Sunday, September 03, 2006

Forced Conversion & White Gold

Mark Steyn has a terrific piece up today about the forced "conversions" of the Fox newsmen. In it, he references a book of fiction written by the creator of Sherlock Holmes:

Don't bet on it. In my forthcoming book, I devote a few pages to a thriller
I read as a boy -- an old potboiler by Sherlock Holmes' creator, Arthur Conan
Doyle. In 1895 Sir Arthur had taken his sick wife to Egypt for her health, and,
not wishing to waste the local color, produced a slim novel called The Tragedy
of the Korosko, about a party of Anglo-American-French tourists taken hostage by
the Mahdists, the jihadi of the day. Much of the story finds the characters in
the same predicament as Centanni and Wiig: The kidnappers are offering them a
choice between Islam or death.

But why reference a work of fiction when one can go to the book, White Gold: The Extraordinary Story of Thomas Pellow and Islam's One Million White Slaves by Giles Milton--a book, taken in part, from the memoirs of Thomas Pellow-an eleven-year old boy, captured by Muslim Pirates, and enslaved by a Muslim Sultan of Morroco in the late 1600's. Here is what he went through when forced to convert to Islam from pages 82 and 83:

One day, after Pellow had once again refused to convert, Moulay es-Sfa decided to punish his recalcitrant captive.


"Without making any further reply," wrote Pellow, "He committed me prisoner to one of
his own rooms, keeping me there several months in irons, and every day most severly bastinading me"

This punishment, used widely throughout Barbary, inflicted terrible pain. Almost every surviving slave account mentions it, and there were very few captives who avoided a bastinading. The ankles of the condemned slave were strapped together with rope, and he was suspended upside down so that his neck and shoulders were just resting on the ground. "Then comes another lusty, sturdy knave," wrote William Okeley, a British captive in Algiers, "and gives him as many violent blows on the soles of the feet as the council shall order."


Pellow's beatings were brutal affairs. They were personally administered by Moulay es-Sfa who took delight in thrashing him senseless. He would work himself into a terrible rage, "furiously screaming in the Moorish language...Turn Moor! Turn Moor! by holding your finger!" This simple signal--raising one finger to the sky--was all that was required by Christian slaves that they agreed to apostatize. To many Muslims, it was a signal that they denied the Holy Trinity.

There's really nothing new about all this, as Mark Steyn points out.

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