It’s Just So … Weird and Random! Why Nations Once Tormented by Muslims Are Skeptical of Them Today

An Armenian church in Mosul, Iraq, destroyed during the ISIS occupation of the city.

By Raymond Ibrahim Published on March 25, 2023

An ignorance of history usually leads you to misunderstand what’s happening around you. What’s really happening, that is.

Once Bitten, Twice Shy

Consider Islam in Europe: European nations that had little history with Islam — mostly in the northwest of the continent — are precisely the ones that welcomed mass Muslim immigration. And they’re paying the price today. 

European nations that had much history with Islam — mostly in the southeast of the continent — knew better. And so they do better. 

After observing that “The leaders of the Muslim masses can clearly see that the situation is ripe to occupy the apostate continent [Europe],” in a recent interview, Archbishop Emeritus Gyula Márfi of Hungary, explained why his nation is so dead set against Muslim immigration:

They have been here in Hungary for 150 years; we know how much destruction they have caused. We Hungarians still carry the memory of this in our genes to some extent.

The archbishop is referring to Islam’s conquest and occupation of Hungary from 1541 to 1699. Then, Islamic jihad, terrorism, and Christian persecution were rampant (as amply documented here and here).

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Nor was Hungary alone. Much of southeastern Europe and portions of Russia were conquered, occupied, and terrorized by the Turks — sometimes in ways that make Islamic State atrocities seem like child’s play. (Think of the beheadings, crucifixions, massacres, slave markets, and rapes that have become Islamic State trademarks — but on a much grander scale, and for centuries.)

Been There, Done That

That these Islamic depredations are so etched in the minds of at least some eastern European leaders — namely, the more historically knowledgeable — is evident in the fact that Hungary’s own president, Viktor Orbán, who is committed to securing his nation against Muslims and preserving its Christian identity, has made the same observations as the archbishop. Back in 2015, he said of migrants:

Those arriving have been raised in another religion, and represent a radically different culture. Most of them are not Christians, but Muslims. This is an important question, because Europe and European identity is rooted in Christianity … .

We don’t want to criticize France, Belgium, any other country, but we think all countries have a right to decide whether they want to have a large number of Muslims in their countries. If they want to live together with them, they can.

We don’t want to and I think we have a right to decide that we do not want a large number of Muslim people in our country. We do not like the consequences of having a large number of Muslim communities that we see in other countries, and I do not see any reason for anyone else to force us … .

The prime minister went on to invoke history, sounding just like the Hungarian archbishop:

I have to say that when it comes to living together with Muslim communities, we are the only ones who have experience because we had the possibility to go through that experience for 150 years.

No Grooming Gangs in Hungary

The Western establishment responded to Orbán’s invocation of history with derision. The Guardian mocked:

Hungary has a history with the Ottoman empire, and Orbán is busy conjuring it. The Ottoman empire is striking back, he warns. They’re taking over! Hungary will never be the same again! … Hence the wire; hence the army; hence, as from today, the state of emergency; hence the fierce, unrelenting rhetoric of hatred. Because that is what it has been from the very start: sheer, crass hostility and slander.

Western media characterized Orbán as “xenophobic,” “full of hate speech,” and Europe’s “creeping dictator.” Sounding like the mafia boss of the Left, The Guardian simply referred to him as a “problem” that needs to be “solved.”

Yet history has vindicated Orbán. Unlike those many West European nations that have been inundated with Muslim migrants — and whose crime and rape levels have soared — Hungary’s peace and order remain secure.

Incidentally, while the Western media pretend that “racism” and “white supremacism” are the real reason nations such as Hungary reject migration, in fact, several “yellow” and “brown” nations reject Islam for the very same reasons cited by the Hungarians.

‘Yellow’ and ‘Brown’ Nations Reject Muslim Migration As Well

In Myanmar (Burma), non-indigenous Muslim minorities are behind the same sort of anti-infidel mayhem, violence, and rape found elsewhere. Accordingly, anti-Muslim sentiment has grown among Buddhist majorities.

Thus popular Buddhist leader Ashin Wirathu staunchly opposes Islam’s presence in Myanmar: “You can be full of kindness and love, but you cannot sleep next to a mad dog,” says the monk in reference to Muslims: “I call them troublemakers, because they are troublemakers.”

Reminiscent of the Hungarian position, Wirathu also warns that: “If we are weak, our land will become Muslim.” The theme song of his party speaks of a people who “live in our land, drink our water, and are ungrateful to us” — a reference to Muslims — and how “We will build a fence with our bones if necessary” to keep them out.

Wirathu’s pamphlets warn that “Myanmar is currently facing a most dangerous and fearful poison that is severe enough to eradicate all civilization.”

Or consider the words of Fr. Daniel Byantoro, a Muslim convert to Christianity, discussing the ramifications of Islam’s unchecked entry into Indonesia:

For thousands of years my country was a Hindu Buddhist kingdom. The last Hindu king was kind enough to give a tax exempt property for the first Muslim missionary to live and to preach his religion. Slowly the followers of the new religion were growing, and after they became so strong the kingdom was attacked, those who refused to become Muslims had to flee for their life … . Slowly from the Hindu Buddhist kingdom, Indonesia became the largest Islamic country in the world.

If there is any lesson to be learnt by Americans at all, the history of my country is worth pondering upon. We are not hate mongering, bigoted people; rather, we are freedom loving, democracy loving and human loving people. We just don’t want this freedom and democracy to be taken away from us by our ignorance and misguided “political correctness,” and the pretension of tolerance. (Facing Islam, endorsement section)

Lived Experience is a Wise Teacher

Indeed. Nations as diverse as Hungary and Myanmar — and leaders as diverse as the Christian Orbán and the Buddhist Wirathu — are well acquainted with Islam, including its history vis-à-vis their nations. Accordingly, instead of judging and dismissing them as “racists” and “xenophobes,” Western nations would do well to learn from those nations’ experiences.

The alternative is to learn the hard way.


Raymond Ibrahim, author of Defenders of the West and Sword and Scimitar is the Distinguished Senior Shillman Fellow at the Gatestone Institute and the Judith Rosen Friedman Fellow at the Middle East Forum.

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