Wednesday, December 21, 2011

A Brief Overview of Centuries Of Muslim Occupation

Hanan Ashrawi was in rare form at the UN, talking about occupation:
She said that “the longest occupation in modern history must end and it is time for the international community to hold Israel accountable, demand that it desist all settlement activities and actions that violate international law and support our peaceful diplomatic efforts to achieve an independent Palestinian state based on 1967 borders with East Jerusalem as its capital.”

She added that “Israel must be brought to compliance and required to adopt a clear and binding timeframe for the implementation of internationally-recognized agreements.”
Ashrawi of course is just being modest--after all, Muslims may very well take first prize for the longest occupation of all time.

In his book, The Arab Mind, Raphael Patai gives a short rundown of the history of Muslim occupation:
Within eighty years after the death of Muhammad (632), the Arabs held sway over Spain, North Africa, Egypt, the Fertile Crescent and several contiguous areas, most of which have remained both Arab and Muslim to the present day. Successive generations carried the banner of Islam into more remote parts of the world, including, in the east, Central Asia as far as Mongolia, the Indian Peninusla, and Southeast Asia; in the west, the Balkans and Hungary; and in the south the wide Sudan belt of Africa. (p. 48, emphasis added)
Bernard Lewis makes the point even more clearly. In What Went Wrong?: The Clash Between Islam and Modernity in the Middle East, Lewis notes:
In the course of the seventh century, Muslim armies advancing from Arabia conquered Syria, Palestine, Egypt, and North Africa, all until then part of Christendom, and most of the new recruits to Islam, west of Iran and Arabia, were indeed converts from Christianity. (p.4, emphasis added)
But the Muslims did not end their imperialist conquest there.

Lewis describes how the Muslem colonialism continued:
o During the eighth century, using North Africa as their base, the Arab forces were joined by Berber converts as they went into Spain and Portugal and invaded France.

o In the ninth century they conquered Sicily and sacked Rome--resulting in the Christian counter-attack known as the Crusades, hardly the offensive unprovoked attack that the Arab world condemns. Think of it as Christians exercising their right of resistance.

o In the thirteenth century, the Tartars conquered Russia and later converted to Islam--meaning that Russia and much of Eastern Europe was subjected to Moslem rule till they freed themselves in the late 15th century.

o During a third wave of attacks, the Ottoman Turks conquered Anatolia, captured Constantinople, invaded the Balkan peninsula and reached as far as Vienna.(my summary)
So historically, the Muslims may very well have the distinction of being The World's Greatest Occupational Power.

I guess that part of Muslim history must have slipped Ashrawi's mind--while applauding the UN decision on the Palestinian Arab right to self-determination, she forgot the Muslim history of denying self-determination to everyone else.

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