I was watching “From Russia With Love” for the umpteenth silly time and the scene was Constantinople. Which led me to Wikipedia’s entry on the conquest of the capital of Byzantine Empire and the center of the Greek Orthodox Church. Here’s what Wikipedia has to say about the fall of Instanbul:

On 29 May 1453 Sultan Mehmet II (1451 – 81), known as “the Conqueror”, entered Constantinople after a 54 – day siege during which his cannon had torn a huge hole in the Walls of Theodosius II. Mehmet’s first task was to rebuild the wrecked city, which would later become known as Istanbul. The Grand Bazaar and Topkapı Palace were erected in the years following the Turkish conquest. Religious foundations were endowed to fund the building of mosques such as the Fatih and their associated schools and baths. The city had to be repopulated by a mixture of force and encouragement. People from all over the empire moved to Istanbul, and Jews, Christians and Muslims lived together in a cosmopolitan society.

This didn’t quite jibe with other accounts I’d read. Where were the rivers of blood, the massacres, the slaughter that I’d read about? I checked in with Robert Spencer, writing in Frontpage Magazine and found that Wikipedia had skipped a few points:

On Tuesday, May 29, 1453, the armies of the Ottoman Sultan Mehmet II entered Constantinople, breaking through the defenses of a vastly outnumbered and indomitably courageous Byzantine force. Historian Steven Runciman notes what happened next: the Muslim soldiers “slew everyone that they met in the streets, men, women, and children without discrimination. The blood ran in rivers down the steep streets from the heights of Petra toward the Golden Horn. But soon the lust for slaughter was assuaged. The soldiers realized that captives and precious objects would bring them greater profit.” (The Fall of Constantinople 1453, Cambridge University Press, 1965, p. 145.)

It has come to be known as Black Tuesday, the Last Day of the World.

Some jihadists “made for the the small but splendid churches by the walls, Saint George by the Charisian Gate, Saint John in Petra, and the lovely church of the monastery of the Holy Saviour in Chora, to strip them of their stores of plate and their vestments and everything else that could be torn from them. In the Chora they left the mosaics and frescoes, but they destroyed the icon of the Mother of God, the Hodigitria, the holiest picture in all Byzantium, painted, so men said, by Saint Luke himself. It had been taken there from its own church beside the Palace at the beginning of the siege, that its beneficient presence might be at hand to inspire the defenders on the walls. It was taken from its setting and hacked into four pieces.” (P. 146.)

The jihadists also entered the Hagia Sophia, which for nearly a thousand years had been the grandest church in Christendom. The faithful had gathered within its hallowed walls to pray during the city’s last agony. The Muslims, according to Runciman, halted the celebration of Orthros (morning prayer); the priests, according to legend, took the sacred vessels and disappeared into the cathedral’s eastern wall, through which they shall return to complete the divine service one day. Muslim men then killed the elderly and weak and led the rest off into slavery.

So, when Wikipedia notes that the “The city had to be repopulated by a mixture of force and encouragement. “, it skipped over why such repopulation was necessary.

The atrocities perpetrated by the Muslim conquerors were nothing new to Islam. Back in Muhammed’s day they treated their victims much the same, as Andrew Bostom makes clear:

According to Muhammad’s sacralized biography by Ibn Ishaq, Muhammad himself sanctioned the massacre of the Qurayza, a vanquished Jewish tribe. He appointed an “arbiter” who soon rendered this concise verdict: the men were to be put to death, the women and children sold into slavery, the spoils to be divided among the Muslims. Muhammad ratified this judgment stating that it was a decree of God pronounced from above the Seven Heavens. Thus some 600 to 900 men from the Qurayza were lead on Muhammad’s order to the Market of Medina. Trenches were dug and the men were beheaded, and their decapitated corpses buried in the trenches while Muhammad watched in attendance. Women and children were sold into slavery, a number of them being distributed as gifts among Muhammad’s companions, and Muhammad chose one of the Qurayza women (Rayhana) for himself. The Qurayza’s property and other possessions (including weapons) were also divided up as additional “booty” among the Muslims, to support further jihad campaigns.

Roll foward to the early 20th century. The Ottoman Empire, in its death throes, committed genocide against Christian Armenians in its territory. The scale of the genocide has been overshadowed by that perpetrated by the Nazis against Jews, and also, faithful Christians who opposed Hitler. But it was one of the worst genocides in modern history, made worse by the fact that the perpetrators were never called to account, and deny it ever occured. Here’s Bostom again:

The genocide of the Armenians was a jihad. No rayas took part in it. Despite the disapproval of many Muslim Turks and Arabs, and their refusal to collaborate in the crime, these masssacres were perpetrated solely by Muslims and they alone profited from the booty: the victims’ property, houses, and lands granted to the muhajirun, and the allocation to them of women and child slaves. The elimination of male children over the age of twelve was in accordance with the commandments of the jihad and conformed to the age fixed for the payment of the jizya. The four stages of the liquidation- deportation, enslavement, forced conversion, and massacre- reproduced the historic conditions of the jihad carried out in the dar-al-harb from the seventh century on. Chronicles from a variety of sources, by Muslim authors in particular, give detailed descriptions of the organized massacres or deportation of captives, whose sufferings in forced marches behind the armies paralleled the Armenian experience in the twentieth century…”

These days Europeans are discussing the entry of Turkey, under the political system that committed the Armenian genocide, into the EU.

But then, the EU has been pumping money into the various Palestinian entities. Track the Palestinian cause back to WW2 and you find the Grand Mufti of Jerusalem Haj Amin el-Husseini, an enthustic supporter and recruiter for the Nazis. A Nobel Peace Prize winner has carried on the proud tradition of the Grand Mufti of Jerusalem:

The PLO and notably Arafat himself do not make a secret of their source of inspiration. The Grand Mufti el-Husseini is venerated as a hero by the PLO. It should be noted, that the PLO’s top figure in east Jerusalem today, Faisal Husseini, is the grandson to the Führer’s Mufti. Arafat also considers the Grand Mufti a respected educator and leader, and in 1985 declared it an honor to follow in his footsteps. Little wonder. In 1951, a close relative of the Mufti named Rahman Abdul Rauf el-Qudwa el-Husseini matriculated to the University of Cairo. The student decided to conceal his true identity and enlisted as “Yasser Arafat.”

When it somes to Islam, the West should learn an important lesson: remember the history of the last 1600 years. It wasn’t pretty then and it isn’t pretty now. Islam was out to conquer us every one of those years. It hasn’t changed.

We will know Islam is civilized when Israel no longer fears for its existence. That day seems a long day coming.