Amwal Al Ghad English - 2013-05-15 09:49:11
Last Sunday, Pope Francis canonized the 800 Christian martyrs executed by Muslim Ottoman forces raiding southern Italy in 1480.According to reports coming from Rome, the 800 were killed because they refused to convert to Islam. What both global media and modern sensitive Muslims here in Egypt have little or no understanding of, was the customary rules of warfare in medieval and Renaissance times, on both sides of the firing line. Basically those towns or villages under siege that did not sue for peace, when called upon to surrender, were quite customarily put to the sword when their walls or defense lines were finally stormed.
There were variations in the application of this tradition. The difference between the Ottoman massacre of the 800 Christians at Otranto and, let us say, the Crusader massacre of thousands of Muslims and Jews in Jerusalem, is that women and children were enslaved at Otranto instead of being put to the sword, as was the case in Jerusalem. The men of Otranto were offered the customary opportunity - according to the Muslim rules of warfare - to save themselves by converting to Islam.
In other words, the 800 men of Otranto were not executed for refusing to convert to Islam, rather they declined the opportunity via conversion to be spared execution for refusing to surrender. This in no way diminishes their martyrdom but the clarification is useful, particularly since His Holiness Pope Francis has called for more Catholic-Muslim dialogue. And it is Pope Francis who washed the feet of a young Muslim woman, among others, at a juvenile detention center in Rome in one his first acts as Pope. It was the first time this pontifical re-enactment of Christ’s washing the feet of the disciples involved not just an individual who was not a Roman Catholic, but specifically was a Muslim. More»