Christians and Muslims are distorting crusades, says historian





Christian and Muslim attempts to draw parallels between the tensions of today and the crusades of almost 1,000 years ago are a distortion and manipulation of history, according to historian Tom Asbridge.

Speaking at the Guardian Hay festival today, Asbridge, author of two books on the crusades, argued that the modern belief that the Christian and Muslim worlds have been "inevitably predicated towards conflict" since the crusaders took Jerusalem in 1099 is not based on historical realities.

"This is a manipulation of history, not a reality. I believe there is no division linking the medieval past and the conflict of the crusades with the modern world," he said. "[It's a] misunderstanding which goes back to the 19th century and western triumphalism in emerging colonialism, and the tendency of western historians to start to glorify the crusades as a proto-colonial enterprise, an [obsession] with Richard the Lionheart and a burgeoning interest in [Muslim leader] Saladin as almost the noble savage."

Parts of the Muslim world, meanwhile, seized upon George Bush's comment after the terrorist attacks on 9/11 that "this crusade … this war on terror is going to take a while" to show that they almost expected there would come a reignition of a holy war....


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