for more attacks, but the allegations appear to have dissipated. Indeed it emerges that a 20 year old Estonian has been prosecuted for the attacks.
Estonia has a large, alienated Russian community who were incensed when a memorial to Soviet war dead was removed from central Tallinn.