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All this is yet another reminder of the Islamic world’s double standards: when Muslims conquer non-Muslim territories, such as Constantinople and its churches—through fire and steel, with all the attendant human suffering and misery—the descendents of those conquered are not to expect any apologies or concessions. However, once the same Muslims who would never concede one inch of Islam’s conquests are on the short end of the stick—Palestinians vis-à-vis Israel, for example—then they resort to the United Nations and the court of public opinion, demanding justice, restitutions, rights, and so forth. (See this 2006 LA Times Op-Ed for more on this theme.)
Even in the brief Reuter’s report, evidence of such “passive-aggressive” behavior emerges. First, this is not about Muslims wanting to pray; it’s about Muslims wanting to revel in the glory days of Islamic jihad and conquest: Muslims “staged the prayers ahead of celebrations next week marking the 559th anniversary of the Ottoman Sultan Mehmet’s conquest of Byzantine Constantinople. According to Salih Turhan, a spokesman quoted by Reuters, “As the grandchildren of Mehmet the Conqueror, seeking the re-opening Hagia Sophia as a mosque is our legitimate right.”
Sultan Mehmet was the scourge of European Christendom, whose Islamic hordes seized and ravished Constantinople, forcibly turning it Islamic. Openly idolizing him, as many Turks do, is tantamount to their saying “We are proud of our ancestors who killed and stole the lands of Christians.” And yet, despite such militant overtones, Turhan, whose position is echoed by many Turks, still manages to blame the West: “Keeping Hagia Sophia Mosque closed is an insult to our mostly Muslim population of 75 million. It symbolizes our ill-treatment by the West.”
If merely keeping a historically Christian/Western building—that was stolen by Islamic jihad—as a neutral museum is seen as “ill-treatment by the West,” on what basis can Muslims and non-Muslims ever “dialogue”?
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