Sunday, June 1, 2008

Forever the Twain Have Met

"From about the late 1500's to the 18th century, many thousands of European men--and women--converted to Islam. Most of them lived and worked in Algiers, Tunis, Tripoli, and the Rabat-Sale area of Morocco--the so-called Barbary Coast States. Most of the women became Moslems when they married Moslem men. This much is easy enough to understand, although it would be fascinating if we could trace the lives of some of them in search of some 17th century Isabelle Eberhardt. But what about the men? What caused them to convert?

"Christian Europeans had a special term for these men: Renegadoes, "renegades": apostates, turncoats, traitors. Christians had some reason for these sentiments, since Christian Europe was still at war with Islam. The Crusades had never really ended. The last Moorish kingdom in Spain, Grenada, was added to the Reconquista only in 1492, and the last Moorish uprising in Spain took place in 1610. The Ottom Empire, vigorous, brilliant, and armed to the teeth (just like its contemporary Elizabethan/Jacobean England), pressed its offensive against Europe on two fronts, by land toward Vienna, and by sea westward through the Mediterranean."

--Peter Lamborn Wilson (aka Hakim Bey), Pirate Utopias: Moorish Corsairs & European Renegadoes, Second Revised Edition, pp. 11-12.