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The Islamization of Europe

Andrew G. Bostom

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Eurabia - The Euro-Arab Axis, by Bat Ye'or
Associated University Presses, 2005, 384 pp.

On a recent trip to Switzerland, I encountered a gigantic mural in the Zurich Airport which depicted a proto-typical Swiss goat and sheep herder leading his flocks over an Alpine mountain pass, meeting a fully cloaked and turbaned Arab camel herder. Below the mural, a caption read, "You never know who you'll meet in Switzerland". This bucolic image struck me as bizarre, not having been personally conditioned to Western Europe’s deliberate sociopolitical transformation over the past 30 years. I was reminded of these prescient words, written a quarter century ago by the great historian of Medieval European Islam, Charles Emmanuel Dufourcq, who was concerned (even then) that historical and cultural revisionism might precipitate a recurrence of

  • …the upheaval carried out on our continent (i.e., Europe) by Islamic penetration more than a thousand years ago…with other methods. 1

Ibn Hudayl, a 14th century Granadan author of an important treatise on jihad, explained the original methods which facilitated the violent, chaotic jihad conquest of the Iberian peninsula, and other parts of Europe:

  • It is permissible to set fire to the lands of the enemy, his stores of grain, his beasts of burden – if it is not possible for the Muslims to take possession of them – as well as to cut down his trees, to raze his cities, in a word, to do everything that might ruin and discourage him, provided that the imam (i.e. the religious “guide” of the community of believers) deems these measures appropriate, suited to hastening the Islamization of that enemy or to weakening him. Indeed, all this contributes to a military triumph over him or to forcing him to capitulate. 2

And Dufourcq characterized the impact of these repeated attacks, indistinguishable in motivation from modern acts of jihad terrorism, like the Madrid bombings on 3/11/04:

  • It is not difficult to understand that such expeditions sowed terror. The historian al-Maqqari, who wrote in seventeenth-century Tlemcen in Algeria, explains that the panic created by the Arab horsemen and sailors, at the time of the Muslim expansion in the zones that saw those raids and landings, facilitated the later conquest, if that was decided on: ‘Allah,’ he says, ‘thus instilled such fear among the infidels that they did not dare to go and fight the conquerors; they only approached them as suppliants, to beg for peace.’ ” 3

Nearly two centuries of intermittent mythmaking aside, from Washington Irving 4 to Rosa Maria Menocal 5 , the Islamic jihad conquest and rule of the Iberian peninsula was not a pacific process which created a model ecumenical society of Muslims, Christians, and Jews. From the two greatest modern historians of Muslim Spain, Evariste Levi-Provencal 6 and Dufourcq 7, we learn the following, all of which occurred before (and thus in addition to) the well-known 12th century Muslim Almohad persecutions: The Iberian peninsula was conquered in 710-716 C.E. by Arab tribes originating from northern, central and southern Arabia. Massive Berber and Arab immigration, and the colonization of the Iberian peninsula, followed the conquest. Most churches were converted into mosques. Although the conquest had been planned and conducted jointly with a faction of Iberian Christian dissidents, including a bishop, it proceeded as a classical jihad with massive pillages, enslavements, deportations and killings. Toledo, which had first submitted to the Arabs in 711 or 712, revolted in 713. The town was punished by pillage and all the notables had their throats cut. In 730, the Cerdagne (in Septimania, near Barcelona) was ravaged and a bishop burned alive. In the regions under stable Islamic control, subjugated non-Muslim dhimmis -Jews and Christians- like elsewhere in other Islamic lands – were prohibited from building new churches or synagogues, or restoring the old ones. Segregated in special quarters, they had to wear discriminatory clothing. Subjected to heavy taxes, the Christian peasantry formed a servile class exploited by the dominant Arab ruling elites; many abandoned their land and fled to the towns. Harsh reprisals with mutilations and crucifixions would sanction the Mozarab (Christian dhimmis) calls for help from the Christian kings. Moreover, if one dhimmi harmed a Muslim, the whole community would lose its status of protection, leaving it open to pillage, enslavement and arbitrary killing.


  1. Charles Emmanuel Dufourcq, La Vie Quotidienne dans l’Europe Medievale sous Domination Arabe, Paris, 1978; pp. 9-10.
  2. Ibn Hudayl (French translation by Louis Mercier), L’Ornement des Ames, Paris, 1939, p. 195.
  3. Dufourcq, Europe Medievale sous Domination Arabe, p. 20

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Posted: 1/4/05

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