Ussama Makdisi’s Arab fairytale

13 Sep

Ussama Makdisi@UssamaMakdisi · I recently published a book on Age of Coexistence about an inspiring and important aspect of modern Arab history, but, like so many of us who care about ME, I find myself constantly confronted by #sectarianism, #corruption, #colonialism, and #despotism in the region.

Me:

#1 Or maybe there are some people who aren’t sectarian, corrupt, colonialist or despotic but just don’t want to believe your fantasy…

#2 I’ll admit I’m talking from a Balkan-Anatolian perspective, and that maybe your fantasy was briefly more possible in an intra-Arab context than it was in the religiously AND ethnically AND linguistically mixed world I’m coming from…

#3 But I don’t have to believe your fairytale, or believe that life for non-Muslims in a Muslim world was a picnic, and that really the evil Frangoi ruined it all, just so you’re not disappointed.

If there were even one — and not a friggin’ army like youse guys are — but one Russian, Polish, Lithuanian, Ukrainian, Romanian academic out there, who had made it his life’s work to constantly shove in Jews’ faces the idea that — you know — life for Jews in Eastern Europe for those 5 or 6 centuries wasn’t really that bad and Jews and Gentiles mostly lived and coexisted and interacted with each other to an “inspiring” degree of harmony…the response would make the earth briefly tilt off its axis!

I recently translated a chapter of Maria Iordanidou’s Loxandra for my blog because I think it’s one of the best fictional — and realisticaccounts of Ottoman Muslim/Christian coexistence there is.

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