Macron’s Islamic Dilemma: A Lesson To Be Learned From The Crusades
Tensions between France and Muslim nations have gotten worse after French President Emmanuel Macron said earlier this month: “Islam is a religion that is in crisis all over the world today; we are not just seeing this in our country.”
The rifts escalated after Macron denounced the murder of Samuel Paty, a history teacher in a suburb of Paris, as an “Islamist terrorist attack.” Paty had apparently shown cartoons of the Prophet Muhammed to his students, as well as discussing freedom of expression — regarded by many Islamists as blasphemy, which as prescribe by the Quran, call for killing of anyone who questions or criticizes Allah, his Prophet or Islam:
And if you could but see when the wrongdoers are in the overwhelming pangs of death while the angels extend their hands, [saying], “Discharge your souls! Today you will be awarded the punishment of [extreme] humiliation [death] for what you used to say against Allah other than the truth and [that] you were, toward His verses, being arrogant.” — Sura 6, 93
Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan has criticized Macron, saying the French leader needed “mental checks” over his attitude towards Islam. Other Islamic nations that have followed Erdoğan’s lead have Benn Saudi Arabia and Iran; while tens of thousands have attended protests in Bangladesh calling for a boycott of French goods.
French Minister Delegate for Foreign Trade and Economic Attractiveness Franck Riester stated: “Europe will have to take decisions that will allow it to strengthen the power balance with Turkey to better defend its interests and European values.”
Will streets of Europe be swamped by Islamists who, according to Macron, are seeking a parallel sharia-based state? Just like the George Floyd killing in the United States created unleashed a hornet’s nest, it seems Paty’s murder has reenergized the jihadists’ goal of Islamic conquest.
History demonstrates that as Muslims grew in power, their use of violence changed from skirmishes to outright warfare. We see this during the last nine to ten years of the Prophet Muhammad’s life, when he personally participated or deputized eighty-six battles: an average of nine-plus battles a year, and they culminated in intensity until he died. According to Patricia Crone, the renowned Islamic historian, after the capture of Mecca in 630, “Muhammad’s God endorsed a policy of conquest, instructing his believers to fight against unbelievers wherever they might be found.”
The present-day tensions between France and the Muslim world is yet another chapter of the 1,400-year-old Islamic threat of jihad subjugate humanity, which is why Christian Europe called for the Crusades.
The First Crusade, which was called by Pope Urban II in 1095 (457 years after Jerusalem was overrun by Muslim armies), came at the behest of the Byzantine Emperor Alexius I Comnenus. He had asked the pope in Rome for assistance to turn back the Muslim Turks, who were invading what is now Turkey; they took property as they went, turned churches into mosques, and forced Christians to convert to Islam. Approximately two-thirds of the ancient Christian world had been already conquered by Muslims by the end of the 11th century, including the important regions of Palestine, Syria, Egypt, and Anatolia.
By the 14th century the Ottoman Turks had established themselves in the Balkans and would penetrate deeper into Europe despite repeated efforts to repulse them. By the mid 1550s they had slowly conceived of a long-term offensive, a pincers movement first by sea and then by land, to conquer the whole northern shore of the Mediterranean. Their ultimate aim was to take all Italy; then all Europe. It was not until the victory at the Battle of Lepanto in 1571 that, under the coalition of Pope St. Pius V, the Islamic onslaught began to be turned back as Western civilization was saved — the Crusades were formally over by the 16th century, though the spirit of defending Christendom against Islamic jihad was still in place.
President Macron announced drastic and unprecedented measures to tackle the Islamic problem that is right on his front porch, such as include: the prohibition of home schooling (only justified on health reasons), reinforced controls on the activity of mosques, the creation of a system of certified French imams who speak French and teach French values, and the teaching of Arabic (and other native languages) in schools in order to prevent them being taught only by extremists.
Wrtier Rodrigo Ballester explained that Macron’s biggest challenge is to convince French society of the magnitude of the threat and transmit to them the gravity of the situation. He calls this a “republican awakening.” This Islamic menace, however, is not just in France but in the rest of the free world. While Macron is not calling his countrymen to take up arms and march to war as the Crusaders did — the situation is much more complex than that of the Middle Ages — there is nevertheless a reason and a lesson to be learned as to why the Crusades took place in the first place.
Mario Alexis Portella is a priest of the Cathedral of Santa Maria del Fiore and Chancellor of the Archdiocese of Florence, Italy. He has a doctorate in canon law and civil law from the Pontifical Lateran University in Rome; he also holds a M. A. in Medieval History from Fordham University, as well as a B.A. in Government & Politics from St. John’s University.
N. B. Quotations and sources can be found in my book Islam: Religion of Peace? The Violation of Natural Rights and Western Cover-Up, unless otherwise noted.