Rewriting history is a major enterprise for jihad apologists, and an eminently successful one: the myths of the tolerant, pluralistic Muslim Spain, and the tolerant, pluralistic Ottoman Empire have entered the popular consciousness, despite mountains of evidence to disprove both (see, for example, here and here on the Ottomans, and here and here on Muslim Spain).
The Baron at Gates of Vienna has unearthed a very strange story in this line from last November, and comments quite rightly:
In all the cultures where Islam has become ascendant, the Muslim authorities have attempted to rewrite the history of the conquered lands to obliterate the memory of anything that went before Islam. By this method the cultural contribution of civilizations that preceded Islam “” during jahiliyah, “the days of ignorance” “” is minimized, denigrated, and distorted.
The destruction of physical evidence is part of the revisionist task. To the average Western scholar, the Bamiyan Buddhas and the archeological artifacts buried in the ancient rubble under the Temple Mount are priceless treasures which must be preserved, restored, studied, and admired. But to a Muslim they are abominations and must be destroyed. If not actual idolatry, they are evidence of non-Muslim civilizations that preceded the introduction of Islam, and are thus an affront to the pride of the entire Ummah.
Is this strange story another small attempt to assuage the umma’s wounded pride? The subject matter of what was cut would suggest that it was: material that “charts the early engagement of Europeans with what we now know as the Middle East…”
“History’s missing pages: Iranian academic sliced out sections of priceless collection,” by Sandra Laville in The Guardian, November 21, 2008:
To the untrained eye the damage is barely visible. Yet within the handbound pages of books charting how Europeans travelled to Mesopotamia, Persia and the Mogul empire from the 16th century onwards, the damage caused by one Iranian academic to a priceless British Library collection is irreversible.
Leading scholars at the library are at a loss to explain why Farhad Hakimzadeh, a Harvard-educated businessman, publisher and intellectual, took a scalpel to the leaves of 150 books that have been in the nation’s collection for centuries. The monetary damage he caused over seven years is in the region of Â£400,000 but Dr Kristian Jensen, head of the British and early printed collections at the library, said no price could be placed upon the books and maps that he had defaced and stolen.
“These are historic objects which have been damaged forever,” said Jensen. “You cannot undo what he has done and it has compromised a piece of historical evidence which charts the early engagement of Europeans with what we now know as the Middle East and China.
“It makes me extremely angry. This is someone who is extremely rich who has damaged and destroyed something that belongs to everybody.”
Hakimzadeh, 60, faces a jail sentence today when he appears at Wood Green magistrates court in London. The Iranian-born academic fled his country after the fall of the Shah and holds a US passport. He has pleaded guilty to 14 specimen charges of stealing maps, pages and illustrations from 10 books at the British Library and four from the Bodleian Library in Oxford dating back to 1998.
When police searched his home in Knightsbridge, west London, last July they discovered some of the missing maps, pages and pictures inserted into less valuable editions of the same books he owned….
This may indicate that he was simply a book collector gone mad. Still, it is an evocative incident.