Differences between the Saracens (Jihadis) and the Crusaders
Today we see the terrorists referring to the American and British soldiers in Iraq and Afghanistan as “Crusaders”. How we wish that was true, since the express aim of the Crusaders of yore was to liberate the Holy land and eject all Muslims, or convert them to Christianity. The American Marines hardly deserve to be addressed by the hallowed title “Crusaders”, as they are not even a pale shadow of our visionary and valiant Crusader forebears.
Because of such valiant peasants who left their fields and villages across Europe and heeded the Pope’s command and followed Peter the Hermit in the Peoples’ Crusade, that the Kings of Europe were shamed in to sending regular troops to fight the infidels and liberate the Holy Land from the Saracen occupiers. A spirit sorely lacking in the Marines and troops and in our Presidents, Prime Ministers and Chancellors today!
The fight against evil requires that those wanting to destroy evil, need to have the grit and determination to be calmly determined to take evil to the stillness of its death. Just the way a hunter is not ferocious as the man-eater tiger that he hunts down, but is calm and unruffled in his hunt to succeed in which he puts the bullets right between the tiger’s eyes to reduce him to dead meat. The hunter bears no passionate hatred for the tiger, but still is dispassionately efficient in making dead meat of the beast. The American Marines and the British troops need to have this spirit in them to be successful!
In their methods the Crusaders were no different from the Jihadis. But there still was one important difference.
The Jihadis had attacked Christendom in 629 at the battle of Mu’ta without provocation, and had continued attacking Christians, as they still do. The Crusade was to roll back in some measure this unprovoked Muslim attack. The Jihadis were aggressors, while the Crusaders were defenders. We Should remember this difference!
The crusaders of yore were not like the hunter that we describe here, they were as ferocious and passionate and driven by relentless hate for the infidel and blind faith in their own religious beliefs as were, and still today are, the beastlike Jihadis. The Crusaders nursed and expressed a burning hatred of the Jihadis. They slaughtered the Jihadis with the same blood-curdling yells of hate that the Jihadis were used to. In their methods of treating the defeated Jihadis, the Crusaders were no different from the Jihadis. But there still was one important difference.
The Jihadis had attacked Christendom, without provocation and had continued attacking Christians, as they still do. The Crusade was to roll back in some measure this unprovoked Muslim attack. The Jihadis were aggressors, while the Crusaders were defenders, although both were as savage with each other.
Similarities between the Saracens (Jihadis) and the Crusaders
The Crusaders are said to have gone one step further, they roasted and ate the Jihadis they slaughtered in Anatolia on the way to the Holy Land. The Seljuk Turks had followed a scorched earth policy to stem the advance of the crusaders. So the roasting of the enemy is something they obviously did to obviate the scarcity of food supplies in a hostile land.
With the Crusaders advancing in to knocked down villages surrounded by burnt down fields without any cattle or poultry, with the wells sanded over, the Crusaders were ingenious in deciding to make a sustaining and appetizing meal of the enemy they vanquished on the battlefield. In addition to this, scorched earth policy of the Turks, the Crusaders also faced famine conditions.
A Crusader at liberated Jerusalem.
There is a custom amongst the Arabs to traditionally paint the doors of their houses blue to this day? To ward off the evil eye – they say. Why blue? One explanation is that it was the color of the blue-eyed northern Europeans that came to slay them.
Narration in the medieval chronicles of the Saracens (Jihadis) being made a meal of by the Crusaders
Following the fall of Antioch, the Crusaders raided the surrounding countryside in the lean winter months failing to bring in anything like sufficient supplies to feed their large numbers. They laid siege on the town of Ma’arra al-Numan. As many as 20,000 of its Muslim inhabitants are reported to have been massacred, despite assurances that their lives would be spared. But if such events were common during those times, what is alleged to have happened next was certainly not. The Christian soldiers started to cannibalize Muslim Men, Women and Children. Men and Women were boiled then eaten.
In a letter to the Pope one of the Crusader commanders, Radulph of Caen wrote: "In Ma'arra our troops boiled pagan adults alive in cooking-pots; they impaled Muslims on spits and devoured them grilled."
According to a Muslim account, in 1098 A Christian state was established in Edessa by the Crusader king, Baldwin I. In December of this year, Crusader forces led by Raymond de Saint Gilles, Count of Toulousse, and Bohemond, the Frankish governor of Antioch massacred the entire population of the Syrian town of Ma'arra al-Numan. The starving Crusaders cannibalized some of their victims (quoted in Amin Maalouf, The Crusades Through Arab Eyes, translated by Jon Rothschild, News York: Schocken Books, 1984, 39). “The vanquished Muslims were barbequed on spits, somewhat like a shish-kabob.”
For centuries afterwards, the image of the Crusaders as fanatical cannibals lived on in Arabic, Persian, and Turkish literature. Some Arab commentators have even suggested that the behavior of the Crusaders was born not of necessity, but rather out of fanaticism, their religious fervor.
The Crusaders storm Edessa – a town near Anatolian (Turkish) and Syrian border. Edessa was the first major town to fall to the First Crusade.
But if fanaticism and religious fervor were common feelings on both sides during those times, what happened next was certainly out of necessity and not due to fanaticism, or religious fervor. It was in desperation, the starving Crusaders appear to have resorted to cannibalism. In a letter to the Pope one of the Crusader commanders wrote; "A terrible famine racked the army in Ma'arra, and placed it in the cruel necessity of feeding itself upon the bodies of the Saracens."
A line from another Crusader chronicler and soldier who fought at Ma'arra, Albert of Aix, convinced many Arabs from those times to the present that the Franks cannibalized not out of hunger but out of dogmatic fanaticism.
But then the Crusaders were not head-hunting cannibals when they set about the crusade from the various kingdoms of Europe! This practice was forced upon them, by the scorched earth policy of the Turks and the famines that afflicted the lands they overran.
Applying military logic, and the morals of those times, the question still remains, did the Crusaders make an excellently practical choice ten centuries before our time in making a meal of their vanquished enemies? A choice that would appear gruesome today. We can never imagine having menu cards in restaurants in New York, London, Paris, Moscow or Berlin that read “A Roasted Egyptian 500 (Dollars, Pounds, Francs)”, “A Grilled Saudi 800”, “A Poached Iranian 650”.
This is unimaginable, because we in the West have changed. But have the Muslims changed? They still behead others as they did one thousand years back. Muslims still stone the accused to death as they did then (which Jesus prevented when the lady was about to be stoned – remember his words – “He who has committed no crime, shall cast the first stone.”), but Muslims still cut off the limbs as they did one thousand years back, they still persecute those who carry the bible and the crucifix, as they were ordered to by their accused false prophet (yimach shmo…). So although we cannot be as gruesome as the Muslims, we need to revive our Cowboy spirit of the Wild West days and become hunters, if we are to succeed in doing what President Bush says, “We shall hunt him down” when referring to Osama Bin Laden.