Tag Archives: Islam

What percentage of Muslims approve of radical Islam and terrorism?

Muslim populations in Europe
Muslim populations in Europe

Normally, when people ask me about this question, I go straight to the 2013 Pew Research survey which I blogged about before. But now I have something even better.

Here’s a post from Ben Shapiro at Breitbart News which looks at several polls from several different countries.

Shapiro writes: (links to polls removed)

So, here is the evidence that the enemy we face is not a “tiny minority” of Muslims, let alone a rootless philosophy unconnected to Islam entirely. It’s not just the thousands of westerners now attempting to join ISIS. It’s millions of Muslims who support their general goals, even if they don’t support the group itself.

France. A new, widely-covered poll shows that a full 16% of French people have positive attitudes toward ISIS. That includes 27% of French between the ages of 18-24. Anne-Elizabeth Moutet of Newsweek wrote, “This is the ideology of young French Muslims from immigrant backgrounds…these are the same people who torch synagogues.”

Britain. In 2006, a poll for the Sunday Telegraph found that 40% of British Muslims wanted shariah law in the United Kingdom, and that 20% backed the 7/7 bombers.Another poll from that year showed that 45% of British Muslims said that 9/11 was an American/Israeli conspiracy; that poll showed that one-quarter of British Muslims believed that the 7/7 bombings were justified.

Palestinian Areas. A poll in 2011 showed that 32% of Palestinians supported the brutal murder of five Israeli family members, including a three-month-old baby. In 2009, a poll showed that 78% of Palestinians had positive or mixed feelings about Osama Bin Laden. A 2013 poll showed 40% of Palestinians supporting suicide bombings and attacks against civilians. 89% favored sharia law. Currently, 89% of Palestinians support terror attacks on Israel.

Pakistan. After the killing of Osama Bin Laden, the Gilani Foundation did a poll of Pakistanis and found that 51% of them grieved for the terrorist mastermind, with 44% of them stating that he was a martyr. In 2009, 26% of Pakistanis approved of attacks on US troops in Iraq. That number was 29% for troops in Afghanistan. Overall, 76% of Pakistanis wanted strict shariah law in every Islamic country.

Morocco. A 2009 poll showed that 68% of Moroccans approved of terrorist attacks on US troops in Iraq; 61% backed attacks on American troops in Afghanistan as of 2006. 76% said they wanted strict sharia law in every Islamic country.

Jordan. 72% of Jordanians backed terror attacks against US troops in Iraq as of 2009. In 2010, the terrorist group Hezbollah had a 55% approval rating; Hamas had a 60% approval rating.

Indonesia: In 2009, a poll demonstrated that 26% of Indonesians approved of attacks on US troops in Iraq; 22% backed attacks on American troops in Afghanistan. 65% said they agreed with Al Qaeda on pushing US troops out of the Middle East. 49% said they supported strict sharia law in every Islamic country. 70% of Indonesians blamed 9/11 on the United States, Israel, someone else, or didn’t know. Just 30% said Al Qaeda was responsible.

Egypt. As of 2009, 87% of Egyptians said they agreed with the goals of Al Qaeda in forcing the US to withdraw forces from the Middle East. 65% said they wanted strict sharia law in every Islamic country. As of that same date, 69% of Egyptians said they had either positive or mixed feelings about Osama Bin Laden. In 2010, 95% of Egyptians said it was good that Islam is playing a major role in politics.

United States. A 2013 poll from Pew showed that 13% of American Muslims said that violence against civilians is often, sometimes or rarely justified to defend Islam. A 2011 poll from Pew showed that 21 percent of Muslims are concerned about extremism among Muslim Americans. 19 percent of American Muslims as of 2011 said they were either favorable toward Al Qaeda or didn’t know.

In short, tens of millions of Muslims all over the world sympathize with the goals or tactics of terrorist groups – or both. That support is stronger outside the West, but it is present even in the West. Islamist extremism is not a passing or fading phenomenon – it is shockingly consistent over time. And the West’s attempts to brush off the ideology of fanaticism has been an overwhelming failure.

A more recent poll says that 13% of Syrian refugees support Islamic State:

A first-of-its-kind survey of the hordes of Syrian refugees entering Europe found 13% support the Islamic State. The poll should raise alarms about the risks posed by the resettlement of 10,000 refugees in the U.S.

The poll of 900 Syrian refugees by the Arab Center for Research and Policy Studies also found that another 10% of the displaced Syrians have a lukewarm, but not entirely negative, view of the terror group. That means 23% — or almost 1 in 4 — could be susceptible to ISIS recruitment.

It also means as many 2,500 of the 10,000 Syrian refugees that the Obama administration is resettling inside American cities are potential terrorist threats.

Now contrast those facts with the views of Barack Obama and his allies in the mainstream media.

That video is from The Weekly Standard, here’s the text:

President Obama told CNN’s Fareed Zakaria that 99.9 percent of Muslims reject radical Islam. He made the comments in response to a question about the White House avoiding using the phrase “Islamic terrorists.”

“You know, I think that the way to understand this is there is an element growing out of Muslim communities in certain parts of the world that have perverted the religion, have embraced a nihilistic, violent, almost medieval interpretation of Islam, and they’re doing damage in a lot of countries around the world,” said Obama.

“But it is absolutely true that I reject a notion that somehow that creates a religious war because the overwhelming majority of Muslims reject that interpretation of Islam. They don’t even recognize it as being Islam, and I think that for us to be successful in fighting this scourge, it’s very important for us to align ourselves with the 99.9 percent of Muslims who are looking for the same thing we’re looking for–order, peace, prosperity.”

So Obama denies all of these surveys, and instead invents a view of the world that is consistent with his feelings. A true man of the secular left.

This gap between belief and reality explains why he is now bringing 200,000 Syrian Muslim refugees into America, keeping Syrian Christian refugees out of America, and generally underestimating Islamic State (ISIS / ISIL) because he cannot believe that radical Islam is anything for us to be concerned about.

Is the government capable of vetting Syrian refugees to find threats?

Not so much:

The administration argues that it’s conducting interviews with Syrians at camps in Turkey, Jordan and Lebanon. But without security forces on the ground in Syria who can verify details, there is no way to back-check a refugee’s story to see if he is telling the truth and is, in fact, not a security threat.

Even when we had people on the ground in Iraq to screen refugees, terrorists got through the safety net.

In 2011, for instance, two Kentucky immigrants who had been resettled as Iraqi refugees were busted for trying to buy stinger missiles for al-Qaida.

It turned out that their fingerprints matched those linked to roadside bombs in Iraq. It was a major red flag that should have barred their entry, but U.S. screeners failed to take note. And the terrorists slipped into the U.S.

The administration’s vetting process for the massive influx of Syrian refugees is completely unreliable, admits the FBI official in charge of such security background checks.

“It’s not even close to being under control,” warned assistant FBI director Michael Steinbach.

We should not be believing the man who promised us that we could keep our doctor, keep our health plans, and that our health insurance premiums would go down $2,500. He is either lying, or he likes to speak on matters where he is not competent to know the truth of the matter.

UPDATE: ECM sends me this video from Ben Shapiro:

Awesome!

Nabeel Qureshi: the Quran inspires radical Muslims to commit Islamic terrorism

A conflict of worldviews
A conflict of worldviews

Dr. Nabeel Qureshi, a former Muslim, explains which verses of the Qu’ran are linked to Islamic terrorism in a USA Today editorial.

Excerpt:

As a Muslim growing up in the United States, I was taught by my imams and the community around me that Islam is a religion of peace. My family modeled love for others and love for country, and not just by their words. My father served in the U.S. Navy throughout my childhood, starting as a seaman and retiring as a lieutenant commander. I believed wholeheartedly a slogan often repeated at my mosque after 9/11: “The terrorists who hijacked the planes also hijacked Islam.”

Yet as I began to investigate the Quran and the traditions of Muhammad’s life for myself in college, I found to my genuine surprise that the pages of Islamic history are filled with violence. How could I reconcile this with what I had always been taught about Islam?

[…]The Quran itself reveals a trajectory of jihad reflected in the almost 23 years of Muhammad’s prophetic career. As I demonstrate carefully in my book, Answering Jihad: A Better Way Forward, starting with peaceful teachings and proclamations of monotheism, Muhammad’s message featured violence with increasing intensity, culminating in surah 9, chronologically the last major chapter of the Quran, and its most expansively violent teaching. Throughout history, Muslim theologians have understood and taught this progression, that the message of the Quran culminates in its ninth chapter.

Surah 9 is a command to disavow all treaties with polytheists and to subjugate Jews and Christians (9.29) so that Islam may “prevail over all religions” (9.33). It is fair to wonder whether any non-Muslims in the world are immune from being attacked, subdued or assimilated under this command. Muslims must fight, according to this final chapter of the Quran, and if they do not, then their faith is called into question and they are counted among the hypocrites (9.44-45). If they do fight, they are promised one of two rewards, either spoils of war or heaven through martyrdom. Allah has made a bargain with the mujahid who obeys: Kill or be killed in battle, and paradise awaits (9.111).

Muslim thought leaders agree that the Quran promotes such violence. Maajid Nawaz, co-founder of the Quilliam Foundation in the United Kingdom, has said, “We Muslims must admit there are challenging Koranic passages that require reinterpretation today. … Only by rejecting vacuous literalism are we able to condemn, in principle, ISIS-style slavery, beheading, lashing, amputation & other medieval practices forever (all of which are in the Quran). … Reformers either win, and get religion-neutral politics, or lose, and get ISIL-style theocracy.” In other words, Muslims must depart from the literal reading of the Quran in order to create a jihad-free Islamic world.

This is not at all to say that most Muslims are violent. The vast majority of Muslims do not live their lives based on chapter 9 of the Quran or on the books of jihad in the hadith. My point is not to question the faith of such Muslims nor to imply that radical Muslims are the true Muslims. Rather, I simply want to make clear that while ISIL may lure youth through a variety of methods, it radicalizes them primarily by urging them to follow the literal teachings of the Quran and the hadith, interpreted consistently and in light of the violent trajectory of early Islam. As long as the Islamic world focuses on its foundational texts, we will continue to see violent jihadi movements.

So, any attempt to engage with Muslims will require us to address the texts that they appeal to when they justify their actions. Both Republicans and Democrats try to gloss over the specific passages of the Qu’ran which are troublesome. They claim that Islam, interpreted literally, is a religion of Peace. And they claim that distorting the words of the Qu’ran results in a Jihadi ideology. That’s not accurate. It’s not distortion of the Qu-ran that is causing the problems, it’s taking those passages literally.

There are troubling passages in the Bible, as well, where God is in a theocratic relationship with the Jewish people and commands them to attack their enemies. But the difference is that those verses are not effective in the present day, for present day Christians. Christians are under a new Covenant with a new High Priest, Jesus. This new covenant tells Christians to love our enemies and to pray for those who persecute us. Are moderate Muslim scholars and Western politicians ready to face the real challenge?

Twelve Pakistani immigrant men get 143 years in jail for gang-raping 13-year-old girl

Muslim populations in Europe
Muslim populations in Europe

This story is from the UK Daily Mail, and I think it shows the problem with the compassionate “open borders” view of immigration advocated by some people on the religious left.

WARNING: This story is for mature readers, reader discretion is advised.

It says:

[…]12 men were jailed for gang-raping a 13-year-old white girl in West Yorkshire.

The gang of men from Pakistani origin were jailed for a total of 143 years at Bradford Crown Court today, for 13 months of horrendous abuse of the British white girl in 2011 and 2012.

[…]Eleven of the men were today jailed for rape and a twelfth man was jailed for sexual activity with a child under 16 today at Bradford Crown Court, but the ringleader has fled to Bangladesh.

West Yorkshire Police confirmed that the men jailed were of Pakistani origin. 

[…]Arif Chowdhury, 20, allegedly left for Bangladesh during the investigation after he was arrested in 2012 in connection to the raping of the schoolgirl, Bradford crown court heard last year.

He is also accused of pimping her out to his contacts in Keighley when he was just 15.

Louise Blackwell QC described Chowdhury, a convicted drug dealer, as being ‘evil’ and violent.

A jury heard how Chowdhury first raped the girl, who cannot be named, behind a church when he was 15.

He had previously got to know her when she was 13 after persuading her to do drug runs in Keighley.

She had attempted to stop helping the drugdealer, revealing to police how he had racially abused her and then raped her.

Chowdhury subjected her to regular beatings and made her have sex with other men in a year-long ordeal.

The judge’s comments are interesting:

During the case, the Recorder of Bradford, Judge Roger Thomas QC, said their behaviour throughout the trial was the worst he had seen in 40 years of legal practice.

Judge Roger Thomas QC condemned the ‘insolent and disrespectful behaviour’ the accused showed in court which he said reflected their treatment of their victim.

He told them: ‘The attitudes of the majority of you have so clearly demonstrated to these proceedings has been contemptuous, disrespectful and arrogant on a scale that I have hardly seen before in many years of practice in criminal law.

‘Exactly the same attitude to the 13/14 year old girl who you all sexually abused and exploited for your own selfish gratification.’

He added: ‘None of these defendants had any concern for the victim.

‘They were totally uninterested in her welfare and what damage they were causing her.

‘The victim clearly demanded pity and understanding but their view of her was heartless and demeaning.

‘They saw her as a pathetic figure who had no worth and who served no purpose than to be an object that they could sexually misuse and cast aside.

‘They showed her no shred of decency or humanity when as a vulnerable child she so needed care and understanding.’

The court heard their victim now has post-traumatic stress disorder and clinical depression.

Now, this crime is not like these fake rape accusations that you see on college campuses, where the alleged victim never goes to the police and never goes to the hospital. This crime really happened. And it was investigated by the police. And the facts were determined in a real criminal trial In my view, the offenders got off too lightly – they should all have received the death penalty. That would have sent a message to others not to do such things to children. Yes, a 13-year-old girl is a child, and she ought to be protected and nurtured, not abused and degraded. If a girl is fatherless and has no protector, that is all the more reason for good men to be more protective of her innocence and dignity – not less protective. We have to have a vision for what a girl’s life should be like – education, work, marriage, a loving faithful husband, children, a home of her own. Dignity and value.

Christianity is different

That girl was known by God and made by God in order to reach out to him and to know him as he really is. Nothing about her origins, finances, family situation is relevant to the purpose for which she was made, which is the same purpose that we are all made for – to know God in Christ. On the Christian view, there is no room for looking at other people in distress and taking advantage of them. We should always be looking to others as equal in dignity and value, and made to know God. The Muslim men convicted of raping her were not doing what they were designed to do, because they followed a false religion, with false moral values. Christianity is true, and it rationally grounds the duty to love and serve others, and even to give up our lives to save others. That is the example of the founder that Christians are to emulate. Where was that example in the conduct of these Muslim men towards this little girl?

Russell Moore

One last thing I want to say is about Christian leaders who are very generous about welcoming in refugees from Muslim countries. Well, I mean they are generous with using taxpayer money to do this, not with their own money. One of these people  is Russell Moore, who was interviewed by the radically left-wing BuzzFeed.

BuzzFeed was very sympathetic with Russell Moore’s left-of-center view on this issue, and excited to be able to bash conservatives by using Moore as the club.

Excerpt:

Moore was also critical of candidates like Ted Cruz who are now arguing that the U.S. should only accept Christian refugees from Syria, not Muslims.

“I don’t think we ought to have a religious test for our refugee policy,” Moore said, adding that a rigorous vetting process could still make room for innocent Muslims. “We really don’t want to penalize innocent women and children who are fleeing from murderous barbarians simply because they’re not Christians,” he said, though he added that persecuted Christians in the region haven’t received enough attention from the U.S.

Moore wants to give interviews to leftist publications, where they will publicly praise him for his generosity and compassion, while shaming conservatives politicians who have a duty to protect the public. My priority is to protect that little girl from harm, not hand out goodies to grown-ups at taxpayer expense. The UK didn’t have to take in refugees and unskilled immigrants willy nilly, but they did it because they were more motivated by the desire to appear generous with other people’s money than by the desire to protect innocent victims from harm. As long as it’s not their money being spent, and their daughter being raped, people who talk for a living can seem very generous. What happened to this little girl is clearly horrendous, and it’s not the first or last event of its kind. People like Moore who feel we need to be more compassionate and less cautious are effectively turning a blind eye to the reality of the concern.

I support a legal immigration process that has some sort of requirement for some period of following the laws or learning Western customs, e.g. – legal immigration for those who come here to do college degrees and/or get work permits. But Moore wants take in refugees who have no education, no work history, and no idea what our Western values are. Immigrants from Muslim countries who apply to attend school and/or work legally, and go through a process where they follow the law, pay their taxes, and so on, are much safer to allow in than refugees. We need legal immigrants to prove over a long period of time that they can survive without resorting to criminal activity (drug-dealing, sex-trafficking, etc.) or collecting welfare. But refugees are not like that. And we don’t have adequate security screening. We can be generous, but prudent about protecting innocence, too. I don’t want to be responsible for letting in people who rape little kids.

Disclaimer: Half my family is Muslim, and my parents immigrated legally via college degrees and work permits. Legal immigration process. Law abiding. Continuous work history. No collecting welfare. None of us has ever been charged with anything worse than a speeding ticket or parking ticket.

DHS whistleblower was ordered to scrub records of Muslims with terror ties

Is Barack Obama focused on protecting the American people?
Is Barack Obama focused on protecting the American people?

This is from The Hill.

Full text:

Amid the chaos of the 2009 holiday travel season, jihadists planned to slaughter 290 innocent travelers on a Christmas Day flight from the Netherlands to Detroit, Michigan. Twenty-three-year old Nigerian Muslim Umar Farouk Abdulmutallab intended to detonate Northwest Airlines Flight 253, but the explosives in his underwear malfunctioned and brave passengers subdued him until he could be arrested. The graphic and traumatic defeat they planned for the United States failed, that time.

Following the attempted attack, President Obama threw the intelligence community under the bus for its failure to “connect the dots.” He said, “this was not a failure to collect intelligence, it was a failure to integrate and understand the intelligence that we already had.”

Most Americans were unaware of the enormous damage to morale at the Department of Homeland Security, where I worked, his condemnation caused. His words infuriated many of us because we knew his administration had been engaged in a bureaucratic effort to destroy the raw material—the actual intelligence we had collected for years, and erase those dots. The dots constitute the intelligence needed to keep Americans safe, and the Obama administration was ordering they be wiped away.

After leaving my 15 year career at DHS, I can no longer be silent about the dangerous state of America’s counter-terror strategy, our leaders’ willingness to compromise the security of citizens for the ideological rigidity of political correctness—and, consequently, our vulnerability to devastating, mass-casualty attack.

Just before that Christmas Day attack, in early November 2009, I was ordered by my superiors at the Department of Homeland Security to delete or modify several hundred records of individuals tied to designated Islamist terror groups like Hamas from the important federal database, the Treasury Enforcement Communications System (TECS). These types of records are the basis for any ability to “connect dots.”  Every day, DHS Customs and Border Protection officers watch entering and exiting many individuals associated with known terrorist affiliations, then look for patterns. Enforcing a political scrubbing of records of Muslims greatly affected our ability to do that. Even worse, going forward, my colleagues and I were prohibited from entering pertinent information into the database.

A few weeks later, in my office at the Port of Atlanta, the television hummed with the inevitable Congressional hearings that follow any terrorist attack. While members of Congress grilled Obama administration officials, demanding why their subordinates were still failing to understand the intelligence they had gathered, I was being forced to delete and scrub the records. And I was well aware that, as a result, it was going to be vastly more difficult to “connect the dots” in the future—especially beforean attack occurs.

As the number of successful and attempted Islamic terrorist attacks on America increased, the type of information that the Obama administration ordered removed from travel and national security databases was the kind of information that, if properly assessed, could have prevented subsequent domestic Islamist attacks like the ones committed by Faisal Shahzad (May 2010), Detroit “honor killing” perpetrator Rahim A. Alfetlawi (2011); Amine El Khalifi, who plotted to blow up the U.S. Capitol (2012); Dzhokhar or Tamerlan Tsarnaev who conducted the Boston Marathon bombing (2013); Oklahoma beheading suspect Alton Nolen (2014); or Muhammed Yusuf Abdulazeez, who opened fire on two military installations in Chattanooga, Tennessee (2015).

It is very plausible that one or more of the subsequent terror attacks on the homeland could have been prevented if more subject matter experts in the Department of Homeland Security had been allowed to do our jobs back in late 2009. It is demoralizing—and infuriating—that today, those elusive dots are even harder to find, and harder to connect, than they were during the winter of 2009.

Has the Obama administration done a good job of preventing terrorist attacks? Does his attitude of blaming America deter terrorist attacks, or does it embolden radical Islamists to perform more attacks?

The Daily Caller lists 7 terrorist attacks that occurred during the 7 years of the Obama presidency, as of July 2015.

Here is one:

In November 2009, Army Major Nidal Malik Hasan opened fire in an attack at Fort Hood in Killeen, Texas. Hassan killed 13 people and wounded over 30 more.

In a document dated Oct. 18, 2012 obtained by Fox News, Hasan wrote: “I, Nidal Malik Hasan, am compelled to renounce any oaths of allegiances that require me to support/defend man made constitution (like the constitution of the United States) over the commandments mandated in Islam.”

The U.S. government has steadfastly refused to call Hasan’s militant slaughter a terrorist attack. Instead, federal officials have repeatedly characterized Hasan’s actions as “workplace violence.”

A U.S. military court sentenced Hasan, a military psychiatrist, to death in 2013.

And another:

In April 2013, Chechen brothers Dzhokhar Tsarnaev and Tamerlan Tsarnaev exploded two pressure cooker bombs near the finish line of the Boston Marathon.

The bombings killed three people including an eight-year-old boy. Hundreds of runners and spectators were seriously injured. Seventeen people saw their limbs blown off.

Three days later, the brothers ambushed and killed a Massachusetts Institute of Technology police officer.

Tamerlan Tsarnaev died when his brother ran over him with a stolen Mercedes SUV in the midst of a shootout with police. In April, a jury found Dzhokhar Tsarnaev guilty of 30 criminal counts. He later received the death penalty.

There is a plan to protect us from these sorts of activities, and it was recently announced by Obama’s attorney general, Loretta Lynch.

The Daily Wire reports:

Speaking to the audience at the Muslim Advocates’ 10th anniversary dinner Thursday, Lynch said her “greatest fear” is the “incredibly disturbing rise of anti-Muslim rhetoric” in America and vowed to prosecute any guilty of what she deemed violence-inspiring speech.

“The fear that you have just mentioned is in fact my greatest fear as a prosecutor, as someone who is sworn to the protection of all of the American people, which is that the rhetoric will be accompanied by acts of violence,” she said.

[…]After touting the numbers of “investigations into acts of anti-Muslim hatred” and “bigoted actions” against Muslims launched by her DOJ, Lynch suggested the Constitution does not protect “actions predicated on violent talk” and pledged to prosecute those responsible for such actions.

This is the same woman who declined to charge Lois Lerner for using the IRS as a weapon to persecute conservative groups in an election year.

Do you feel safe now? Do you think that the Democrats are serious about the threat of Islamic terrorism? Do you think that you should elect the Democrats again in November 2016?

Correcting four myths about the history of the Crusades

Crusader
Crusader

Here is an interesting article from First Principles Journal.

Intro:

The verdict seems unanimous. From presidential speeches to role-playing games, the crusades are depicted as a deplorably violent episode in which thuggish Westerners trundled off, unprovoked, to murder and pillage peace-loving, sophisticated Muslims, laying down patterns of outrageous oppression that would be repeated throughout subsequent history. In many corners of the Western world today, this view is too commonplace and apparently obvious even to be challenged.

But unanimity is not a guarantee of accuracy. What everyone “knows” about the crusades may not, in fact, be true. From the many popular notions about the crusades, let us pick four and see if they bear close examination.

The four myths:

  • Myth #1: The crusades represented an unprovoked attack by Western Christians on the Muslim world.
  • Myth #2: Western Christians went on crusade because their greed led them to plunder Muslims in order to get rich.
  • Myth #3: Crusaders were a cynical lot who did not really believe their own religious propaganda; rather, they had ulterior, materialistic motives.
  • Myth #4: The crusades taught Muslims to hate and attack Christians.

Here’s the most obvious thing you should know. The Crusades were defensive actions:

In a.d. 632, Egypt, Palestine, Syria, Asia Minor, North Africa, Spain, France, Italy, and the islands of Sicily, Sardinia, and Corsica were all Christian territories. Inside the boundaries of the Roman Empire, which was still fully functional in the eastern Mediterranean, orthodox Christianity was the official, and overwhelmingly majority, religion. Outside those boundaries were other large Christian communities—not necessarily orthodox and Catholic, but still Christian. Most of the Christian population of Persia, for example, was Nestorian. Certainly there were many Christian communities in Arabia.

By a.d. 732, a century later, Christians had lost Egypt, Palestine, Syria, North Africa, Spain, most of Asia Minor, and southern France. Italy and her associated islands were under threat, and the islands would come under Muslim rule in the next century. The Christian communities of Arabia were entirely destroyed in or shortly after 633, when Jews and Christians alike were expelled from the peninsula.6 Those in Persia were under severe pressure. Two-thirds of the formerly Roman Christian world was now ruled by Muslims.

What had happened? Most people actually know the answer, if pressed—though for some reason they do not usually connect the answer with the crusades. The answer is the rise of Islam. Every one of the listed regions was taken, within the space of a hundred years, from Christian control by violence, in the course of military campaigns deliberately designed to expand Muslim territory at the expense of Islam’s neighbors. Nor did this conclude Islam’s program of conquest. The attacks continued, punctuated from time to time by Christian attempts to push back. Charlemagne blocked the Muslim advance in far western Europe in about a.d. 800, but Islamic forces simply shifted their focus and began to island-hop across from North Africa toward Italy and the French coast, attacking the Italian mainland by 837. A confused struggle for control of southern and central Italy continued for the rest of the ninth century and into the tenth. In the hundred years between 850 and 950, Benedictine monks were driven out of ancient monasteries, the Papal States were overrun, and Muslim pirate bases were established along the coast of northern Italy and southern France, from which attacks on the deep inland were launched. Desperate to protect victimized Christians, popes became involved in the tenth and early eleventh centuries in directing the defense of the territory around them.

If you asked me what are the two best books on the Crusades, I would answer God’s Battalions: The Case for the Crusades by Baylor professor Rodney Stark and The Concise History of the Crusades by Professor Thomas F. Madden. If you get this question a lot from atheists, then I recommend you pick these up. Anything by Rodney Stark is useful for Christians, in fact.