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Jihad in Europe: Past as Prologue? By: Andrew G. Bostom
FrontPageMagazine.com | Monday, February 20, 2006

This past fall, after three successive weeks of rioting in France by predominantly Muslim youths, the violence ebbed, albeit to an uneasy level in excess of the early October 2005 “baseline” before the riots. For example, about 60 cars per night continued to be burned as of December 8, 2005, and the number soared to 425 New Year’s Eve 2006, in “troubled,” i.e., Muslim neighborhoods. Then on New Years Day, teenagers of Arab Muslim origin, rampaged through a train between Nice and Lyon, intimidating and robbing passengers, and allegedly assaulting at least one young woman, sexually, prompting the creation of a special French police force to ensure security for railway passengers. During the fall 2005 intifada, the overwhelmingly Muslim rioters engaged in acts of wanton destruction, punctuated by claims of “territorial control” over sections of various French cities. In the context of this havoc, one saw repeated references to the term “Eurabia” by journalists and other media and academic elites, who, almost without exception, had no idea about the concrete origins, or significance of this term.

The use of the term “Eurabia,” as noted by Bat Ye’or, was first introduced, triumphally, in the mid-1970s, as the title of a journal produced by the Association for Franco-Arab Solidarity, and published in Geneva, Paris, and London. The articles and editorials in this publication called for common Euro-Arab positions, at every level – social, economic, and commercial – and were contingent upon the fundamental political condition of European support for the Arab (and non-Arab) Muslim umma’s jihad against Israel. These concrete proposals were not the musings of isolated theorists – they in fact represented policy decisions conceived in conjunction with, and actualized by, European state leaders, their ministers of foreign affairs, and European Parliamentarians.

Nearly 2-years ago, Bat Ye’or summarized the bitter harvest Western Europe was reaping from the sociopolitical and cultural changes it had sewn over the intervening three decades, the result:  

of a global movement that is transforming Europe into a new continent of dhimmitude within a worldwide strategy of jihad and da’wa, the latter being the pacific method of Islamization…this policy of dhimmitude for the Euro-Arabian continent…entitled “Dialogue between Peoples and Cultures in the Euro-Mediterranean Region” was accepted by the European Union in December 2003. Unfortunately, the policy of “Dialogue” with the Arab League nations, willfully pursued by Europe for the past three decades, has promoted European dhimmitude and rabid Judeophobia.


And rabid Judeophobia is an apt characterization. During a November 14, 2005 presentation at The Center for Immigration Studies, in Washington, D.C., Stephen Steinlight, former director of education at the U.S. Holocaust Memorial Council, and subsequently director of national affairs at the American Jewish Committee, cited data demonstrating that Muslim youths, or more appropriately, youthful Muslim thugs, engaged in an average of 12 attacks per day on Parisian Jews, “putting the figures…close to [those] during the days of the Weimar Republic.” The twisted justification for such violent bigotry was evident in a Times of London poll whose results were just published on February 7, 2006, revealing that 37 per cent of British Muslims believe the Jewish community in Britain is a legitimate target “as part of the ongoing struggle for ‘justice’ in the Middle East.”


It is within this harrowing context that one must view the apologetics regarding the French riots, or “intifada,” by pundits across the political spectrum, and on both sides of the Atlantic, who denied or trivialized the role of Islam. For example, although twelve Christian churches were desecrated and/or burned by the overwhelmingly Muslim rioters in France, these bigoted acts were barely reported by investigative journalists or bloggers, and ignored altogether by pontificating commentators. Apologetic assessments further ignored the existence of ominous and influential Islamic entities such as the Arab European League—a hideous group which equates the assimilation of Muslims within a European context, to rape—or the European Fatwa Council, headed by Muslim Brotherhood “spiritual” leader Yusuf Al-Qaradawi, who sanctions homicide bombings against Israeli non-combatants, and issued a public fatwa on December 2, 2002, calling on Muslims to conquer Europe, stating, “Islam will return to Europe as a conqueror and a victor after being expelled from it twice – once from the south, from Andalusia, and a second time, from the east, when it knocked several times on the doors of Athens.” Qaradawi’s fatwa ruled, in addition, that Muslims should re-conquer, “former Islamic colonies to Andalus (Spain), southern Italy, Sicily, the Balkans and the Mediterranean islands.”


Also absent from the apologetic analyses of the recent French riots were the alarming statements made by European Muslim leaders at a conference entitled, “Islam in Europe” that accompanied the July 10, 2003, opening of the new Granada Mosque. The keynote speaker at this erstwhile “ecumenical” conference, Umar Ibrahim Vadillo, a Spanish Muslim leader,  implored Muslims to cause an economic collapse of Western economies (by switching to gold dinars, and ceasing to use Western currencies), while the German Muslim leader Abu Bakr Rieger told attendees not to adapt their Islamic religious practices to accommodate European (i.e., Western Enlightenment?) values.


Rieger’s pronouncements were in turn consistent with survey research conducted subsequently in 2004 indicating that 21 percent of his co-religionist German Muslims believed the German constitution was irreconcilable with their ultimate source of authority, the Koran. Finally, none of the apologetic narratives acknowledged, let alone addressed the implications of disturbing survey results from British Muslims polled in January 2005, and again shortly after the 7/7/05 London bombings. These data revealed that 60 percent of British Muslims surveyed prior to the bombings felt those who engaged in mere criticism of Islam should face criminal prosecution, while one-third were brazen enough to admit after 7/7/05, “Western society is decadent and immoral and...Muslims should seek to bring it to an end,” expressing ostensibly, their desire to replace Britain’s current liberal democracy with a Shari’a-based theocratic model.


French philosopher Alain Finkielkraut noted, appositely, that it was a reductio ad absurdum to view the “social dimension” of the riots in France exclusively (and obsessively), as:


a revolt of youths from the suburbs against their situation, against the discrimination they suffer from, against the unemployment. The problem is that most of these youths are blacks or Arabs with a Muslim identity….in France there are also other immigrants whose situation is difficult—Chinese, Vietnamese, Portuguese—and they're not taking part in the riots. Therefore, it is clear that this is a revolt with an ethno-religious character. 


Despite Finkielkraudt’s salient observations (which lead to his public vilification), and others by the rare reporters Melanie Phillips aptly lauded for simply having “their heads screwed on the right way,” Phillips warned of the dominant mentality which sought to negate the truth through vilification, and replace reality with fantasy.


Amir Taheri has cited perhaps the most disturbing example of this proclivity to indulge ahistorical and dangerous fantasy. The mythical invention of a purportedly “ecumenical” Islamic rule in Europe was revived—the “Andalusian paradise” of Muslim Spain. Taheri reported that Gilles Kepel, who (despite arguing prior to 9/11 that jihadism was a “spent force” within the global Muslim umma!) continued to serve as an adviser on Islam to President Chirac, recommended the creation of a modern Andalusia, “in which Christians and Muslims would live side by side and cooperate to create a new cultural synthesis.” Taheri, but unfortunately, not Kepel, Chirac’s adviser, possessed the wisdom to ponder the critical matter of sovereign political power, asking “Who will rule this new Andalusia: Muslims or the largely secularist Frenchmen?” Other muddled thinkers, were according to Taheri, “even calling for the areas where Muslims form a majority of the population to be reorganized on the basis of the ‘millet’ system of the Ottoman Empire: Each religious community (millet) would enjoy the right to organize its social, cultural and educational life in accordance with its religious beliefs.”


To address Taheri’s pressing concerns, one must understand the uniquely Islamic institution of jihad, which ultimately regulates the sociopolitical relations between Muslims and non-Muslims, to this day.


There is only one historically relevant meaning of jihad regardless of contemporary apologetics. The noted 19th century Arabic lexicographer E.W. Lane, who studied the etymology of the term, observed, “Jihad came to be used by the Muslims to signify wag[ing] war, against unbelievers”. Jihad was pursued century after century because jihad embodied an ideology and a jurisdiction. Both were formally conceived by Muslim jurisconsults and theologians from the 8th to 9th centuries onward, based on their interpretation of Qur'anic verses and long chapters in the Traditions (i.e., “hadith,” acts and sayings of the Prophet Muhammad).

Ibn Khaldun (d. 1406), jurist, renowned philosopher, historian, and sociologist, summarized the consensus opinions from five centuries of prior Muslim jurisprudence with regard to the uniquely Islamic institution of jihad:

In the Muslim community, the holy war is a religious duty, because of the universalism of the [Muslim] mission and [the obligation to] convert everybody to Islam either by persuasion or by force...The other religious groups did not have a universal mission, and the holy war was not a religious duty for them, save only for purposes of defense...Islam is under obligation to gain power over other nations. [5]


Confirming Ibn Khaldun’s assessment, the late Muslim scholar, Majid Khadduri, wrote the following in his authoritative 1955 treatise on jihad, War and Peace in the Law of Islam:


Thus the jihad may be regarded as Islam’s instrument for carrying out its ultimate objective by turning all people into believers, if not in the prophethood of Muhammad (as in the case of the dhimmis), at least in the belief of God. The Prophet Muhammad is reported to have declared ‘some of my people will continue to fight victoriously for the sake of the truth until the last one of them will combat the anti-Christ.’ Until that moment is reached the jihad, in one form or another will remain as a permanent obligation upon the entire Muslim community. It follows that the existence of a dar al-harb is ultimately outlawed under the Islamic jural order; that the dar al-Islam is permanently under jihad obligation until the dar al-harb is reduced to non-existence; and that any community accepting certain disabilities- must submit to Islamic rule and reside in the dar al-Islam or be bound as clients to the Muslim community. The universality of Islam, in its all embracing creed, is imposed on the believers as a continuous process of warfare, psychological and political if not strictly military.

By the early 10th century (923), jihad wars had expanded the Muslim empire from Portugal to the Indian subcontinent. Subsequent Muslim conquests continued in Asia, as well as Eastern Europe. The Christian kingdoms of Armenia, Byzantium, Bulgaria, Serbia, Bosnia, Herzegovina, Croatia, and Albania, in addition to parts of Poland and Hungary, were also conquered and Islamized.  When the Muslim armies were stopped at the gates of Vienna in 1683, over a millennium of jihad had transpired. These tremendous military successes spawned a triumphalist jihad literature. Muslim historians recorded in detail the number of infidels slaughtered, or enslaved and deported, the cities and villages which were pillaged, and the lands, treasure, and movable goods seized. Christian (Coptic, Armenian, Jacobite, Greek, Slav, etc.), as well as Hebrew sources, and even the scant Hindu and Buddhist writings which survived the ravages of the Muslim conquests, independently validate this narrative, and complement the Muslim perspective by providing testimonies of the suffering of the non-Muslim victims of jihad wars.

In The Laws of Islamic Governance, al-Mawardi (d. 1058), a renowned jurist of Baghdad, examined the regulations pertaining to the lands and infidel (i.e., non-Muslim) populations subjugated by jihad. This is the origin of the system of dhimmitude. The native infidel population had to recognize Islamic ownership of their land, submit to Islamic law, and accept payment of the poll tax (jizya). Reconciliation and security last as lone as the pavment is made. If the pavment ceases, then the jihad resumes. A treaty of reconciliation may be renewable, but must not exceed 10 years. [9] The “contract of the jizya.” or “dhimma” encompassed other obligatory and recommended obligations for the conquered non-Muslim "dhimmi" peoples. Collectively, these "obligations" formed the discriminatory system of dhimmitude imposed upon non-Muslims-Jews, Christians, Zoroastrians, Hindus, and Buddhists-subjugated by jihad.


Andalusia” Without Camouflage


The Iberian peninsula was conquered in 710-716 A.D. as a classical jihad, i.e.,  with enormous pillaging, enslavement, deportation, and massacre. Most churches were converted into mosques. Massive Arab and Berber immigration and colonization ensued. 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. By the end of the eighth century, the rulers of North Africa and of Andalusia had introduced rigorous Maliki jurisprudence as the predominant school of Muslim law. Thus, as Evariste Lévi-Provençal, observed, three quarters of a century ago in his seminal analysis of Muslim Spain:


The Muslim Andalusian state thus appears from its earliest origins as the defender and champion of a jealous orthodoxy, more and more ossified in a blind respect for a rigid doctrine, suspecting and condemning in advance the least effort of rational speculation.


Charles Emmanuel Dufourcq, another preeminent scholar of Muslim Iberia, provides these illustrations of the resulting religious and legal discriminations dhimmis suffered, and the accompanying incentives for them to convert to Islam:


Non-payment of the poll-tax (jizya) by a dhimmi made him liable to all the Islamic penalties for debtors who did not repay their creditors;  the offender could be sold into slavery or even put to death.  In addition, non-payment of the poll-tax by one or several dhimmis – especially if it was fraudulent – allowed the Moslem authority, at its discretion, to put an end to the autonomy of the community to which the guilty party or parties belonged.  Thus, from one day to the next, all the Christians (or Jews) in a city could lose their status as a protected people through the fault of just one of them.  Everything could be called into question, including their personal liberty…Furthermore, non-payment of the legal tribute was not the only reason for abrogating the status of the “People of the Book”;  another was “public outrage against the Islamic faith”, for example, leaving exposed, for Moslems to see, a cross or wine or even pigs...


by converting [to Islam], one would no longer have to be confined to a given district, or be the victim of discriminatory measures or suffer humiliations…the entire Islamic law tended to favor conversions. When an "infidel" became a Moslem, he immediately benefited from a complete amnesty for all of his earlier crimes, even if he had been sentenced to the death penalty, even if it was for having insulted the Prophet or blasphemed against the Word of God: his conversion acquitted him of all his faults, of all his previous sins.


Society was sharply divided along ethnic and religious lines, with the Arab tribes at the top of the hierarchy, followed by the Berbers who were never recognized as equals, despite their Islamization; lower in the scale came other (the mullawadun) local converts to Islam and, at the very bottom, the dhimmi Christians and Jews.


In Granada, the Jewish viziers Samuel Ibn Naghrela, and his son Joseph, who protected the Jewish community, were both assassinated between 1056 to 1066, followed by the annihilation of the Jewish population by the local Muslims. It is estimated that up to five thousand Jews perished in the pogrom by Muslims that accompanied the 1066 assassination. This figure equals or exceeds the number of Jews reportedly killed by the Crusaders during their pillage of the Rhineland, some thirty years later, at the outset of the First Crusade. The Granada pogrom was likely to have been incited, in part, by the bitter anti-Jewish ode of Abu Ishaq a well known Muslim jurist and poet of the times.


The discriminatory policies of the Berber Muslim Almoravids, who arrived in Spain in 1086, and subsequently those of the even more fanaticized and violent Almohad Berber Muslims (who arrived in Spain in 1146-1147) caused a rapid attrition of the pre-Islamic Iberian Christian communities, nearly extinguishing them. The Almoravid attitude towards the Christian dhimmi Mozarabs is well reflected by three successive expulsions of the latter to Morocco: in 1106, 1126, and 1138. The oppressed Mozarabs sent emissaries to the king of Aragon, Alphonso 1st le Batailleur (1104-1134), asking him to come to their rescue and deliver them from the Almoravids. Following  the raid that the King of Aragon launched in Andalusia in 1125-1126 in responding to the pleas of Grenada’s Mozarabs, the latter were deported en masse to Morocco in the Fall of 1126. 

The succeeding Almohads (1130-1232) wrought tremendous destruction upon both the Jewish and Christian populations in Spain and North Africa. This devastation—massacre, captivity, and forced conversion—was described by the Jewish chronicler Abraham Ibn Daud, and the poet Abraham Ibn Ezra. Suspicious of the sincerity of the Jewish converts to Islam, Muslim “inquisitors” (i.e., antedating their Christian Spanish counterparts by three centuries) removed the children from such families, placing them in the care of Muslim educators. Maimonides, the renowned philosopher and physician, experienced the Almohad persecutions, and had to flee Cordoba with his entire family in 1148, temporarily residing in Fez—disguised as a Muslim—before finding asylum in Fatimid Egypt. Indeed, although Maimonides is frequently referred to as a paragon of Jewish achievement facilitated by the enlightened rule of Andalusia, his own words debunk this utopian view of the Islamic treatment of Jews:

the Arabs have persecuted us severely, and passed baneful and discriminatory legislation against us...Never did a nation molest, degrade, debase, and hate us as much as they….

These brutal, discriminatory practices resulted in a massive emigration of Jews and Jewish converts to Islam to the Christian kingdoms of the Iberian peninsula, from both Muslim-controlled Al-Aandalus and the North African Maghreb. During the first half of the 13th century, Jaime the I of Aragon, in particular, advanced policies of protecting Jews within his territories, granting safe-conduct and letters of naturalization to all Jews who made their way by land or sea, and established themselves in the states of Majorca, Catalonia, and Valencia. Jewish converts to Islam were permitted to return to Judaism if they wished so. Within 250 years, however, the descendants of these Jews who had escaped the Muslim Almohad depredations, would be subjected to the fanatical rage of the Spanish Inquisition, and some of them would find refuge under the suzerainty of the Muslim Ottoman empire, especially in the region of Salonika, at the end of the 15th century. To complete this morose cycle of persecution, the vacuum filled by Jews fleeing the Spanish Inquisition was created when their co-religionist counterparts—the Jews living under Byzantine (and Venetian) rule in Thrace—were subjected to massacre, pillage, enslavement, and deportation by these same Ottoman conquerors, during their jihad campaigns of the early to mid-15th century.


The “Tolerant” Millet System—From Ottoman Jihad to Ottoman Dhimmitude


Molla Khosrew (d. 1480) was a celebrated writer and  Hanafi jurist, who was appointed the Ottoman Shaykh-al-Islam, the leading clerical authority, by Sultan Mehmed II in 1469. He wrote authoritative, widely cited legal works, which reiterated these classical views on jihad:


jihad is a fard al-kifaya, that is, that one must begin the fight against the enemy, even when he [the enemy] may not have taken the initiative to fight, because the Prophet...early on…allowed believers to defend themselves, later, however, he ordered them to take the initiative at certain times of the year, that is, at the end of the haram months, saying, “Kill the idolaters wherever you find them...” (Q9:5). He finally ordered fighting without limitations, at all times and in all places, saying, “Fight those who do not believe in God, and in the Last Day...”(Q9:29); there are also other [similar] verses on the subject. This shows that it is a fard al-kifaya


The contemporary Turkish scholar of Ottoman history, Halil Inalcik, has emphasized how this conception of jihad—as formulated by Molla Khosrew, and both his predecessors and followers—was a primary motivation for the conquests of the Ottoman Turks:


The ideal of gaza, Holy War, was an important factor in the foundation and development of the Ottoman state. Society in the frontier principalities conformed to a particular cultural pattern imbued with the ideal of continuous Holy War and continuous expansion of the Dar ul Islam-the realms of Islam- until they covered the whole world.


Incited by pious Muslim theologians, these ghazis were at the vanguard of both the Seljuk and Ottoman jihad conquests. A.E. Vacalopoulos highlights the role of the dervishes during the Ottoman campaigns:


fanatical dervishes and other devout Muslim leaders…constantly toiled for the dissemination of Islam. They had done so from the very beginning of the Ottoman state and had played an important part in the consolidation and extension of Islam. These dervishes were particularly active in the uninhabited frontier regions of the east. Here they settled down with their families, attracted other settlers, and thus became the virtual founders of whole new villages, whose inhabitants invariably exhibited the same qualities of deep religious fervor. From places such as these, the dervishes or their agents would emerge to take part in new military enterprises for the extension of the Islamic state.


The Islamization of Asia Minor was complemented by parallel and subsequent Ottoman jihad campaigns in the Balkans. Vacalopoulos, commenting on the initial Ottoman forays into Thrace during the mid 14th century, and Dimitar Angelov, who provides an overall assessment highlighting the later campaigns of Murad II (1421-1451) and Mehmed II (1451-1481), elucidate the impact of the Ottoman jihad on the vanquished Balkan populations:


From the very beginning of the Turkish onslaught [in Thrace] under Suleiman [son of Sultan Orchan], the Turks tried to consolidate their position by the forcible imposition of Islam. If [the Ottoman historian] Sukrullah is to be believed, those who refused to accept the Moslem faith were slaughtered and their families enslaved. “Where there were bells”, writes the same author [i.e., Sukrullah], “Suleiman broke them up and cast them into fires. Where there were churches he destroyed them or converted them into mosques. Thus, in place of bells there were now muezzins. Wherever Christian infidels were still found, vassalage was imposed on their rulers. At least in public they could no longer say ‘kyrie eleison’ but rather ‘There is no God but Allah’; and where once their prayers had been addressed to Christ, they were now to “Muhammad, the prophet of Allah.’”


…the conquest of the Balkan Peninsula accomplished by the Turks over the course of about two centuries caused the incalculable ruin of material goods, countless massacres, the enslavement and exile of a great part of the population – in a word, a general and protracted decline of productivity, as was the case with Asia Minor after it was occupied by the same invaders.  This decline in productivity is all the more striking when one recalls that in the mid-fourteenth century, as the Ottomans were gaining a foothold on the peninsula, the States that existed there – Byzantium, Bulgaria and Serbia – had already reached a rather high level of economic and cultural development....The campaigns of Mourad II (1421-1451) and especially those of his successor, Mahomet II (1451-1481) in Serbia, Bosnia, Albania and in the Byzantine princedom of the Peloponnesus, were of a particularly devastating character.  During the campaign that the Turks launched in Serbia in 1455-1456, Belgrade, Novo-Bardo and other towns were to a great extent destroyed. The invasion of the Turks in Albania during the summer of 1459 caused enormous havoc.  According to the account of it written by Kritobulos, the invaders destroyed the entire harvest and leveled the fortified towns that they had captured. The country was afflicted with further devastation in 1466 when the Albanians, after putting up heroic resistance, had to withdraw into the most inaccessible regions, from which they continued the struggle. Many cities were likewise ruined during the course of the campaign led by Mahomet II in 1463 against Bosnia – among them Yaytzé, the capital of the Kingdom of Bosnia…But it was the Peloponnesus that suffered most from the Turkish invasions.  It was invaded in 1446 by the armies of Murad II, which destroyed a great number of places and took thousands of prisoners. Twelve years later, during the summer of 1458, the Balkan Peninsula was invaded by an enormous Turkish army under the command of Mahomet II and his first lieutenant Mahmoud Pasha.  After a siege that lasted four months, Corinth fell into enemy hands.  Its walls were razed, and many places that the sultan considered useless were destroyed. The work by Kritobulos contains an account of the Ottoman campaigns, which clearly shows us the vast destruction caused by the invaders in these regions.  Two years later another Turkish army burst into the Peloponnesus.  This time Gardiki and several other places were ruined. Finally, in 1464, for the third time, the destructive rage of the invaders was aimed at the Peloponnesus.  That was when the Ottomans battled the Venetians and leveled the city of Argos to its foundations.


In examining how the non-Muslim populations vanquished by the Ottoman jihad campaigns fared, it is useful to begin with the Jews, the least numerous population, who are also generally believed to have had quite a positive experience. Joseph Hacker studied the fate of Jews during their initial absorption into the Ottoman Empire in the 15th and 16th centuries. His research questions the uncritical view that from its outset the, “..Jewish experience” in the Ottoman Empire “was a calm, peaceful, and fruitful one.” Hacker notes that the Jews, like other inhabitants of the Byzantine Empire, suffered heavily from the Ottoman jihad conquests and policies of colonization and population transfer (i.e., the surgun system).  This explains the disappearance of several Jewish communities, including Salonica, and their founding anew by Spanish Jewish immigrants. Hacker observes, specifically:


the fate of the Jews was not different from that of Christians.  Many were killed; others were taken captive, and children were [enslaved, forcibly converted to Islam, and] brought to devshirme....


Three summary conclusions are drawn by Hacker: (i) Strong anti-Ottoman feelings prevailed in some Byzantine Jewish circles in the first decades after the fall of Constantinople. (ii) Mehmed II's  protective policies toward non-Muslims, especially Jews were not continued by Bayezid II and there is evidence that under his rule the Jews suffered severe restrictions in their religious life.; (iii) The friendly policies of Mehmed on the one hand, and the good reception, initially, by Bayezid II of Spanish Jewry on the other, cause the Jewish writers of the sixteenth century to overlook both the destruction which Byzantine Jewry suffered during the Ottoman conquests and the later outbursts of oppression under both Bayezid II and Selim I.

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Andrew G. Bostom is a frequent contributor to Frontpage Magazine.com, and the author of The Legacy of Jihad, and the forthcoming The Legacy of Islamic Antisemitism.

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