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After the spanking that I gave The Economist awhile ago, I thought that I ought to point out why I still read The Economist by pointing out some of this week’s noteworthy articles.

For starters, there is this article about the lack of woman in eastern Germany called We ain’t got dames. A brief quote from the article….

A NEW disease is abroad in eastern Germany: Frauenmangel, lack of women. In some towns there are only 75 young women for every 100 young men. In one or two there are as few as 40. The effects are worrying, not only because populations may shrink but also because of the existence of a growing underclass of young men who are partnerless, underqualified and jobless.

This is a problem worth watching, because the problem is only going to be more wide spread in the future. In particular, Asia is going to have seriously unbalanced sex ratios in the near future. Even in Europe this problem is going to spread. As the article says latter on….

Eastern Germany is now a laboratory for the rest of Europe, says Mr Klingholz, since other places are starting to see the same phenomenon.

Moving on in the same issue we find this article “Islam’s authority deficit.” This article has a lot of the usual problems that The Economist is prone to. But it still manages to be informative in places. In particular this passage…

Yet Mr Gomaa himself is no stranger to controversy. His own fatwas have often been challenged by a rival authority, the ancient university of al-Azhar. As a case of the bizarre effects of competition between scholars, take some recent exchanges on female circumcision. More clearly than before, Mr Gomaa laid down on June 24th (after an 11-year-old died under the knife) that it was not just “un-Islamic” but forbidden. Mr Qaradawi, by contrast, has suggested that genital cutting is permissible so long as the clitoris is “reduced in size”, not removed entirely. It says something about the mood of religious conservatism on the Egyptian street that Mr Qaradawi’s ruling was seen as “playing to the gallery”.

The significance of this little exchange is that Mr. Gomaa is no liberal. At least, not as the west would define liberal. Yet he is losing the popularity contest with religious leaders who are more anti western then he is. I would argue that this points to the Middle East becoming more radicalized as the years go on.

Speaking of Muslims, I also found this article called Unlikely sanctuary fascinating. It is all about Muslims from Myanmar seeking sanctuary in China. An excerpt…

AT FIRST glance, Yunnan would seem the sort of place a pious Muslim should avoid. AIDS is rampant in this province in south-western China and Beijing’s efforts have failed to curb the drugs and prostitution that spread the disease. Moreover China has an appalling record of suppressing religious freedom, including that of Muslims. In its western region of Xinjiang some have taken up arms.

Yet Muslims from neighbouring Myanmar flock to Yunnan. In cities such as Jinghong and Liuku, they sell Burmese gems in shops decorated with Arabic calligraphy and pictures of Mecca. A jeweller in Jinghong, who has lived here for six years, says that in Myanmar “the Buddhists fight us Muslims and don’t let us work. The government is very evil. Here in China you can work in peace.”

The broad scope of reporting represented by the above selection of articles is why I still subscribed to The Economist in spite of all my my problems with their sloppy thinking. In what other English langue publication can you read about the unbalances sex ratio in eastern Germany and the Muslims seeking refuge in China in the same issue?

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