Sectarian divides—and their manipulation by those in power—are increasingly fueling conflict across the diverse countries of the Middle East, spilling over borders and contributing to ongoing violence in Syria, Iraq, Yemen and elsewhere. Yet in the nineteenth century the region was considerably more tolerant than Western Europe at the time; a high degree of religious… more
“We’re ridding the world of polytheism, and spreading monotheism across the planet,” an ISIS preacher recently said in a video recording. Behind him one could see the ISIS faithful using sledgehammers, bulldozers, and explosives to destroy the eighth-century-BC citadel of the Assyrian king Sargon II at Khorsabad, ten miles northwest of Mosul in northern Iraq, and the colossal statues of… more
President Obama is visiting Saudia Arabia today. Nicolas Pelham, The Economist's Middle East affairs correspondent who has covered the Arab region for New York Review of Books, BBC, Financial Times, and the author of Holy Lands: Reviving Pluralism in the Middle East, talks about the destruction unleashed in the Middle East by European nationalism and need to… more
When President Obama goes to Riyadh on Thursday, he should meet not just the Al Sauds, but the Saudis the rulers deem politic to hide under a bushel. If he does so, he will discover a country which defies the western stereotype of a bland killjoy state, and away from the religious police preserves as variegated… more
In Holy Lands, longtime Middle East journalist Nicolas Pelham presents a strikingly original and startlingly optimistic look at the region. Sure, there's plenty of bad news and cruelty to report on, but Pelham also tells the story of those who are embracing diversity and trying to live side by side with all types of people, in the… more
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