If you don’t know your history you don’t have a future.
BY RAYMOND IBRAHIM
Editor’s note: The following account is partially excerpted from the author’s new book, Sword and Scimitar: Fourteen Centuries of War between Islam and the West (with a foreword by Victor Davis Hanson).
Why Eastern Europeans are much more reluctant to accept Muslim migrants than their Western counterparts can be traced back to circumstances surrounding a pivotal battle that took place today, June 15, in the year 1389. The Battle of Kosovo raged between Muslim invaders and Eastern European defenders, or the ancestors of those many Eastern Europeans today vociferously hostile to Islam.
Because the jihad is as old as Islam, it has been championed by diverse peoples (Arabs in the Middle East, Moors — Berbers and Africans — in Spain and Western Europe, etc.). Islam’s successful entry into Eastern Europe was spearheaded by the Turks, specifically that tribe centered in westernmost Anatolia (or Asia Minor) and thus nearest to Europe — the Ottoman Turks, so-named after their founder Osman Bey. As he lay dying in 1323, his parting words to his son and successor, Orhan, were for him “to propagate Islam by yours arms.”
This his son certainly did; the traveler Ibn Batutua, who once met Orhan in Bursa, observed that, although the jihadi had captured some one hundred Byzantine fortresses, “he had never stayed for a whole month in any one town,” because he “fights with the infidels continually and keeps them under siege.” Christian cities fell like dominos: Smyrna in 1329, Nicaea in 1331, and Nicomedia in 1337. By 1340, the whole of northwest Anatolia was under Turkic control. By now, and to quote a European contemporary:
[T]he foes of the cross, and the killers of the Christian people, that is, the Turks, [were] separated from Constantinople by a channel of three or four miles.
By 1354, the Ottoman Turks, under Orhan’s son, Suleiman, managed to cross over the Dardanelles and into the abandoned fortress town of Gallipoli, thereby establishing their first foothold in Europe: “Where there were churches he destroyed them or converted them to mosques,” writes an Ottoman chronicler. “Where there were bells, Suleiman broke them up and cast them into fires. Thus, in place of bells there were now muezzins.”
Cleansed of all Christian “filth,” Gallipoli became, as a later Ottoman bey boasted, “the Muslim throat that gulps down every Christian nation — that chokes and destroys the Christians.” From this dilapidated but strategically situated fortress town, the Ottomans launched a campaign of terror throughout the countryside, always convinced they were doing God’s work. “They live by the bow, the sword, and debauchery, finding pleasure in taking slaves, devoting themselves to murder, pillage, spoil,” explained Gregory Palamas, an Orthodox metropolitan who was taken captive in Gallipoli, adding:
After Orhan’s death in 1360 and under his son Murad I — the first of his line to adopt the title “Sultan” — the westward jihad into the Balkans began in earnest and was unstoppable. By 1371 he had annexed portions of Bulgaria and Macedonia to his sultanate, which now so engulfed Constantinople that “a citizen could leave the empire simply by walking outside the city gates.”
Unsurprisingly, then, when Prince Lazar of Serbia (b. 1330) defeated Murad’s invading forces in 1387, “there was wild rejoicing among the Slavs of the Balkans. Serbians, Bosnians, Albanians, Bulgarians, Wallachians, and Hungarians from the frontier provinces all rallied around Lazar as never before, in a determination to drive the Turks out of Europe.”
Murad responded to this effrontery on June 15, 1389, in Kosovo.
There, a Serbian-majority coalition augmented by Hungarian, Polish, and Romanian contingents — twelve thousand men under the leadership of Lazar — fought thirty thousand Ottomans under the leadership of the sultan himself. Despite the initial downpour of Turkic arrows, the Serbian heavy cavalry plummeted through the Ottoman frontlines and broke the left wing; the Ottoman right, under Murad’s elder son Bayezid, reeled around and engulfed the Christians. The chaotic clash continued for hours.
On the night before battle, Murad had beseeched Allah “for the favour of dying for the true faith, the martyr’s death.” Sometime near the end of battle, his prayer was granted. According to tradition, Miloš Obilić, a Serbian knight, offered to defect to the Ottomans on condition that, in view of his own high rank, he be permitted to submit before the sultan himself. They brought him before Murad and, after Milos knelt in false submission, he lunged at and plunged a dagger deep into the Muslim warlord’s stomach (other sources say “with two thrusts which came out at his back”). The sultan’s otherwise slow guards responded by hacking the Serb to pieces. Drenched in and spluttering out blood, Murad lived long enough to see his archenemy, the by now captured Lazar, brought before him, tortured, and beheaded. A small conciliation, it may have put a smile on the dying martyr’s face.
Murad’s son Bayezid instantly took charge: “His first act as Sultan, over his father’s dead body, was to order the death, by strangulation with a bowstring, of his brother. This was Yaqub, his fellow-commander in the battle, who had won distinction in the field and popularity with his troops.” Next Bayezid brought the battle to a decisive end; he threw everything he had at the enemy, leading to the slaughter of every last Christian — but even more of his own men in the process.
So many birds flocked to and feasted on the vast field of carrion that posterity remembered Kosovo as the “Field of Blackbirds.” Though essentially a draw — or at best a Pyrrhic victory for the Ottomans — the Serbs, with less men and resources to start with in comparison to the ascendant Muslim empire, felt the sting more.
In the years following the battle of Kosovo, the Ottoman war machine became unstoppable: the nations of the Balkans were conquered by the Muslims — after withstanding a millennium of jihads, Constantinople itself permanently fell to Islam in 1453 — and they remained under Ottoman rule for centuries (as documented in my new book, Sword and Scimitar: Fourteen Centuries of War between Islam and the West).
The collective memory of Eastern Europeans’ not too distant experiences with and under Islam should never be underestimated when considering why they are significantly more wary of — if not downright hostile to — Islam and its migrants than their Western counterparts.
More on this from the Gates of Vienna:
What Happened at Baltimore
Today is the 387th anniversary of the taking of Christian slaves in a razzia by Muslim pirates at the Irish port of Baltimore in 1631. To commemorate the event Michael Copeland sends the following essay.
What Happened at Baltimore
by Michael Copeland
It was nearly the longest day of the year, June 20th, when the menfolk of the English fishing settlement of Baltimore in south-west Ireland, set off for a full day out at sea. The year was 1631, the weather good.
When the men returned they were faced with a hideous and life-changing shock. The village was empty: wives and families gone. While they had been out fishing a marauding force of armed muslim Ottoman slavers from the Barbary coast of North Africa had landed, taken everyone as slaves, and sailed away. Some 108 English settlers, who worked a pilchard industry in the village, and many local Irish were taken.
The muslims, Algerians and Turks, had not “misunderstood their religion”, or “perverted”, “twisted”, or “hi-jacked” it. Piracy is part of Islam. Slavery is part of Islam. They were doing what Islam authorises, taking the filthy kuffar by force as spoils of war, Islam being, as Al-Azhar University teaches, in “a permanent state of war” with non-muslims, the “unbelievers”. Sheikh Huwayni of Saudi Arabia makes this clear:
Muslims in the past conquered, invaded, and took over countries. This is agreed to by all scholars… there is no disagreement on this from any of them, from the smallest to the largest, on the issue of taking spoils and prisoners. The prisoners and spoils are distributed among the fighters, which includes men, women, children, wealth, and so on.
(Translating Jihad, 11 June 2011)
This doctrine accounts for why pantomime pirates are depicted in turbans and with scimitars. It is no coincidence, and no joke. They are based on the sea-borne muslim jihadis who plagued shipping in the Mediterranean, raided coastal Mediterranean villages, and ventured further north, attacking places such as Boscastle in Cornwall, making a slave base on Lundy Island, and even going as far as Iceland.
The ships of the young United States, lacking the protection of the British Navy, became subject to the depredations of these “Barbary Pirates” back in the 1780s and 1790s. The Barbary States declared war, the first war of the young USA. Ships were taken by force, their crews sold as slaves, or held for ransom. United States representatives John Adams and Thomas Jefferson enquired in London of the Ambassador of the Bey of Tunis why they were doing this.