Breaking News Stories
These are news stories breaking after the publishing of this Word
– Twenty-First Century Crusades?
8: The Vatican demonstrating intolerance for the Muslims in Europe. Possibility
of the Pope speaking negatively toward the Muslim faith, its beliefs and the
Qur’an. He could conceivably call for a new "crusade" against Islam.
Muslims vs. West top issue in 2005
By: RICHARD N. OSTLING
Associated Press The No. 1 religious theme of 2005 ---- and presumably
for 2006 and years beyond ---- is the faceoff between militant Islam and
Western civilization, with its scriptural Jewish and Christian heritage.
That confrontation overshadowed Catholicism's changeover from Pope John
Paul II to Pope Benedict XVI and Protestants' severe dispute about
homosexuality and the Bible.
Stepping back from the daily headlines about terrorism, the question
arises: What underlies this lethal global tension? Ohio University
historian T. David Curp has an answer that turns explanations inside
"It is commonplace to claim that the Crusades scarred the imagination of
the Muslim world for centuries," he wrote recently in Crisis, a Catholic
magazine. Islamists and Arab nationalists regularly cite the medieval
warfare between Christians and Muslims as a source for today's
anti-Western views across the Mideast.
"This is simply incorrect," Curp asserted, noting that Princeton
University's Bernard Lewis said Muslims actually had little interest in
Western Christendom for centuries following the Crusades (apart from
those directly involved in invading Christian territory).
Curp's key claim: "Radical Islam's protest against the West is not
fueled primarily by aggrieved victimhood; it is nourished by an even
stronger memory of how Islam's final victory over Christendom remained
for so long a real possibility."
For about 1,000 years, the Muslim world experienced mostly expansion and
military triumph. That era ended in 1683, when Muslims held vast terrain
in eastern Europe and 140,000 Turkish troops nearly conquered Vienna,
posing a significant threat for the West. But the Muslim invaders were
One might develop Curp's scenario this way: After numerous victories,
Islamic lands suffered the humiliation of European colonialism, then the
cultural weakness of independent Muslim countries extending to the
present. That has created a psychological crisis for Islam.
Curp's retelling of the history explains the context that first created
widespread Muslim-Christian combat.
Islam originally took the Holy Land in 638 and quickly vanquished large
tracts of the former Christendom. This provoked no sweeping outrage, nor
did Western Christians manage any concerted military counterattack until
1095, when Pope Urban II summoned the First Crusade.
What caused the pope's radical step?
During that turbulent epoch, Eastern Christianity's Byzantine Empire had
finally broken with Western Catholicism and its pope. The Byzantines
faced the greater Islamic military threat, but Western Catholics, too,
were agitated about increased persecution of Christian pilgrims seeking
to visit their holy sites in Jerusalem, which required them to travel
through Muslim regions.
Meanwhile, the 10th-century Islamic preacher Ibn Nubata al-Fariqi
developed a cycle of sermons calling for holy war ---- somewhat
resembling Urban's later Crusade call ---- that had considerable
influence on Muslim thinking in succeeding centuries.
Christians' situation in the East began to deteriorate militarily in 903
when Muslims sacked Thessalonica, the Byzantines' second-ranking city,
and enslaved 30,000 inhabitants. In 931 they took Ankariya (present-day
Ankara) and enslaved thousands more.
In 1064 the Turks seized the capital of Christian Armenia, slaughtering
the populace and imprisoning 30,000 people. Then, in the climactic
Battle of Mantzikert in 1071, the Muslims virtually crushed Byzantine
military power. In Curp's telling, it was that disaster that provoked
the Crusades in response.
The campaign in present-day Turkey "to expel, enslave or impoverish the
region's Christian inhabitants" lasted 300 years, during which the
population dropped by half. The once-thriving Christian area "became a
wasteland under the rule of its new religiously intolerant and alien
masters," he wrote.
Curp summarizes that climactic era: "The wars that Islam waged against
Christendom ---- and Christendom's counterattacks, degenerated into
remarkably dirty wars that often empowered the worst impulses in both