Tuesday, November 15, 2005

An invisible massacre

"The army entered the city, massacred its inhabitants, pillaged and burned it, leaving it in ruins, making prisoners of all who escaped the massacre, and took possession. [The number of dead was such] that one could not make way for himself without crossing over them. The number of prisoners were not less than 30,000 souls."

Whenever the subject of the Crusades comes up these days, one almost always hears about the massacre of the Muslim defenders of Jerusalem when the Crusaders took it in 1099. One also hears about how vividly this is remembered in the Muslim world even today, and how we can hardly blame them for being angry with the West, etc., etc.

But the passage quoted above isn't about Jerusalem, and it isn't about a Crusader conquest.

It's a contemporary account of the Muslim capture and sack of Ani, the capital of Christian Armenia, in 1064 -- thirty-five years before the Crusaders showed up before the walls of Jerusalem. You won't read about it in the mainstream press, or hear about it on the History Channel, though; because it was a Muslim massacre, it's invisible, a non-event. You're not allowed to know about it.

Now, the account above was written by Matthew of Edessa, an Armenian historian living at that time, so one might suspect a certain amount of exaggeration. So how do contemporary Islamic annals describe the taking of Ani?

"They entered the city and killed more inhabitants than one could count, so that many of the Muslims were unable to enter the city because there were so many corpses. They took captive nearly as many as they killed. The happy news of these conquests travelled around these lands and the Muslims rejoiced. The report... was read out in Baghdad in the Caliphal palace, and the Caliph issued a rescript praising and blessing [the Muslim commander at Ani] Arp Arslan."

Dancing in the streets of Baghdad a thousand years ago at the news of the deaths of so many infidels. Dancing in the streets of Gaza four years ago, on 9/11.

Ah, that changeless Religion of Peace.