Elis-Thomas Harks Back to Crusades in His Look at Today

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Byline: By MARTIN SHIPTON Western Mail

Dafydd elis-thomas will today deliver a lecture in which he characterises our age as one of 'state and anti-state terrorism'. The Plaid Cymru peer, who is Presiding Officer of the National Assembly, has called his Institute of Welsh Affairs National Eisteddfod Lecture Creating a New Europe - Enlarging our Borders. In it, he traces the concept of Europe over many centuries and describes himself as proud to be a Welsh European.

In one of the most controversial passages of his lecture, Lord Elis-Thomas compares the international situation today with the era of the Crusades.

He states, 'In the early 12th century that we would recognise today as a rich time in inter-faith relations, Christians, Jews and Muslims were working and translating together, leading to the development of humanism and scholasticism.

'This is not to gloss over the harsh historical facts that the 11th, 12th and 13th centuries saw a virulent anti-Semitism and an anti-pluralist Inquisition, the precursors of the Holocaust and fascism. In addition, there were a series of military operations later described as 'Crusades' in Palestine against Muslim peoples, the precursors of the state and anti-state terrorism we are living with to this very day as this text is being written.

Lord Elis-Thomas says the West first became 'obsessed with its conflict with Islam' in the 7th century: 'The military forces of the Islamic 'terrorism' of its time began by sweeping across from North Africa, but a short distance, then upwards and across the Pyrenees.

'The Islamic presence is inherent to the development of Continental mainland Europe, especially in the Iberian peninsula, and had it retained its base and extended its influence, Europe and North Africa may have become historically and culturally much more integrated around the Mediterranean as previous 'empires'. …