There is a clear faith-based division in the Mediterranean region today. The north, from Portugal to Greece, is mostly Christian. The south, from Morocco to Egypt, is mostly Muslim. The east, which includes Turkey and the countries of the so-called Levant, is largely Muslim with sizable pockets of Christians and Jews. Europe purged itself of Islam centuries ago and has sought to uphold a monoreligious culture ever since; the Islamic side has rarely uprooted its native Christian populations, although it has not always treated them fairly.

The division was not as neat in medieval times. The two sides intermingled in ways that render any projection of the present...

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