Today a new generation in the West faces a resurgent and militant Islam, watching in horror as the “Arab Spring” devolves into a Fundamentalist winter. It is therefore an appropriate time to take a critical look at the seminal events that are presumed, by many, to have initiated the cycle of hatred and distrust between Islam and the West: “The Crusades“.
It began in 1095, at Clermont in France, when Pope Urban II called upon the warriors of “Christendom” to take up arms and reclaim the “Holy Lands” of Palestine and the Levant from their Muslim occupiers.
I deliberately use the word “occupiers”, a term often used today by Palestinians and their supporters around the world. For if taking land through military conquest (or, in the case of Israel, while responding to attack) labels the victor an illegitimate “occupier”, than surely this definition must be fairly applied to the Arab-Muslim conquerors of the Middle East; whose conquest of Palestine (called the “Holy Land” by the Christians) triggered the belated reaction that became known as the Crusades.
As is so often the case when historical facts conflict with “political correctness”, facts are twisted to fit the dogma. So is the case with the Crusades. But I have never cared for what the PC Police deem “correct”. I will attempt to examine herein the Crusades with a clear eye, unraveling the PC dogmas that have come to surround this singular event in human history.
A RELIGION FOR WARRIORS
As is the case in most every inch of land in the world throughout history, the Muslim Arabs and Turks who ruled the Middle East at the close of the 11th century were foreign conquerors; not “indigenous peoples”. The Arabs came from the Arabian peninsula. The Turks originated on the Eurasian steppes, north of the Caspian and Aral Seas; where they had lived a harsh life of nomadic herdsmen.
After converting to Islam in the early 7th century, the Arab armies burst out of Arabia and overran the Middle East, North Africa, Spain, and parts of the Indian Subcontinent in a veritable “blitzkrieg of conquest. In the 10th century, the Turkish clan of Seljuk (or Seljuq) migrated into Persia, where they adopted Islam and a veneer of Persian culture. By the Crusader period, they had become a dominant force in both the Middle East and in Islamic politics.
In both cases, neither of these two peoples were indigenous to the Holy Land. They were foreign conquerors; and had supplanted the Christian and Jewish authorities previously established there.
Islam itself was a late-comer among the world’s great religions…
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