People pray inside the Byzantine-era Hagia Sophia, with sail-like drapes covering mosaic figures of the Virgin Mary and Jesus.
AP Photo/Yasin Akgul
In reconverting Hagia Sophia to a mosque, Turkish officials have emphasized veiling of Christian icons to create a Muslim prayer space. Experts explain why the veiling is in fact a Byzantine practice.
Jewish youth on a sailboat in Salonika harbor, 1929,
United States Holocaust Memorial Museum, courtesy of Gabriel Albocher
Vital Hasson was born into the Jewish community of Salonica, Greece, a cultural capital of the Sephardic world. After World War II, he was executed for helping the Nazis destroy that community.
Flag of Kurdistan on military uniform.
Despite many attempts, the Kurds have never won and kept their own nation -- though, after World War I, they came close.
The Kurdish-led Syrian Democratic Forces at al-Omar oil field in Deir Al Zor, Syria, at the announcement that they had ended the Islamic State’s control of land in eastern Syria, March 23, 2019.
Kurdish women have fought on the front lines of military battles since the 19th century. A scholar explains the origins of Kurdistan's relative gender equality in a mostly conservative Muslim region.
The Sultan Omar Ali Saifuddien Mosque, one of the landmarks in Brunei. Brunei recently announced punishing gay sex by stoning offenders to death.
AP Photo/Vincent Thian
Some Islamic nations, including Brunei, have harsh punishments under Sharia. In pre-modern times, Sharia was rarely used as criminal law, and standard of proof for any prosecution was very high.
Metropolitan Epiphanius, head of the new Orthodox Church of Ukraine, which is newly independent of the Russian Orthodox Church.
AP Photo/Efrem Lukatsky
Ukraine's Orthodox Church recently broke off from Russia. This dispute has a history that goes back to medieval Christianity, and continues to shape modern-day politics.
Eugène Delacroix’s ‘Self-Portrait in a Green Vest’ (1837).
Through his art and his travels, 19th-century French Romantic painter Eugène Delacroix sought to understand the chaos of an era he called 'the century of unbelievable things.'
A 16th century chart of Europe and North Africa.
Luis Texieira, Portolan Chart, Lisbon, ca. 1600 via Wikimedia Commons.
Migration is central to Mediterranean history and people have always moved between its two shores.
Under a canopy of Turkish flags, supporters of Turkey’s President Recep Tayyip Erdogan’s ruling Justice and Development Party (AKP) attend an election rally in Gaziantep, eastern Turkey.
Presidency Press Service via AP, Pool
Turkey's snap election is on Sunday. One fact is clear: The candidates and electorate are both nationalist and pious. That's in contrast to the strict secularism of 20th century politics.
Is this a face or a building?
Building features can be analyzed in the same way that facial recognition software works, revealing previously hidden elements of history.
Could a North-African migrant become the Prime minister of a European country in the 21st century? In the 19th century, a Greek slave rose to the highest ranks in Tunis. The Bey of Tunis, Muhammad Sādiq Bāšā-Bey, greets Napoleon III in Algiers, on 20 September 1860.
A. de Belle Ksar Saïd Museum
When we think of migrants, we think of them crossing the Mediterranean to come to Europe. Yet 200 years ago, many did it the other way.
Communist Party of Turkey founder Mustafa Suphi (right) met a mysterious fate when he tried to take on the Ankara government.
When push came to shove, Turkey's young Communist Party didn't get the unwavering support from Moscow it might have expected.
IIOC Masjid Omar AlFarouk
Muslims throughout the world will celebrate the holiday of Eid al-Adha (Festival of Sacrifice) beginning this Thursday evening. Here's an introduction to this important feast and its partner, Eid al-Fitr.
Syrian Christians and Muslims offer prayers for nuns held by rebels, at the Greek Orthodox Mariamiya Church in Damascus, Syria, in 2013.
For many centuries, Syrian society has included people of many faiths – Sunni and Shi'i Muslims, Christians and Druze. This past is important to know to understand the present.
The European union and Turkey cannot afford to further strain their relationship.
The integration of Turkey into the European Union could have embodied a counter-discourse to the so-called 'Clash of Civilisations'. Perhaps it is not too late.
Donald Trump flanked by two of his children, Ivanka and Donald Jr.
AP Photo/Evan Vucci
A political scientist looks at the similarities between the new American president and the sultans of the Ottoman Empire. What might the parallels portend for US politics?
Democracy saved Erdogan from the coup attempt. Can he use it to solve the Kurdish crisis?
The protests that helped end the attempted coup turned into an affirmation of Turkish democracy. Can it help resolve the Kurdish crisis?
Why did Turkey’s government go after academics soon after the coup?
A scholar who grew up in Turkey explains the important role Turkey's academics play and why, following the recent coup, the government went after them.
The Sykes-Picot Agreement was the result of secret deliberations between British civil servant Mark Sykes and French diplomat François Georges-Picot.
The Sykes-Picot Agreement created the modern Middle East. It represents one of the first installments in a long line of modern European – and subsequent American – meddling in the region.
In seeking to understand the roots of Islamic State, we’ve tried to spread the net wide, but make no claim to being comprehensive or having the final word.
Reuters/Stringer; David Wise/Flickr; Reuters/Stringer; EPA/Sanjeev Gupta; Reuters/Fadi Al-Assaad; Royal Geographical Society/Wikimedia Commons; Reuters/Stringer; AAP/Asmaa Abdelatif; Reuters/Stringer
Our series on understanding Islamic State attempts to catalogue many of the forces and events that can arguably have played a part in creating the conditions necessary for these jihadists to emerge.