Unbearded

Joy of the Day 20/365: uncovering faces

This week, The New York Times ran a massive, 40,000-word story on the state of "the Arab World." I have read it and found it, if nothing less than adequate, lacking in some of the political and environmental information I had hoped for. In any case, it ends quite downbeat, with the author saying that his 16-month reporting sojourn through the region convinced him of its deepening crisis; he says that a separatist Kurd guerrilla whose views would have been "even fascist" in the past now sounds like a voice of reason. It's grim.

In that context, this story rings a note of hope. Manbij, Syria, has been liberated from ISIS after a 73-day battle, and in celebration, people have taken to the streets to cut off the Islamist-mandated beards and burn their Islamist-mandated niqabs. It's a nice flash of freedom in a time of repression, worthy of being called today's Joy of the Day.