As Pope Francis visits Iraq, the real story may be mediaeval Baghdad’s inter-faith harmony

by Rashmee

Posted on March 6, 2021


/ FAITH, HOPE… As Pope Francis continues his three-day visit to Iraq, much of the media has described it as an attempt to “support one of the world’s oldest Christian communities”. And then this further point is made, as in The New York Times: “The ranks of Iraq’s Christians have dwindled to roughly a third … Continue reading “As Pope Francis visits Iraq, the real story may be mediaeval Baghdad’s inter-faith harmony”

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Like Trump, the 7th century Byzantine Empire invoked God

by Rashmee

Posted on October 9, 2020


Somewhat like Donald Trump, who was recently moved to discern the hand of God in Covid-19 therapeutic treatments, the seventh century Byzantine Empire constantly invoked God. Harried by the Arabs from across their shared border, the Byzantines were intensely conscious of the force of divine intercession. This started before the Arab invasions. In the first … Continue reading “Like Trump, the 7th century Byzantine Empire invoked God”

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Donald Trump is doing God. Today’s America is quite like 7th century Byzantium

by Rashmee

Posted on October 8, 2020


On October 7, President Donald Trump said his coronavirus infection was a “blessing from God”, presumably because it enableth him to bring the world news of an unproven antibody cocktail being developed by the drug maker Regeneron. Mr Trump has already released his videotaped musings on Covid-19 therapeutic treatments, describing them as akin to “miracles … Continue reading “Donald Trump is doing God. Today’s America is quite like 7th century Byzantium”

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Back to the culture wars then

by Rashmee

Posted on September 14, 2020


The gains from the Greek-to-Arabic translation movement were many. It proved to be a great investment for the Arabs. Not only did they create a vibrant environment of intellectual enquiry, they were able to use their very appetite for Hellenic knowledge as a cultural cudgel against their rivals next door, the Christian Byzantines. Interestingly, Muslim … Continue reading “Back to the culture wars then”

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Culture wars and cultural gaps: the Hellenic equation

by Rashmee

Posted on September 11, 2020


The culture wars between the Muslims and the Byzantines had decided effects. Often, they left the Byzantines feeling small and with the sense that they were late-starters. Consider this interesting story recounted by British archaeologist and academic of Late Antiquity Judith Herrin. The Byzantines were trying to brush up on their knowledge of math and … Continue reading “Culture wars and cultural gaps: the Hellenic equation”

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Don’t despair over the culture wars. They’re benign compared to 8th and 9th centuries

by Rashmee

Posted on September 10, 2020


Not too long ago, British sociologist Frank Furedi wrote a piece on the culture wars in the US and UK. He asserted that the culture war was historically “set in motion in Western societies by a powerful impulse to detach the present from the past, which emerged at the turn of the 20th century”. He … Continue reading “Don’t despair over the culture wars. They’re benign compared to 8th and 9th centuries”

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Trump and disinfectant injections: Ancient leaders too bumbled their response to the plague

by Rashmee

Posted on April 24, 2020


When I heard Donald Trump suggest that people could be cured by having injections of disinfectant (“knocks it out in a minute… One minute!”) and/or treatment by ultraviolet light, it was a reminder that he has no monopoly on ignorance. From ancient times, leaders have offered superstitious, bumbling and sometimes dangerous responses to the outbreak … Continue reading “Trump and disinfectant injections: Ancient leaders too bumbled their response to the plague”

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What the reaction to Notre Dame does and does not say

by Rashmee

Posted on April 21, 2019 / The Arab Weekly


Arabs may have lost much of their faith in the value of their heritage after they lost adequate appreciation of the value of lives in their midst. Some have taken the massive fire that destroyed the roof and spire of the 856-year-old Cathedral of Notre Dame in Paris as a sign; others as a warning. … Continue reading “What the reaction to Notre Dame does and does not say”

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Rashmee has lived and worked in several countries in the past decade, including Afghanistan, India, Haiti, Tunisia, the UAE, US and UK