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Today’s top stories, opinion and opportunities
Tuesday 31 January 2017

Image: Alice Chiche/Getty Images

Quebec’s quandary

Why the accused French-Canadian student Alexandre Bissonnette entered a mosque in Quebec on Sunday night and opened fire – killing six people and wounding many more – remains unclear. The attack has shocked a country where gun crime is rare and attacks on minority communities seldom occur. Canada's strength, said prime minister Justin Trudeau in his response to the attacks, lies in its diversity; its readiness to embrace others rather than seek isolation. But in Quebec anti-Islamic sentiment, while by no means widespread, has been simmering for some time. A contentious debate on banning the niqab during the 2015 general election campaign did little to temper the mood and a number of incidents of vandalism at mosques around the province over the past few years have raised concerns. It will be for Quebec’s political leadership to actively pursue the divisions heightened by Sunday's attack; its largely plural society cannot be allowed to fray further.

Image: Michele Tantussi/Getty Images

Strengthening ties

Where Russia is concerned, Angela Merkel must feel her allies are abandoning her one by one. While President Obama imposed sanctions after Russia’s annexation of Crimea, his successor Donald Trump has spoken of co-operation. The front runner in France’s presidential election race, François Fillon, is cosier with the Russian president than his country’s current leader. And Britain, once a supporter on the global stage, is now distracted by Brexit. It was against this backdrop that Ukraine’s president Petro Poroshenko arrived in Berlin yesterday. In her opening remarks the German chancellor was careful not to criticise Russia directly but spoke pointedly of “the close friendship” between Ukraine and Germany that “the past two years have reinforced”. She is now the Western leader who is most committed to supporting Ukraine. But it’s becoming a lonely battle.

Image: Pascal Le Segretain/Getty Images

Simons says

For the final leg of the men’s autumn/winter season, the fashion pack has landed in New York. The city is the youngest of the big four menswear weeks – it only launched in 2015 – but thus far it has struggled to live up to expectations. Many have suggested that this is because it is filled with commercial brands whose low-key clothes aren’t terribly suited to a runway format (though John Elliott can always be counted on to spice things up). This season, however, New York will benefit from an injection of international star power: Raf Simons, the Belgian maestro who is the new creative director at Calvin Klein, will unveil the autumn/winter collection for his eponymous label tomorrow night. It could be just the lift the city needs.

Image: Susan Baaghil/Alamy

Happy place

There is no shortage of art weeks out there; occasions where a city’s galleries and museums pitch in with stellar shows and special happenings to draw the spotlight to their scene. But Jeddah’s art week “21,39”, organised by the Saudi Art Council, is not as straightforward. Given that a non-pilgrim tourist visa to Saudi Arabia is nigh on impossible to acquire, “21,39”, which begins tomorrow, is squarely aimed at locals. New York-based curators Sam Bardaouil and Till Fellrath have assembled a show of some 45 artists, about half of which are Saudis (including Majid Angawi and Marwah Almugait). The event is happening against the backdrop of an ongoing debate in the kingdom about fun – or the lack thereof. The upper echelons of government are discussing whether to reopen cinemas that have been shuttered for decades; even the deputy crown prince, Mohammad Bin Salman, is saying that his society simply needs a stronger cultural offering.

From Monocle 24

Culture with Robert Bound

Robert Bound is joined by Ossian Ward, head of content at the Lisson Gallery, and Marisa Mazria Katz, editor of ‘Creative Time Reports’, to discuss art's role in representing political feelings.

From Monocle Films

The Monocle Travel Guide Series: Bangkok

Bangkok is a city both liberal and traditional, where outsiders are always welcome but few can gain a true understanding of the capital’s intricacies. Our travel guide will steer you to some favourite hotels and retailers, lesser-known neighbourhoods, tasty restaurants and street-side bars where bright young things party until the early hours. Published by Gestalten, the guide is available now at The Monocle Shop.

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