American Atheist Blogger, Avijit Roy.
by, Hindu Existence | h/t Trop
Eminent Blogger and writer Avijit Roy has been killed and his wife, blogger Rafida Ahmed Bonna, severely injured when unidentified miscreants hacked them at TSC of Dhaka University on Thursday night.
Avijit, son of former DU teacher Dr Ajay Roy and also the founder of Mukto-mona Blog, and his wife have been admitted to Dhaka Medical College Hospital in critical condition immediately after the attack.
Later, he died while undergoing treatment around 10:30pm, said Shahbagh police station OC Sirajul Islam.
Bonna told the Dhaka Tribune: “The miscreants attacked us with cleaver around 8:45pm.”
Witnesses said some unidentified miscreants swooped on the bloggers and hacked them mercilessly between 8:30pm and 9pm while they were returning from the book fair, leaving them critically injured.
OC Sirajul said: “We do not have any clear idea about the attackers. But, the police is suspecting that those, who attacked Humayun Azad, might be behind this as the attacking style suggested similarity.”
On February 27, 2004, professor Humayun Azad was attacked on the way back from book fair, in the following August he died in Germany.
Miscreants also exploded two crude bombs outside of the DMCH around 11:30pm, immediately after the news spread in the city.
A group of people have staged a protest in front of the DMCH, protesting the killing.
DU Proctor Amjad Ali said: “I came to know the writer had been receiving threats from militants because of his anti-communal activism.”
Among the teachers of Dhaka University who rushed to Dhaka Medical College hospital hearing the news of the attack, were Professor Dr Abul Barkat, Professor Anwar Hossain.
Professor Anwar Hossain said the those, who are against the country’s liberation, democracy, free thoughts and attacked Humayun Azad, have perpetrated this.
Liton Nandi, Dhaka University Chhatra Union president, told the Dhaka Tribune they were set to bring a torch procession, protesting the attack and killing in a short time.
Earlier in 2014, online bookstore Rokomari.com stopped selling books by the well-known writer after an Islamic militant issued death threats on Facebook to the website’s owner.
The decision to withdraw his books was prompted by death threats posted to Facebook by Farabi Shafiur Rahman, an Islamist extremist allegedly linked to Jamaat-e-Islami.
Farabi accused Avijit of defaming Islam and the “prophet” Mohammed and accused Rokomari.com chairman Mahmudul Hasan Sohag of “promoting atheism” by selling his books.
In his Facebook post, Farabi specified the office address of Rokomari.com and called upon his “Islamist friends” in the adjacent locality to attack.
He also told Sohag that he would suffer the same fate as Ahmed Rajib Haider, a popular blogger known by the psuedonym Thaba Baba, who was hacked to death last year by machete-wielding Islamic militants.
Avijit, a Bangladesh-born engineer, who was living in the United States, rose to prominence with his books on philosophy, scientific thought and human rights issues.
Among his books are Biswas and Bigyan (Belief and Science), Abishwasher Darshan(philosophy of atheism), Samakamita: Baigyanik ebong Samajmanastattik Anusandhan (Homosexuality: Scientific and socio-psychological intervention),Satantra Bhabna o Buddir Mukti (individual thoughts and freedom of thoughts) etc.
Avijit and his wife came to Bangladesh to attend the book fair as two of his books came out in the fair.
Avijit was under the target of the fundamentalists as he has been continuing his literary war against the Radicalism in Bangladesh and he also under the scanner of the Muslim fanatics as he married a Muslim girl. Rafida Ahmed Bonna, his wife was targeted as she was always supporting his husband, Avijit for his belief on atheism.
Born in a reputed Hindu family, Avijit reached to a destination of atheism in his turbulent youth.
Awami League, the so called secular and ruling party in Bangladesh is completely failure to protect the minorities and the free thinkers in Bangladesh right now.
Radical Islam is growing there with all its barbaric crudeness and fanaticism. Sources say that Jamaat and BNP may be behind this horror killing.
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Read More About Avijit Roy HERE
by, Bob Price | Breitbart
HOUSTON, Texas – Houston fire officials are now confirming that an accelerant was used in the early morning fire that destroyed a southeast Houston Islamic community and education center. The fire began at about 5 a.m. on Friday morning at the Quba Islamic Institute. No one was in the building at the time of the fire and no injuries or deaths have been reported.
The Council on American-Islamic Relations (CAIR) is calling on the federal government to investigate the fire as a hate crime, according to a report by KTRK-ABC13 in Houston. “The cause of the fire is under investigation, but we’ve learned HFD says the accelerant was used, which usually points to a purposeful act,” KTRK reported.
After speaking with Houston arson investigators, Ahsan Zahid, the assistant Imam for the Quba Islamic Institute, stated, “They said their dog went through and he hit on some substances inside the place, and he said [quoting the fire official], ‘From what I see right now at this point, I have to say it was an incendiary fire which means that it was started on purpose.’ That’s all we can go on at this point. I don’t want to speculate.”
The FBI is reportedly monitoring the situation as the investigation continues.
It appears that damage to the facility was extensive. “The damage on the back building is total,” said Houston Fire Department district chief Ken Tyner. “The whole entire building back there is burned up.”
CAIR-Texas released statement Friday afternoon and, according to MyFoxHouston, “called on state and federal law enforcement authorities to investigate a possible bias motive for an apparent arson attack on an Islamic institution.”
“Given the unprecedented level of anti-Muslim rhetoric in our society, it would only be prudent to investigate a possible bias motive for this apparent arson attack,” said CAIR-Texas communications coordinator Ruth Nasrullah in the statement.
KTRK reported officials from the Islamic center as saying that earlier in the week, a man wearing a mask had to be chased away from the building. On Friday morning Zahid said broken furniture and other acts of vandalism were discovered. He said that on Thursday night, someone had driven by screaming mocking chants.
The portion of the facility that was damaged was a storage building where books, furniture and supplies were kept. The mosque and school were unharmed. The Facebook page for the institute contains a statement that reads:
Assalam-u-Alaikum dear Quba Family! There has been a tragic event at Quba Islamic Institute this morning. Some time around 5:00 AM this morning, a fire was started in our third building. The blaze was so hot that the complete building and all its many contents were destroyed. But, Alhamdulillah, we are alive, safe, and united, by the favor of Allah!
Preliminary investigation has concluded that the fire was started by a person. Who it was is unknown at this time. But the investigators have made clear that the fire was not accidental. Let us be clear: the investigation is ongoing. Please do not spread hate; spread love, tolerance, and harmony, just as Prophet Muhammad (S) did.
That being said: all activities will continue today, Inshallah. Jumuah Salah and Family Night will go on as planned, Inshallah.
We ask that you pray for this Institute, that Allah protect us, and make us a Light for all the World to behold.
Several people posted comments on the page expressing concern and offering prayers. Rebecca Little wrote, “praying for you all. Please know that there are Christians out here who hate what has happened and support you totally.” Laura Harper wrote, “My heart goes out to you and the children and families who come here to learn. My hope is that you can swiftly rebuild, recover and grow in safety.”
Iraqi Government Officials report they have ‘..lost all contact with the base..’
by, Jim Hoft | Gateway Pundit | Chemi Shalev | h/t Brandon Watkins III
Al-Asad Air base is near the city of al-Baghdadi, where more than 300 US Marines are stationed.
The US Marines at Al-Asad airbase have been under frequent attack since January.
But today ISIS seized large swaths of the city.
The ISIS linked Twitter accounts are tweeting about the developments.
Iraqi officials say they have lost contact with the base.
ISIS is openly mocking Obama:
UPDATE: Reuters has more…
90% of town of al-Ramadi is under ISIS control.
Islamic State insurgents took control on Thursday of most of the western Iraqi town of al-Baghdadi, threatening an air base where U.S. Marines are training Iraqi troops, officials said.
Al-Baghdadi, about 85 km (50 miles) northwest of Ramadi in Anbar province, had been besieged for months by the radical Sunni Islamist militants who captured vast swathes of Iraq’s north and west last year.
“Ninety percent of al-Baghdadi district has fallen under the control of the insurgents,” district manager Naji Arak told Reuters by phone.
Militants attacked al-Baghdadi from two directions earlier in the day and then advanced on the town, intelligence sources and officials in the Jazeera and Badiya operations commands said.
The officials said another group of insurgents then attacked the heavily-guarded Ain al-Asad air base five km southwest of the town, but were unable to break into it.
About 320 U.S. Marines are training members of the Iraqi 7th Division at the base, which has been struck by mortrar fire on at least one previous occasion since December.
U.S. officials in Iraq were not immediately available for comment, and a defence ministry spokesman declined to comment on the situation in Anbar.
The death toll from the fighting was not immediately clear.
Most of the surrounding towns in Anbar fell under Islamic State control after the group’s rapid advance across the Syrian border last summer.
Former Islamic Imam Convert to Judeo-Christianity, Dr. Mark Christian. Photo courtesy of: Mad World News
by, Dom the Conservative | Mad World News
President Barack Obama sparked outrage when he compared medieval Christian wars to modern-day Islamic terrorism at the National Prayer Breakfast Thursday. He spouted that terrorist groups like ISIS “professed to stand up for Islam, but, in fact, are betraying it,” chastising the opposition from getting on “our high horse” when “people committed terrible deeds in the name of Christ” during the Crusades and Spanish Inquisition.
Dr. Mark Christian, founder of Global Faith Institute, knows Islamic history too well, being an apostate from the Muslim faith himself. Having experienced the true nature of Islam firsthand as a devout Imam, Dr. Christian penned a fiery open letter to the American leader, which he graciously provided to Mad World News, that includes a blunt history lesson in the unchanging goal of ancient Islam:
President Obama… I realize you thought you were brave and courageous when you defamed Christianity by equating the Crusades and the Inquisition with the present-day barbarism of Islam, but I wonder if your “courage” goes so far as to blame Muslims for the Islamic conquests? Do you have the guts to tell them that in the name of Allah, they invaded nations, practiced ethnic and cultural cleansing, going so far as to erase the very history of conquered lands. Can you tell them that they changed languages and names, enslaved millions and killed an unknowable number of innocent souls simply because they worshiped God, and not “Allah?”. I think not. You know Christians will bow their heads and pray for you whereas Muslims will simply take your head and celebrate.
ISIS is not animated by the usual “reaction to oppression” narrative the Left trots out as an excuse for every instance of horrible behavior, whether that behavior is rioting in Ferguson, Missouri or the systematic slaughter of all those opposed to your ideology.
ISIS is animated entirely by Islam. The manner in which they kill – prescribed and outlined in the Koran. The way they make war – prescribed and outlined in the Koran. The way they treat prisoners – also prescribed and outlined in the Koran.
ISIS does nothing that Mohammed didn’t first do 14 centuries ago.
You see, the problem isn’t a “radical interpretation of Islam,” the problem is the belief in Islam that Mohammed was the “perfect man,” and as such, worthy of emulation in all things.
Until Islam can recognize that their “perfect man” wasn’t perfect, and both did and ordered horrible things to be done – certainly things that have no place in a modern world – then there will always be an ISIS. There will always be those who dedicate their lives to imitating the man who spawned the greatest killing machine in known history…Islam.
Mike Konrad, the pen name of a colleague at American Thinker, has done the math for us in a remarkably cogent piece that deserved far more attention than it received when first published in early 2014.
The President drew a moral equivalence argument at this year’s National Prayer Breakfast between the predation of Islam and the actions of Christians during the Crusades and the Inquisition. The President is not uneducated. He is surely aware of the speciousness of that argument, yet still proffered it as a back-handed justification of the profane brutality of ISIS and other Islamic supremacist groups.
When we think of genocide, the names that spring to mind are Hitler, Stalin and Pol Pot. Of course Mao and his utopian fantasies deserve a place alongside the other luminaries of human devastation; millions suffered and died because of these men.
But, when one looks a bit deeper we discover that when it comes to dealing death, the aforementioned dictators are mere peddlers compared to Islam. People forget that the Islamic conquests began 400 years before the Crusades, which were largely a response to Islamic aggression.
Beginning in the year 1000 and lasting for another 500 years, Islam attempted to depopulate India. They did a remarkably good job of it, as the overall population of the Indian subcontinent (despite very high birthrates) dropped by an estimated 80 million in that period.
Don’t forget that Islam has always been a leader in the trafficking of humans –from the slave trade to present-day prostitution – Muslims have excelled in the sale of their fellows.
Just under 30 million slaves from Africa were held in the Middle East and considering the death rate of slaves in transport (an estimated 80%!) Arab Muslim traders would’ve needed more than a 100 million to have provided the number of slaves we know survived.
While Christianity is forever maligned for forced conversions and bad behavior in Africa, in truth, Muslims performed these atrocities on a scale many orders of magnitude greater, and continued to do so for more than a thousand years.
Of course, we shan’t forget the Islamic slaughter in Sudan, the methodical murder and sexual slavery ongoing in Nigeria or the genocide of 1.5 million Armenians by Muslim Turks at the turn of the 20th century.
When Mohammed began his spread of Islam, most of North Africa and all of Europe was Christian. Where are they now? According to the Catholic Education Resource Center, there are no remaining communities of Christians that can trace their roots back to antiquity. Over the span of centuries, this number adds up to millions more dead, at the hands of Islam.
According to Mr. Konrad,
“Possibly one-third to one-half or more of all those killed by war or slavery in history can be traced to Islam.”
The totals boggle the mind. By a conservative estimate, Islam is directly responsible for a quarter of a BILLION dead. Indirectly, hundreds of millions more.
To quote Mr. Konrad,
“Unlike the 20th-century totalitarians whose killing fury consumed themselves, reducing their longevity, Islam paces itself. In the end, though slower, Islam has killed and tortured far more than any other creed – religious or secular. Unlike secular tyranny, Islam, by virtue of its polygamy and sexual predation, reproduces itself and increases.”
Other tyrannies are furious infections, which burn hot, but are soon overcome. Islam is a slow terminal cancer, which metastasizes, and takes over. It never retreats. Its methods are more insidious, often imperceptible at first, driven by demographics. Like cancer, excision may be the only cure.
Mohammed is the “perfect man” of Islam, and as such is the role model for every Muslim. Looking at the horrors perpetrated by Mohammed, it becomes crystal clear that the more devout the Muslim, the more depraved and regressive their behavior.
There is no justification, no moral equivalence to be drawn between the behavior of Christians a thousand years ago, and the behavior of Muslims today. The more salient point is that while the predation of Christianity died away, the worst of Islamic practices are on the rise.
So Mr. President, please focus your attention toward a real problem – Islamic supremacism – the rest of us have the Crusades and the Inquisition under control.
Dr. Christian’s anger is righteous and warranted, and if elected leaders in the U.S. do not heed his word, America will become another conquest of an Islamic Caliphate revived.
Because of Muhammad’s example, Muslims have justifiably wiped out 270 million non-Muslims in their endeavors to establish the world Islamic government their prophet viciously commands.
ISIS is more than an Ottoman army reborn; it is the last attempt at bringing about the apocalyptic rule written in the Quran, which, like all communistic regimes, comes at the price of millions of innocent lives. In fact, it’s as if ISIS’s every decision is made by carefully consulting the Quran and Hadith beforehand, cautiously avoiding straying from the path of Islam. Never before has Islam been so successful in jihad than to force Western nations to bow to Sharia law, and that has been and is the goal of Islam’s political ideology since the time of Muhammad. If the greatest Christian nation on earth cannot even call it by name, there is little chance of preventing it from infiltrating our homeland.
A makeshift memorial for Deah Shaddy Barakat, his wife Yusor Mohammad and Yusor’s sister Razan Mohammad Abu-Salha, who were killed by a gunman, is pictured inside of the University of North Carolina School of Dentistry, in Chapel Hill, North Carolina February 11, 2015. Photo courtesy of: Chris Keane | Reuters
Introduction by, J. Schuyler Montague | sharia unveiled
Our thoughts and prayers are with the families and friends of the three students that lost their lives in this story. These random acts of ‘..workplace violence..’ are all too common today. It is a reminder of just how dangerous it can be here in the States, especially for immigrants. We cannot help but wonder, ‘..had these three people not immigrated to America, would they still be alive today?..’ This is a question that all immigrants must consider before leaving the security of their homeland, for the ‘Wild West’ of America. Unfortunately, we will see many more cases like this in the future.
Furthermore, we hope the assailant receives the proper mental treatment he needs. This ‘random’ killing could have only been committed by a person suffering from a mental defect (and/or) disorder. And the fact that he is an atheist, lends credence to mental affect. Although, assuredly we can deduce that his ‘religion’ is not to blame. It should also be noted that the majority of atheists are non-violent followers of the ‘..non-religion of peace..’ It’s only the very small minority of ‘..radical atheists..’ that follow the violent ‘..non-verses..’ and this should not reflect on the majority of ‘..peaceful, loving..’ atheists.
Craig Stephen Hicks, 46, enters the courtroom for his first appearance at the Durham County Detention Center in Durham, North Carolina February 11, 2015. Photo courtesy of: Chris Keane | Reuters
by, Colleen Jenkins | Reuters
A gunman who had posted anti-religious messages on Facebook and quarreled with neighbors was charged with killing three young Muslims in what police said on Wednesday was a dispute over parking and possibly a hate crime.
Craig Stephen Hicks, 46, a full-time paralegal student from Chapel Hill, was charged with first-degree murder in Tuesday’s shootings around 5 p.m. two miles (three km) from the University of North Carolina campus.
The victims were newlyweds Deah Shaddy Barakat, 23, a University of North Carolina dental student, and his wife Yusor Mohammad, 21, and Yusor’s sister, Razan Mohammad Abu-Salha, 19.
All were involved in humanitarian aid programs.
Students at UNC, where Yusor Mohammad was going to join her husband as a student later this year, were gathering on Wednesday for an evening vigil and prayer service.
The suspect, in handcuffs and orange jail garb, appeared briefly on Wednesday before a Durham County judge who ordered him held without bail pending a March 4 probable cause hearing.
Police said a preliminary investigation showed the motive to be a parking dispute. They said Hicks, who has no criminal history in Chapel Hill, turned himself in and was cooperating.
The killings drew international condemnation. The shooting sparked the hashtag #MuslimLivesMatter on social media with many posters assailing what they called a lack of news coverage.
“I guess that Muslims are only newsworthy when behind the gun, not in front,” tweeted a poster who goes by the handle @biebersrivals.
Muslim activists demanded authorities investigate a possible motive of religious hatred.
“We understand the concerns about the possibility that this was hate-motivated and we will exhaust every lead to determine if that is the case,” Chapel Hill Police Chief Chris Blue said in a statement.
The killings occurred in a condominium complex in a wooded area filled with two-story buildings. Neighbors said parking spaces were often a point of contention.
“I have seen and heard (Hicks) be very unfriendly to a lot of people in this community,” said Samantha Maness, 25, a community college student. But she said she had never seen him show animosity along religious lines.
On Facebook, Hicks’ profile picture reads “Atheists for Equality” and he frequently posted quotes critical of religion. On Jan. 20 he posted a photo of a .38-caliber revolver that he said was loaded and belonged to him.
Hicks’s wife Karen Hicks told reporters at a news conference that her husband had been locked in a longstanding dispute over parking and the killings had nothing to do with religion. She said Hicks was not hateful and believed “everyone is equal.”
Barakat’s family urged the shooting be investigated as a hate crime and said the three were killed with shots to the head.
“Today, we are crying tears of unimaginable pain over the execution-style murders,” Barakat’s older sister Suzanne told reporters. She said her brother was light-hearted and loved basketball.
The incident appeared to be isolated and not part of a targeted campaign against North Carolina Muslims, Ripley Rand, U.S. Attorney for the Middle District of North Carolina, told a news conference with local police officials.
Imam Abdullah Antepli, Chief Representative of Muslim Affairs at Duke University, told the news conference it may or may not have been a hate crime and called for an easing of tensions.
A TURNING POINT?
Groups including the Muslim Public Affairs Council, the Council on American-Islamic Relations (CAIR) and the local Raleigh-based Muslims for Social Justice called for a federal investigation into possible hate crimes.
“I hope this terrible tragedy will be a turning point that brings the reality home that if we keep demonizing Muslims and equating their religion to terrorism, it will lead to more attacks,” said Manzoor Cheema, co-founder of Muslims for Social Justice.
Barakat, an American citizen of Syrian origin, wrote in his last Facebook post about providing free dental supplies and food to homeless people in downtown Durham. He was raising funds for a trip to Turkey with 10 other dentists to provide free fillings, root canals and oral hygiene instruction to Syrian refugee children.
His sister-in-law, Abu-Salha, a sophomore at nearby North Carolina State University, was involved in making multimedia art to spread positive messages about being Muslim American.
Students at UNC said the three friends came from two of the most prominent Muslim families in the Raleigh area.
“Deah was a very proud Muslim American. He was proud of all his identities,” said Sofia Dard, a 21-year-old senior psychology major. She said Muslims were used to occasional harassment in post 9/11 America, but the shooting “adds a whole level of seriousness.”
(Additional reporting by Marti Anne Maguire in Raleigh, Laila Kearney, Franklin Paul and Curtis Skinner; Writing by Fiona Ortiz in Chicago; Editing by Howard Goller)
by, Moufaq Khatib | NBC News | h/t Ricky Levine
AMMAN, Jordan — Jordan has deployed “thousands” of troops at its border with Iraq as it ramps up a campaign against ISIS militants who set a pilot ablaze, two Jordanian government officials told NBC News on Tuesday.
The troops were sent to prevent the infiltration of ISIS fighters into Jordan and as a show of force, according to the sources who spoke on condition of anonymity.
Jordan’s King Abdullah last week threatened to make ISIS pay for the death of Muath al-Kasasbeh’s after video of the military pilot’s murder emerged. He vowed to wage a “harsh” war against ISIS “because this terrorist organization is not only fighting us, but also fighting Islam and its pure values.”
Abdullah also pledged to hit ISIS militants “hard in the very center of their strongholds.”
While there are pockets of ISIS support across the Iraqi border, Jordan’s deployment appeared to be “an intensification of ongoing efforts to secure the border to stop movement of men and weapons” and not the precursor to an incursion, according to Matthew Henman, an analyst at Jane’s Terrorism and Insurgency Centre in London. “It underlines a robust response on the part of government and the king in response to the killing of Muath al-Kasasbeh,” he added.
The kingdom has unleashed up to 20 missions per day by Jordanian jets targeting the militant group’s positions in Syria.
“We are determined to wipe them [ISIS] from the face of the Earth,” Maj. Gen. Mansour al-Jobour told NBC News on Sunday, citing the need for “revenge” after al-Kasabeh’s killing.
Jordan is part of a U.S.-led military alliance that has been bombing ISIS targets in Syria for nearly five months. The Sunni militants have taken over large parts of Iraq and Syria since last summer.
Less than an hour ago, I received an internal memo from a colleague of mine, with excerpts from an intel. report that read:
‘..more than 7,000 ISIS militants killed in 3 days of Jordanian airstrikes..’
WE SUPPORT JORDAN & THE UAE
by, Thomas F. Madden | Shoebat Foundation & Shoebat.com | h/t Bill Muehlenberg
As a Crusade historian, I found the tranquil solitude of the ivory tower shattered by journalists, editors, and talk-show hosts on tight deadlines eager to get the real scoop. What were the Crusades?, they asked. The Islamic world has a just grievance against the West. Doesn’t the present violence, they persisted, have its roots in the Crusades’ brutal and unprovoked attacks against a sophisticated and tolerant Muslim world? In other words, aren’t the Crusades really to blame?
Osama bin Laden certainly thought so. In his various video performances, he never fails to describe the American war against terrorism as a new Crusade against Islam. Ex-president Bill Clinton has also fingered the Crusades as the root cause of the present conflict. In a speech at Georgetown University, he recounted (and embellished) a massacre of Jews after the Crusader conquest of Jerusalem in 1099 and informed his audience that the episode was still bitterly remembered in the Middle East. (Why Islamist terrorists should be upset about the killing of Jews was not explained.) Clinton took a beating on the nation’s editorial pages for wanting so much to blame the United States that he was willing to reach back to the Middle Ages. Yet no one disputed the ex-president’s fundamental premise.
Well, almost no one. Many historians had been trying to set the record straight on the Crusades long before Clinton discovered them. They are not revisionists, like the American historians who manufactured the Enola Gay exhibit, but mainstream scholars offering the fruit of several decades of very careful, very serious scholarship. For them, this is a “teaching moment,” an opportunity to explain the Crusades while people are actually listening. It won’t last long, so here goes.
The threat of Islam
Misconceptions about the Crusades are all too common. The Crusades are generally portrayed as a series of holy wars against Islam led by power-mad popes and fought by religious fanatics. They are supposed to have been the epitome of self-righteousness and intolerance, a black stain on the history of the Catholic Church in particular and Western civilization in general. A breed of proto-imperialists, the Crusaders introduced Western aggression to the peaceful Middle East and then deformed the enlightened Muslim culture, leaving it in ruins. For variations on this theme, one need not look far. See, for example, Steven Runciman’s famous three-volume epic, History of the Crusades, or the BBC/A&E documentary, The Crusades, hosted by Terry Jones. Both are terrible history yet wonderfully entertaining.
So what is the truth about the Crusades? Scholars are still working some of that out. But much can already be said with certainty. For starters, the Crusades to the East were in every way defensive wars. They were a direct response to Muslim aggression—an attempt to turn back or defend against Muslim conquests of Christian lands.
Christians in the eleventh century were not paranoid fanatics. Muslims really were gunning for them. While Muslims can be peaceful, Islam was born in war and grew the same way. From the time of Mohammed, the means of Muslim expansion was always the sword. Muslim thought divides the world into two spheres, the Abode of Islam and the Abode of War. Christianity—and for that matter any other non-Muslim religion—has no abode. Christians and Jews can be tolerated within a Muslim state under Muslim rule. But, in traditional Islam, Christian and Jewish states must be destroyed and their lands conquered. When Mohammed was waging war against Mecca in the seventh century, Christianity was the dominant religion of power and wealth. As the faith of the Roman Empire, it spanned the entire Mediterranean, including the Middle East, where it was born. The Christian world, therefore, was a prime target for the earliest caliphs, and it would remain so for Muslim leaders for the next thousand years.
With enormous energy, the warriors of Islam struck out against the Christians shortly after Mohammed’s death. They were extremely successful. Palestine, Syria, and Egypt—once the most heavily Christian areas in the world—quickly succumbed. By the eighth century, Muslim armies had conquered all of Christian North Africa and Spain. In the eleventh century, the Seljuk Turks conquered Asia Minor (modern Turkey), which had been Christian since the time of St. Paul. The old Roman Empire, known to modern historians as the Byzantine Empire, was reduced to little more than Greece. In desperation, the emperor in Constantinople sent word to the Christians of western Europe asking them to aid their brothers and sisters in the East.
Understand the crusaders
That is what gave birth to the Crusades. They were not the brainchild of an ambitious pope or rapacious knights but a response to more than four centuries of conquests in which Muslims had already captured two-thirds of the old Christian world. At some point, Christianity as a faith and a culture had to defend itself or be subsumed by Islam. The Crusades were that defense.
Pope Urban II called upon the knights of Christendom to push back the conquests of Islam at the Council of Clermont in 1095. The response was tremendous. Many thousands of warriors took the vow of the cross and prepared for war. Why did they do it? The answer to that question has been badly misunderstood. In the wake of the Enlightenment, it was usually asserted that Crusaders were merely lacklands and ne’er-do-wells who took advantage of an opportunity to rob and pillage in a faraway land. The Crusaders’ expressed sentiments of piety, self-sacrifice, and love for God were obviously not to be taken seriously. They were only a front for darker designs.
During the past two decades, computer-assisted charter studies have demolished that contrivance. Scholars have discovered that crusading knights were generally wealthy men with plenty of their own land in Europe. Nevertheless, they willingly gave up everything to undertake the holy mission. Crusading was not cheap. Even wealthy lords could easily impoverish themselves and their families by joining a Crusade. They did so not because they expected material wealth (which many of them had already) but because they hoped to store up treasure where rust and moth could not corrupt. They were keenly aware of their sinfulness and eager to undertake the hardships of the Crusade as a penitential act of charity and love. Europe is littered with thousands of medieval charters attesting to these sentiments, charters in which these men still speak to us today if we will listen. Of course, they were not opposed to capturing booty if it could be had. But the truth is that the Crusades were notoriously bad for plunder. A few people got rich, but the vast majority returned with nothing.
What really happened?
Urban II gave the Crusaders two goals, both of which would remain central to the eastern Crusades for centuries. The first was to rescue the Christians of the East. As his successor, Pope Innocent III, later wrote:
How does a man love according to divine precept his neighbor as himself when, knowing that his Christian brothers in faith and in name are held by the perfidious Muslims in strict confinement and weighed down by the yoke of heaviest servitude, he does not devote himself to the task of freeing them? … Is it by chance that you do not know that many thousands of Christians are bound in slavery and imprisoned by the Muslims, tortured with innumerable torments?
“Crusading,” Professor Jonathan Riley-Smith has rightly argued, was understood as an “an act of love”—in this case, the love of one’s neighbor. The Crusade was seen as an errand of mercy to right a terrible wrong. As Pope Innocent III wrote to the Knights Templar, “You carry out in deeds the words of the Gospel, ‘Greater love than this hath no man, that he lay down his life for his friends.’”
The second goal was the liberation of Jerusalem and the other places made holy by the life of Christ. The word crusade is modern. Medieval Crusaders saw themselves as pilgrims, performing acts of righteousness on their way to the Holy Sepulcher. The Crusade indulgence they received was canonically related to the pilgrimage indulgence. This goal was frequently described in feudal terms. When calling the Fifth Crusade in 1215, Innocent III wrote:
Consider most dear sons, consider carefully that if any temporal king was thrown out of his domain and perhaps captured, would he not, when he was restored to his pristine liberty and the time had come for dispensing justice look on his vassals as unfaithful and traitors … unless they had committed not only their property but also their persons to the task of freeing him? … And similarly will not Jesus Christ, the king of kings and lord of lords, whose servant you cannot deny being, who joined your soul to your body, who redeemed you with the Precious Blood … condemn you for the vice of ingratitude and the crime of infidelity if you neglect to help Him?
The re-conquest of Jerusalem, therefore, was not colonialism but an act of restoration and an open declaration of one’s love of God. Medieval men knew, of course, that God had the power to restore Jerusalem Himself—indeed, he had the power to restore the whole world to his rule. Yet as St. Bernard of Clairvaux preached, His refusal to do so was a blessing to His people:
Again I say, consider the Almighty’s goodness and pay heed to His plans of mercy. He puts Himself under obligation to you, or rather feigns to do so, that He can help you to satisfy your obligations toward Himself. … I call blessed the generation that can seize an opportunity of such rich indulgence as this.
It is often assumed that the central goal of the Crusades was forced conversion of the Muslim world. Nothing could be further from the truth. From the perspective of medieval Christians, Muslims were the enemies of Christ and his Church. It was the Crusaders’ task to defeat and defend against them. That was all. Muslims who lived in Crusader-won territories were generally allowed to retain their property and livelihood, and always their religion. Indeed, throughout the history of the Crusader Kingdom of Jerusalem, Muslim inhabitants far outnumbered the Catholics. It was not until the 13th century that the Franciscans began conversion efforts among Muslims. But these were mostly unsuccessful and finally abandoned. In any case, such efforts were by peaceful persuasion, not the threat of violence.
The Crusades were wars, so it would be a mistake to characterize them as nothing but piety and good intentions. Like all warfare, the violence was brutal (although not as brutal as modern wars). There were mishaps, blunders, and crimes. These are usually well-remembered today. During the early days of the First Crusade in 1095, a ragtag band of Crusaders led by Count Emicho of Leiningen made its way down the Rhine, robbing and murdering all the Jews they could find. Without success, the local bishops attempted to stop the carnage. In the eyes of these warriors, the Jews, like the Muslims, were the enemies of Christ. Plundering and killing them, then, was no vice. Indeed, they believed it was a righteous deed, since the Jews’ money could be used to fund the Crusade to Jerusalem. But they were wrong, and the Church strongly condemned the anti-Jewish attacks.
Fifty years later, when the Second Crusade was gearing up, St. Bernard frequently preached that the Jews were not to be persecuted:
Ask anyone who knows the Sacred Scriptures what he finds foretold of the Jews in the Psalm. “Not for their destruction do I pray,” it says. The Jews are for us the living words of Scripture, for they remind us always of what our Lord suffered … Under Christian princes they endure a hard captivity, but “they only wait for the time of their deliverance.”
Nevertheless, a fellow Cistercian monk named Radulf stirred up people against the Rhineland Jews, despite numerous letters from Bernard demanding that he stop. At last Bernard was forced to travel to Germany himself, where he caught up with Radulf, sent him back to his convent, and ended the massacres.
It is often said that the roots of the Holocaust can be seen in these medieval pogroms. That may be. But if so, those roots are far deeper and more widespread than the Crusades. Jews perished during the Crusades, but the purpose of the Crusades was not to kill Jews. Quite the contrary: Popes, bishops, and preachers made it clear that the Jews of Europe were to be left unmolested. In a modern war, we call tragic deaths like these “collateral damage.” Even with smart technologies, the United States has killed far more innocents in our wars than the Crusaders ever could. But no one would seriously argue that the purpose of American wars is to kill women and children.
The failure of the Crusades
By any reckoning, the First Crusade was a long shot. There was no leader, no chain of command, no supply lines, no detailed strategy. It was simply thousands of warriors marching deep into enemy territory, committed to a common cause. Many of them died, either in battle or through disease or starvation. It was a rough campaign, one that seemed always on the brink of disaster. Yet it was miraculously successful. By 1098, the Crusaders had restored Nicaea and Antioch to Christian rule. In July 1099, they conquered Jerusalem and began to build a Christian state in Palestine. The joy in Europe was unbridled. It seemed that the tide of history, which had lifted the Muslims to such heights, was now turning.
But it was not. When we think about the Middle Ages, it is easy to view Europe in light of what it became rather than what it was. The colossus of the medieval world was Islam, not Christendom. The Crusades are interesting largely because they were an attempt to counter that trend. But in five centuries of crusading, it was only the First Crusade that significantly rolled back the military progress of Islam. It was downhill from there.
When the Crusader County of Edessa fell to the Turks and Kurds in 1144, there was an enormous groundswell of support for a new Crusade in Europe. It was led by two kings, Louis VII of France and Conrad III of Germany, and preached by St. Bernard himself. It failed miserably. Most of the Crusaders were killed along the way. Those who made it to Jerusalem only made things worse by attacking Muslim Damascus, which formerly had been a strong ally of the Christians. In the wake of such a disaster, Christians across Europe were forced to accept not only the continued growth of Muslim power but the certainty that God was punishing the West for its sins. Lay piety movements sprouted up throughout Europe, all rooted in the desire to purify Christian society so that it might be worthy of victory in the East.
Crusading in the late twelfth century, therefore, became a total war effort. Every person, no matter how weak or poor, was called to help. Warriors were asked to sacrifice their wealth and, if need be, their lives for the defense of the Christian East. On the home front, all Christians were called to support the Crusades through prayer, fasting, and alms. Yet still the Muslims grew in strength. Saladin, the great unifier, had forged the Muslim Near East into a single entity, all the while preaching jihad against the Christians. In 1187 at the Battle of Hattin, his forces wiped out the combined armies of the Christian Kingdom of Jerusalem and captured the precious relic of the True Cross. Defenseless, the Christian cities began surrendering one by one, culminating in the surrender of Jerusalem on October 2. Only a tiny handful of ports held out.
The response was the Third Crusade. It was led by Emperor Frederick I Barbarossa of the German Empire, King Philip II Augustus of France, and King Richard I Lionheart of England. By any measure it was a grand affair, although not quite as grand as the Christians had hoped. The aged Frederick drowned while crossing a river on horseback, so his army returned home before reaching the Holy Land. Philip and Richard came by boat, but their incessant bickering only added to an already divisive situation on the ground in Palestine. After recapturing Acre, the king of France went home, where he busied himself carving up Richard’s French holdings. The Crusade, therefore, fell into Richard’s lap. A skilled warrior, gifted leader, and superb tactician, Richard led the Christian forces to victory after victory, eventually reconquering the entire coast. But Jerusalem was not on the coast, and after two abortive attempts to secure supply lines to the Holy City, Richard at last gave up. Promising to return one day, he struck a truce with Saladin that ensured peace in the region and free access to Jerusalem for unarmed pilgrims. But it was a bitter pill to swallow. The desire to restore Jerusalem to Christian rule and regain the True Cross remained intense throughout Europe.
The Crusades of the 13th century were larger, better funded, and better organized. But they too failed. The Fourth Crusade (1201-1204) ran aground when it was seduced into a web of Byzantine politics, which the Westerners never fully understood. They had made a detour to Constantinople to support an imperial claimant who promised great rewards and support for the Holy Land. Yet once he was on the throne of the Caesars, their benefactor found that he could not pay what he had promised. Thus betrayed by their Greek friends, in 1204 the Crusaders attacked, captured, and brutally sacked Constantinople, the greatest Christian city in the world. Pope Innocent III, who had previously excommunicated the entire Crusade, strongly denounced the Crusaders. But there was little else he could do. The tragic events of 1204 closed an iron door between Roman Catholic and Greek Orthodox, a door that even today Pope John Paul II has been unable to reopen. It is a terrible irony that the Crusades, which were a direct result of the Catholic desire to rescue the Orthodox people, drove the two further—and perhaps irrevocably—apart.
The remainder of the 13th century’s Crusades did little better. The Fifth Crusade (1217-1221) managed briefly to capture Damietta in Egypt, but the Muslims eventually defeated the army and reoccupied the city. St. Louis IX of France led two Crusades in his life. The first also captured Damietta, but Louis was quickly outwitted by the Egyptians and forced to abandon the city. Although Louis was in the Holy Land for several years, spending freely on defensive works, he never achieved his fondest wish: to free Jerusalem. He was a much older man in 1270 when he led another Crusade to Tunis, where he died of a disease that ravaged the camp. After St. Louis’s death, the ruthless Muslim leaders, Baybars and Kalavun, waged a brutal jihad against the Christians in Palestine. By 1291, the Muslim forces had succeeded in killing or ejecting the last of the Crusaders, thus erasing the Crusader kingdom from the map. Despite numerous attempts and many more plans, Christian forces were never again able to gain a foothold in the region until the 19th century.
Europe’s fight for its life
One might think that three centuries of Christian defeats would have soured Europeans on the idea of Crusade. Not at all. In one sense, they had little alternative. Muslim kingdoms were becoming more, not less, powerful in the 14th, 15th, and 16th centuries. The Ottoman Turks conquered not only their fellow Muslims, thus further unifying Islam, but also continued to press westward, capturing Constantinople and plunging deep into Europe itself. By the 15th century, the Crusades were no longer errands of mercy for a distant people but desperate attempts of one of the last remnants of Christendom to survive. Europeans began to ponder the real possibility that Islam would finally achieve its aim of conquering the entire Christian world. One of the great best-sellers of the time, Sebastian Brant’s The Ship of Fools, gave voice to this sentiment in a chapter titled “Of the Decline of the Faith”:
Our faith was strong in th’ Orient,
It ruled in all of Asia,
In Moorish lands and Africa.
But now for us these lands are gone
‘Twould even grieve the hardest stone …
Four sisters of our Church you find,
They’re of the patriarchic kind:
But they’ve been forfeited and sacked
And soon the head will be attacked.
Of course, that is not what happened. But it very nearly did. In 1480, Sultan Mehmed II captured Otranto as a beachhead for his invasion of Italy. Rome was evacuated. Yet the sultan died shortly thereafter, and his plan died with him. In 1529, Suleiman the Magnificent laid siege to Vienna. If not for a run of freak rainstorms that delayed his progress and forced him to leave behind much of his artillery, it is virtually certain that the Turks would have taken the city. Germany, then, would have been at their mercy.
Yet, even while these close shaves were taking place, something else was brewing in Europe—something unprecedented in human history. The Renaissance, born from a strange mixture of Roman values, medieval piety, and a unique respect for commerce and entrepreneurialism, had led to other movements like humanism, the Scientific Revolution, and the Age of Exploration. Even while fighting for its life, Europe was preparing to expand on a global scale. The Protestant Reformation, which rejected the papacy and the doctrine of indulgence, made Crusades unthinkable for many Europeans, thus leaving the fighting to the Catholics. In 1571, a Holy League, which was itself a Crusade, defeated the Ottoman fleet at Lepanto. Yet military victories like that remained rare. The Muslim threat was neutralized economically. As Europe grew in wealth and power, the once awesome and sophisticated Turks began to seem backward and pathetic—no longer worth a Crusade. The “Sick Man of Europe” limped along until the 20th century, when he finally expired, leaving behind the present mess of the modern Middle East.
From the safe distance of many centuries, it is easy enough to scowl in disgust at the Crusades. Religion, after all, is nothing to fight wars over. But we should be mindful that our medieval ancestors would have been equally disgusted by our infinitely more destructive wars fought in the name of political ideologies. And yet, both the medieval and the modern soldier fight ultimately for their own world and all that makes it up. Both are willing to suffer enormous sacrifice, provided that it is in the service of something they hold dear, something greater than themselves. Whether we admire the Crusaders or not, it is a fact that the world we know today would not exist without their efforts. The ancient faith of Christianity, with its respect for women and antipathy toward slavery, not only survived but flourished. Without the Crusades, it might well have followed Zoroastrianism, another of Islam’s rivals, into extinction.
Thomas F. Madden, is one of the top historians on medieval history and also on the Spanish Inquisition. He is an associate professor and chair of the Department of History at Saint Louis University. He is the author of numerous works, including The New Concise History of the Crusades, and co-author, with Donald Queller, of The Fourth Crusade: The Conquest of Constantinople.
Dr. Bill Warner, PhD: Jihad vs. The Crusades (Excellent Video)
Video courtesy of: Bill Warner (Thank you Bill)
Obama halts Israeli transfer of weapons to Nigerian Christians to defend themselves from Boko Haram Muslim Terrorists because ‘..it conflicts with US Policy Interests..’
by, Michael Wilner | JPost
WASHINGTON – The United States suspended the resale of US-made military helicopters by Israel to the Nigerian government for its fight against Boko Haram last summer, according to Abuja.
The transfer of such aircraft requires a review to determine its “consistency with US policy interests,” Obama administration officials told The Jerusalem Post.
Reviews of this kind take place in the case of “any requests for one country to transfer US-origin defense items to another country,” said Ned Price, White House Assistant Press Secretary and Director for Strategic Communications.
According to a report initially published in a local Nigerian daily, ThisDay, Nigerian government officials believe a large sale was halted because of “unfounded allegations of human rights violations by our troops,” one such official is quoted saying. The Nigerian official is not named in the report.
“This,” he continued, “after the office of Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu had initially approved the purchase.”
US officials tell the Post such transfers must be consistent with a policy directive revised by President Barack Obama in January, which outlines the criteria for conventional-weapons sales.
The policy requires that US transfers, including of Boeing aircraft, take into account “the risk that significant change in the political or security situation of the recipient country could lead to inappropriate end-use” of the weapons.
While the Nigerian report suggests the country sought the purchase of Boeing CH-47 Chinook helicopters, Israel predominantly uses Sikorsky CH-53 aircraft for missions involving heavylift transport. Both Boeing and Sikorsky are American companies.
Nigeria receives extensive training and assistance from the US government in its battle against Boko Haram, an extremist group affiliated with al-Qaida that Obama has repeatedly labeled an enemy of the United States.
“The ideology of ISIL [Islamic State] or al-Qaida or Boko Haram will wilt and die if it is consistently exposed and confronted and refuted in the light of day,” Obama said in his address to the UN General Assembly.
Boko Haram gained notoriety around the world after its militants kidnapped 276 schoolgirls in April.
The US sent military personnel to help find the girls.
US assistance to Nigeria is intended to “professionalize the response of its security forces, including to respond to crime and terrorism,” and “emphasizes human rights, civilian protection and adherence to rule of law at all levels,” American officials said.
In August, Amnesty International said it had gathered video footage, images and testimonies that “implicate the Nigerian military in war crimes.” The Nigerian government has denied the allegations.
Israeli laws concerning the export of arms are less restrictive than those in the United States. Israel, however, is a member of the United Nations Register of Conventional Arms and, in 2009, reported to the body that Israel, in practice, refrains from transfers “where there is imminent risk that arms might be internally diverted, illegally proliferated and re-transferred, or fall into the hands of terrorists or entities and states that support or sponsor them.”
Nigeria’s largest arms purchase ever reported was from Israel, in 2007, in a deal with Aeronautics systems worth $260 million. That company is Israeli, however, not American.
According to the US policy directive, formally called the US Conventional Arms Transfer Policy, the attempted sale by the Netanyahu government also might affect future US arms sales to Israel.
One criteria for the transfer of US arms is the likelihood that the recipient country would “retransfer the arms to those who would commit human rights abuses or serious violations of international humanitarian law.”
Sixteen nations operate the Chinook helicopter, none of which are in sub-Saharan Africa. A single Chinook costs roughly $40 million to produce.
“The United States remains committed to helping the Nigerian government combat the terrorist organization Boko Haram,” a State Department official said. “We are engaging with the Nigerian government at all levels to identify areas of counterterrorism cooperation.”
An article in The New York Times last week claims to have verified Washington’s veto of the sale, but no sourcing is identified.
“The kind of question that we have to ask is, let’s say we give certain kinds of equipment to the Nigerian military that is then used in a way that affects the human situation,” US ambassador to Nigeria James F. Entwistle told reporters in October, according to the Times.
“If I approve that, I’m responsible for that. We take that responsibility very seriously.”
Israeli government officials declined to comment on this report.
Finally, a positive message from ISIS…
by, Lori Lowenthal Marcus | The Jewish Press
ISIS, humiliated by the Peshmerga, threatens to behead Obama, turn the U.S. into a Muslim province, and destroy France and Belgium.
The barbarians from ISIS recently released another bloody video. This one shows several of their members standing beside an executioner-style black hooded man towering over a straight-backed Kurdish captive.
The filming takes place in the middle of a street in Mosul, Iraq. We know the words spoken in the video, thanks to the translation by the Middle East Media Research Institute, MEMRI.org.
In this, as in all the ISIS videos, the terrorists boast about their bloodthirsty deeds committed in the name of Allah, and promise still more bloodshed.
In this video, see below, the executioner promises that ISIS will come to America and cut off President Obama’s head, right in the White House. He also promises that ISIS will turn the United States into a Muslim province.
Video courtesy of: MEMRI and malkom x
Then the ISIS executioner threatens France and Belgium, warning them that ISIS will bring car bombs and explosives to their streets. He also threatens to cut off the heads of the French and the Belgians.
But his greatest ire is directed at Masoud Barazani, the president of the Kurds. His voice grows louder still, and he shouts out his threat to Barazani, whom he calls a dog, saying ISIS will behead him and throw him onto the trash bin of history.
It is no surprise that ISIS feels the greatest enmity for the Kurds. The Kurdish fighting force, the Peshmerga, have been fighting the ISIS forces with superhuman dedication and focus for months.
The Kurds finally regained control over Kobane, a previously Kurdish-ruled city, driving out the barbarians from all neighborhoods in the that city. The victory occurred on Monday, Jan. 27, the day after this video was made, but the tide had begun to turn earlier.
Once ISIS was routed from Kobane, Barazani said that it was “a great honor for the Kurdish people that they stood along 1,500 kilometers in the face of the most brutal terrorist organization and defeated it. This victory is the victory of humanity over the savagery of terrorists.”
And then, as if to prove Barazani’s point, the ISIS executioner says: “We will institute the laws of Allah, may he be exalted and praised.” He then turns his focus back to the Kurdish soldier at his feet, upon whose head the executioner kept his hand, throughout the speech.
“This is the fate of one of your soldiers, and every time you launch a missile, we will send you back the head of one of your soldiers.”
At the end of the original video – this is excised from the version, below – the executioner beheads the Kurdish soldier at his feet.
The Peshmerga forces have already begun their assault on the ISIS stronghold in Mosul.