THE MEDITERRANEAN was born in a massive collision between North and South, when the African, Arab and Eurasian plates ground into each other—a process started millions of years ago and ongoing today. Mountains rose, volcanoes erupted, and a depression was formed, which was fated to become a crucible of civilizations. Contemporary Europeans, if they had it their way, would reverse this tectonic encounter, push back incoming continents, and turn the sea our world once revolved around into an ocean.
A space intimately associated with much of what we Europeans cherish culturally—from the foundations of philosophy to the better sides of religion, through to the renaissance and its ensuing humanism—is now increasingly associated with terrorism and unwelcome migration. The estrangement between the two sides of the Mediterranean is catalyzing a wishful, paranoid and self-destructive retreat: as Europe’s heterogeneous societies play up the fear of the Other, they sow mistrust among and within themselves. The more Europe locks down in response to the fragmentation of the Arab world, the more it seems to break apart along its own myriad fault-lines.
Illustration credit: Artemis by Max Pixel / licensed by CC.