Islam, as Winston Churchill saw it |
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Islam, as Winston Churchill saw it

Among artifacts I acquired over many years is a handsome wooden spear, shiny from a hundred-year accumulation of patina. It is 8 feet long with a sharp 12-inch iron point. It was found on the dusty battlefield at Omdurman, near Khartoum, in Sudan after the Mahdist War in the fall of 1898. Fifty thousand fanatical Muslims were defeated by an 8,000-man British force leading 17,000 Sudanese and Egyptian soldiers.

I had two of these handmade spears. But some years ago, I gave one to my warrior friend, Lt. Col. Bill Cowan of Fox News, an admirer of Lord Kitchener, who led the British forces in that war against the fanatical Muslim Dervishes commanded by “The Khalifa,” Abdallahi ibn Muhammad.

Winston Churchill, my favorite world figure, fought in the Omdurman battle with the British 21st Lancer Regiment. He wrote a book about his adventures and the war, two volumes titled “The River War: An Historical Account of the Reconquest of the Soudan.” It was published in 1899 when Churchill was 25 years old.

“The River War” contained Churchill’s assessment of Islam — accurate, prescient and still hated by liberals:

“How dreadful are the curses which Mohammedanism lays on its votaries! Besides the fanatical frenzy, which is as dangerous in a man as hydrophobia in a dog, there is this fearful fatalistic apathy. The effects are apparent in many countries. Improvident habits, slovenly systems of agriculture, sluggish methods of commerce and insecurity of property exist wherever the followers of the Prophet rule or live.

“A degraded sensualism deprives this life of its grace and refinement; the next of its dignity and sanctity. The fact that in Mohammedan law every woman must belong to some man as his absolute property — either as a child, a wife or a concubine — must delay the final extinction of slavery until the faith of Islam has ceased to be a great power among men. Thousands become the brave and loyal soldiers of the Queen: all know how to die; but the influence of the religion paralyses the social development of those who follow it. No stronger retrograde force exists in the world.

“Far from being moribund, Mohammedanism is a militant and proselytizing faith. It has already spread throughout Central Africa, raising fearless warriors at every step; and were it not that Christianity is sheltered in the strong arms of science, the science against which it had vainly struggled, the civilization of modern Europe might fall, as fell the civilization of ancient Rome.”

Twelve people were murdered in cold blood when masked attackers carrying automatic weapons burst into the satirical magazine Charlie Hebdo in Paris. The magazine has ridiculed Islam, among other religions. The invaders were screaming “Allahu Akbar” and “The prophet has been avenged.”

Said President Obama, in a speech before the United Nations in 2012: “The future must not belong to those who slander the Prophet Mohammad.”


Richard W. Carlson is a former U.S. ambassador to the Seychelles and the former director of the Voice of America.

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