Arts: The Sacred History

September 11 made Samuel Huntington's "clash of civilizations" thesis a fashionable map for the 21st century. Right-wing pundits and religious zealots alike used it to argue that Islamic and Western societies have always been incompatible.

Touring Europe's Museums

The world is nervous. War-bruised, jittery about climate change and terror, worn down by the diplomatic acrimonies between Iran and the West, Europeans could be forgiven for taking refuge in pretty, apolitical art.

Anglo-Indian Shakespearean Humor

For Londoners, who live in a city where one in three inhabitants is foreign-born, there's nothing more banal than exotica. Except, perhaps, for yet another production of a Shakespeare comedy.

Monet Exhibit: Filling In the Lines

Anyone walking into the new Monet show in London expecting the cool familiarity of light lapping on water lilies will be soundly surprised. The first room of "The Unknown Monet," at the Royal Academy of Arts (through June 10), contains a shock: a row of caricatures of 19th-century gentlemen, their bulbous heads dwarfing spindly bodies.

Seeing Clearly

Aside from the flag, no piece of cloth in history has been imbued with as much power to liberate and oppress, rally and divide as the veil. Throughout the Muslim world, women have donned the veil as a form of modesty, piousness and defiance, and thrown it off to express freedom, strength and protest.

Not Just Vegas

Dubai is now the world's leader for outrageous development, from a $5 billion theme park the size of Monaco to The World, a man-made archipelago selling private islands for as much as $50 million.

Fighting for God

It's only an airport thriller. But the best-selling "The Da Vinci Code" has so irritated leading members of the Roman Catholic Church that one prominent prelate, Cardinal Tarcisio Bertone, the Archbishop of Genoa, last week mounted a public offensive debunking its "lies." Chief among them: that Jesus fathered a daughter with Mary Magdalene. "What would the reaction be," the potential pontiff told the daily Il Giornale, "if a novel came out manipulating the whole story of the Holocaust?" Recent...

FIGHTING FOR GOD

It's only an airport thriller. But the best-selling "The Da Vinci Code" has so irritated leading members of the Roman Catholic Church that one prominent prelate, Cardinal Tarcisio Bertone, the Archbishop of Genoa, last week mounted a public offensive debunking its "lies." Chief among them: that Jesus fathered a daughter with Mary Magdalene. "What would the reaction be," the potential pontiff told the daily Il Giornale, "if a novel came out manipulating the whole story of the Holocaust?" Recent...

NOT THE QUEEN'S ENGLISH

The name--Cambridge School of Languages--conjures images of spires and Anglo-Saxon aristocrats conversing in the Queen's English. But this Cambridge is composed of a few dank rooms with rickety chairs at the edge of a congested Delhi suburb.

Not the Queen's English

The name--Cambridge School of Languages--conjures images of spires and Anglo-Saxon aristocrats conversing in the Queen's English. But this Cambridge is composed of a few dank rooms with rickety chairs at the edge of a congested Delhi suburb.

New Imams

It's easy to see why Dalil Boubakeur is the go-to guy for Islamic issues in France. In his wood-paneled study at Paris's Great Mosque, the head of the French Council of the Muslim Faith switches fluidly from French to English to German.

HARD WORK, HARD TIMES

It's close to midnight in Warsaw, and Marzena Beresciuk has taken a taxi straight from work to a 24/7 convenience store to buy groceries. Late nights are the only time the carefully coiffed record promoter can find to shop, given her standard 12-hour days.

REVIEW: BETTER THAN SEX

Sisterly love doesn't get much press. Sex and romance have all the good songs and big plots; loyal siblings tend to be relegated to B sides and back stories.

Mommy Economy

To the untrained eye, Patricia Hewitt's two jobs might seem an odd combination. As Tony Blair's secretary for Trade and Industry as well as his minister for Women and Equality, she deals in trade deficits and gender disparities, IT entrepreneurs and nurseries, industrial productivity and parental leave.

Newsmakers

Culture Vulture Jerry Springer says his mother would be proud: "I finally got some culture." Not only has daytime TV's sleazemeister become a real, legit movie actor, but he's also the subject of a real, legit opera.

Chirac's Great Game

Late in life, Francois Mitterrand let slip the news of a secret war. "France does not know it yet, but we are at war with America," reports his biographer, Georges-Marc Benamou. "A permanent war...

Now, The Palestine Question

In 1919 Britain's foreign secretary, Arthur Balfour, drafted a candid memo on Europe's diplomatic record concerning Palestine. European powers, he wrote, "have made no statement of fact that is not admittedly wrong...

The War At Home

History presses heavily in a narrow Islamic bookshop, just off Baker Street in London. Amid the collected works of ninth-century Islamic theologians, three British Muslims speak about the war in Iraq. "I've watched Muslims killed since I was born," says one young woman. "I feel as though I'm living in the Age of Crusades." The conversation crosses centuries and continents, from Chechnya to Palestine to Britain's Terrorism Act to the impotence of Arab leaders.

The Long Road Home

In all the column inches spent on the growing gap between Europe and America, one crucial difference always gets missed: Europe doesn't have a "Godfather" trilogy.

Changing The Rule Of Law

With her glasses, plump rosy cheeks and white crocheted higab, Souad Salah looks more like a grandmother than a revolutionary. But don't be fooled: this 56-year-old Egyptian scholar is quietly challenging the Islamic establishment.

Who Are We?

On the last day of this year's Ryder Cup, the biannual showdown between European and American golfers, a strange cry rose from the crowd: "Eur-ope, Eur-ope." Unfamiliar as it was, the cheer appeared to work.

Europe's Gouging Gap

The food strikes didn't make an impression. Neither did the cappuccino boycotts. It wasn't until Rosa Berlusconi told her son, Silvio, that pasta prices had trebled since the euro's launch that the Italian prime minister took action.

The New Flesh Trade

Prostitutes have always been a part of French life, from the caravans haunting the Bois de Boulogne to the Chanel-suited call girls of the Place Vendome. In the 1967 film "Belle de Jour," no less than Catherine Deneuve played the bourgeois blonde who daylights at a brothel--and nobody arched an eyebrow.

Planting New Seeds

It's a rare day that suited bureaucrats from the staid corridors of Brussels are accused of being threats to civilization. But Franz Fischler, Europe's commissioner for agriculture, is an exception.

Dreaming Of India

Old Empires die hard. Fifty-five years after the British gave up India, they are still pining for its vermilion and emerald silks, its diamonds and rubies, its drums and dancing girls.A century ago, Britain sent its Oxbridge finest to govern the Punjab, and they returned home with tales, trinkets and tiger-skin rugs.

The Shackles Of Freedom

When Natasha M.'s circle of friends met at the University of Kiev back in the 1980s, they were full of hope for the post-perestroika era. Over late-night sessions in local cafes, they discussed their dreams of glamorous travel, successful careers and the freedom to run their own lives.

What Happened To Irish Art?

Rain beats down on W. B. Yeats's grave in Drumcliffe, but still the faithful come. As the guide talks of the Irish poet's death in 1939, a tall professorial type nods solemnly.

Out Of The Shadows

When the writer H. G. Wells visited the United States at the turn of the 20th century, he was astonished at the native enthusiasm for immigrants. "Let them all come!" one elderly Yonkers resident exhorted the perplexed Briton. "We can do with them all..." Wells spent the rest of his stay trying to make Americans "understand the apprehension with which this huge dilution of the American people with profoundly ignorant foreign peasants filled me."Wells was a futurist, but he got it all wrong on...

Women Robbing Women

The Women Empowering Women flier reads like the manifesto of a feminist collective. "Our main goal is the empowerment of women by providing for them the financial and emotional abilities to support themselves, their loved ones and their community," it says. "We are literally creating a new economic experience." The mimeographed fliers are passed through networks of friends and acquaintances and handed out at parties for this women-only "gifting circle" that has recently won members all over...

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