By: Dr. Abdullah Mohammad Sindi
(Ph.D. International Relations)
It is in these lawless and dangerous times when Prophet Muhammad is being viciously attacked as a “terrorist” in Western caricatures, and when Arabs and Muslims are being reviled throughout the West as “terrorists”, “fanatics”, “fascists”, and “intolerant”, that it becomes necessary (lest we forget) to recall the past Western Christian terrorism of the Crusades against the Arabs. This well-documented record of the cannibalistic and barbaric Crusaders, which is well known in the Arab world, is rather obscure to most Westerners because it is either conveniently concealed or deeply buried in some unnoticed specialized books.
When US President George W. Bush said in 2001 – in response to the terrorist attacks of 9-11 – that the US was waging a “Crusade” on Arab and Muslim “terrorism”, he was actually conjuring up the old nightmarish horrors of the Western terrorist Crusades against the Arabs. However, because of widespread angry reactions across the Arab and Muslim worlds to Bush’s use of the word “Crusade”, the American Government was forced to replace it with the word “war”. Regardless, the current American illegal and brutal wars on Afghanistan and Iraq and instigating chaos in other places of Middle East are indeed very similar to the past Western terrorist Crusades. Apparently when it comes to Western dealings with Arabs and Muslims the old saying still stands: the more things change, the more they remain the same.
II. The Crusades: A General Overview
Of all the religious wars in human history waged by any religion, at any place, and at any time, none have been bloodier, more genocidal, more barbaric, and more protracted than the 200-year “holy wars” by the Western Crusades against the Arabs and Islam. The Western Crusaders horrifically soaked Asia Minor and the Eastern Arab Mediterranean coast with Arab blood (both Muslim and Jewish). The objective of the Crusades was simple, to destroy the Arabs (whether Muslim or Jew) in the Holy Land of Palestine and its environs “…on the ground that they had no right to inhabit their part of the earth, while for a Christian the whole world is his country.”
Unlike Muslims (Arab and non-Arab) who have always tolerated Christians and Jews (Arab and non-Arab), lived and worked with them side by side in peace as “People of the Book” in all Arab and Muslim lands as well as in old Arab Andalusia (Spain and Portugal), the Christian West has had no desire to coexist with Islam and the Arabs. Also, unlike Muslims who revere Nabi Musa (Moses) and Nabi ‘Eesa (Jesus) as God’s prophets, most Christians and Jews in the “tolerant” West have no respect for Prophet Mohammad (sallallaahu alayhi wasalam) and are rudely contemptuous of him and Islam. In fact ever since its birth and its subsequent widespread expansion, Islam has been looked upon in the West as a mortal danger, both moral and military, to be strongly opposed or even destroyed. In his classic exposé of Christian violence worldwide, A History of Christianity, the Western Christian scholar Paul Johnson rejects the Western propaganda about Islam’s “violent” expansion by stating that: “The success of Islam sprang essentially from the failure of Christian theologians to solve the problem of the Trinity and Christ’s nature.”
Nevertheless, the Western Crusades’ insane bloodbaths against the Arabs were triggered by the decisive defeat of the Byzantine army in 1071 at the hands of the Turkish Seljuk (Abbasid) army. Fearing that all of Asia Minor would be quickly overrun by the Abbasids, the defeated Byzantine emperor, Alexius I, quickly appealed to his Christian rivals and opponents in Western Europe, i.e., Pope Urban II and his other “fellow” Christian rulers, to come to the aid of Constantinople by undertaking a “pilgrimage” or Crusade to “free” Jerusalem and the rest of Palestine from Arab and Muslim rule.
Emperor Alexius’ appeal provided Pope Urban II with his lifetime opportunity to gain more recognition and power for the papal authority and for its role in legitimizing the temporal actions of the West European kings. Presiding over an urgent Church Council meeting, at Piacenza, Italy, in March 1095, Pope Urban II – with the Byzantine ambassador sitting next to him – called upon all the Western European followers of Christ to do “God’s will” by carrying arms to “liberate the Holy Land” and cleanse it from the desecration of the Arab and Muslim “infidels.” The Pope’s call to fight the Arabs was ironic because, as scholar Francis Peters observed “God may indeed have wished it, but there is certainly no evidence that the Christians of Jerusalem did, or that anything extraordinary was occurring to pilgrims there to prompt such a response at that moment in history.” Although Christian and Jewish pilgrims (Arab and non-Arab) were burdened by taxes; they were never barred or even restricted from their religious shrines in Jerusalem either by Muslim Arab or Turkish authorities, even during the few severe sporadic civil disturbances in Palestine. In fact, Arabs (Muslims, Jews, and Christians) as well as non-Arabs (also Muslims, Jews, and Christians) have all lived together in Palestine in peace under Islamic rule since the dawn of Islam.
In reality, however, the veritable rationale behind launching the Crusades went beyond religious impulses, which were mostly the concern of the common people. Western kings, knights, feudal lords, and merchants were driven primarily by political, military, and commercial ambitions as well as by the prospects of new lands and riches that would accompany the establishment of European colonies in the Arab world.
Nevertheless, to start a new general European massive movement, like the Crusades, the leadership of a central figure was needed. Pope Urban II was the only central figure at the time in the entire West with an authority that transcended all of Western Europe’s national boundaries. On November 25, 1095, Pope Urban II delivered in Clermont, France, what was perhaps the single most effective speech in Western history – one that has influenced the West up to the present time. Not only did the Pope appeal to the Western masses through religious motives, but he also used what came to be known as the typical Western ideological argument in support of a colonialist and imperialist policy that eventually led Europe in later generations to brutally colonize the entire non-European world. In this historic speech, Pope Urban II reminded the Europeans that their lands were suffering from widespread economic problems:
“For this land which you inhabit, shut in on all sides by the seas and surrounded by the mountain peaks, is too narrow for your large population; nor does it abound in wealth, and it furnishes scarcely food enough for its cultivators. Hence it is that you murder and devour one another, that you wage war, and that very many among you perish in civil strife.”
The Pope then quickly pointed out that the Arab land of Palestine to which they would be going for their Crusade “floweth with milk and honey … like another paradise of delights.” Pope Urban II then passionately exhorted the faithful Westerners: “Set out on the road to the Holy Sepulcher, take that land from the wicked people and make it your own!” After the Pope ended his fiery speech, the entire large European crowd responded jubilantly with a loud roar: “Dieu le veult!” (God wills it!).
In fact, the Western Crusaders were the first great wave of European colonialism since the fall of the Roman Empire in 476. The Crusades took the form of a series of brutal military invasions in the name of “Christianity” to the heart of Arab and Muslim lands in order to brutally colonize Arab Palestine and kill its people. There were at least nine major Western Crusades and many smaller ones launched against the Arabs between 1095 and 1290:
The First (1095-1099); the Second (1147-1149); the Third (1189-1192); the Fourth (1198-1204); the Children’s Crusade (1212); the Fifth (1217-1221); the Sixth (1228-1229); the Seventh (1248-1254); the Eighth (1270); and the Ninth (1290). Other ill-starred Western military expeditions against the Arabs continued up to the 15th century. Actually, Europe’s hatred and fear of Arab and Muslim power were so intense that the idea of the Crusade persisted well into the 17th century, and the conviction that war might be just and legitimate has since become more deeply engraved in the conscience of the West.
The Crusaders came from all over Western Europe, but France was somehow their main bulwark (from which Pope Urban II himself came). A French monk described the First Crusade, which was launched from France, as Gesta Dei per Francos (“the Franks were presented as the chosen instruments of God”!). Not to be outdone by the French in the service of God, however, many other Europeans joined in such as English, Scottish, Welch, Irish, Italians, Germans, Austrians, Spanish, Portuguese, Normans, Belgians, Dutch, Scandinavians, and Swiss. In this mass Crusader army, all classes and segments of Western societies were represented. The Crusaders included kings, knights, aristocrats, feudal lords, priests, hermits, monks, dukes, military leaders, soldiers, zealots, pilgrims, workers, peasants, merchants, common people, and criminals. They also came from both sexes and all ages (see “The Children’s Crusade” below).
The most prominent of all the participating fanatics and zealots among the Crusaders, however, was a strange Frenchman by the name of Pierre L’Ermit (“Peter the Hermit”) from the city of Amiens. Pierre L’Ermit was one of history’s most bizarre characters, especially for a religious leader. He looked like a madman; small and miserably thin; walked barefooted; rode a jackass for transportation; his wild unkempt hair tumbled over his neck and ears; his unmaintained wild beard came down to his waist; his eyes rolled; his speech was torrential; and his dingy clothes consisted of only a woolen smock and a light cloak which also served him as a blanket at night. Pierre L’Ermit was a powerful speaker, though. His fiery speeches hypnotized his Christian listeners who nicknamed him “Kiokio” (or “little Peter”). His followers used his jackass as an object of religious veneration, plucking hairs from its tail to keep as “holy relics”! It was this strange, barefooted Pierre L’Ermit who led the first column in the First Crusade (known as the Peasants’ Crusade) in 1096 against the Arabs and Islam.
In order to raise a large army to fight the Arabs and Islam, Pope Urban II promised that all Crusaders would be exempted from taxes; their debts would be forgiven; their sins would be washed away; and their special place in Paradise would be guaranteed. Consequently, the response to his call was extraordinary. All in all about 160,000, heavily armed Europeans, an astounding figure for that time, formed the armies of the First Crusade. It seemed that the whole of Western Europe was marching east. It was the first time that Western Europe had come together for any cooperative act or cause since the fall of the Roman Empire. Nothing like it has ever happened in the history of the West. European unity was so clear and so purposeful.
The Crusaders came in a seemingly solid mass, some with all of their belongings, to join in this mad holy war to destroy Islam. Their objective was to kill Arabs and Turks whom the Christian terrorist Butcher Pope Urban II described as “an accursed race, a race utterly alienated from God“, urging his followers to “exterminate this vile race from our lands.” The Crusades took place during the Western dark ages when Europe was backward compared to the Arab/Muslim world and to the Christian Byzantine Empire of East Europe. Hence, the Crusaders’ behavior during their vicious wars reflected their cruelty and primitive barbarism. They were extremely militant, and committed incredible mass violence. They acted like modern-day violent American Ku Klux Klan and other Western racist groups. They committed, both in Europe and the Arab/Muslim world, the worst conceivable horrible crimes and atrocities, not only against thousands of innocent Muslims and Jews of both sexes and of all ages, but also even against Christians. Their vicious crimes – all of which will be detailed shortly – against noncombatants and innocent peoples included the destruction of properties; pillaging; plundering; foraging; ravaging; stealing; setting houses on fire; torturing; murdering; executing; burning humans alive; raping women, including nuns; and even roasting and eating (with a great deal of relish) the human flesh of their victims and their children.
It must have seemed that even Mother Nature (or God) was angry with the Crusaders and was horrified by their sordid crimes. Violent earthquakes devastated the Syrian Arab region at various times during the Crusader’s 200-year presence in the Arab world. Although the 1157 tremor was the most spectacular, not even one single decade passed – during which the Crusaders were pillaging and killing Arabs – without some major cataclysm. What follows is but a brief account of the Crusaders’ vicious 200-year bloody assault on the Arabs and Islam.
III. Carnage in Turkey
Escorted by Byzantine ships in the summer of 1096, the invading Crusaders, led by the fanatic leader Pierre L’Ermit, crossed the Bosporus into the land of Islam in Turkey. After pillaging and plundering many Greek churches on their way, the Crusaders were heard proudly shouting that they had come to the land of Islam “to exterminate the Muslims.” The Crusaders foraged the Turkish countryside, plundered villages and farms and set them on fire. They mercilessly massacred Muslim peasants and burned their young children alive. As pure racists, the cruel Crusaders directed their violence towards any dark-skinned peoples and those who simply wore different clothes from them, regardless of their religions. Pierre L’Ermit’s peasant band even attacked non-Latin Christians and slaughtered them in heavy numbers, hung their babies on cooking spits, roasted them over open fires, and ate their flesh. Even Princess Anna Comnena, the daughter of the Byzantine Emperor Alexius I (who had the original idea of the Crusade but who came to dislike the Crusaders like his daughter) reported how they piled up the corpses of their victims to form a high mountain. She also included a description of Crusaders tearing off the limbs of children and roasting others on fire for food.
Nevertheless, the Crusaders’ very first encounter with a Muslim army in 1096 in Nicaea (now modern Iznik in Turkey) ended in a crushing military defeat for them and their leader, Pierre L’Ermit, at the hands of Kilij Arsalan (the Red Lion), the Turkish Sultan of that city. But this Muslim victory was short-lived. The next year, in June 1097, the Crusaders mounted a larger military force and, with some help from the Byzantine army, inflicted a major military defeat on the Muslim forces in Nicaea. This time Arsalan was severely beaten at the Battle of Dorylaeum, and the Muslim Turkish army was cut into pieces. The Crusaders killed, pillaged, and took many Muslims prisoners who were later sold into slavery. News of the defeat of the Turkish Muslims spread like fire into the Arab world and caused a great deal of panic and pain. All Arabs and Muslims considered this first defeat of the scientifically and culturally superior Muslims at the hands of the backward Western Crusaders to be very shameful. It was compared to the old defeat of the highly advanced Roman Empire at the hands of the northern European barbarians.
After their victory in Turkey, the barbaric Crusaders moved south to the Arab lands in their destination towards the Arab province of Palestine. Every Arab village, town, and city in their path was totally gripped by fear. Many Arabs and Muslims fled for their lives, leaving behind their homes and properties. The news of the Crusaders’ advances from town to town was closely followed as Arab men and women in complete shock began to whisper to each other and pray in fear.
IV. Bloodbath in Antioch
In February 1098 the Crusaders invaded Edessa (now the modern city of Urfa in Turkey), a large Armenian community located immediately north of Syria, known to the Arabs as al-Ruha. The Crusaders ruthlessly massacred a large number of Edessa’s inhabitants and turned the city into the first Latin Kingdom (European colony) in the Muslim world under the leadership of Baldwin I of Boulogne, France. Baldwin I was a knight notorious for his brutality and complete lack of scruples. After he forced the Christian Armenian prince and princess of Edessa to abdicate, he proceeded to murder both of them even though he had already accepted them as his “adopted parents”.
Following their easy invasion of Edessa. The Crusaders moved south to destroy Arab Antioch, then the largest city in the Arab region of Syria (now the modern city of Antakya in Turkey). Antioch was well fortified and impossible to penetrate. It had plenty of food and was well protected against invasions and sieges. Its 12,000-meter-long walls were very strong and indestructible. It had about 400 large towers, each of which was 60 feet high. More than 50,000 heavily armed, bloodthirsty, fanatic Crusaders stood at Antioch’s gates and laid siege to it for eight long and cold months during the rainy seasons (from October 1097 to June 1098). Their long siege was unsuccessful. Actually, while the Arabs inside Antioch were enjoying plenty of food, the Crusaders stationed outside it, faced severe hunger and starvation. As a result, the Crusaders invaded, killed, ravaged, and pillaged the surrounding Arab towns and villages, in and around Aleppo, to steal livestock and crops. Frustrated by their long unsuccessful siege of Antioch, the Crusaders finally decided to frighten the city into submission by gruesomely showering it with the mutilated severed heads of murdered Arab Aleppens, catapulting them over the city’s strong walls like rain. In fact, the Crusaders’ savagery found no boundary. One day they caught a spy, killed him, roasted him on fire and ate his flesh while proudly shouting that this would be the fate of anyone who spied on them!
However, the siege of Arab Antioch suddenly came to a quick and horrific end for its inhabitants. At 4 in the morning on June 3, 1089, one of Antioch’s gates was opened for them. A Muslim traitor of Armenian origin by the name of Fairuz, who was facing serious charges of black-market trading and had been slapped with heavy fines by the authorities in Antioch, decided to seek revenge. For a large bribe of gold and land from the European invaders, he allowed the Crusader leader Bohemond I (son of the Prince of Taranto, Italy) to enter Antioch through one of the five main gates that he was guarding. A swarm of Christian European warriors fell upon the sleeping city like uncontrollable madmen. In a short time the Crusaders turned the entire city of Antioch into an incredible scene of fire and blood. Wherever the European Christians found Arab and Muslim women in the city, “they ran their lances through their bellies.” All the men, women, and children who tried to flee in the heavy rain through muddy back-alleyways were tracked down by the European knights and slaughtered on the spot. As the day wounded down, cries of pleading, fear, and agony from the dying, injured, and fleeing Arabs and Muslims were gradually replaced by loud, cheerful off-key singing of the drunken Crusaders who were by then plundering the entire city of Antioch at will.
Such genocide by the Europeans against the inhabitants of Arab Antioch continued for an entire week as the city itself was reeling under fire and smoke. All Muslims (both Arab and non-Arab) and even native Christians (also Arab and non-Arab alike) were tortured and killed by the thousands, their houses looted and destroyed. By the end of that dreadful week, scarcely a Muslim remained alive, and the streets of Antioch were piled high with Arab and Muslim corpses of both sexes and all ages. Such genocidal episodes punctuated the ruthless Crusaders throughout their brutal occupation of Arab territories.
When an Arab army from Mosul, Iraq arrived too late to save Antioch, its leader Karbuqa and his troops were completely stunned and paralyzed because of what they had seen at Antioch. In fear and total shock, Karbuqa asked the Crusaders for a truce, but without even responding to his offer, the Crusaders charged at him and destroyed his army, which quickly disintegrated “without a stroke of sword or lance, without the firing of a single arrow.” After this day of great shame for the Arabs and Islam (especially with the Baghdad Arab caliphs crippled and powerless in the face of the rapidly growing power struggle between them and their Turkish and Persian soldiers) there was no longer any Arab force that could stop the vicious Crusaders from controlling all of the vast Arab region of Syria. Thus, Arab Antioch became the first Latin Kingdom or a European colony in the Arab world (the second one in the Muslim world after Edessa). Antioch fell under the ruthless leadership of the butcher devil, Bohemond I.
V. Butchery and Cannibalism in Ma’arra
Following their vicious capture of Antioch, the brutal Western Crusaders moved on southward, raiding and pillaging town after town on their way to Jerusalem. On their way south, the unfortunate Arab Syrian city of Ma’arra was situated. In December 1098, the city of Ma’arra, whose most important son was the Arab genius philosopher/poet Abu al-Ala al-Ma’arri (973-1057), experienced horrific cannibalism against its Arab inhabitants at the hands of the barbaric European Crusaders. Ironically, this cannibalistic feast was predicted in a way by al-Ma’arri who died only 41 years before it happened. Actually, al-Ma’arri, who deeply influenced Dante, dared to attack religious fanatics (Christians, Muslims, and Jews) and even showed his irreligious audacity (in that early eleventh-century time) by writing: “The inhabitants of the earth are of two sorts: Those with brains, but no religion, and those with religion, but no brains.”
The uncivilized Western Christian Crusaders proved al-Ma’arri right by quickly reducing his birthplace to a heap of ruins. A peaceful Syrian agricultural city, Ma’arra had no army or militia. Its economy was based only on grapes, olives, and figs. Its unarmed Arab inhabitants courageously resisted the crippling two-week Crusader siege of their city by all means available to them, including a desperate attempt by hurling packed beehives on the European invaders.
Hopeless and fearful of genocide similar to the one that had taken place in Antioch a few months earlier, most of Ma’arra’s notables finally decided to accept the word of the Crusaders’ leader, Bohemond, who promised to spare the lives of all the city’s citizens if they would surrender. But Bohemond, the ruthless ruler and butcher of Antioch, proved once again that he was the vicious Western animal monster that he really was. In the words of one writer, on December 11, 1089, “The … [Crusaders] arrived at dawn. It was carnage. For three days they put people to the sword, killing more than a hundred thousand people and taking many prisoners.”
The Crusaders’ chronicler at the time, Radulph of Caen, not only admitted this genocide, but also added, with pride, the following horrifying words: “In Ma’arra our troops boiled pagan adults in cooking pots; they impaled children on spits and devoured them grilled.” Another Christian Crusader chronicler, Albert of Aix, who took part in the carnage of Ma’arra bragged, “Not only did our troops not shrink from eating dead Turks and Saracens [Arabs]; they also ate dogs!”
Actually, even before the massacre of Ma’arra took place, its Arab inhabitants knew very well that there would be cannibalism by the European Christians. The Arabs had seen the fanatic Crusaders, the Tafurs, “roam through the countryside openly proclaiming that they would chew the flesh of … [Arabs and Muslims] and gathering around their nocturnal camp-fires to devour their prey.” In fact, the barbaric Western Crusaders not only enjoyed cooking and eating the flesh of Arabs and Muslims, but they also found it even “better than spiced peacock.”
After the bloody nightmare of Ma’arra, the Western Crusaders moved on southward towards Jerusalem, leaving nothing but destruction and death in their wake. As a result of the two great horrific massacres in Antioch and Ma’arra, the Arabs began to look at the Westerners not only as beasts and wild animals for their brutality and strength, but also justifiably as savages and anthropophagi.
VI. Holocaust in Jerusalem
As the Western Christian armies of doom moved southward, all Arabs and Muslims, who lived in the villages and towns along the road to the Arab city of Jerusalem, took extreme precautions against the brutal Crusaders. The poorest Arabs took refuge by hiding in nearby forests and mountains, preferring to take their chances with hungry lions, bears, hyenas, and wolves in the wilderness rather than facing the invading barbaric cannibals from the West.
The Devil Pope Urban II’s bloodthirsty warriors for Christ eventually reached their goal, the city of Jerusalem. The bizarre Crusader leader Pierre L’Ermit was appointed almoner of the Christian army and continued his outrageous preaching, this time at the Mount of Olives, just outside Jerusalem. The Crusaders laid siege to Jerusalem for 40 days. Then in preparation for their assault on Jerusalem, the soldiers of Satan fasted for three days, confessed their “sins”, and received communion. Next, they marched barefooted around the walls of Jerusalem, chanting psalms and carrying crosses and relics, in abasement before the ‘glory of the Lord’. Suddenly, like madmen devils which they were, they hurled themselves against Jerusalem’s walls without carrying even a single ladder! From within Jerusalem’s high walls, the Arab garrisons could do nothing but watch the wild European Satans in total horror and astonishment.
Crusader terrorist leader Lord Tancred of Hauteville, France (Bohemond’s nephew) promised that if Jerusalem surrendered all Arab and Muslim lifes in it would be spared and that the sanctity of all Muslim religious places, especially al-Aqsa Mosque, would be maintained. Accordingly, on Friday July 15, 1099, while the Muslims of Jerusalem were fearfully praying in the mosques for their lives, the Arab governor of Jerusalem surrendered without a fight to Lord Tancred. But once again, just as his uncle had broken his promises in Antioch and Ma’arra by butchering most of their Muslims and Arabs, so did Tancred in Jerusalem. Seized by a frenzy of vengeful blood lust, the heavily-armed European Christian warriors stormed Jerusalem like wild animals, spilling through the streets of the holy city with swords in their hands and indiscriminately butchering every man, woman, and child they could find. They sacked mosques, broke open stores, and plundered houses. Tens of thousands of noncombatants (Arab and non-Arab whether Muslim, Jew, or even native Christian) were beheaded, shot with arrows, thrown from towers, tortured, or burned at the stake.
When their killing finally stopped a week later on Friday, July 22, not a single Arab or Muslim could be seen alive within Jerusalem. Tens of thousands of Arabs and Muslims were lying dead in pools of blood in front of their own houses or stores and outside all of the holy city’s mosques, especially around al-Aqsa Mosque, which was shamefully desecrated. It is estimated that more than 70,000 Arabs and Muslims were butchered in cold blood in and around the great mosque of al-Aqsa alone. The Dome of the Rock next to al-Aqsa Mosque was converted to a church by the Crusaders and was stripped of hundreds of silver candelabra and dozens of gold ones. The bodies of the dead Arabs and Muslims in the holy city were slashed open in search of gold or silver coins they might have swallowed. His “holiness” Satan Pope Urban II had decreed that any spoils of war were possessions the faithful could keep. At nightfall, still dripping with the blood of their Arab victims, the Europeans knelt at the “Holy Sepulcher” and folded their bloody hands in prayer, “sobbing for excess of joy.”
Some lucky Arabs and Muslims had taken advantage of the chaos to slip away, escaping through gates battered down by the Crusaders. In tears and in pain, the last Arab and Muslim survivors in and around Jerusalem were forced by the Crusaders to perform the most horrible tasks: to drag the bodies of their own dead relatives, to heave and dump them in enormous vacant and unmarked lots, and finally to set them on fire. After performing these horrible tasks, the Arabs were then beheaded, forcibly drowned, or sold into slavery. Religious historian Ronald Bainton reported that before Jerusalem’s murdered Arabs and Muslims were buried en mass, their bodies were mutilated and “a whole cargo of noses and thumps sliced from [them]” were shipped to Europe as prized trophies!
One proud report to the Butcher Pope Urban II (who died two weeks later on July 29 without knowing that Jerusalem had been captured by his Satan soldiers) read, “If you could hear how we treated our enemies at Jerusalem … our men rode through the unclean blood of the Saracens [Arabs], which came up to the knees of their horses.” One eyewitness of the dreadful scene in Jerusalem not only wrote that “piles of heads, hands, and feet were to be seen in the streets of the city,” but that the European Christian murderers had “to pick their way over the bodies of men and horses” all throughout the holy city. Describing the holocaust in Jerusalem, the Archbishop of Tyre (modern Sur) wrote the following:
“… they laid low, without distinction, every enemy encountered. Everywhere was frightful carnage, everywhere lay heaps of severed heads, so that soon it was impossible to pass or to go from one place to another except over the bodies of the slain. … It was impossible to look upon the vast number of the slain without horror; everywhere lay fragments of human bodies, and the very ground was covered with blood of the slain. It was not alone the spectacle of headless bodies and mutilated limbs strewn in all directions that roused the horror of all who looked upon them. Still more dreadful was it to gaze upon the victors themselves, dripping with blood from head to foot, an ominous sight which brought terror to all who met them…”
The fate of the Jews (Arab and non-Arab alike) of Jerusalem was no less atrocious. During the first few hours of the carnage in Jerusalem, the entire small Jewish community of the holy city gathered in their own main synagogue to pray. The Western blond knights barricaded the exits and stacked all the bundles of wood they could find in a ring around the synagogue. The Temple was then put to the torch. Those Jews who managed to escape were massacred in the neighboring alleyways. The rest were burned alive.
The monuments of saints and the tomb of Ibraheem (Abraham) were also completely destroyed by the Crusaders. One eyewitness wrote that at the Temple of Solomon, where about 10,000 Jews were slaughtered, “men rode in blood up to their knees and bridle reins.”  In writing about the mutilated Jewish corpses that covered the Temple area, the priest Raymond of Aguilers joyfully quoted Psalm 118: “This is the day the Lord has made. Let us rejoice and be glad in it.”
Because of their dark ages mentality, racism, brutality, and deep hatred for any alien culture, the Crusaders did not even spare their coreligionists in the Arab world from their bloodbaths as many native Christians were murdered. The Crusaders proceeded to expel from the Church of the “Holy Sepulcher” all the priests of the Orthodox and Monophysite Oriental rites – Arabs, Greeks, Armenians, Georgians, and Copts – who had formerly worked together peacefully for centuries under Arab/Muslim rule in Jerusalem to officiate Christian religious ceremonies. Completely dumfounded and deeply indignant at this cruel treatment, the local Orthodox Christian priests refused to tell the European invaders where they had hidden the True Cross on which they held the belief that Jesus died. Totally frustrated, the European occupiers arrested the Orthodox priests, tortured them and forced them to reveal its secret location. In addition, Arab and other non-Latin Christians lost their churches and properties, and were displaced from their patriarchates and bishoprics. Even the Arab Maronite Christians (who were in communion with Rome) were contemptuously treated as second-class citizens in their own native Arab land by these invading Westerners. Also, in addition to the “heretic” Muslims and Jews, the Crusaders Devils banned the Arab Coptic Christians of Egypt from going to Jerusalem to conduct their pilgrimage.
For the official celebration of murdering tens of thousands of innocent Palestinian Muslims, Jews, and Christians in cold blood, and for the brutal torture and displacement of local Christians, the victorious European faithful held several glorious Christian religious processions conducted in the streets of Jerusalem by none other than that firebrand preacher, Pierre L’Ermit. Thus Arab Jerusalem became the second European colony in the Arab world (a Latin Kingdom like Arab Antioch) ruled by the bloodthirsty Godfrey (Duke of Lower Lorraine, Germany) from the French City of Bouillon (now located in southern Belgium). Godfrey made his official residence (of all places) in the sacred Muslim al-Aqsa Mosque of Jerusalem. On the other hand, the perfidious Lord Tancred became the proud Prince of Galilee.
Although the Arabs and Muslims knew very well that they were scientifically and culturally far superior to the Western hordes in every area of science and art, they still feared the European invaders and had nothing but deep hatred and profound contempt for them. One Arab chronicler at the time, Usamah Ibn Munqidh, who had become the leading Damascene specialist on the Crusaders, recorded his observations about the Western Christian fanatic enemies as follows:
“Their soldiers are of mighty courage and in the hour of combat do not think of flight but prefer death. But you shall see none more filthy [sic] than they. They do not cleanse or bathe themselves more than once or twice a year, and then in cold water, and they do not wash their garments from the time they put them on till they fall to pieces. They are a people of treachery and mean character.”
A few days after the holocaust in Jerusalem, the first Arab Palestinian refugees arrived in Damascus. Although they were sick in their hearts at having been forced to run for their lives and having to abandon their homes and properties in Palestine – the same way their descendants did in 1948 when the Western Zionists brutally settle-colonized Palestine – they were determined never to return to Palestine until all the European invaders had departed from it forever. They resolved then to awaken the conscience of their Arab and Muslim brothers all over the land of Islam to rise in an Islamic “holy war” or Jihad to expel the Western invaders.
The Arab defense against the savage Western onslaught, however, was a dismal failure from the beginning. The Arabs were, as they are now, divided and in conflict with each other. The Abbasid State was fragmented and had deteriorated into a commonwealth of semiautonomous quarrelsome states governed by Arab or Turkish military commanders. The Abbasid capital city of Baghdad was totally paralyzed, and the weak Arab Abbasid Caliph, al-Mustazhir, was crippled by the power struggle among Arabs, Persians, and Turks.
VII. Slaughters in Other Arab Cities and Towns
Despite such Arab division and quarrels, an army was raised from the Arab region of Egypt to try to expel the European invaders from the Arab region of Palestine. While the Western savage Crusaders were looting Jerusalem and completing their massacres by killing the last few hidden Arab survivors in the holy city, the Egyptian army slowly reached Palestine in August 1099, 20 days after the holocaust in Jerusalem. Aware of its arrival, however, the Crusaders met the Egyptian army near the Palestinian port city of Ascalon where it was camping and completely annihilated it. “Neither foot-soldier, nor volunteers, nor the people of the city [Ascalon] were spared in the killing. About ten thousand souls perished, and the camp was sacked.”
Several days after this last Arab defeat and humiliation, a group of Arab refugees led by the Judge of Damascus, Abu Sa’ad al-Harawi, reached Baghdad to plead to the politically crippled Arab Abbasid Caliph, al-Mustazhir, for an Arab/Muslim military defense against the Crusaders. In the Great Mosque of Baghdad, on Friday August 19, 1099, during the Muslim holy month of Ramadan, al-Harawi denounced the disgraceful inaction by Muslim leaders and passionately appealed for a Jihad against the savage European invasion. His fiery speech made the Muslim congregation weep. However, despite the fact that al-Harawi carried his appeal as far away as the great corridors of power in Baghdad, his efforts amounted to naught; Baghdad was indeed paralyzed.
Hence, the cruel Western Crusaders felt totally free to continue pillaging, ravaging, and killing Arabs and Muslims with impunity. In 1101 the soldiers of Devil, the Crusaders committed yet another major gory massacre against the Arabs in the Palestinian seaport city of Caesarea. When the Crusaders invaded this quiet city, their troops were given permission to sack it as they pleased. All the Palestinian inhabitants of the city were brought in and murdered in cold blood in the city’s great mosque. Also, the following year, in a raging battle near Tripoli in April 1102, the Crusaders, under the leadership of the brute Raymond of Saint-Gilles (Count of Toulouse, France), relentlessly butchered 7,000 Tripolitanian Arabs.
Even when a golden opportunity was presented to them, the Arabs let it slip by. For example, in May 1102 an Egyptian army took the Crusaders army by surprise in the city of Ramlah, near the port of Jaffa in Palestine. While most of his knights were killed or captured, the king of Jerusalem himself, Satan Baldwin I, barely avoided capture by hiding, while lying flat on his stomach, among the reeds. That day the Egyptian army could have marched unopposed to free Jerusalem from the Europeans, but due to the reluctance and indecisiveness of its leaders, the chance was lost. And, although the Egyptians thereafter kept sending a fresh army year after year to free Jerusalem, they never had the same golden opportunity again. As a result, the Arabs paid dearly both in lives and properties, as they began to lose quickly city after city to the Crusaders.
In 1104, the Crusaders brutally captured three important Arab cities: Jaffa, Haifa, and Acre. Also, after bravely resisting their severe 2000-day siege, Tripoli was invaded and destroyed in July 1109 by the brutal Crusaders who massacred scores of its noncombatant Arabs in cold blood. Tripoli was a magnificent bustling seaport, the jewel of the Arab east, known for its splendid living and beautiful fields of fruits, carobs, olives, and sugarcane. It had talented goldsmiths, brave seamen, scholars, learned judges, and glorious libraries. The uncultured Genoese sailors completely demolished the city’s Banu Ammar library, the finest in the Muslim world, which was known as Dar al-Ilm or “House of Knowledge”. The Crusaders destroyed all of its 100,000 volumes so that Arab “impious” books would not be read by anyone. Most of Tripoli’s citizens were sold into slavery, the rest were despoiled of their properties and stripped of their personal belongings as they were being expelled from the city. Most expelled Tripolitanians found refuge in the nearby Arab city of Tyre. Following the examples of Antioch and Jerusalem, Tripoli became the third European colony in the Arab world, divided into three equal parts. One third came under the colonization of the Genoese, and the other two thirds fell under the brutal control of the cruel son of Raymond of Saint-Gilles.
The following year, in May 1110, the Crusaders selected Beirut as their next target where they committed yet another horrible massacre against scores of innocent Arabs. Then, the following December, they attacked the peaceful seaport of Sayda (the ancient Phoenician city of Sidon), where they cruelly forced all of its Arab inhabitants into a mass exodus to Tyre and Damascus. Thus, in a short period of time, the European invaders brutally captured six of the most renowned Arab cities – Jaffa, Haifa, Acre, Tripoli, Beirut, and Sayda – massacred and/or deported their inhabitants, and desecrated their mosques. These dreadful events sent a chill down the spine of the entire Arab nation as Arab masses throughout the entire Arab world began to fear seriously that Tyre, Aleppo, Mosul, Damascus, Cairo, Baghdad, or even Makkah (“Mecca”) itself might be the next target for the European soldiers of Satan.
As a result of this widespread fear, the Aleppo Judge, Abdulfadhel Ibn al-Khashab, organized a large demonstration in the Abbasid capital of Baghdad in February 1111 against the inept Abbasid Caliph al-Mustazhir, demanded an immediate Arab military response, and emotionally called for an Islamic Jihad to expel the Crusaders. But, like his predecessor, al-Harawi 12 years earlier, Ibn al-Khashab’s efforts amounted to very little. The Baghdad riots, however, ignited a strong angry feeling all over the Arab world among Arab masses that considered some of their leaders to be shamefully incompetent while some others to be outright traitors.
In fact, some Arab and Turkish governors committed acts of high treason, for their personal gains, by collaborating with the Crusaders in the same fashion as Saudi Arabia’s House of Saud, Kuwait’s House of Sabah and Pseudo-Hashemite family of Jordan have currently collaborated with the imperialist West and the. For example, after the Baghdad riots, the citizens of Arab Ascalon rose in July 1111 in a violent revolt against their treasonous and cowardly leader, Shams al-Khalifa, who had offered a tribute of 7,000 dinars to the brutal European colonialist Baldwin I of Jerusalem. In return, Baldwin I sent al-Khalifa 300 of his soldiers to protect him against possible insurrection. However, the Palestinian Arab masses became completely outraged and a group of them assassinated al-Khalifa as he was leaving his residence; the 300 Crusader soldiers were also massacred.
Nevertheless, the Crusaders continued to occupy new Arab cities at will. For although the ruler of Aleppo, Najm ad-Din Ilghazi, crushed the Crusaders’ army at Antioch in June 1119 on the Syrian plain of Sarmada and killed their new arrogant leader Sir Roger (the son of Prince Richard of Salerno, Italy), who had imposed a tax on every Muslim pilgrim leaving Antioch to Makkah, the overall power of the Crusaders was not affected. The Sarmada defeat, however, like the 1104 Harran defeat before it in Turkey, was nothing more than a temporary setback for the Western soldiers of Satan. In fact, the Europeans brutally captured Tyre in 1124 and thus completed their total control, with the exception of Ascalon, of the entire Arab Eastern coast of the Mediterranean.
VIII. The Arab Victory over the Western Crusaders
Arab victory over the Westerners was painful and slow in coming. The first major turning point for the Arabs came in 1144 at the hands of the governor of Mosul, in the Arab region of Iraq, Imad ad-Din Zangi. Zangi, who owed nominal allegiance to the Abbasid Caliph of Baghdad, liberated Edessa and completely destroyed this first of four Crusader colonies in the Muslim world. Zangi’s victory was widely celebrated across the entire Muslim world as Arabs and Muslims began to strongly feel that all the European invaders would soon be expelled from their three other colonies of Jerusalem, Antioch, and Tripoli, as well as from the rest the Arab world.
However, upon receiving the news of Edessa’s fall, Pope Eugenius III urgently called for the Second Crusade (1147-1149) against the Arabs in order to recapture Edessa. In an immediate response to his call, powerful European armies were gallantly organized. The Second Crusade was led by the Emperor Conard III of Germany and King Louis VII of France. Although this time heads of European states were personally involved in the military invasion of the Arab world, the Second Crusade achieved nothing, failed to retake Edessa, and ended in a humiliating defeat for the Europeans near Damascus. In the spring of 1148, the deeply pious and ascetic Nur ad-Din (Zangi’s son) destroyed the army of the Second Crusade. Upon hearing the news of Nur ad-Din’s brilliant military victory over the French King and the German Emperor, the entire Arab world was immediately seized by a sense of elation.
Undaunted by this defeat, however, the occupying Crusaders of the Arab lands continued their murderous campaigns against Arabs and non-Arabs (Muslim, Christian and Jewish) in the Eastern Mediterranean. For example, in the spring of 1156 the Crusader French Knight, Reynald of Chatillon (prince of Antioch: 1153-1160) – a brutal, arrogant, cynical, and contemptible person who would come to symbolize to all Arabs and Muslims everything evil about the West – viciously invaded the Christian non-Arab island of Cyprus. He and his army of Satan ravaged all of the island’s cultivated fields, slaughtered all of the livestock, pillaged all of the churches and convents, burned and demolished buildings, raped women, slaughtered old men and children, beheaded poor men, took rich men as hostages, and cut off the noses of all Greek Christian priests. Similar examples of these murderous campaigns took place in October 1168 when the Westerners committed a major gory operation against the Arabs in Bilbays, Egypt. The European Christian Crusaders systematically massacred scores of innocent Arabs (both Muslims and Coptic Christians) including men, women and children without the slightest provocation.
To the Crusaders’ misfortune, however, in 1169, the following year, a young military genius gained control of Egypt at the tender age of 31. His name was Salah ad-Din al-Ayyubi (rahmatullah Alayh) (known in the West as Saladin), a man of enormous courage and character. Salah ad-Din was born in the city of Tikrit, Iraq, in which the Iraqi President Saddam Hussein was also born. Not knowing who was Salah ad-Din and what he would come to represent, the soldiers of Satan continued their bloody operations against the Arabs. The utterly detestable Reynald of Chatillon violated the 1180 truce between the Arabs and the Crusaders by plundering a Muslim caravan in its way to Makkah in the summer of 1181. He then launched five galleys on the Red Sea with which he blockaded the Arab port of Elath (Eilat); harassed Arab shipping; raided other Arab seaports including the two Hejazi seaports of Yanbuh (the port serving the city of Madinah) and Rabigh near Jeddah; and even threatened the city of Makkah itself.
In 1182, to the horror of all Islam, the Crusaders sank a crowded Muslim pilgrim ship, drowning all aboard. Later, in 1186, the French butcher of Cyprus, Reynald of Chatillon, who had made it his pattern to pillage and massacre Arabs without restraint, broke yet another truce with Salah ad-Din (rahimahullah) by plundering an Arab caravan in which a sister of Salah ad-Din was traveling. This French animal felt bound by no truce or agreement; he once cynically explained, “What was the value of an oath sworn to infidels?” Again, in 1187, this French murderer raided yet another large caravan of Arab pilgrims and merchants who were peacefully making their way to Makkah. Reynald and his men mercilessly massacred all the armed Arab men and led the rest of the caravan troops into captivity. When some of the captured Arabs reminded him of the truce he had signed with Salah ad-Din, Reynald defiantly answered them, “Let your Muhammad come and deliver you!” When Salah ad-Din (rahimahullah) heard his words, he swore by the Holy Qur’an that he would kill Reynald with his own hands.
In fact, Salah ad-Din – who extended his control from Egypt to the other Arab provinces of Syria, northern Iraq, Barqah (in the Arab region of Libya), the Hejaz, and Yemen – was actually waiting for just such a provocation from the European invaders in order to wage a war against them. War broke out between the Arabs and the Westerners in the summer of 1187 with an immediate blow to the invading Crusaders. On July 4, 1187, Salah ad-Din’s (rahimahullah) military genius came into play when he trapped and destroyed an exhausted and thirst-crazed army of Crusaders in the battle of Hittin, near Lake Tiberias in northern Palestine. The Europeans suffered heavy losses; the 20,000 who survived fell into captivity, including the French king of Jerusalem, Guy of Lusignan. Although Salah ad-Din (rahimahullah) displayed his famous magnanimity and spared the lives of the European King of Jerusalem and most of the Western prisoners (most of whom were later set free, including the ones who could not pay their war ransoms), he fulfilled his pledge to God against Reynald of Chatillon. Salah ad-Din (rahimahullah) personally killed this Frenchman by cutting off his head with the sword. Dragging Reynald’s dead body by its feet to the captive French king, who began to tremble of fear for his own life, Salah ad-Din said to him, “This man was killed only because of his maleficence and his perfidy.”
So great were the Westerners’ losses that the Arabs were able to liberate quickly the Crusaders’ entire Kingdom of Jerusalem, with the exception of Tyre. The Arab cities of Acre, Toron, Beirut, Jubayl (Byblos), Sayda, Nazareth, Caesarea, Nabulus, Jaffa, Haifa, Ascalon, and Jerusalem were liberated in a few months. After 88 years of European colonization, Jerusalem was back finally under Arab control. As the entire Muslim world was celebrating, Salah ad-Din entered Jerusalem as a liberating hero on Friday October 2, 1187 (Rajab 27, 583 in the Islamic Calendar), the very same day on which Muslims annually celebrate Prophet Mohammad (sallallaahu alayhi wasallam) nocturnal journey to Heaven via Jerusalem.
In stark contrast to the holy city’s conquest nine decades earlier by the Europeans who had perfidiously and barbarically slaughtered its inhabitants, the Arab liberation of Jerusalem was marked neither by a massacre nor by a plunder, but by the civilized and courteous behavior of Salah ad-Din (rahimahullah) and his troops. In fact, Salah ad-Din (rahimahullah) not only strengthened the guard at the Christian places of worship to protect them from harm by unruly Muslims, but he also announced that all unarmed Westerners were welcome to come to Jerusalem on pilgrimage whenever they liked. Local Arab and non-Arab Christians welcomed Salah ad-Din (rahimahullah) in Jerusalem as a liberator. Arab Jews as well as non-Arab Jews were also allowed to resettle in Jerusalem. The only Arab lands left in the hands of the Western invaders were the city of Tyre as well as the two European colonies/kingdoms of Tripoli and Antioch.
IX. The Incredible Massacre in Acre
Upon hearing the news that the Arabs had recaptured Jerusalem, Pope Gregory VIII went into a fit. Highly outraged, he immediately called for the Third Crusade (1189-1192) to capture Jerusalem and punish the Arabs. This time, the West responded with the largest Crusader army to date led by the greatest three monarchs in all of Europe: Frederick Barbarossa, king of Germany and “Holy” Roman emperor; Richard I, the so-called “Lion-Heart”, king of England; and Philip II Augustus, king of France. Hence, the Third Crusade is dubbed the “Kings’ Crusade.”
However, before achieving anything, the Third Crusade suffered a major setback on June 10, 1190, when Frederick Barbarossa suddenly died. The Holy Roman emperor died not by Salah ad-Din’s sword, but rather by drowning while swimming in a shallow stream, the Saleph River, at the foot of the Taurus Mountains in Turkey. As a result, the German Crusader army was dispersed. Nonetheless, the English and French kings proceeded with their troops and took Acre in 1191 after a very gruesome battle with the Arabs. The siege and battle of Acre, which took two years, was the most protracted and desperate bloody episode in the Arab world. Twenty-four thousand Arab fighters died in that battle and about 6,000 others were wounded.
After the fall of Acre, King Richard proceeded to loot a large amount of gold and other fortunes from its Arab inhabitants. Then, contrary to his promises to spare the lives of the surviving Arabs in Acre, under the surrender terms he had accepted, the English King issued orders to the Anglo-French troops on August 20, 1191 that led to one of the most cowardly and atrocious massacres the Crusaders ever committed during their 200-year bloodbath in the Arab world. On that very hot and humid day in August, the entire surviving population of Acre, 2,700 Arabs – men, children, and women with babies clinging to them – were chained and roped to prevent their escape and restrict their movement. Totally frightened and deeply confused, the weeping and praying Arabs were then driven like animals with whips and clubs to the top of a low hill called Ayyadieh to meet their awful fate. One author describes what happened next to these 2,700 Arabs as follows:
“Richard’s men began to carry out his orders to kill them all. Swords, spears, knives, axes all flashed in the sun as they rose and fell. This time the children were not saved for the slave market, but were butchered with their fathers and mothers. Even babies in their mother’s arms felt the knives of the blood-drenched Christians … The killing completed, Richard’s army started back to the city, while on the top of the hill a few loot-crazed butchers lurched from one body to another with their bloody knives, hastily disemboweling corpses to recover any gold pieces that might have been swallowed for concealment … Nor were the prisoners and their families the only deaths he [king Richard I] was responsible for that day. As news of the slaughter spread throughout Saladin’s empire, Christian prisoners everywhere were tortured and murdered in reprisal for the infamy…”
After defeating a small battalion of Salah ad-Din’s (rahumahullah) army at the Arab Palestinian village of Arsouf, fifteen miles from Jaffa, the English king celebrated his looting and murdering of thousands of innocent Arabs in cold blood by proudly accepting and then arrogantly bestowing upon himself the courageous nickname the “Lion-Heart”. To the English, he may be the “Lion-Heart”, and to the French he may be “Le Coeur de Lion“, but to all Arabs and Muslims King Richard I of England has always been viewed as a cowardly butcher, a perfidious criminal, and a murderous thug.
Nevertheless, frustrated by their inability to fulfill the Third Crusade’s main goal, the capture of Jerusalem from Salah ad-Din (rahimahullah), the two European monarchs of England and France returned as failures to their respective countries. Before leaving for Europe, however, the English king signed a peace treaty in 1192 with Salah ad-Din that limited the European invaders to Tyre and a narrow coastal strip from Jaffa to Acre. The treaty also gave unarmed European pilgrims the right to visit Jerusalem. On the other hand, Salah ad-Din (rahimahullah) was so emotionally wounded by the European perfidious massacre in Acre that he shed many painful tears and spent long sleepless nights in total agony. He passed away in 1193 in Damascus with a broken heart at the young age of 55, blaming himself for the whole tragedy.
X. The Last Ten Crusades and Their Atrocities
Still full of hatred towards Muslims and Arabs, especially after the Third Crusade failed to take Jerusalem from the Arabs, Pope Innocent III urgently called for the Fourth Crusade (1198-1204) to be directed this time at Egypt, the most powerful Arab region. However, the Fourth Crusade was even a bigger failure than the Third. It never even reached the Arab world as planned. The wily Doge of Venice and the rich Venetian merchants who controlled the finances of the Fourth Crusading army diverted it to its original and natural commercial ends by attacking and seizing the rival Christian Dalmatian Seaport City of Zara (now modern Zadar in Croatia). In November 1202, the unrestrained soldiers of God completely pillaged and destroyed Zara. Then in 1204, for good measures, they went and sacked Constantinople itself, the glorious Byzantine capital of the Christian Eastern Roman Empire whose emperor Alexius I, ironically, was responsible for the original idea of a Western Crusade against the Arabs and Islam. The Crusaders and Venetian merchants then established the Latin Empire of Constantinople, which lasted until 1261. While brutally conquering the capital city of their fellow European Christians in East Europe “to the honor of God, the Pope and the empire”, the Crusaders were permitted to rampage and steal as they pleased for three days. They broke into the city’s main Cathedral of Hagia Sophia, shattered the large silver crosses, ripped away the hangings, and stole many valuables. They even raped nuns and put a prostitute on the Patriarch’s throne to sing a dirty French song. Finally, they drank the “holy” altar wine out of chalices, and threw all the Christian ikons and bibles down on the floor to be trampled under their feet.
Eight years later, in 1212, saw the most bizarre and pathetic Children’s Crusade in which 100,000 Western European children took part. One third of these European children, composed mostly of French and German youngsters, was eventually lost or sold into slavery and prostitution by none other than their own Western fellow Christians. A 12-year old French farm boy named Stephen of Cloyes insisted that Christ had asked him to organize a children’s crusade to liberate Jerusalem from the Arabs. Tens of thousands of destitute French youngsters, who endured hardships of hunger and diseases, answered Stephen’s call and marched with him south to the French seaport city of Marseille where they expected God to part the waters of the Mediterranean for them so that they could walk dry-shod all the way to Palestine. Instead, their French slave-trader compatriots from Marseille lured them into ships and sold them into slavery to the Arabs. The same year another absurd and ridiculous crusade against the Arabs, composed this time of tens of thousands of helpless German children, was launched. Organized by the German youngster Nicholas of Cologne, the second Children’s Crusade got no further than Italy. Many of the German youngsters suffered a great deal from want and exhaustion, and many of the young girls ended up in Roman brothels.
Nevertheless, because the Fourth Crusade attacked the Christian Byzantine Empire instead of its intended target, Egypt, Pope Innocent III called for the Fifth Crusade (1217-1221) to attack this vital Arab region of Egypt. Chiefly manned by French and German Crusaders, the Fifth Crusade failed to destroy Egypt. However, it managed to capture Damietta, near the Nile River, where the Crusaders committed various atrocities in 1218-19. One of their most notorious crimes was the drowning of almost 1,500 innocent Arabs and Muslims by sinking their ship near Damietta. And, once again, the European Christian Crusaders treated the local Arab Christians with total contempt. They regarded the Egyptian Copts (Monophysite Christians) as heretic as Muslims. Fortunately for the Arabs, however, the Egyptian Sultan, al-Malik al-Kamil, Salah ad-Din’s (rahimahullah) nephew, managed to beat the Fifth Crusade in 1221 and force the European soldiers of Satan out of Egypt.
Nonetheless, seven years after the Fifth Crusade was repelled from Egypt, the Sixth Crusade (1228-1229) was launched. Strangely this new Crusade was bloodless. It was launched as a diplomatic Crusade by the most powerful Western monarch, Frederick II, King of Germany and Sicily, who was under excommunication by Pope Gregory IX. Skeptical of all religions, including Christianity, Frederick II openly flouted papal authority. In 1229, Frederick II negotiated a very strange and special treaty with Sultan al-Kamil of Egypt by which he peacefully obtained European control of Jerusalem, Bethlehem, and Nazareth for ten years.
Although Frederick II enjoyed a positive image in the Arab world because he spoke and wrote good Arabic; had a great admiration for Arab civilization; was surrounded by an entourage of Arab and Muslim advisors; and had nothing but contempt for the barbarous West, especially for the Pope, his unusual treaty with al-Kamil to take control of Jerusalem still aroused a storm of indignation throughout the Arab world. When al-Kamil’s extremely generous treaty with Frederick II expired in 1239, the Arabs recovered Jerusalem in 1244 and permanently ended the Crusaders’ occupation of the city. However, al-Kamil’s treaty with Frederick II has been compared by many Arab and Muslim scholars not only with the 1979 sell-out of Camp David Treaty, signed by Egypt’s Anwar as-Sadat and Israel’s Menachem Begin, but also with the more recent so-called “peace process” of the 1990s that Yasser Arafat signed with Israel.
Nevertheless, violent and militant Western crusading efforts against the Arabs continued. The French King Louis IX gallantly led the Seventh Crusade (1248-1254) against Egypt. However, like the Fifth Crusade thirty years earlier, the Seventh Crusade failed in its mission miserably. Soon after he captured Damietta where he offended the Egyptian Christian Copts by appointing a Catholic prelate as Patriarch of their city, the Egyptians soundly defeated King Louis IX. The French King was also deeply humiliated when he was personally captured as a prisoner. He was not released until he paid a high ransom. The Egyptians finally allowed him to rejoin his wife in the Western-occupied Arab city of Acre.
Totally exhausted by the Crusades’ continuing devastating wars and destruction for over 150 years, the Arab world was not ready or able to defend itself against a new and dangerous enemy, the Mongol hordes from the East. In 1258, the Mongols, under their vicious leader Hulagu (or the Barack Obama of his day), completely destroyed Baghdad and effectively ended Arab civilization. The Mongols pillaged Baghdad; murdered one million Muslims in it; destroyed its palaces and mosques; burned its libraries and schools; dumped Arab scientific and other treasure books in the Tigris River; destroyed the Iraqi irrigation canal systems; and executed the last Abbasid Caliph and all of his Arab ruling family. Although the Arab world has never completely recovered from this Mongols’ crushing defeat, Muslim civilization itself continued for centuries thereafter under the powerful leadership of the Ottoman Turks.
However, in 1260, two years after the destruction of the Abbasid State, a brilliant Arabic-speaking Turkish leader from Egypt by the name of az-Zahir Baybars severely crushed the Mongol forces at Ayn Jalut, near Nazareth, in Palestine and ended their brief destructive presence in the Arab world. Baybars then dealt very harshly with the Western Crusaders, who collaborated with the ruthless Mongols, and mercilessly killed them. He recovered from the Crusaders several Arab cities: Arsouf in 1265; Atlit, Haifa and Safed in 1266; and Jaffa and Antioch (their prized-colony) in 1268.
Nevertheless, undaunted by either his earlier humiliating defeat and captivity in Egypt during the Seventh Crusade or by Baybars’ stunning military victories both against the invading Mongols and Crusaders, King Louis IX of France tried once again to beat the Arabs in 1270 by launching the Eighth Crusade. This stubborn French monarch, who was full of hate for the Arabs and Islam, decided this time to “cut” the Arab world in half by invading Tunisia. Instead, he cut his own life short when he died of a virus near Tunis on August 25, 1270. He accursed body was then taken back to Paris where he was ceremoniously buried as a “saint”.
Another major military defeat for the Crusaders in the Arab world took place in 1271 when the great Baybars of Egypt captured their most formidable fortress in Syria, Hisn al-Akrad (known in French asCrak des Chevaliers), which not even the powerful Salah ad-Din (rahimahullah) had been able to conquer. This immense Crusaders fortress is still in existence today dominating the Syrian plains of Bukaya, reminding all Arabs of the past Western Christian terrorism, and making them draw parallels to the present Israeli and American brutal policies in Arab lands.
In 1289 the Crusaders also suffered another major military defeat when the new Egyptian ruler, Sultan al-Mansur Qalawun, thrilled the entire Muslim world by capturing Tripoli, the Crusaders’ last kingdom/colony in the Arab world. After this defeat, the European invaders were left with only one Arab city under their control, the port-city of Acre, now under the brutal rule of King Henry of France.
These military defeats suffered by the Crusaders in the Arab world made Pope Nicholas IV panic and led him in the summer of 1290 to respond to King Henry’s appeal for fresh reinforcements. Launched under the Pope’s order, the Ninth Crusade was composed of a large fleet full of European Christian chauvinists. It sailed from Italy directly to the Western-occupied Arab city of Acre. Once in Acre, the Western soldiers of Satab began to drink heavily. They then rushed drunkenly through its streets, indiscriminately attacking and killing Arab merchants, innocent bystanders, and any man wearing a beard regardless of his religion. Many Arab and non-Arab Christians were murdered in cold blood. These crimes and atrocities made the Egyptian leader Qalawun extremely angry. He swore by the holy Qur’an that he would not lay down his arms until he drove all of the European invaders out of the entire Arab world and into the Mediterranean Sea. However, it was only after Qalawun’s death in 1290 that his own son, Sultan al-Ashraf Khalil, who in 1291 liberated Acre (the last Western hold in the Arab world), fulfilled his wish. While the French King Henry and most other European notables quickly ran away from Acre to hide in Cyprus, all other Westerners in the city were captured and mercilessly killed by Khalil’s troops. The liberation of Acre took place exactly 100 years, almost to the day, after the Europeans had brutally re-captured it from the Arabs in 1191 and massacred all its inhabitants under the orders of King Richard I of England. Sultan Khalil of Egypt was to go down in history as the ruler who finally expelled the last of the West Europeans by putting an end to two centuries of their terrorism and cruel colonization in the Arab world. While all Arabs were celebrating their last victory over the Crusaders, they were also at the same time praying and asking God to grant that the barbarian terrorist Westerners never set foot again in the Arab world.
The Arab prayer was answered, but only for a few decades. Seventy-four years after their expulsion from Acre, the stubborn Westerners organized yet another Crusade in 1365 under the command of King Peter of Cyprus. Considered to be the last of the great international Crusades, this Tenth Crusade was launched against the mostly Christian Arab City of Alexandria. It was yet another totally pointless brutal invasion by the West in which thousands of Arab Christians, Muslims, and Jews were massacred in cold blood. Even the Latin traders had their stores and houses looted and destroyed by King Peter’s Crusaders. However, the Tenth Crusade, which was quickly repelled by the Arabs, ended with the assassination of King Peter himself.
Nevertheless, in 1395 when the Turkish Muslim army was laying siege on Constantinople, the Byzantine emperor Manuel II Palaeologus appealed to the rulers of Europe for help. Responding to his call, the “Holy” Roman Emperor/King Sigismund of Hungary organized in July 1396 the Eleventh Crusade against Islam and the Arabs. The objective of the Eleventh Crusade was not only to evict the Muslim Turks from the Balkans, but also to march into Syria and to “liberate” Jerusalem from the Arabs. Led by Sigismund in September 1396, this Crusade was also composed of Western knights from the Balkans, France, Burgundy, Germany, England, and the Netherlands. However, before it had a chance to achieve any of its objectives, the Eleventh Crusade was decisively crushed at Nicopolis, Greece, by Muslim power under the strong Turkish leadership of Sultan Bayazid I.
Again, 48 years later the terrorist Europeans organized the Twelfth Crusade against the Muslim Turks in the Balkans. In November 1444, however, the forces of Sultan Murad II quickly repelled the invading Westerners at the Bulgarian Black Sea port of Varna. In reality, the Eleventh and Twelfth Crusades were not only miserable failures that weakened the West, but they also contributed to the growing strength of Islam. The Muslim Turks became militarily stronger; captured Constantinople; destroyed the Byzantine Empire in 1453; tightened their control over the Balkans; advanced further into Eastern and central Europe where they spread Islam; and even occupied southern Italy in 1480-81. Ironically, however, these Turkish Muslim successes against the invading Westerners took place at a time when the Arabs themselves were quickly losing their final foothold in Andalusia to the Spanish Christians whose Inquisition was yet another form of Western terrorism against Muslims and Jews.
However, after the Ottoman Turks took Cyprus in 1570, they suffered their first major setback in October 1571 when the Thirteenth Crusade (composed of a combined European armada) destroyed their fleet at Lepanto (Navpaktos), near the Greek coast. The Ottomans, though, restored their fleet within a year. Nonetheless, the Western idea of launching Crusades and wars against the Arabs and the Muslim Turks continued well into the 15th, 16th, and even the 17th centuries. In fact, the violent European colonization which had started at the end of the 15th century first against the natives of the Americas, Australia, New Zealand, Asia, and Africa, eventually found its way into the weakened Ottoman Empire during the 19th and early 20th centuries. The Western powers’ destruction of the Ottoman Empire, the last Muslim empire, at the beginning of the 20thcentury, has brought about the current subjugation of the Arabs to the brutal Western imperialism which created Jewish Israel in 1948 over the land of Palestine.
XI. The Legacy of the Terrorist Crusaders
By launching their violent Christian wars against Islam and the Arabs, the Crusades in fact not only hastened the destruction of the Arab Abbasid civilization at the hands of the Mongols, but also indirectly helped bring about the emergence of Turkish power in Arab and Muslim lands with the exception of Arab Andalusia, Iran, Pakistan, and Afghanistan.
Also, thanks to the cruel Western Crusaders, many Arab Muslims have become weary of some Arab Christians. The relationship between the two brotherly Arab communities has since been somewhat strained. Before the arrival of the Crusaders in Arab lands, Arab Muslims throughout the entire Fertile Crescent used to join their Arab Christian brothers in celebrating Christmas, Epiphany (the Christian Feast of the Three Kings), Palm Sunday, and Easter Sunday.
Although the Crusades were initially launched by the West to unite Western and Eastern European Christians, as well as to defeat the Arabs and Islam, they miserably failed on both accounts. The Crusaders’ vicious wars on their “fellow” Greek Orthodox Christians of Byzantium and their barbaric destruction of Constantinople during the Fourth Crusade (1202-1204), brought an effective end to any serious reconciliation between the Western European and the Eastern European Christian Churches; seriously weakened the Byzantine Empire and made it an easy prey for the Muslim Turks; and discredited the Papacy by making it lose face among many of its followers.
Moreover, all of the Crusaders colonies in the Arab world were completely destroyed. Islam itself emerged from its defensive wars against the Crusaders to become an even stronger force under the Turks. The Muslim Turks expanded Islam farther into Eastern and Southeastern Europe at the expense of the European Christians in places like Albania and Bosnia. The final coup de grace came in 1453 when the Muslim Turks destroyed the Eastern Roman Empire itself, conquered its great capital city of Constantinople, renamed it Istanbul, and even made it their proud capital city for 470 years. In fact, nowadays Istanbul has some of the most magnificent mosques in the entire Muslim world, some of which used to be Byzantium churches such as the great Cathedral Hagia Sophia, which in 1935 was turned into a Turkish museum by the current Turkish secular republic.
Nonetheless, the dark-ages Crusaders – who were a group of savages with rough manners from the crude castles, fields, and tangled forests of West Europe – were amazed and dazzled by the great cultures and civilizations of both the Arabs and Byzantium that they had invaded. They had an opportunity to see and experience first hand many new things and ideas that in time they adopted and incorporated into their own daily lives. Through their long brutal crusading wars against Islam, Western Europeans learned a great deal from the Arabs. For example, they learned the art of raising and training carrier pigeons to send messages from town to town, the sport of falconry, and the Chinese art of papermaking. Also, Italians adopted the glass-making techniques of Tyre; French villagers learned the arts both of weaving lustrous fabrics and of cultivating silkworms; and farmers throughout Western Europe began to plant sugar cane from Tripoli and plum trees from Damascus. While West European men learned to enjoy the sensuous comfort of Muslim steam baths, their women started using glass mirrors instead of polished metal disks. Cinnamon, nutmeg, cloves, cardamom, and other aromatic spices of the East began to find their way into the dull Western cookery. Also, many new items such as rugs, silk, ivory, camphor, musk, and pearls began to appear and to be appreciated in Europe for the first time after the Crusades had opened Western eyes to the riches and life style of the East. In fact, Arab sciences, ideas, crafts, and skills which reached West Europe – both as a result of the Crusaders’ violent contacts with the Arabs of the east as well as from Europe’s contact with Arab Andalusia in the west – hastened the West’s climb from the depths of its dark ages.
In addition, many new Eastern political, economic, and cultural ideas reached Western Europe and began to change dramatically the face of the West. Among the most important of these changes was the emergence in West Europe of a new merchant class that was hungry for trading with the Arabs and the East. As this new business class grew in strength, it began to seriously rival European feudal lords, knights, and barons both in wealth and social status. Consequently, the old West European dictatorial feudal and manorial systems quickly came tumbling down, and West Europe was no longer backward. The well-known Italian explorer, Marco Polo – who made his famous journey to China (1271-1295) immediately after the Eighth Crusade – not only increased West Europe’s interest in trading with the East, but also inspired other Western explorers like Christopher Columbus to search for a direct sea route to India.
As a result of the centuries of Western conflicts and contacts with the Arabs, the age of the greedy Western international capitalism and brutal colonialism/imperialism has emerged to the detriment and misery of the native peoples of North America, Central America, South America, the Caribbean, the Pacific, New Zealand, Australia, Tasmania, Asia, Africa, and the Arab world. Hence, the most important legacy of the Crusaders has been the sanctification of Western violence against non-Europeans in pursuit of imperialist and capitalist ends. The underlying concept of European holy wars against the Arabs and Islam has outlived its religious origin and has been absorbed in the institutions of Western governments. When European kings, knights, and other rich upper classes grew stronger after the Crusades, they secularized the concept of justifiable violence and extended it into the politico-economic sphere. In effect, the Western State has since replaced the Western Church as a holy cause.
Finally, the savage Western Crusades against the Arabs were a starting point of a millennial bitter hostility between the Arabs and the West and its effects are still lingering on. The Crusaders’ gory massacres and barbaric cannibalism in the Arab world created a great deal of hate for the imperialist West which has since been ingrained in the hearts and minds of most Arabs and Muslims. And since the 19th century new waves of Western aggression and wars against the Arabs have been taking place. Arab hatred for the West, because of the Crusades, has been painfully re-ignited by the vicious Western colonization and dismemberment of the Arab nation during the 19th and 20th centuries; by the American brutal imperialism and wars in Arab and Muslim lands; and by the violent creation of the Western Zionist state of Israel with the help of the imperialist West over the land of Palestine in 1948.
Instead of Western Christians, this time Western Zionist Jews have made a similar dubious claim on Palestine. Using far more sophisticated deadly weapons than the old Crusaders, the Zionist-Jews (or the new Western “crusaders”) have been committing Crusade-like bloody massacres since 1948 against innocent Palestinians and other Arabs, both Muslim and Christian. The West has always been obsessed with stealing the holy land from the Arabs, and so history repeats itself.
Abdullah Mohammad Sindi