November 24, 2005
Eurabia's Morass Elicits Mythical 'Solutions'By Andrew G. Bostom
After nearly three successive weeks of rioting in France by predominantly Muslim youths, the violence has ebbed, albeit to an uneasy level in considerable excess of the early October 'baseline' before the riots (for example, in terms of vehicles burnt per day see this graph).
The prevailing apologetics regarding these disturbances, which emanate from pundits across the political spectrum, denies or trivializes the role of Islam. For example, although twelve Christian churches were desecrated and/or burned by the overwhelmingly Muslim rioters in France during the intifada, these bigoted acts were barely reported by investigative journalists or bloggers, and ignored altogether by pontificating commentators.
Apologetic assessments further ignored the existence of ominous and influential Islamic entities such as the Arab European League (a hideous group which equates the assimilation of Muslims within a European context, to rape), or the European Fatwa Council, headed by Muslim Brotherhood 'spiritual' leader Yusuf Al—Qaradawi, who sanctions homicide bombings against Israeli non—combatants, and has stated publicly that 'Islam will conquer Europe'.
Also absent from such discussions were the alarming statements made by European Muslim leaders at a conference entitled, 'Islam in Europe' that accompanied the July 10, 2003 opening of the new Granada Mosque. The keynote speaker at this erstwhile 'ecumenical' conference, Umar Ibrahim Vadillo, a Spanish Muslim leader, implored Muslims to cause an economic collapse of Western economies (by switching to gold dinars, and ceasing to use Western currencies), while the German Muslim leader Abu Bakr Rieger told attendees not to adapt their Islamic religious practices to accommodate European (i.e., Western Enlightenment ?) values.
Finally, none of the apologetic narratives acknowledged, let alone addressed the implications of disturbing survey results from British Muslims polled shortly after the 7/7/05 London bombings. These data revealed that one—third of British Muslims were brazen enough to admit, 'Western society is decadent and immoral and ...Muslims should seek to bring it to an end', expressing ostensibly, their desire to replace Britain's current liberal democracy with a Shari'a—based theocratic model .
French philosopher Alain Finkielkraut has noted, appositely, that it is a reductio ad absurdum to view the 'social dimension' of the riots in France exclusively (and obsessively), as,
Despite Finkielkraudt's salient observations, and others by the rare reporters Melanie Phillips aptly lauded for simply having '...their heads screwed on the right way', Phillips warned of the dominant mentality which sought to negate the truth through vilification, and replace reality with fantasy.
Amir Taheri has cited perhaps the most disturbing examples of this proclivity to indulge ahistorical and dangerous fantasy. Two mythical inventions of purported 'ecumenical' Islamic rule in Europe have been revived— the 'Andalusian paradise' of Muslim Spain, and the former Ottoman millet system (most relevantly, in Eastern Europe, primarily the Balkans). Taheri reports that Gilles Kepel, who (despite arguing prior to 9/11 that jihadism was a spent force within the global Muslim umma!) currently serves as an adviser on Islam to President Chirac, recommended the creation of a modern Andalusia,
Taheri, but unfortunately, not Kepel, Chirac's adviser, possessed the wisdom to ponder the critical matter of sovereign political power, asking '...Who will rule this new Andalusia: Muslims or the largely secularist Frenchmen?'. Other muddled thinkers, '...are even calling for the areas where Muslims form a majority of the population to be reorganized on the basis of the 'millet' system of the Ottoman Empire: Each religious community (millet) would enjoy the right to organize its social, cultural and educational life in accordance with its religious beliefs', according to Taheri.
Andalusian 'Cultural Synthesis', and the 'Tolerant' Ottoman Millet System*
Andalusia' Without Camouflage
The Iberian peninsula was conquered in 710—716 C.E. by Arab tribes originating from northern, central and southern Arabia. A classical jihad, the conquest proceeded with enormous pillaging, enslavement, deportation, and massacre. Most churches were converted into mosques. Massive Arab and Berber immigration and colonization ensued. Toledo, which had first submitted to the Arabs in 711 or 712, revolted in 713. The town was punished by pillage and all the notables had their throats cut. In 730, the Cerdagne (in Septimania, near Barcelona) was ravaged and a bishop burned alive. In the regions under stable Islamic control, subjugated non—Muslim dhimmis —Jews and Christians— like elsewhere in other Islamic lands — were prohibited from building new churches or synagogues, or restoring the old ones. Segregated in special quarters, they had to wear discriminatory clothing. Subjected to heavy taxes, the Christian peasantry formed a servile class exploited by the dominant Arab ruling elites; many abandoned their land and fled to the towns. Harsh reprisals with mutilations and crucifixions would sanction the Mozarab (Christian dhimmis) calls for help from the Christian kings. Moreover, if one dhimmi harmed a Muslim, the whole community would lose its status of protection, leaving it open to pillage, enslavement and arbitrary killing.
By the end of the eighth century, the rulers of North Africa and of Andalusia had introduced rigorous Maliki jurisprudence as the predominant school of Muslim law. Thus, as Evariste L�vi—Proven�al, observed, three quarters of a century ago:
Charles Emmanuel Dufourcq provides these illustrations of the resulting religious and legal discriminations dhimmis suffered, and the accompanying incentives for them to convert to Islam:
Al—Andalus represented the land of jihad par excellence. Every year (or multiple times within a year as 'seasonal' razzias [ghazwa]) raiding expeditions were sent to ravage the Christian Spanish kingdoms to the north, the Basque regions, or France and the Rhone valley, bringing back booty and slaves. Andalusian corsairs attacked and invaded along the Sicilian and Italian coasts, even as far as the Aegean Islands, looting and burning as they went. Many thousands of non—Muslim captives were deported to slavery in Andalusia, where the caliph kept a militia of tens of thousand of Christian slaves, brought from all parts of Christian Europe (the Saqaliba), and a harem filled with captured Christian women.
Society was sharply divided along ethnic and religious lines, with the Arab tribes at the top of the hierarchy, followed by the Berbers who were never recognized as equals, despite their Islamization; lower in the scale came the mullawadun converts and, at the very bottom, the dhimmi Christians and Jews. The Andalusian Maliki jurist Ibn Abdun (d. 1134) offered these telling legal opinions regarding Jews and Christians in Seville around 1100 C.E.:
Another prominent Andalusian jurist, Ibn Hazm of Cordoba (d. 1064), wrote that Allah had established the infidels' ownership of their property merely to provide booty for Muslims.
In Granada, the Jewish viziers Samuel Ibn Naghrela, and his son Joseph, who protected the Jewish community, were both assassinated between 1056 to 1066, followed by the annihilation of the Jewish population by the local Muslims. It is estimated that up to five thousand Jews perished in the pogrom by Muslims that accompanied the 1066 assassination. This figure equals or exceeds the number of Jews reportedly killed by the Crusaders during their pillage of the Rhineland some thirty years later, at the outset of the First Crusade. The Granada pogrom was likely to have been incited, in part, by the bitter anti—Jewish ode of Abu Ishaq a well known Muslim jurist and poet of the times, who wrote:
The discriminatory policies of the Berber Muslim Almoravids, who arrived in Spain in 1086, and subsequently those of the even more fanaticized and violent Almohad Berber Muslims (who arrived in Spain in 1146—1147) caused a rapid attrition of the pre—Islamic Iberian Christian (Mozarab) communities, nearly extinguishing them. The Almoravid attitude towards the Mozarabs is well reflected by three successive expulsions of the latter to Morocco: in 1106, 1126, and 1138. The oppressed Mozarabs sent emissaries to the king of Aragon, Alphonso 1st le Batailleur (1104—1134), asking him to come to their rescue and deliver them from the Almoravids. Following the raid that the King of Aragon launched in Andalusia in 1125—1126 in responding to the pleas of Grenada's Mozarabs, the latter were deported en masse to Morocco in the Fall of 1126.
The Almohads (1130—1232) wrought tremendous destruction upon both the Jewish and Christian populations in Spain and North Africa. This devastation—massacre, captivity, and forced conversion—was described by the Jewish chronicler Abraham Ibn Daud, and the poet Abraham Ibn Ezra. Suspicious of the sincerity of the Jewish converts to Islam, Muslim 'inquisitors' (i.e., antedating their Christian Spanish counterparts by three centuries) removed the children from such families, placing them in the care of Muslim educators. Maimonides, the renowned philosopher and physician, experienced the Almohad persecutions, and had to flee Cordoba with his entire family in 1148, temporarily residing in Fez — disguised as a Muslim — before finding asylum in Fatimid Egypt. Indeed, although Maimonides is frequently referred to as a paragon of Jewish achievement facilitated by the enlightened rule of Andalusia, his own words debunk this utopian view of the Islamic treatment of Jews:
The 'Tolerant' Millet System—From Ottoman Jihad to Ottoman Dhimmitude
The contemporary Turkish scholar of Ottoman history, Halil Inalcik, has also emphasized the importance of Muslim religious zeal—expressed through jihad—as a primary motivation for the conquests of the Ottoman Turks:
Incited by pious Muslim theologians, these ghazis were at the vanguard of both the Seljuk and Ottoman jihad conquests. A.E. Vacalopoulos highlights the role of the dervishes during the Ottoman campaigns:
The Islamization of Asia Minor was complemented by parallel and subsequent Ottoman jihad campaigns in the Balkans. Vacalopoulos, commenting on the initial Ottoman forays into Thrace during the mid 14th century, and Dimitar Angelov, who provides an overall assessment highlighting the later campaigns of Murad II (1421—1451) and Mehmed II (1451—1481), elucidate the impact of the Ottoman jihad on the vanquished Balkan populations:
In examining how the non—Muslim populations vanquished by the Ottoman jihad campaigns fared, it is useful to begin with the Jews, the least numerous population, who are also generally believed to have had quite a positive experience. Joseph Hacker studied the fate of Jews during their initial absorption into the Ottoman Empire in the 15th and 16th centuries. His research questions the uncritical view that from its outset the, '..Jewish experience' in the Ottoman Empire '..was a calm, peaceful, and fruitful one..'.Hacker notes:
The Jews, like other inhabitants of the Byzantine Empire, suffered heavily from the Ottoman jihad conquests and policies of colonization and population transfer (i.e., the surgun system). This explains the disappearance of several Jewish communities, including Salonica, and their founding anew by Spanish Jewish immigrants. Hacker observes, specifically:
Three summary conclusions are drawn by Hacker: (i) Strong anti—Ottoman feelings prevailed in some Byzantine Jewish circles in the first decades after the fall of Constantinople. These feelings were openly expressed by people living under Latin rule and to some extent even in Istanbul.; (ii) Mehmed II's policies toward non—Muslims made possible the substantial economic and social development of the Jewish communities in the empire, and especially in the capital — Istanbul. These communities were protected by him against popular hatred, and especially from blood libels. However, this policy was not continued by Bayezid II and there is evidence that under his rule the Jews suffered severe restrictions in their religious life.; (iii) The friendly policies of Mehmed on the one hand, and the good reception by Bayezid II of Spanish Jewry on the other, cause the Jewish writers of the sixteenth century to overlook both the destruction which Byzantine Jewry suffered during the Ottoman conquests and the later outbursts of oppression under both Bayezid II and Selim I.
Ivo Andric analyzed the 'rayah' (meaning 'herd', and 'to graze a herd') or dhimmi condition imposed upon the indigenous Christian population of Bosnia, for four centuries. Those native Christian inhabitants who refused to apostasize to Islam lived under the Ottoman Kanun—i—Rayah, which merely reiterated the essential regulations of dhimmitude originally formulated by Muslim jurists and theologians in the 7th and 8th centuries C.E. Andric's presentation
Andric cites a Bosnian Muslim proverb, and a song honoring Sultan Bayezid II, whose shared perspectives reflect Muslim attitudes toward the Christian rayahs:
These prevailing discriminatory conditions were exacerbated by Bosnia's serving as either a battlefield or staging ground during two centuries of Ottoman razzias and formal jihad campaigns against Hungary. Overcome by excessive taxation and conscript labor,
Moreover, those Christians living in towns suffered from the rayah system's mandated impediments to commercial advancement by non—Muslims:
Christians were also forced to pay disproportionately higher taxes than Muslims, including the intentionally degrading non—Muslim poll—tax.
This tax was paid by every non—Muslim male who had passed his fourteenth year, at the rate of a ducat per annum. But since Turkey had never known birth registers, the functionary whose job it was to exact the tax measured the head and neck of each boy with a piece of string and judged from that whether a person had arrived at a taxable age or not. Starting as an abuse that soon turned into an ingrained habit, then finally established custom, by the last century of Turkish rule every boy without distinction found himself summoned to pay the head tax. And it would seem this was not the only abuse...Of Ali—Pasa Stocevic, who during the first half of the nineteenth century was vizier and all but unlimited ruler of Herzegovina, his contemporary, the monk Prokopije Cokorilo, wrote that he 'taxed the dead for six years after their demise' and that his tax collectors 'ran their fingers over the bellies of pregnant women, saying 'you will probably have a boy, so you have to pay the poll tax right away...The following folk saying from Bosnia reveals how taxes were exacted:
The specific Kanun—i—Rayah stipulations which prohibited the rayahs from riding a saddled horse, carrying a saber or any other weapon in or out of doors, selling wine, letting their hair grow, or wearing wide sashes, were strictly enforced until the mid—19th century. Hussamudin—Pasa, in 1794 issued an ordinance which prescribed the exact color and type of clothing the Bosnian rayah had to wear. Barbers were prohibited from shaving Muslims with the same razors used for Christians. Even in bathhouses, Christians were required to have specifically marked towels and aprons to avoid confusing their laundry with laundry designated for Muslims. Until at least 1850, and in some parts of Bosnia, well into the 1860s, a Christian upon encountering a Muslim, was required to jump down from his (unsaddled) horse, move to the side of the road, and wait for the latter to pass.
Christianity's loud and most arresting symbol, church bells, Andric notes, always drew close, disapproving Turkish scrutiny, and, 'Wherever there invasions would go, down came the bells, to be destroyed or melted into cannon'. Predictably,
The imposition of such disabilities, Andric observes, extended beyond church ceremonies, as reflected by a 1794 proclamation of the Serbian Orthodox church in Sarajevo warning Christians not to
...for their Christian subjects, their [Ottoman Turkish] hegemony brutalized custom and meant a step to the rear in every respect.
Paul Ricaut, the British consul in Smyrna, journeyed extensively within the Ottoman Empire during the mid—17th century, becoming a keen observer of its sociopolitical milieu. In 1679 (i.e., prior to the Ottomans being repulsed at Vienna in September, 1683; see later discussion of Ottoman 'tolerance'), Ricaut published these important findings: (i) many Christians were expelled from their churches, which the Ottoman Turks converted into mosques; (ii) the 'Mysteries of the Altar' were hidden in subterranean vaults and sepulchers whose roofs were barely above the surface of the ground; (iii) fearing Turkish hostility and oppression, Christian priests, particularly in eastern Asia Minor, were compelled to live with great caution and officiate in private obscurity; (iv) not surprisingly, to escape these prevailing conditions, many Christians apostasized to Islam.
The phenomenon of forcible conversion, including coercive en masse conversions, persisted throughout the 16th century, as discussed by Constantelos in his analysis of neomartyrdom in the Ottoman Empire:
Reviewing the martyrology of Christians victimized by the Ottomans from the conquest of Constantinople (1453), through the final phases of the Greek War of Independence (1828), Constantelos indicates:
However, the more mundane cases illustrated by Constantelos are of equal significance in revealing the plight of Christians under Ottoman rule, through at least 1867:
Those scholars who continue to adhere to the roseate narrative of Ottoman 'tolerance', the notion that an '...easy—going tolerance, resting on an assumption not only of superior religion, but also of superior power', which it is claimed, persisted in the Ottoman Empire until the end of the 17th century (i.e., after the Turks were repulsed at Vienna in 1683), must address certain basic questions. Why has the quite brutal Ottoman devshirme—janissary system, which, from the mid to late 14th, through early 18th centuries, enslaved and forcibly converted to Islam an estimated 500,000 to one million non—Muslim (primarily Balkan Christian) adolescent males, been characterized exclusively as a benign form of social advancement, jealously pined for by 'ineligible' Ottoman Muslim families? For example,
The role played by the Balkan Christian boys recruited into the Ottoman service through the devshirme is well known. Great numbers of them entered the Ottoman military and bureaucratic apparatus, which for a while came to be dominated by these new recruits to the Ottoman state and the Muslim faith. This ascendancy of Balkan Europeans into the Ottoman power structure did not pass unnoticed, and there are many complaints from other elements, sometimes from the Caucasian slaves who were their main competitors, and more vocally from the old and free Muslims, who felt slighted by the preference given to the newly converted slaves.
Vasiliki Papoulia highlights the continuous desperate, often violent struggle of the Christian populations against this forcefully imposed Ottoman levy:
Since there was no possibility of escaping [the levy] the population resorted to several subterfuges. Some left their villages and fled to certain cities which enjoyed exemption from the child levy or migrated to Venetian—held territories. The result was a depopulation of the countryside. Others had their children marry at an early age...Nicephorus Angelus...states that at times the children ran away on their own initiative, but when they heard that the authorities had arrested their parents and were torturing them to death, returned and gave themselves up. La Giulletiere cites the case of a young Athenian who returned from hiding in order to save his father's life and then chose to die himself rather than abjure his faith. According to the evidence in Turkish sources, some parents even succeeded in abducting their children after they had been recruited. The most successful way of escaping recruitment was through bribery. That the latter was very widespread is evident from the large amounts of money confiscated by the sultan from corrupt...officials. Finally, in their desperation the parents even appealed to the Pope and the Western powers for help.
Why did the Tanzimat reforms, designed to abrogate the Ottoman version of the system of dhimmitude, need to be imposed by European powers through treaties, as so—called 'capitulations' following Ottoman military defeats, and why even then, were these reforms never implemented in any meaningful way from 1839, until the collapse of the Ottoman Empire after World War I ?
Edouard Engelhardt made these observations from his detailed analysis of the Tanzimat period, noting that a quarter century after the Crimean War (1853—56), and the second iteration of Tanzimat reforms, the same problems persisted:
A systematic examination of the condition of the Christian rayas was conducted in the 1860s by British consuls stationed throughout the Ottoman Empire, yielding extensive primary source documentary evidence. 197. Britain was then Turkey's most powerful ally, and it was in her strategic interest to see that oppression of the Christians was eliminated, to prevent direct, aggressive Russian or Austrian intervention. On July 22, 1860, Consul James Zohrab sent a lengthy report from Sarajevo to his ambassador in Constantinople, Sir Henry Bulwer, analyzing the administration of the provinces of Bosnia and Herzegovina, again, following the 1856 Tanzimat reforms. Referring to the reform efforts, Zohrab states:
Throughout the Ottoman Empire, particularly within the Balkans, and later Anatolia itself, attempted emancipation of the dhimmi peoples provoked violent, bloody responses against those 'infidels' daring to claim equality with local Muslims. The massacres of the Bulgarians (in 1876), and more extensive massacres of the Armenians (1894—96), culminating in a frank jihad genocide against the Armenians during World War I, epitomize these trends. Enforced abrogation of the laws of dhimmitude required the dismantling of the Ottoman Empire. This finally occurred after the Balkan Wars of independence, and during the European Mandate period following World War I.
Writing in 1978, Dufourcq (d. 1982), one of the preeminent scholars of European Islam, worried (even then) that historical and cultural revisionism of the established legacy of jihad in Medieval Western Europe might precipitate a recurrence of,
It is a bitter, tragic irony that the foundational myths of 'symbiotic' Andalusian ecumenism and Ottoman 'tolerance', which were central to the genesis of the Eurabian pathology currently on display in Europe, are now also being invoked as salvational fantasies, in the wake of the French riots. Denying any Islamic etiology for the major problems confronting Europe, thus begets more Islam as the 'solution', and accelerates Europe's seemingly inevitable trajectory towards complete Islamization, with implementation of the Shari'a.
(*This section is drawn from Andrew G. Bostom, The Legacy of Jihad, Prometheus Books, Amherst, N.Y., 2005, pp. 56—75.)
Dr. Bostom is the author of the recently published, The Legacy of Jihad, www.andrewbostom.org