Middle East Primer 1-6

Links to the 6 part Middle East Primer series The Making of the Modern Middle East. Muhammad and Early Islam Women, Islamic? Afghanistan Iraq: Gulf War One and Two Sunnis and Shi’ites
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Middle East Primer # 6: Sunnis and Shiites

Islam, like other religions, has multiple schisms, factions, and parties within it. Just like Christianity, there are divergent views. In the Islamic world the largest of these splits is that between Sunni and Shi’ite. Shi’ites represent 15-20 percent of Muslims...
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Middle East Primer # 5: Iraq. Gulf War One and Two

What, exactly is our beef with Iraq? Like Afghanistan, we have been there for the entirety of my childrens’ school life to date. I remember my twenty-year-old asking me if we would kill children by mistake when we bombed Iraq. When she was seven. What was going on in Iraq...
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Middle East Primer #4: Afghanistan

What is the Afghan war all about? Why are we (that is to say Americans) still there, even if troops are now leaving? After 9/11, the Bush White House (with Donald Rumsfeld as Defense Secretary) decided to go after the perpetrators of the attacks of that day –al...
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Middle East Primer # 3: Women, Islamic?

Recently, Pakistan Today ran a satirical story about the very real Council on Islamic Ideology.  Said council is a group of bearded nut-jobs who for some reason hold a certain amount of respect in some Pakistani circles, and who lobby for more Islamic influence in...
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Middle East Primer # 2. Muhammad and Early Islam

Welcome to Middle East Primer #2: History of Islam The place to begin this story is about 570 CE, with the birth of Muhammad, in Mecca. At the time Mecca was a site of ritual pilgrimage for people from all over Arabia, largely nomadic tribes. The people of Mecca were involved in...
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Middle East Primer # 1.The Making of the Middle East

Over the years many people have asked about the Middle East. What is this Fundamentalism thing all about? Who are the Shi'ites? Why violence? What is the Iraq war about?
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