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Crusading Islamophobia: from Breivik to Brenton

29th Mar 2019

Mahomed Faizal

At the Battle of Poitiers [September 19, 1356], less than 175 miles from present-day Paris, Frankish Duke Charles Martel and his army were able to keep the Muslim army of Abd-ar-Rahman, the Governor of al-Andalus, at bay.

The apocalyptic dread was that had Charles, whom the then Pope dubbed ‘the Hammer’, not stopped the Muslims, there would have been nothing to prevent
Europe from ultimately becoming Islamic.

Writing in The History of the Decline and Fall of the Roman Empire, historian Edward Gibbon called Charles “the saviour of Christendom” and “had the Franks not won….perhaps the interpretation of the Koran would now be taught in the schools of Oxford.”

The trembling Gibbon summed up the fear still prevalent in Europe today as it once again faces Muslims arriving from across the Mediterranean.

The historical fear has cascaded down the ages and firmly embedded in the frenzied mind of Brenton Tarrant, the terrorist who gunned down 51 Muslims in Christchurch, New Zealand. He advocates(in a matter of fact language) in his manifesto what needs to be done: “To take revenge on the invaders for the hundreds of thousands of deaths caused by foreign invaders in European lands throughout history”.

The invaders in Tarrant’s mind are Muslims. They are the present and clear danger to western civilisation and to Europe’s Judo-Christian legacy.

These same racial invectives – Turk, invaders – used by Serb nationalists to describe Muslims during the Bosnian conflict, was not lost to the Norwegian terrorist, Anders Behring Breivik, who massacred 77 young people on July 22, 2011.

During his trial, Breivik said that “Serb nationalists” inspired him and that his identity “was, in a way, imported from Serbia”. He was also influenced by the fortitude of the “crusader” mentality of the Serbs who were being bombed by NATO forces.

This sense of grievance, a badge of honour, is deeply ingrained in the bruised psyche of Serbs, dates back to 1389, on a site in Kosovo known as the Field of Blackbirds, when a Serbian army under Prince Lazar was defeated by an Ottoman Turkish force. Lazar, instead of surrender and betrayal of his people, chose death.

The defeat ushered in 500 years of Turkish Muslim domination of Serbia and symbolised their refusal to bow to foreign subjugation and fed a historical sense of victimisation.

This victimisation once again played out in Kosovo in April 1987 when Serbian Communist Leader, Slobodan Milošević, then President of the rump Yugoslav state, wrapped himself in the mantle of Serb nationalism and unleashed the events that led to war and the breakup of Yugoslavia. The war against the “Turks” was a constant refrain, which the Serbian Orthodox Church readily invested in while solemnising the war effort.

In Tarrant’s crusading mind, it is also clear “that never again can such a situation as the US involvement in Kosovo ever occur again (where US/NATO forces fought beside Muslims and slaughtered Christian Europeans attempting to remove these Islamic occupiers from Europe)”.

The religious continuum connecting the crusading past to the current defenders of Christian civilisation, finds Breivik influenced by The Knights Templar as a force to fight immigration and multiculturalism in Europe. The Templars, a Christian order founded in the 10th century, initially protected pilgrims travelling through the Holy Lands but eventually evolved into a powerful military force that waged war against the Muslims during the Crusades.

This admiration for the religious warrior thread is found in Tarrant’s Anders Breivik inspired manifesto: “I have only had brief contact with Knight Justiciar Breivik, receiving a blessing for my mission after contacting his brother knights.”

That Breivik and Tarrant’s quasi-Christian tract finds resonance in the rallying motto of the Crusades: ‘Deus Vult [God wills it]’, is no accident. The First Crusade saw hundreds of Frankish nobility heed Pope Urban II’s call for a holy war against the Seljuk Turks who had captured most of Anatolia from the Byzantines.

And in Tarrant’s zealous imagination, there is no equivocation who the invaders in Europe are! In continuing the mythic victory of Christianity over Islam at Tours, Tarrant, wittingly or not, synonymises Muslims with the racially tinged “Turks” and offers this warning: “We are coming for Constantinople and we will destroy every mosque and minaret in the city.”

While the Church dispensed spiritual cover for the “jihad” against the Turks, Gibbon and his latter-day cohorts have provided intellectual succour for the view that Europe is a doomed and decadent continent, with its walls being constantly breached by Muslims hordes on the fringes of the continent.

This dangerous Islamophobic delusion has now received mainstream respectability, as conservative historians, commentators, radio and TV talk show hosts, right-wing Zionists and a motley crew of European neo-fascists find consensus against the perceived threat to ‘Judo-Christian’ civilisation values from Muslim immigrants.

The main proponent for many of these fantasies is Egyptian-born British citizen, Giselle Littmann. According to Littmann, the ‘irreversible transformation of Europe was achieved by the deliberate promotion of Muslim immigration into Europe, a process which then allowed Muslims to establish power bases for ‘jihad’ in most major cities.’

In Littman’s fantasy world, there is a ‘resurgent anti-Americanism’, ‘Judeo-phobia’ and, most of all, in the ‘cult’ of ‘Palestinian-ism’ which ‘poisons Europe’. Littmann believes ‘the conception and practice of Palestinian-ism as a hate cult against Israel has had a profound impact on European society’ and where anti-Zionism is always synonymous with anti-Semitism.

It is no wonder that Littman’s conspiratorial theories gained media attention when she was quoted and praised by Breivik, in his manifesto released on the day of the attacks.

In a doomsday article in the Spectator on ‘The collapse of the West’, Melanie Phillips, another writer quoted by Breivik, spells out the insurmountable gap between the West and the Islamic hordes: “Muslims not only despise western secular values as decadent, materialistic, corrupt and immoral. They do not accept the distinction between the spiritual and the temporal, the division which in Christian societies confines religion to the margins of everyday life. Instead, for Muslims, the whole of human life must represent submission to God. This means that they feel a duty to Islamicise the values of the surrounding culture.”

The spectre of a new confrontation with the ‘Moor’ of Muslim Spain and the ‘dreadful Turk’ of the Papal Crusades has haunted the European imagination ever since the Muslim conquests of the seventh century.

It is no surprise that Phillips was an inspiration for Breivik, who then energised the Aussie Brenton Tarrant.

Part of the fantasy, which Tarrant’s manifesto is steeped in, is the notion that Europe is caught in an inexorable process of demographic decline.

Tarrant’s opening declaration is: “It’s the birthrates. It’s the birthrates. It’s the birthrates. If there is one thing I want you to remember from these writings, it’s that the birthrates must change. Even if we were to deport all Non-Europeans from our lands tomorrow, the European people would still be spiralling into decay and eventual death.”

And to redress the decline in the birthrates, Tarrant’s remedy is pure, simple extermination: “Because if we do not destroy the invaders first, our own birthrates will mean nothing.”

To achieve Tarrant’s Lebensraum, genocide has be the final solution and every invader must be destroyed because: “Children of invaders do not stay children, they become adults and reproduce, creating more invaders to replace your people…..any invader you kill, of any age, is one less enemy your children will have to face.”

The nightmare scenario for the “Muslims-out” mobs is that the Muslim population of Europe will have reached 40 per cent by 2030. Given that the current European population is approximately 450 million, with a total Muslim population of approximately 15 million, such expansion from 3 per cent to 40 per cent would be nothing short of miraculous.

Even if Turkey were integrated into the EU, the proportional impact of 68 million Muslims would be reduced by the forthcoming inclusion of ‘Christian’ nations such as Romania and Bulgaria. In Italy, there are approximately 1 million Muslims in a population of 57 million. In France, which has the largest Muslim population in Europe, there are between 5 and 7 million Muslims in a population of 60 million.

That the confluence of hate is deep, historical and driven by bigotry and an unspoken religious legacy, should inform the inquiring mind when the next attack takes place.


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