Islam’s Imperial Dreams
When satirical depictions of the prophet Muhammad in a Danish newspaper sparked a worldwide wave of Muslim violence early this year, observers naturally focused on the wanton destruction of Western embassies, businesses, and other institutions. Less attention was paid to the words that often accompanied the riots—words with ominous historical echoes. “Hurry up and apologize to our nation, because if you do not, you will regret it,” declared Khaled Mash’al, the leader of Hamas, fresh from the Islamist group’s sweeping victory in the Palestinian elections:
This is because our nation is progressing and is victorious. . . . By Allah, you will be defeated. . . . Tomorrow, our nation will sit on the throne of the world. This is not a figment of the imagination but a fact. Tomorrow we will lead the world, Allah willing. Apologize today, before remorse will do you no good.
About the Author
Efraim Karsh is head of Mediterranean Studies at King’s College, University of London, and the author most recently of Islamic Imperialism: A History (Yale). Mr. Karsh gratefully acknowledges the generosity of Roger and Susan Hertog in supporting the research on which the present article is based.