By Umej Bhatia
RSIS Monograph No. 12, Nanyang Technological University, 2008
Launched a thousand years ago, the Crusades live on in Muslim memory. Extremists like Al Qaeda’s chief Osama bin Laden say that the West is waging a renewed Crusade to destroy Islam. The grievance even shapes the region’s enduring source of instability, the Palestinian issue.
The Crusades resonate in Islamist consciousness today. But the Arab historians of that era considered it a marginal event. Exploring the paradox, this unique study shows how the modern Islamist narrative of the Crusades, wrapped around contemporary events in Iraq, Lebanon and Palestine, has gained ground in the battle for hearts and memories in the Muslim world.
Who will win this battle over history, part of the larger war of ideas against extremism? Could the ideas of a 12th century Arab warrior and diplomat, Osama bin Munqidh, counter the propaganda of Osama bin Laden’s movement?