Then it was November 1095. Now it is November 2020.
Even a thousand-year-long distance has not much changed the minds of Christian and Muslim militants; they are still buried in their inseparable past.
In 1849, French writer Jean-Baptiste Alphonse Karr succinctly coined this phrase, probably for them: plus ça change, plus c’est la même chose, that is the more things change, the more they stay the same.
How can they change? These militants draw their sustenance from their Holy Books, which have not changed.
And so it goes on. And on. Ad nauseum.
“Dieu li volt”—“God wills it!”—the mob cried when Pope Urban II preached the First Crusade in France in November 1095.
“Allah-o-Akbar” (God is Great) and “Insha Allah! (God willing!) are the Islamists’ war cries now…
These are echoing again in Europe and the Muslim world. In 2020.
The script is the same, because the Holy Books are the same. The space is the same as is their geography. The objectives are the same, as is geopolitics. The mind-set are also the same, because the goals are the same.
Only technology and speed are different.
Then the Pope had ordered the pious Christians: “Wear a cross upon your brow or breast.” Thus came the word Crusade, from the Spanish root cruzada, or ‘marked with the Cross’. For two years, he preached Crusade, networking gullible masses. It created an unprecedented religious frenzy across the Continent. The Crusaders began to march on Asia.
Unlike the waiting professional Turkish-led Muslim armies, however, the European Crusaders were an untrained, heterogeneous, motley crowd of thousands of people, some of whom had even brought along their families.
Many died on their 2,830-miles-long road journey to Jerusalem due to a variety of reasons, such as hunger, cold and disease even before they reached the Holy City; some defeated the Muslims along the way and carved out their own fiefs to settle down. Still others managed to reach the Jerusalem in June 1099 in a trail of blood as they indiscriminately massacred both the Jews and Muslims to their heart’s content.
After ‘liberating’ Jerusalem from the Muslims and ruling in the unfamiliar country for a few decades, they returned to Europe, giving the Muslims opportunity to recapture the Holy City. Thus began the Second Crusade (1146-1148)….The Holy City still has many Muslims though they don’t control it.
The Third, the Fourth…the Eighth Crusades followed, which ended in 1492. By then, Spain and Portugal had expelled Islam from Europe as part of Christian Reconquista that had begun in 711.
In these centuries, France eventually emerged as the largest Catholic nation and bulwark of European security from the Muslims. But when Paris began to control North African colonies, many Muslims migrated to France…and are now its biggest problem.
On October 16, 2020, a 47-year-old history teacher was decapitated near Paris by a young Chechen man angry at Samuel Paty showing students caricatures of Prophet Muhammad, ironically in a class he took on freedom of expression. Then, on October 29, three churchgoers were brutally killed, one of them beheaded, in the southern city of Nice, by a Tunician who cried Allah-o-Akbar at the police. Rings of another Crusade.
Meanwhile, French Interior Minister Gérald Darmanin had announced a crackdown against those “who spread hate online.” The government also dissolved and banned some of the so-called NGOs, non-profits, and sleepers’ cells covertly or overtly shielding, aiding and justifying terrorists and their acts by taking advantage of the French laws of secularism and democracy.
The French government strongly reaffirmed the right of free speech — including the right to satirize and blaspheme — as well as the central role of France’s version of secularism, known as laïcité, in all state institutions, especially public schools. Not only this, President Emmanuel Macron paid tributes to Paty for “embodying the French republic.”
Even before the killings, Macron had announced a new government plan, including an upcoming comprehensive bill, “to strengthen laïcité and consolidate republican principles” in order to combat “separatism”. Next month, December, he is going ahead with it.
These steps came because a majority of Muslims—their 9 percent of the total French population of 56 million make them the largest single Islamic minority in a European country—could not integrate into the larger French society, and retained their separate identity. Ghettoised in Muslim-dominated enclaves, they remained aloof from the rest of French society, and focused around Islamic schools, halal stores or mosques.
France’s fresh steps only fuelled their anger, which spilled over soon to other countries where the community resorted to angry demonstrations.
In particular, Turkey, Pakistan and Malaysia—all non-Arab nations—strongly opposed these measures, setting them apart from the Arab nations.
Their dissociation from the Saudi-dominated Muslim world had begun to take shape in 2019 when they tried to set up a separate block at a conference in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia. The Saudis torpedoed the attempt and nipped in the bud.
But Turkey did not take this snub lightly. Its President Recep Tayyip Erdogan is now trying to resurrect the dead Ottoman Empire the French and the British had buried in Turkey in 1922 after the First World War (1914-18). Erdogan has picked up threads from where ISIS’s “Caliph” Al Baghdadi had left.
In other words, Erdogan is aiming not only at reviving the Ottoman 2.0 Empire but also become Caliph-cum-Sultan of all the Sunnis…and gobble up all the Arab and Arabized nations under this umbrella, again.
The Arab kingdoms would not agree…and they are joining the anti-Islamic group!
And since Pakistan and Malaysia were not part of the Ottoman Empire, they are supporting Turkey.
This is the crux of the emerging Ninth Crusade…
France is now getting support not only from all Christians, Jews and the Hindus, but also from the Arabs; the non-Arab bloc is being isolated.
In the 57-member Organization of Islamic Cooperation (OIC), the Arab nations number 22 (they are also members of the Arab League). While the Arab nations are resources-rich, the non-Arabs are population-rich.
In other words, the Muslim Brotherhood is fragmenting…
Watch this space!