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by Ron Cruger
rcruger@san.rr.com
In the Name of God
        Nine centuries have passed since Pope Urban II gathered his Cardinals, Bishops and Priests around him at the Council of Clemont and told them that the time had come for all good Christians to sharpen their swords, shine their maces, paint their shields, wash their tunics and rust proof their chain mail shirts because it was time to start the Crusades.
         The Pope explained to his flock that it was time for good Christians to march to Palestine and free Jerusalem and other holy places from Muslim domination. He told the good Christians that they must restore to Christian control the Holy Land by any means and wrench it away from what he called the “wicked race,” meaning the Muslims.
         To be exact, it was on November 27, 1095 that Pope Urban II, in effect, declared war on the Muslims. He was willing to sacrifice the lives of thousands of his Crusaders in the attempt to return the control of Jerusalem and other portions of the Holy Land to the Catholic Church. A glorious and noble goal, he explained.
         Nine hundred an sixteen years have passed since that Pope gave the marching orders to his loyal Crusaders. Armed, swords at the ready, astride their trusty steeds, the Christian warriors strode towards Jerusalem for the battle.
         Nine hundred and sixteen years later we find the Christians and the Muslims still at their deadly hostilities.
          A few days ago a battle between Muslims and Christians in Egypt left thirteen dead and a hundred and forty wounded. The Muslims and Christian faithful were fighting with guns, knives and clubs.
          The hostilities began when a Muslim mob attacked a large group of Christians who were protesting the burning last week of a church in Soul, a small village south of Cairo. The Muslims burned the church because of escalating tensions over a love affair between a Muslim woman and Christian man. The couple’s relationship started a violent feud between the couple’s families. The female’s father and a cousin of the man were murdered.
          Continuing the conflict, Christian protesters blocked an important highway, pelting cars with rocks and burning tires.
          Egyptian police said that seven Christians and six Muslims were killed. Seventy two Muslims and sixty eight Christians were wounded. Even before the uprising that removed Mubarak tensions were aflame between Christians and Muslims.
          On January 1, a suicide bombing outside a Coptic church in the city of Alexandria killed twenty one people, starting days of protests. A week later an off-duty policeman shot and killed a seventy-one year old Christian man and wounded his wife and four other Christians.
          Last November, after the police halted construction of a church. Christians clashed with the authorities. Two Christians were killed and sixty eight people were hurt in the fracas.
          The Christian Crusades continued from the year 1095 until 1291. Almost two hundred years of murderous assaults. Hundreds of thousands were slaughtered on both sides.
          And now, on the streets of Cairo and other areas of Egypt Muslim against Christian attack each other.
          Israel sits surrounded by a hundred million Muslims, most of whom have little or no love for people of their faith and beliefs. It seems to be only a matter of time before a war erupts in the area.
          Countries in the Middle East and North Africa are in the midst of revolutionary explosions.
          The feelings between Muslims, Christians and Jews are becoming even more inflamed.
          One would think that after nine hundred and sixteen years, and even longer, the inhabitants of the planet would have arrived at a manner in which to live side by side in peace, regardless of their beliefs in a superior being and the interpretations of their prophets.
          Hopefully Pope Urban II learned his lesson before his death.
          For God’s sake isn’t it time we all learned something about living together.
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