north africa

Image via Wikimedia Commons

In the summer of 430, the great Christian writer and bishop Augustine of Hippo lay dying as barbarians besieged his North African city – basically a mop-up operation in the slow-motion fall of the Roman Empire.

Today, in the fall of the year 2016, a lot of Christians can relate.

Image via RNS/Smithsonian

The exhibit is not intended as commentary on today’s politics, its organizers said. Work started on the project six years ago, before sharp rises in Islamophobic rhetoric and violence in the U.S. and Europe, and before Muslim immigration and culture became a flashpoint in American and European politics.

But the Smithsonian is not sorry for the timing, and hopes the exhibit can help quell fears of Islam and its followers.

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It was on the shores of North Africa that one of the greatest Christian thinkers tried to work out the relationship between Jesus' teachings about loving even enemies and the impending invasion by
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People can take a certain amount of oppression. However, when it gets beyond their ability to tolerate, they rebel.

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After decades of repression by autocratic dictators, the restless masses in the Middle East and North Africa are going to the streets -- most of them nonviolently -- and asking their leaders to step down.

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