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Today’s top stories, opinion and opportunities
Monday 11 June 2018

Society

Image: Getty Images

Get out

An Austrian decision to oust certain imams has outraged Turkey but will likely be applauded closer to home.

The Austrian government has announced plans to eject foreign imams and shut down mosques, sparking an angry response from Turkey. The move, revealed on Friday by interior minister Herbert Kickl – a controversial figure who has stirred up acrimony in the past when he suggested that refugees in Austria should be “concentrated” in certain areas – promptly drew condemnation from a Turkish government spokesman. The imams and mosques being investigated are backed by the Turkish-Islamic Cultural Association; Austria has a policy against foreign funding of religious leaders. Though relations between Turkey and Austria have long been frosty, the decision by Erdogan’s office will likely bolster Austria’s far-right government in the eyes of its supporters.

Urbanism

Open for business

Hong Kong has hosted two development summits recently and both drew conclusions that Xi Jinping might find useful.

Urbanism has loomed large in Hong Kong over the past week as two summits took place in the city that led to policy-makers, mayors, developers and planners gathering to debate its future. The first summit was organised by the Washington-based think-tank Urban Land Institute and the second by Beijing-based media group Caixin. Most debate centred on the Greater Bay Area development, a policy spearheaded by Beijing which intends to integrate Hong Kong and its adjacent cities in Guangdong province. Taking inspirations from the bay areas in Tokyo, San Francisco and New York, China’s president Xi Jinping intends to turn the richest province into an economic gateway to Southeast Asia and a mega-city cluster. One clear take-home from the discussions was that, when businesses are deciding where to settle, ​the attributes they seek are rule of law, freedom and openness – rather than top-down policy. The Chinese premier may want to bear this in mind​.

Society

Image: Getty Images

Family values

Italy’s more progressive city mayors are defying the country’s populist government by protecting gay couples’ rights.

Italy’s new right-wing families-and-disabilities minister has drawn controversy for his alarming comments that families headed by gay couples do not exist legally in the country. Thankfully Italy’s mayors are taking steps to safeguard gay couples’ rights at a local level, even if the national government is moving in a concerning direction. From Turin to Milan, Florence to Rovereto, city hall representatives have pledged to use whatever means they have available to safeguard gay couples’ rights – for example by inscribing both same-sex parents on the municipal registry of births. Other big cities such as Naples and Palermo may join this roster too, proof that there is plenty that progressive cities can do to resist and oppose a populist government.

Transport

Image: Getty Images

Fork in the road

Will the provision of better cycling conditions see more Japanese make the decision to start pedalling?

Japan is encouraging more citizens to take to two wheels with a wide-ranging plan that will improve cycling conditions in the country. Last week Shinzo Abe’s cabinet pledged to add more bicycle lanes and parking areas, and to double the number of bike-sharing locations. It’s a move that is expected to reduce the numbers of cars on the road and decrease the strain on public-transport systems. Crucially, Japan hopes that an upsurge in cycling will help its ageing population stay healthy and active. However, the government has not divulged how much it plans to spend on the scheme, nor how it plans to stop people from parking in the cycling lanes. These uncertainties aside, Japan will be hoping the two-wheeled trend might mitigate the traffic jams anticipated to clog up Tokyo's streets during the 2020 Olympics.

From Monocle 24

Image: Doug Peters

Paul Gorman and Claire Catterall

The Stack

The curators of Print! Tearing it Up, a new exhibition at Somerset House on the power of indie print.

From Monocle Films

When in Rome

If you’re in the diplomatic game you could do worse than a posting in Rome, where you’ll probably be put up in a palazzo fit for a pope. Monocle pays a visit to the ambassadors of Brazil and France.

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