31 August 2010.
From Leiden University in the Netherlands:
Art links Christians and Muslims in Medieval Middle East21st century Western Islamophobes pretend that all Muslims have always been violently anti-Christian. Not true. In the Islamic Cordoba khalifate in Spain the relationship between Muslims, Jews, and Christians was good. In Iraq, good relations between Muslims and Christians were certainly not limited to the Middle Ages. Eg, the Saddam Hussein dictatorship was a terrible time in many respects. Even so, there was much Muslim-Christian cooperation, in daily life, also in the government and armed forces. However, after George W. Bush invaded Iraq in 2003, a horrible time of violent persecution of Christians started.
The relationship between Christians and Muslims in the Middle East during the Middle Ages is often typified in terms such as conflict and violent opposition. Bas Snelders shows in his dissertation that this image is not true. Analysis of art from the period demonstrates that the two communities intermingled rather than living completely separately.
Christian and Muslim artists
Based on art historical and written sources, Snelders addresses the role played by art within the Syrian Orthodox community of Mosul. Christian art flourished in the 13th century in what is now Northern Iraq, and Muslims were very active as artists and patrons. Snelders' dissertation explores the relationship between Christian and Islamic art.
Snelders' detailed comparative analysis sketches a nuanced image of the intensive cultural interaction that was typical of the time. Christians were completely integrated in their environment, and preserved their religious and social identity.
Snelders' research is part of the PIONIER research project on The Formation of a Communal Identity among West Syrian Christians (451–1300) at the Faculty of Humanities. NWO is funding the study.
On Dutch TV today, an Iraqi refugee, Amin, now living in a cellar in Jordan, was interviewed. He said: "My brother and my father were killed by the Saddam Hussein regime. So, I never expected I would have to say this: 'Things under this occupation are even worse than then'. In 2005, I was a candidate for parliament. However, the situation became so bad that I had to flee the country".
Life in Baghdad's Slums: Fighting to Survive in Sadr City: here.
Iraq's High Criminal Court sentenced former foreign minister Tariq Aziz to die by hanging today for persecuting Islamist parties opposed to the former Ba'athist regime: here.