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Friday, 10 February 2006
Fitzgerald: Three Cheers for European Colonialism

NER's Hugh Fitzgerald writes at Jihad Watch, ending with:

Arab Muslims suffered far less from European colonialism than did any other people in the soi-disant Third World -- far less than those in sub-Saharan Africa, in Central and South America, and in Asia. Indeed, it might be argued, and has been by many non-Arab ex-Muslims such as Anwar Shaikh (in his "Islam: The Arab Imperialism") that the most successful imperialism or colonialism of all time, has been that of the Arabs, who used Islam as a vehicle for arabization, especially of the cultural and linguistic kind: the taking of Arab names and false Arab lineages, using 7th century Arab customs as a model for all time, being required to read one's holy books in Arabic, and so on. That is what the Berbers are keenly aware of, and the Kurds, and the black African Muslims in Darfur.

It was the Arabs from Arabia who settled themselves in, and laid down the law to, every non-Arab and non-Muslim people they conquered. Even so, it took quite a while to become a majority in these lands. In Egypt, for example, the Christian Copts, the original Egyptians, were still a majority in the first part of the 13th century. But then a campaign of persecution, murder, and forcible conversion began, and within a short period they were reduced from more than 50% of the population to about 10% -- their proportion today.

Let us discuss the thousand years, and more, of Arab "colonialism" in the Sudan, in the Kabyle, in the East Indies (look at what happened to the Hindus and the Buddhists who once made up the population of that vast archipelago), in Persia. Let us compare that to the almost complete absence of "colonialism" in the classic sense, anywhere that Europeans ruled over Arabs and Muslims -- save for the one exception of Algeria.

And that was, in comparison to what preceded it, or what came after, a lucid interval of Western civilization.

Posted on 02/10/2006 9:33 AM by Rebecca Bynum
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