On 5 June, a kind of mini-crisis struck the Middle East: Arab countries, including Saudi Arabia, Egypt, Bahrain and the United Arab Emirates (UAE), broke ties with Qatar. Saudi Arabia, the only country to share a land border with Qatar, announced they were closing the border. Other Arab countries declared that they would expel their Qatari inhabitants and diplomats and blockade Qatar until it submitted to their demands; delivered a few weeks later, the demands included shutting down the Doha-based news organisation Al Jazeera, severing ties with Iran, limiting ties with Turkey and ‘ending interference in sovereign countries’ internal affairs’.
There is a common perception that the Russian Revolution ushered in an era of draconian, merciless state atheism that was utterly hostile to all forms of religion. Even among those who might be sympathetic to the aims of the Revolution, it is taken for granted that the destruction of the Orthodox Church and the ‘withering away’ of religion was a key ideological plank for the Bolsheviks. It is true that not all radicalised Muslims thought as highly of Lenin and the Bolsheviks as Barakatullah; but the policies of religious freedom and national self-determination pursued by the Bolsheviks and the fledgling Soviet government in its early days helped wind back the oppression that Central Asian Muslims had experienced under the Tsar’s rule.