Bombing the Caliphate

The last Islamic caliphate ended in 1924. Claimed by the Ottoman Empire in the 15th century, the caliphate saw its fortunes rise and fall with those of its imperial protectors. When the Ottoman Empire expired at the end of World War I, the caliphate’s days were numbered. Never recognized in far-flung areas like Somalia or Malaysia or by the Shi’a and other minority communities, the Sunni...
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Running Off to War

I was at a wedding not long ago of two dear female friends. The ceremony mixed together various religious traditions, including a Quaker meeting where people in the audience could stand up and speak spontaneously. After a number of people had already spoken, an old man made his way to the front of the space. He beckoned the two brides to approach. He put his hands on their heads and blessed their...
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Syria: What’s Next?

It started as a peaceful revolt. It descended into a civil war that has so far claimed over 100,000 casualties and ejected nearly one-third of the population from their homes. Even worse, it has broadened into a regional conflict in which neighboring countries and their proxies try to tip the balance of power in a broad swath of territory from Iran to Israel. The Obama administration has...
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The Islamophobic Fringe

Nakoula Basseley Nakoula is a convicted conman. He knows almost nothing about Islam and even less about filmmaking. And yet, thanks to the power of the Internet and the tense relationship between the West and Islam, Nakoula has generated a major international scandal with Innocence of Muslims, believed to be his lowbrow, low-budget movie. The YouTube clip, which produced protests in Libya that...
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Creating the Muslim Manchurian Candidate

Those who fervently believe that Barack Obama is a Muslim generally practice their furtive religion in obscure recesses of the Internet. Once in a while, they’ll surface in public to remind the news media that no amount of evidence can undermine their convictions. In October 2008, at a town hall meeting in Minnesota for Republican presidential candidate John McCain, a woman called Obama “an...
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Three Killings

The note left next to the bloodied body of Shaima Alawadi read “go back to your country, you terrorist.” Alawadi, who died on Saturday after being taken off life support, was an Iraqi-born mother of five living outside of San Diego. Someone had delivered a similar note to the family earlier in the month. It was likely the same person who returned with a tire iron and struck her repeatedly on...
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