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The Crusades

           In 1095 the Pope Pope Urban II declared the first of many Christian “crusades” to liberate the “holy lands” in the Middle East from “heretical” Muslim control.  The first mass movement of Europe, these crusades lasted many years and resulted in both many deaths and much bad blood between the “eastern” Muslim and “western” Christian worlds.  The bloodshed and hostile feelings engendered by the Crusades are not a strong part of the consciousness, but in the Islamic world it is the opposite: the Crusades and violent European intervention in the Middle East is not a thing of the past, but a historical continuum that affects people today and tomorrow.  The creation of the State of Israel in 1947, for example, is decried by many Muslims as merely the newest Crusade bringing foreigners from Europe to the Middle East to usurp Muslim lands.  The insertion of United States military forces into the region is also criticized in such terms.  The Middle East is a region where memories run long and history lies heavy on the land, and any understanding of relations between Muslims and non-Muslims must take into account the events and legacy of the Christian Crusades of the Medieval Age.

Questions to keep in mind:  Why did Western Europeans originally undertake the Crusades to the Middle East? What were the impressions in Constantinople and in Jerusalem when the Crusaders arrived? Why did they feel this way? What were the major events and persons involved in the Crusades? Who do the Muslims look at as their hero? Why? What deep feelings did the European presence engender in Muslims in the Middle East? How did the Crusades affect relations between Muslims and Jews and Christians inside the Middle East? Why do many Muslims still remember very powerfully the Crusades and draw comparisons from it and contemporary events? What does Salah-al-Din symbolize for many Muslims? Who are the Muslims in the modern Middle East who have invoked his legacy? How do other Muslims feel superior to the West? How have certain Muslims traditionally tried to protect their cultures from outside interference? How did English involvement with the Arab Revolt during WWI?  Why did the English do this? What was the outcome for Arabs? How did they feel about this? How did this serve to underscore historical prejudices felt towards the West? What do many Muslims think of Western ways and Western power? What uncomfortable long-term trends can some Muslims in the Middle East see over the past few centuries? What has been their response?


Check out this link dealing with the historical background between Christians and Muslims.

Check out in detail all the Crusader links at Yahoo! and Open Directory.