As Covid cases dwindled and restrictions were eased, 2022 could be defined as the year of freedom. However, political unrest has resulted in hardships and humanitarian sufferings all over the world. Russia’s invasion of Ukraine, global economic gloom, inflation, and a variety of other factors contributed to a year unlike any other. 2022 will be remembered for Elon Musk’s Twitter takeover or actor Will Smith slapping comedian Chris Rock on the Oscars stage. Here are the top ten controversies that defined 2022:
The ongoing war began with Russian forces invading Ukraine in February, billed as a “special military operation” by Moscow that said its aim was to “demilitarise and de-Nazify Ukraine”. Thousands of people have been killed and millions have been displaced across Ukraine, but Russia claims its forces did not target civilians. Western nations have backed Ukraine, and military aid has poured in. After months of diplomacy, threats, and sanctions, all that remains is hope as the world prays for peace in 2023.
Takeover of Twitter by Elon Musk
Elon Musk’s “hostile” takeover of microblogging platform Twitter was one of the biggest corporate acquisitions of 2022. The $44 billion transaction that saw his back-and-forth over the bots issue culminated in him taking over the company in October. “Let that sink in,” Musk tweeted on October 27 with a video of him literally entering the Twitter headquarters with a sink. However, controversy lingers as he continues to implement radical changes to Twitter, such as layoffs and the blue tick feature.
Protests in Iran Over Mahsa Amini’s Death
Massive protests erupted in Iran on September 16, sending shockwaves around the world, following the death of Mahsa Amini in custody, a young Iranian Kurd who had been arrested for allegedly violating the country’s strict dress code for women. On camera, women protested by cutting their hair and burning their hijab. Under Islamic law, women in Iran are required to cover their hair and wear long, loose-fitting clothes. Protesters continue to face persecution in Iran, including imprisonment and execution.
The Zero-Covid Policy in China
China’s radical Zero-Covid policy focused on harsh restrictions in a small number of cases. These include incarcerating millions of people for weeks or months, causing public outrage and criticism. After multiple deaths in a deadly fire, mostly because victims were unable to escape due to strict rules, the country was rocked by rare public protests in November. Although restrictions have been relaxed, experts believe the Chinese have lost herd immunity as a result of their zero-tolerance policy.
Slap at the Oscars
The Academy Awards this year were memorable for a very different reason. Will Smith slapped comedian Chris Rock on the Oscars stage after he made a joke about his wife Jada Pinkett Smith. Rock’s joke comparing Jada’s tightly cropped hair to Demi Moore’s appearance in the film “G.I. Jane” prompted the slap. Jada, an actor, suffers from alopecia, a condition that causes hair loss. In an Instagram video, Smith later apologised to Rock and his family.
Nancy Pelosi’s Taiwan Visit
This year saw a sharp escalation in US-China relations as US House Speaker visited Taiwan, which Beijing considers to be its own territory. She was the highest-ranking elected official from the United States to visit Taiwan in decades. During the August visit, China promised “targeted military actions” and sent fighter jets across Taiwan’s air defence zone. Days later, another US Congressional delegation visited Taiwan’s de facto capital, Taipei.
Pakistan Political Crisis
Imran Khan, the leader of Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf, was deposed as Prime Minister of Pakistan in April. He became Pakistan’s first prime minister to lose a no-confidence vote. Notably, no Pakistani prime minister has ever served the full five-year term. Mr Khan claimed that his government was brought down by a “conspiracy” by the US because he refused to support the US and Europe in global issues against Russia and China. The United States, on the other hand, has dismissed Mr Khan’s claims.
UK Political Crisis
In October, the United Kingdom ended months of political turmoil by electing Rishi Sunak as the country’s first Indian-origin Prime Minister. Liz Truss became Prime Minister less than two months ago after defeating Mr Sunak, but she resigned as the UK’s shortest-serving prime minister after her economic plans sent shockwaves through markets and divided her party. Her predecessor, Boris Johnson, resigned in July after dozens of ministers resigned from his scandal-plagued administration.
On December 9, Indian and Chinese troops clashed along the Line of Actual Control (LAC) in Tawang, Arunachal Pradesh. According to Defence Minister Rajnath Singh, no Indian soldier was killed or seriously injured while repelling People’s Liberation Army troops who attempted to cross the LAC. The two sides last clashed in Galwan, Ladakh, in 2020, when 20 Indian soldiers were killed. China officially reported four deaths, but the true number could be higher.
IT sector Layoffs
This year saw a major wave of layoffs in the technology industry, with top IT firms laying off a large portion of their workforce in response to rising inflation. IT behemoths such as Amazon, Facebook, Microsoft, and Twitter are among them. There are also rumours of mass layoffs at Google.
US Abortion Ruling
This year, the United States Supreme Court overturned a landmark 1973 decision that legalised abortion. In June, the Supreme Court repealed the constitutional right to abortion, a move criticised by President Joe Biden, former President Barack Obama, and other world leaders. The Roe vs. Wade decision established a woman’s right to abortion, but individual states can now permit or restrict the procedure half a century later.