Tuesday. 26/7/2022

The Monocle Minute

Image: Shutterstock

Opinion / Lynne O’Donnell

Turn for the worse

I recently returned to Kabul for the first time since the Taliban claimed victory last August after 20 years of brutal insurgency. I wanted to see for myself what the city has become after almost a year of what so many people there have described as a “reign of terror”. I found a city shrouded in sadness, its vibrant joie de vivre replaced by fear, trauma and confusion.

Within a couple of days, I was detained by Taliban intelligence and forced to use my Twitter account to “confess” that reports I have written about the country were fabricated. I was threatened with violence and prison, and forced to make a video saying that I hadn’t been coerced. I left the day after my incarceration ended but my kidnappers – and that is what they were – have continued their lies about me.

The Taliban is utterly unable to govern Afghanistan. Violence is the only vocabulary they understand and the only one they currently need. The time has long passed for them to face some consequences. This week, countries including the US, Russia, China and Iran (plus a Taliban representative) are gathering in Tashkent for a counter-terrorism conference. That the Taliban is now hosting a litany of terrorist organisations as thanks for their support is finally focusing minds.

Exemptions to travel bans on Taliban figures, which enabled them to attend talks on the so-called “peace process” that led to their victory last year, recently expired. These bans were originally imposed by the UN Security Council. It is time for those bans to be re-imposed and broadened. The international community needs to show that it’s serious if it is to either force the Taliban to behave as the government it is so desperate to be, or to end the dreadful suffering of Afghanistan’s people.

Lynne O’Donnell is the Associated Press’s former Kabul bureau chief and a columnist for ‘Foreign Policy’.

Image: Matilde Viegas

Immigration / Portugal

Warm welcome

Portugal is set to approve a law relaxing visa requirements for foreigners coming from members of the Community of Portuguese Language Countries. The move is the latest step in Portugal’s push for increased exchange between Lusophone nations. That growing integration is cultural – as Monocle reported in its July/August issue, Lisbon has become a recording mecca for musicians from across the Portuguese-speaking world – and economic, as immigration to Portugal has been rising in recent years.

Brazilians already comprise Portugal’s largest foreign community: the number crossing the Atlantic to move there has almost tripled in the past four years. The new law will make it easier for citizens from countries such as Angola, Cape Verde and Mozambique to apply for visas. Amid a wave of increasingly draconian anti-immigration laws across Europe, it’s heartening to see a country open its doors a little further.

Lisbon has become a Lusophone music magnet. Find out how in the July/August issue of Monocle magazine, which is on newsstands now.

Image: Reuters

Diplomacy / Canada

Making amends

Pope Francis (pictured) is travelling around Canada on a weeklong tour apologising for the Catholic church’s role in the historic abuse of indigenous children. The visit will take him to Edmonton, Quebec City and finally Iqaluit, Nunavut, in the far north. The Vatican has called the trip a “penitential pilgrimage” and the Pope’s repentant tone signals a notable shift for the papacy. During the 19th and 20th centuries, more than 150,000 indigenous children were separated from their families and forced to attend religious schools, where many suffered physical abuse.

“He’s owning up to the church’s past failures, something that Catholic officials have often been reluctant to do,” Christopher White, Vatican correspondent for US publication the National Catholic Reporter, tells The Monocle Minute. “What we’re seeing in Canada is unique as far as papal travel is concerned. An 85-year-old pope with serious mobility issues has arrived in a country with the sole purpose of saying, ‘I’m sorry’.”

To hear more analysis and updates on the Pope’s Canadian tour, tune in to ‘The Briefing’ on Monocle 24.

Image: Grégoire Bernardi

Art / France

Open house

For years, tours at the Hartung Bergman Foundation (pictured), a museum overlooking the Cap d’Antibes on the French Riviera, were only available by appointment but, after a two-year renovation, the centre has finally opened to the public. Based in the former home of late artists Hans Hartung and Anna-Eva Bergman, the gallery pays homage to their work and the area’s natural beauty.

“On the Med, Hartung and Bergman had an intense feeling of freedom and adventure,” Thomas Schlesser, the foundation’s director, tells Monocle. “This stayed in their souls. They were attracted by the light.” The museum’s staff hope to introduce the couple’s sunny, artistic spirit to a wider audience. Surprisingly, their work is better known internationally than among their one-time neighbours but since Schlesser took over as director, he has worked to give the surrounding community a glimpse of this idyll. “My desire was for this extraordinary place to be more open,” he says.

For more cultural tips and to find out what’s catching our eye this summer, pick up a copy of Monocle’s Mediterraneo newspaper, which is out now.

Image: Getty Images

Food / Japan

Crunch time

Never mind chicken or beef. Japanese budget airline Zipair is now offering passengers meals that contain crickets on flights from Narita to Bangkok, Singapore and Los Angeles. Mile-high options include a chilli burger and a fishy pasta (crickets have the crunch of a crustacean shell) thanks in part to a collaboration with Tokushima University, which is studying insect food as a way of beating shortages and poor farming conditions.

Japanese retailer Muji has also been working with the university on promoting the consumption of insects since 2020 and does a brisk trade in cricket crackers. There are, the backers say, other benefits too: crickets are loaded with protein, calcium and iron, emit fewer greenhouse gases than livestock and don’t need much in the way of food and water. While columnists have long predicted the rise of insect-based meals in the West, people’s appetite for limiting the environmental impact of their food hasn’t extended to ordering locust linguine or hopping on the bug burger bandwagon just yet. Beetlemania this isn't.

Image: Ariel Efron

Monocle 24 / The Menu

Culinary ambassadors

We meet two top chefs who have brought fame to their home countries: Israel’s Eyal Shani and Brazil’s Gero Fasano.

Monocle Films / Global

Monocle preview: July/August issue

See if your city made the cut for our annual Quality of Life survey in Monocle's July/August issue, where we crunched the numbers and hit the streets to rank the world's most liveable cities. Elsewhere explore the business of language learning, brush up on the brands to help you stay sharp and see what songs should be on your summer soundtrack. Grab a copy today from The Monocle Shop.

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