Our political leaders, our mainstream academics, and media keep lying to us about the history of Islamic imperialism. The crusades were a minor distraction, and merely a response, to Islam’s ongoing war against Western civilisation
Obama’s recent condemnation of medieval Christian history to exonerate modern Islam is a reminder of how woefully ignorant (or intentionally deceptive) a good many people in the West are concerning the true history of Christian Europe and Islam.
The problem is that those who condemn things like the Crusades — including “mainstream” academics, journalists, movie-makers, and politicians — do so without mention of historical context.
Worse, they imply “we” already know the context: evil popes and greedy knights exploiting Christianity to seize Muslim lands and wealth. Or as Karen Armstrong put it, “the idea that Islam imposed itself by the sword is a Western fiction, fabricated during the time of the Crusades when, in fact, it was Western Christians who were fighting brutal holy wars against Islam.”
The true story of Christendom and Islam is the antithesis of such claims. Consider some facts for a moment:
A mere decade after the birth of Islam in the 7th century, the jihad burst out of Arabia. Leaving aside all the thousands of miles of ancient lands and civilizations that were permanently conquered — including Morocco, Algeria, Tunisia, Libya, Egypt, Syria, Iraq, Iran, and parts of India and China — much of Europe was also, at one time or another, conquered by the sword of Islam.
Among other nations and territories that were attacked and/or came under Muslim domination are (to give them their modern names in no particular order): Portugal, Spain, France, Italy, Sicily, Switzerland, Austria, Hungary, Greece, Russia, Poland, Bulgaria, Ukraine, Lithuania, Romania, Albania, Serbia, Armenia, Georgia, Crete, Cyprus, Croatia, Bosnia-Herzegovina, Macedonia, Belarus, Malta, Sardinia, Moldova, Slovakia, and Montenegro.
In 846, Rome was sacked and the Vatican defiled by Muslim Arab raiders; some 600 years later, in 1453, Christendom’s other great basilica, Holy Wisdom (or Hagia Sophia) was conquered by Muslim Turks, permanently. (Till this day, Turkish Muslims celebrate the sack of Constantinople, which saw much rapine and slaughter.)
The few European regions that escaped direct Islamic occupation due to their northwest remoteness include Great Britain, Scandinavia, and Germany.
That, of course, does not mean that they were not attacked by Islam. Indeed, in the furthest northwest of Europe, in Iceland, Christians used to pray that God save them from the “terror of the Turk.” This was not mere paranoia; as late as 1627, Muslim corsairs raided the northern Christian island seizing four hundred captives and selling them in the slave markets of Algiers.
Nor did America escape. A few years after the formation of the United States, in 1800, American trading ships in the Mediterranean were plundered and their sailors enslaved by Muslim corsairs.
The ambassador of Tripoli explained to Thomas Jefferson that it was a Muslim’s “right and duty to make war upon them [non-Muslims] wherever they could be found, and to enslave as many as they could take as prisoners.”
In short, for roughly one millennium — punctuated by a Crusader-rebuttal that the modern West is obsessed with demonizing — Islam daily posed an existential threat to Christian Europe and by extension Western civilization.