Raymond Ibrahim is a Shillman Fellow at the David Horowitz Freedom Center
European Commission First Vice-President Frans Timmermans recently chaired a roundtable with ten Muslim imams from six EU Member States (Belgium, Bulgaria, France, Germany, Italy and The Netherlands). Afterwards Timmermans announced that “the Commission is strongly committed to promoting diversity in Europe. Islam is part of our history, Islam is part of our present and Islam will be part of our future.”
Such assertions are as true as the assumptions they are based on—and whether such assumptions are grounded in historical facts or fictions. In prefacing his claims about Islam’s historic role in Europe by saying “the Commission is strongly committed to promoting diversity in Europe,” it is clear which perception Timmermans is invoking.
The true, historically documented role that Islam played has a much different story to tell: in the early seventh century, sword-waving Arabs burst out of the Arabian Peninsula and in a few decades conquered some two-thirds of what then constituted the Christian world—from Syria and Egypt in the east to Carthage and Spain in the west and everything in between. One hundred years after the death of their prophet (traditionally dated to 632), they were in the heart of France where, thanks to their defeat at Tours in 732, and other Frankish victories, the whole of Europe was also not conquered.
But where lands could not be subjugated, bodies still could, and for the next few centuries the jihad turned into a giant slave trade of European flesh, as slave raids left virtually no part of Europe untouched (even the Viking raids in northern Europe were in large measure fueled by Arab gold).
In the tenth and eleventh centuries, the Turks—who embraced the jihad ethos even more than the Arabs—converted to Islam and became its new standard bearers. Although they had notable victories and conquests—particularly after the Seljuk victory against the Eastern Roman Empire in 1071—it was only with the coming of the Ottomans that the jihad on Europe was renewed in earnest: in the late 1300s and early 1400s, much of the Balkans was brutally subjugated, and Constantinople—Islam’s original archenemy—finally (and horrifically) sacked in 1453.
The Ottoman advance continued unabated—the European victory at Lepanto in 1571 was more symbolic than anything—and in 1683 Vienna was encircled by hundreds of thousands of Muslims. As happened nearly a millennium earlier when the Islamic advance into Europe was stayed in 732, a Christian victory at Vienna only caused Muslims to collapse back to their more modest role as slave traders of white flesh: between the fifteenth and eighteenth centuries, Muslims slavers from the Crimean khanate in the east and the Barbary coast enslaved more than five million Europeans—including in the late 1700s, American sailors, precipitating the Barbary Wars.
Perhaps the most telling aspect of this aforementioned history is the evident continuity of hostility in distinctly Islamic terms: the Muslim notion that all infidels have three choices—conversion, willing capitulation via jizya/dhimmi status, or death; the willful and mass destruction of churches, crosses, and anything Christian; the sadistic atrocities that beggar description; the shouts of “Allahu Akbar” and other jihadi slogans; the invocations of Koranic promises of a carnal paradise for those who fall in jihad—all these are present in virtually every encounter between Muslim and European, beginning at the fateful battle of Yarmuk in 636, to America’s experiences with Barbary circa. 1800, as copiously documented in my forthcoming book, Sword and Scimitar: Fourteen Centuries of War between Islam and the West.
Such is the true role Islam played in Europe’s past.
As for its role in the present, this is built on Europeans being entirely ignorant of—when not willfully twisting—this unwavering history of hostility; welcoming Muslims into their lands en masse—and in the name of “diversity”; suffering accordingly, and then wondering what they, European host nations, did wrong.
Considering the unwavering part Islam played in the past and continues to play in the present, it remains to be seen if the West will build its future atop facts or fictions—getting its just deserts in either case.