Giulio MeottiThe writer, an Italian journalist with Il Foglio, writes a twice-weekly column for Arutz Sheva. He is the author of the book "A New Shoah", that researched the personal stories of Israel's terror victims, published by Encounter and of "J'Accuse: the Vatican Against Israel" published by Mantua Books.. His writing has appeared in publications, such as the Wall Street Journal, Frontpage and Commentary.
First the black flag of the Caliphate waving over the Vatican. Then the Colosseum in flames and a sea of blood that submerges it. Finally, the announcement of the Libyan caliphate that “we are south of Rome”.
In the propaganda videos of the Islamic State there are many prophecies about the fall and the conquest of Rome. There is a long Islamic tradition aiming at Rome, “Romiyyah”, aiming to make it the fourth holiest city of Islam (after Mecca, Medina and Jerusalem) and the base from which Islam will conquer the Western world. Rome is the greatest magnet of the mystical Islamic universe.
Roger Garaudy, the French intellectual who converted to Islam, in 1986 launched his challenge, boasting: “I’ll bring Islam to Rome”. The foundation of this prophecy is the thirtieth Sura of the Koran, called ar Rum, “Romans”. The fall of Rome is based on the myth of the Emperor Heraclius and a letter that he would have written to Muhammad, recognizing him as “the messenger of God”.
Ahmad ibn Hanbal, the founder of the Islamic Hanbali school (now in power in Saudi Arabia) reported among the “hadith”, the sayings of Muhammad, that the Prophet of Islam predicted that “the city of Heraclius (Constantinople) would fall first, then Rome”.
In 2003, Osama Bin Laden made a speech on “The new Rome” and three years later, in the footsteps of Pope Benedict’s Islamic speech at Regensburg University, Al Qaeda proclaimed: “Servants of the Cross, expect defeat, the Muslims will conquer Rome as they conquered Constantinople”.
On the Hamas-run Aksa TV in Gaza, many sermons refer to the eternal city, such as that of March 12, 2010: “The prophecy of the conquest of Rome remains valid, Allah willing. Just like Constantinople was conquered five hundred years ago, Rome will be conquered”.
During the collapse of the Soviet Union, the Ayatollah Khomeini sent a letter to Mikhail Gorbachev, in which he invited the head of the Kremlin to convert to Islam.
And Imam Yusuf al Qaradawi, the guru and mentor of the Muslim Brotherhood, said: “Constantinople was conquered, but there remains the second part of the prophecy, that is the conquest of Rome”.
Following the example of Qaradawi, many Saudi clerics also predict the fall of Rome. As Muhammad bin Abd al Rahman al Arifi, imam of the King Fahd Military Academy of the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia, wrote: “We will control Rome and introduce Islam”.
Similar terminology is used by Sheikh Yousef Salameh of Juma of the al-Aqsa mosque in Jerusalem and the Sudanese Sheikh Muhammad Abd al Karim, who draws an even wider scenario of religious war: “The prophet spoke of the conquest of Rome, Islam will spread and Rome will be conquered”.
This myth is based on the disastrous fall of the previous "Nea Rome" built by Constantine on the Bosphorus, the bastion of Christianity until May 29, 1453, when a pool of blood widened from the Bosphorus and trickled into Europe: after a massive attack by land and sea, Constantinople was conquered by the Turks. Stories of mass murder, looting, rapes, sacrilege and inhuman cruelty reached the entire globe.
Against the Muslims, Byzantium opposed with all its strength as the last bastion of the Western civilization, as the extreme edge of Europe. Yet neither Austria nor Hungary nor the maritime republics, neither the Pope nor the Aragonese of Naples, moved to protect the city. Europe only appreciated the strategic importance of Constantinople after 1453, when Islam spread to the Balkans and Europe. It was too late.
Today, we are witnessing the same Western appeasement regarding Islam.
The American scholar Andrew Bostom, in his important book “The Legacy of Jihad”, gives us the best description of the first Muslim adventure in Rome. From the coast of Provence, in 846 the Muslims landed at Ostia, a town near Rome. Then they went up the river, plundered the basilicas of St. Peter and St. Paul, and violated the graves.
The Muslim armies occupied Bari and Brindisi for thirty years, Taranto for forty, Benevento for ten. They repeatedly attacked Naples, Capua, Calabria, Sardinia, they destroyed the abbey of Montecassino; they raided in northern Italy, crossing the Alps. To counter the Muslim marauders, Arduino Glabrione built, on the peak of Avigliana, in Val di Susa, a castle with high towers. Today it is one of the most beautiful castles in Piedmont.
The entire Italian peninsula was exposed to jihad. There was the case of the 500 monks of San Vincenzo al Volturno, slaughtered by Muslims and thrown in the eddies of the local river.
But there is one last, third chapter of this messianic Islamic frenzy. With the fall of Constantinople, the ecclesiastical tradition of the empire, which had brought together spiritual and temporal power in the person of the emperor, was eclipsed in the Europe of the Popes and passed to the “Third Rome”: Moscow.
During the collapse of the Soviet Union, the Ayatollah Khomeini sent a letter to Mikhail Gorbachev, in which he invited the head of the Kremlin to convert to Islam. During that very same period, the other pole of Islam, Saudi Arabia, sent a million copies of the Koran to be dispersed throughout the Soviet Union. It is not a coincidence that today the worst enemy of the Islamic State is Putin’s Russia. The first and third Rome must follow the fate of second, Constantinople.
Of the four capitals of the Roman Empire (Rome, Carthage, Alexandria, Antioch), only the first still belongs to Western civilization. Islam has canceled out all the rest. The historic cycle will be completed only with the capture of Rome. When the muezzin will awake St. Peter. And the Christian basilica will become a mosque.
Western Christianity today discusses divorced and remarried families and homosexual couples. It debates BDS against Israel. We are facing a period similar to the fall of Constantinople. During the siege of that last bastion of Eastern Christianity, the Byzantine Christians were discussing whether Jesus was at the right hand of the Father, sitting or standing.
But unlike the current Western leaders, including the bishops, the emperor of the time reacted to the threat. On 1453, Mohammed II ordered Constantine XI to surrender. In return he would have saved his life and become governor, also saving the population of Constantinople from the lootings and killings that followed. The emperor replied: "Giving you the city is not my decision nor that of any of its inhabitants; we will fight".
Today, the Pope included, they are capitulating.