Globe Trot A summary of international news compiled by senior editor Mindy Belz

Ramadan under lockdown

International | Some mosques are closed as many of the world’s 2 billion Muslims begin their observance from home
by Mindy Belz
Posted 4/23/20, 01:41 pm

SAUDI ARABIA: Thursday marks the start of Ramadan, the Islamic holy month normally characterized by communal prayers and sprawling nighttime meals to break each day’s dawn-to-dusk fast. But this year, with nearly all the world’s 2 billion Muslims under some form of lockdown, authorities in Saudi Arabia, Egypt, and elsewhere have closed mosques for prayers and limited Iftar meals to homes with families. It’s a good time to pray for Muslims.

INDONESIA The world’s largest Muslim nation has banned internal travel to halt mudik, the traditional pilgrimage during Ramadan to hometowns and villages.

GLOBAL: Millions of children are missing out on needed vaccinations due to COVID-19. The World Health Organization, UNICEF, and others have suspended mass vaccination campaigns—including a polio campaign that typically reaches 400 million children and a measles drive affecting 78 million children. The UN has revised its immunization guidance to encourage social distancing, and healthcare centers in Abu Dhabi, United Arab Emirates, are launching drive-thru vaccination programs.

NORTH KOREA: Be careful what you wish for, as rumors swirl about the health of leader Kim Jong Un, who’s not appeared in public since April 11.

IRAN has successfully launched its first military satellite, raising tensions with the Trump administration while demonstrating an advance in the regime’s ballistic missile capabilities. The launch further shows Iran’s willingness to invest in its military at a time of economic crisis and severe COVID-19 outbreak.

GREECE: Officials are imposing new restrictions after 150 migrants at a seaside hotel tested positive for the coronavirus—underscoring the risk of widespread outbreak among the world’s 70 million refugees. “Testing is in short supply even in New York and Norway, but it is nonexistent in most of the countries in the [global] south for the people we try to help,” said Jan Egeland, head of the Norwegian Refugee Council.

KENYA: It’s heartbreaking to watch roses destroyed in Naivasha, the center of the world’s flower industry. The cancellations of weddings and other events have crashed the $8.5 billion global flower industry, hitting one of Kenya’s largest employers.

NETHERLANDS: The Dutch Supreme Court overruled lower courts, making it lawful for doctors to euthanize patients with severe dementia, provided that the patient had expressed a desire to be euthanized while still legally able to do so. That puts doctors in the position, rather than family members or the patient, of deciding when suffering is severe enough to merit death under the country’s euthanasia law.

I’M READING: The great pandemic novels have much to teach us, as plagues have shaped the history of the world, writes Nobel Prize winner Orhan Pamuk … and again, Dr. Craig Smith at Columbia University, who this week in a daily update quotes Dietrich Bonhoeffer: “Action springs not from thought, but from a readiness for responsibility.”

Sign up to receive Globe Trot via email.

Read more Globe Trot Sign up for the Globe Trot email
Mindy Belz

Mindy wrote WORLD Magazine's first cover story in 1986 and went on to serve as international editor, editor, and now senior editor. She has covered wars in Syria, Afganistan, Africa, and the Balkans, and she recounts some of her experiences in They Say We Are Infidels: On the Run from ISIS with Persecuted Christians in the Middle East. Mindy resides with her husband, Nat, in Asheville, N.C. Follow her on Twitter @mcbelz.

Read more from this writer