Tuesday, June 03, 2014

The War On Islam

File:B Urban II2.jpg
Pope Urban II preaches the First Crusade at the Council of Clermont "I, or rather the Lord, beseech you as Christ's heralds to publish this everywhere and to persuade all people of whatever rank, foot-soldiers and knights, poor and rich, to carry aid promptly to those Christians and to destroy that vile race from the lands of our friends..."

According to historian R.M. Savory:

"The existence of Islam has always made the West profoundly uneasy. Islam was the only major world religion to be revealed after the rise of Christianity, and consequently it was, from the moment of the revelation of Islam in the seventh century A.D., viewed by Christendom as a direct threat and challenge to itself.
On the theological and religious level, the reaction of the West was strong, sustained and, almost without exception, hostile. Hostility was based on fear, and fear had its roots in ignorance. Christendom feared Islam, and therefore misrepresented it. Christians were ignorant of Islam, at least in part, because Christendom, prompted by odium theologicum had no desire to understand or tolerate Islam.
Co-existence was not permitted to endure. Christendom had not reconciled itself to a permanent Muslim presence in Europe, especially as this presence could not be ignored, for Islam, far from whithering [sic?] away, had produced great philosophers and scientists."

Western imperialism was a new form of the Crusades, "latter-day" imperialism in Muslim lands being "but a mask for the crusading spirit."
This claim appears to have at least some factual historical basis. Savory says:
It is not surprising, therefore, to find a great similarity between the medieval view that it was safe to speak ill of Muhammad because his malignity exceeded whatever ill could be spoken of him, and the tone of nineteenth-century missionary tracts which exhorted the Muslims in India to abandon the false religion which they had been taught.
There were even echos of the old crusading spirit. When the French occupied Algeria in 1830, they declared that they had in mind 'the greatest benefit to Christendom'.
Similarly, Canning's solution to the 'problem' of the Ottoman empire was to bring it into modern Europe under Christian tutelage.
When the French invaded Tunis in 1881, they considered their action a sacred duty 'which a superior civilisation owes to the populations which are less advanced.

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