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Historical Accounts of the Holy War

The Huffington Post logo The Huffington Post 28/03/2016 Alex Cacioppo
ISLAMISM © Gallo Images via Getty Images ISLAMISM

"A wide-spread Holy War might well mean the bankruptcy of Europe." This did not appear in a contemporary account of the Islamist threat to European countries, as one might infer, but is found in the May 1913 issue of the North American Review, in an article by one Albert Edwards titled "The Menace of Pan-Islamism." The piece begins by describing an incident "in the Sudan," where "a native private ran amuck" and attacked his British colonial officer, who "might have killed him if had not been overpowered by some English soldiers and dragged to the guard-house." Edwards recounts that the younger officers "dismissed it as 'a touch of the sun.' But all agreed that a summary example must be made of the 'nigger' who had struck a white officer." Edwards asked "about the other Mohammedan regiments under English officers in the Sudan, in India, in Egypt, Algeria, and Tunisia" and declared that the possibility "that Europe's colonial troops may be disloyal" is "the menace of Pan-Islamism."
Rather immediately, one may think of the so-called green-on-blue attacks against NATO forces in Afghanistan in recent years. An article in the January 1879 issue of the New Englander, "Afghanistan and the English," pronounced the country as "almost another Switzerland enormously developed," whose inhabitants "have attracted some attention from their claim to be Beni Israel, descended from the captives carried away by Nebuchadnezzar." In this benighted land there is "the same want of administrative ability and the stringency of clannish ties, which everywhere pervades the nations professing Islamism, and prevents their progress in permanent civilization and good government." The article casually observes later on that "the mouth of the Euphrates and the ports on the Persian Gulf are probably to become objects of desire."
Over to North Africa, Frank Leslie's Popular Monthly recorded in December 1881 that "France has again stirred up the Mohammedan world as it did by the conquest of Algiers in 1830," sparking "a 'holy war' against the 'infidel invaders.'" French colonists were at war with the Arabs, Frederic Daniel writes, adding that their "own writers acknowledged freely that they had a natural disposition to war, bloodshed, cruelty and rapine." Further, Daniel goes on to say, "Your true-blue Mussulman, who is eager to defend the divine character of his religion, is sorely puzzled to-day by the damning proof that it owed its progress and establishment almost exclusively to the sword, having brought war and hatred instead of peace and good-will in its wake." Of course, as we all know by now, European colonialism brought nothing but peace and goodwill. These centurions of Enlightenment were merely defending themselves against barbarous pirates who were "attacking the infidel shipping on the Mediterranean, and swooping down even on the coasts of Spain, France and Italy, to carry off their inhabitants and make slaves of them."
Doubtless much of the above is true, even if to our modern eyes it appears politically incorrect to say it so bluntly. But in these times, it is worth taking a look at the historical accounts of the war between "Europe" and "the Muslim world," particularly the fanatical offshoots who threaten "the civilized world" today. Edwards, in the North American Review, could have just as easily been referring to ISIS when he said of "the Mohammedan 'Old Guard'" that, "Like all fanatics, they are visionary." He comments that it is "easy to dismiss them as ignorant fanatics. But the world has seen many momentous things done in the name of Ignorance and Fanaticism."

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