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The Middle East as Seen Through Foreign Eyes

Twentieth and Twenty-First Centuries

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The Turk as Barbarian

The Turk as Barbarian

Inspired by the Greco-Turkish War of 1897—a thirty-day war fought between the Kingdom of Greece and the Ottoman Empire over the Island of Crete—this image’s most prominent figure is the reimagining of Ottoman Sultan Abd al-Hamid II as Goliath, the imposing and savage warrior of the Philistines mentioned in the Old Testament. Holding a curved sword with his arms raised over his head, Abd al-Hamid II/Goliath stands victoriously atop the bodies of two apparently slain women, one of them clutching a mangled cross in her hand. Opposite him is David, preparing his sling, while a disconcerted populace under the banner of “Christendom” looks on. Reinforcing the notion of an irreconcilable clash between Christian Europe and the Islamic Middle East, this image also functions as a dramatic gloss, recasting a supposed cultural conflict as a war of biblical proportions nearly one hundred years before Samuel Huntington penned his famous 1993 “clash of civilizations” polemic.

Next Button Off American Cartoon Showing an Ottoman Turk Making His Own Noose With the Gallows in the Background

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