Letter: Fear of death in the name of any deity

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The Independent Online
Sir: G. P. Nash (Letter, 10 August) is mistaken when he accuses people who fear Islamic fundamentalism of a 'Crusader mentality'. No doubt those of us genuinely worried by the threat posed by Muslim extremism would have been just as concerned, had we lived in the Middle Ages, by the gung-ho Christianity that produced the Crusades.

In 1209, at the beginning of the Albigensian Crusade against the Cathar heresy, 'Christians' from Northern Europe attacked Beziers in southern France. The Abbot of Cteaux, who led the crusade, was asked how the soldiers should tell heretics from Catholics, since they all looked the same. He is said to have replied, 'Kill them all; God will look after his own.' He later informed the Pope in triumph that nearly 20,000 people had been butchered, 'regardless of age and sex'.

Civilised opinion in the Midi was horrified by a belief system that produced such a massacre. Surely, it should be possible today to fear the same kind of fanaticism, whether it exists in the Middle East or in Ireland, without being labelled a 'Crusader'? The belief that 'God will look after his own' is terrifying to people who choose to believe in a different god, or in no god at all.

Yours sincerely,

JOHN SEELY

Fownhope, Hereford & Worcester

10 August

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