Thursday, January 22, 2015

Unending War

Thomas Albert Howard at Patheos reminds us that the current conflict between Muslims and Europeans is not a new phenomenon, but actually the most recent recrudescence of a war that has been raging for about 1300 years and will continue to rage as long as Muslims have the power to wage it. Here's the heart of his piece:
Europe’s conflicts with Islam—the reminders of which present themselves to the discerning eye—are not new but stretch back centuries.

At its height, the Ottoman Empire, the last great Islamic caliphate, reached far into central Europe, into the Balkans and up to present-day Hungary. Twice “the Turks” unsuccessfully besieged Vienna, once in 1529 and again 1683. These defeats coupled with the defeat of the Ottoman navy by Europe’s so-called “Holy League” at the Battle of Lepanto (1571) heralded the onset of the Ottoman Empire’s long decline and the problems that this created—designated as the “Eastern Question” by nineteenth-century diplomats. Incidentally, the place/subway stop in Rome right before the one closest to the Vatican is called Lepanto in memory of the naval victory of 1571.

From 711 until 1492, Islam had a robust presence in Spain and Portugal and even briefly in France. The legacy of Muslim subjection of the Iberian peninsula—or “Al-Andalus” as it is known—persisted until the Reconquista during the reign of Ferdinand and Isabella. The legacy of Al-Andalus is still richly apparent in the architecture of southern Spanish cities such as Cordoba, Seville, and Granada, the last Muslim stronghold.

Some 80 towns in Spain still celebrate what is known as the Fiesta de Moros y Cristanos, in which locals—not unlike America’s doughty Civil War reenactors–dress up in elaborate traditional costumes of Christian soldiers and “Moorish” fighters and reenact the expulsion of Muslims from Spain. The Islamicists who blew up 191 Spanish commuters in Madrid in 2004 gave as one of their motivations … you guessed it: revenge for the Reconquista of 1492.

Between 827 and 1300 Islamic influence penetrated present-day Italy. Sicily once had far more mosques than churches, and incursions by Muslim pirates extended far up the peninsula. “Saracen” raiders even tried to attack Rome in 846. What is more, before and after the conquest of Constantinople (1453), the Ottomans later tried to make inroads into Italy. The Republic of Venice was involved in ten costly wars against Ottoman fleets between 1423 and 1718. Today, many Italian coastal towns still celebrate festivals marking the defeat of Muslim raiders many centuries ago.
It's a centuries long war, driven by hatred for anyone who is seen as infidel and the belief among Muslims that Allah commands them to convert all nations to Islam, by the sword if necessary. The only time there has been a respite in the conflict has been when Muslims were too weak to fight. Their great advantage today is that whereas Westerners no longer believe in anything firmly enough to be willing to fight for it, Muslims do. Not only do they have the will to spend their entire lives waging jihad, not only do they glorify dying for the cause of Islam, many of them feel they have nothing to lose and everything to gain by doing so. To such a foe a decadent and effete West, steeped in the delusions of political correctness, must look like an easy target.