September 22, 2006

When was the last time a Muslim country invaded a Christian country?

A reader asked me this question and I've had a hard time coming up with a good answer. He suggested Indonesia's occupation of the ex-Portuguese colony of East Timor in 1975, which I guess would be a reasonable answer, but the scale was pretty small.

Perhaps the 1990s war between Muslim Eritrea and semi-Christian Ethiopia out in the Ogaden desert? Who invaded whom?

There have lots of civil wars with a Muslim vs. Christian angle, such as Lebanon or, to a less vivid extent, the 1967-1970 Nigerian civil war, but they took place within recognized national boundaries.

The Ottoman Turks used to kick Southeastern Europe around pretty hard, twice threatening Vienna, but later the Sultanate was the Sick Man of Europe for centuries. The Turks were fighting most of the time from 1908 to 1922, but they were mostly on the defensive. Armenia was not independent in 1915, so I don't think that would quite qualify.

Armenia and Azerbaijan fought a small war in the early 1990s over the Nagorno-Karabakh enclave within Azerbaijan, with Armenia mostly winning, but to find out whether Azerbaijan ever invaded Armenia, I'd have to read the single longest Wikipedia article I've ever seen. Judging from the effort put into this essay, I'd guess that this war still evinces a lot of passions, so (for once in my life) I'm not going to open that particular can of worms.

There are lots of examples of irregular Muslim raids on Christendom. For example, the Barbary pirates kidnapped something like one million Christians into slavery, even raiding Iceland apparently, before being put down by the Royal Navy the year after Waterloo. But it's hard to say whether that would qualify as an invasion.

The point is not that Muslims didn't want to invade Christian countries, but that for various reasons, Muslim countries (other than the Turks) tended not to be able to get their act together enough to carry out their aggressive urges, unlike Christian states, which long found preying on Muslim states fairly easy.

My published articles are archived at -- Steve Sailer

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