Are the Islamic terrorist attacks of 9/11 the root cause of anti-Muslim sentiment in America and the rest of the world? Is it due to that one so-called “aberration,” when a small group of Muslim terrorists allegedly “hijacked Islam,” that the West has become overly suspicious of Islam?
PJ Media (h/t Marvin W) That is what the “Islamophobia” peddlers at the United Nations would have you believe, especially on this day, March 15, which is now known as the “International Day to Combat Islamophobia.” Speaking at a “high-level” event co-convened by the UN and Pakistan, that nation’s foreign minister, Bilawal Bhutto Zardari, declared:
The notion that no one really ever had any problems with Muslims, until a few terrorist attacked the U.S. on September 11, 2001—at which point, racist Westerners were only too happy to jump the gun and paint all Muslims as terrorists—is, in fact, a mainstay. As an Al Jazeera article titled, “Decades after 9/11, Muslims battle Islamophobia in US,” claims: “The September 11, 2001 attacks on the United States ushered in a new era of hate crimes, racism, and xenophobia against Muslims.”
Reality is quite different. In fact, aversion to Islam is as old as Islam itself. In this sense, the claim that Islamophobia is an actual phenomenon is accurate: non-Muslims have always feared Islam; but there was, and is, nothing irrational about this fear, as the word “phobia” implies.
From the very start, Western peoples, including many of their luminaries, portrayed Islam as a hostile and violent force—often in terms that would make today’s “Islamophobe” blush. There’s a reason for that. In 628 AD, Muhammad summoned the Roman (or “Byzantine”) emperor, Heraclius—the symbolic head of “the West,” then known as “Christendom”—to submit to Islam. When the emperor refused, a virulent jihad was unleashed against the Western world. Less than 100 years later, Islam had conquered more than two-thirds of Christendom, and was raiding deep into France. Well over a millennium later, Muslims had conquered most of southeastern Europe. Even the United States’ first conflict with Islam—indeed, its very first war as a nation—came not after 9/11, but in response to jihadist raids on American ships for booty and slaves in the name of Allah in the late 1700s.
While these far-reaching conquests are often allotted a sanitized sentence, if that, in today’s textbooks, the chroniclers of the time make clear that these were cataclysmic events that had a traumatic impact on, and played no small part in forming, Europe proper, that is, the unconquered portion and final bastion of Christendom.
In the words of historian Franco Cardini:
A miniscule sampling of what Europeans thought of Islam throughout the centuries follows:
Theophanes, important Eastern Roman (“Byzantine”) chronicler (d.818):
Thomas Aquinas, one of Christendom’s most influential philosophers and scholastics (d.1274):
Marco Polo, merchant and world traveler (d.1324):
When the Mongol Khan later discovered the depraved criminality of Achmath (or Ahmed), one of his Muslim governors, Polo writes that the Khan’s
Alexis de Tocqueville, French political thinker and philosopher, best known for Democracy in America (d.1859):
Theodore (“Teddy”) Roosevelt, 26th president of the United States and an accomplished student of history (d. 1919):
At this point, one might argue that these and other historic charges against Islam are mere byproducts of Christian/Western xenophobia and intolerance for the “other.” But if so, how does one explain that many of Islam’s Western critics also praised other non-Western civilizations, as well as what is today called “moderate Muslims.”
Aside from speaking well of the Mongols, Marco Polo also hailed the Brahmins of India as being “most honorable,” possessing a “hatred for cheating or of taking the goods of other persons.” And despite his criticisms of the “sect of the Saracens,” that is, Islam, he referred to one Muslim leader as governing “with justice,” and another who “showed himself [to be] a very good lord, and made himself beloved by everybody.”
British statesman Winston Churchill (d. 1965)—who likened religiosity in Muslims to rabies in dogs—well summed up the matter as follows:
In short, fear of and aversion to Islam did not begin after and because of the strikes of 9/11; it has been the mainstream position among non-Muslims for nearly 1,400 years—ever since Muhammad started raiding, plundering, massacring, and enslaving non-Muslims (“infidels”) in the name of his god. And it is because his followers, Muslims, continue raiding, plundering, massacring, and enslaving “infidels” that fear of and aversion to Islam—what is called “Islamophobia”—exists to this day.
So, yes, Islamophobia is real: non-Muslims have always feared what Islam has in store for them, rightfully so. The lie is that such a fear is irrational.