"The fact is that every few hundred years there is a militant Islamist insurgency. It has to be defeated. It was defeated at the Battle of Tours, at Lepanto, in Malta. Only a few centuries ago, they were at gates of Vienna. And if we don’t take decisive action, they will soon be there again." -- Peter Mullen in The Telegraph
In The Telegraph Peter Mullen mocks the Western depiction of the Syrian conflict. He notes that it has been in simplemindedly painted as a war between the Forces of Light (the insurgents, who whatever else they are are far more Muslim than the Ba’athist regime they are attempting to unseat) and the Forces of Darkness (the Assad regime, which is supported by Alawites, by Christians, by Druse, by many Kurds, and even by Sunni Arabs who fear that a new regime will be more Islamic – how could it not be? – than a regime run by Alawites.
But his last paragraph – quoted above – is meant to be monitory,but instead, in misrepresenting the history it alludes to, offers a false hope in the very sentence that is meant to show that the writer understands the Muslim threat.
He likens what is now going on in Syria -- “a militant Muslim insurgency” that “has to be defeated” – to Europe’s own past, wherere the same Muslim insurgency “was defeated at the Battle of Tours, at Lepanto, in Malta.”
But was not an “insurgency” that Charles Martel stopped outside of Poitiers in the eighth century. There was no Muslim population in place that rose up against non-Muslim rulers. It was, rather, a Muslim invasion from the outside. And while the advance of Islam was halted, the presence of Islam in Europe, that was no more than a few decades old at the time of Martel’s victory, did not end. The Muslims were ensconced in the Iberian Peninsula, and ruled over Christians and Jews, and it took more than 500 years of the Reconquista to dislodge them from power, and even then, they continued to plot after 1497 (when they were officially expelled, unless they accepted Christianity), and even, late into the 16th century, were making secret appeals to the Ottoman sultan to support their plotting against the Christians of Spain.
The battle of Lepanto, in 1570, has entered Western memory as a great Christian victory over Muslims. It was indeed a victory, in which the Venetian fleet (aided by the Spanish) defeated the Ottomans. But it was only a single victory in a war -- the Cyprus War -- that the Holy League (Venice, Spain, the Papacy) soon lost. Venice, whose fleet had been triumphant at Lepanto, soon made a separate peace with the Ottomans, and the outcome of the Cyprus War was that Cyprus was transferred from Venetian to Ottoman control.
What about the Siege of Malta in 1565? Muslim Arabs held the island of Malta for a long time, at one point reducing the population to practically nothing. It was Roger I of Sicily who, in expelling the Muslim Arabs from southern Italy (and Sicily) , intelligently decided to also expel them from Malta so that they would not have a fortified position nearby from which to launch attacks. Thus was Malta again given over to Christians. And it is true that in 1565, the Maltese withstood the siege laid by the Ottomans. But this siege was not an “insurgency” but an invasion from the sea, by an Ottoman fleet. To repel a siege is a victory, but it is not a great victory for you have merely maintained your previous position, and the Ottomans did not, because their siege failed, lose any territory; they simply failed to gain Malta. And in 1551, 14 years before the “Christian victory” in the Siege of Malta, Barbary corsairs attacked the Maltese island of Gozo, conquered it, and removed its entire Christian population, all 5,000 people, and sent them to be enslaved in North Africa. The Christian victory at the Siege of Malta did nothing to undo that defeat, or to bring any of those people home.
And when Peter Mllen writes that Muslims – in this case the Ottoman Turks – were “at the gates of Vienna,” where they were, for the second attempted conquest, in 1683, and pushed back, he then adds, as his final sentence: “And if we don’t take decisive action, they will soon be there again.” But they are there. They are inside the city of Vienna, by the hundreds of thousands. And they are in Berlin, and Paris, and Marseille, and Lille and Roubaix. They are in Madrid. There are more than a million Muslims now living in London itself, and in Moscow too.
What does Peter Mullen have to say about that? Does he consider that an invasion, or as something innocuous, because it was not accomplished with ships and cannon and tanks and planes? The end result is the same, and as demographic disparities work their sinister magic, unless there is a determined effort to decrease the Muslim population in Western Europe, the percentage of the total European population that is Muslim will continue to skyrocket. Is this okay, as long as it is achieved without having a Battle of Poitiers, or of Lepanto, or a Siege of Malta?