This Battle Wasn't Over Islam

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Saturday, May 6, 2006

In his April 9 article, "In Turkey, a Deep Suspicion of Missionaries," Karl Vick wrote, "The tension dates at least to the 13th century, when Christian Crusaders sacked what is today Istanbul." This statement presents a very inaccurate picture.

There was a sack by Crusaders, but it had no direct connection with Islam.

The sack by the knights of the Fourth Crusade in 1204 was of the Byzantine city of Constantinople. The sack may well have been at the instigation of the Venetians who transported the knights, because Constantinople was a major commercial rival of Venice.

Islam enters the picture with the fall of Constantinople to the Ottoman Turks under Mehmed II on May 29, 1453. Some argue that the city had been irrevocably weakened by the sacking and plundering of the Fourth Crusade, but whatever destruction then occurred was that of Christian upon Christian. And while the city suffered during the siege before its 15th-century fall and in the first few days after the conquest, there is no element of this being an issue that could inflame attitudes toward Christian missionaries.

-- Kenneth Bernstein


© 2006 The Washington Post Company

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