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Articles on Ottoman Empire

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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

Hagia Sophia has been converted back into a mosque, but the veiling of its figural icons is not a Muslim tradition

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, the Jew who worked for the Nazis, hunted down refugees and tore apart families in WWII Greece

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. Bumble Dee/Shutterstock.com

Why there is no Kurdish nation

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. Reuters/Rodi Said

Kurds targeted in Turkish attack include thousands of female fighters who battled Islamic State

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

Harsh punishments under Sharia are modern interpretations of an ancient tradition

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.
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

Nationalism and piety dominate Turkey’s election

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.
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

Migrants: when Europeans once flocked to North African shores

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.
Syrian Christians and Muslims offer prayers for nuns held by rebels, at the Greek Orthodox Mariamiya Church in Damascus, Syria, in 2013. AP Photo

Syria’s forgotten pluralism and why it matters today

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.
Donald Trump flanked by two of his children, Ivanka and Donald Jr. AP Photo/Evan Vucci

Sultan Donald Trump?

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?
Why did Turkey’s government go after academics soon after the coup? Alkis Konstantinidis/Reuters

Why Turkey wants to silence its academics

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. Wikimedia Commons

The Sykes-Picot Agreement and the making of the modern Middle East

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

How can we understand the origins of Islamic State?

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.

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