Why Are There No Muslim Refugees on Crete?

Printed from: https://newbostonpost.com/2017/03/28/why-are-there-no-muslim-refugees-on-crete/

Having just spent the last week on the rugged, spectacularly beautiful island of Crete 150 miles north of the coast of Libya, I have come away with a key observation about the crisis of Muslim refugees flooding the Western world.

There are only a few, if any, Muslim refugees seeking asylum in Crete. Situated in a key part of the Mediterranean not far from Palestine, Egypt, and several other Muslim nations, there is no evidence of a Muslim community here — nor of Crete interest groups clamoring to admit Muslim refugees to this rocky island.  Perhaps this is because Crete has learned over the centuries what it is like to live under Muslim suzerainty.

Crete is an archaeological jackpot with relics and treasures going back 7,000 years. The Minoan civilization on Crete reached its apogee in 1450 B.C.; and this remarkable culture is celebrated in the Greek myths of Theseus slaying the Minotaur, navigating the Labyrinth, and winning Ariadne in the Palace of Knossos. Crete has been conquered and occupied by the Greeks, the Romans, the Byzantines, and the Venetians.

But in 1669, Crete was conquered by Muslims. The Ottoman empire, after a siege against the Venetians lasting more than 20 years, occupied Crete for about 200 years, before it was forced to leave at the end of the 19th century. During the Muslim occupation the population of Crete — Christian since the first century A.D — was ordered to renounce their faith. Churches throughout the land were turned into mosques. Many Cretans retreated to villages deep in the snow-capped mountains, some of which top 7,000 feet, and waged guerilla warfare. Some historians record that after more than two centuries of life under Sharia law, more than 75 percent of Cretans remained Christian, as their forbears had going back to biblical times. (This was the island where St. Paul planted the seeds of Christian faith within 30 years of the crucifixion and resurrection of Jesus Christ, and where Paul gave instructions to Titus, laid out in the book The Acts of the Apostles in the New Testament, on how best to nurture the newborn churches of Crete.) The people remain Christian today — about 95 percent of the people belong to the Greek Orthodox Church.

People eat and drink on the beach in Crete in full view of the snow-capped mountains where their ancestors once fled Muslims. (Photo by Robert H. Bradley for New Boston Post)

Cretans have long memories. And that helps explain why there are no interest groups demanding that refugees from Muslim countries be admitted to Crete. There are no politicians nor intellectuals from the chattering class labelling as hateful or intolerant those who have no interest in bringing Muslim refugees to Crete from the failed nations in the Middle East. There are no mosques in Crete recruiting Islamic radicals. Cretans know from experience the difference between Christian and Muslim civilization. We have just witnessed it again in London with the death of four innocent people in Westminster. The people in Crete want no part of it.


Robert H. Bradley is Chairman of Bradley, Foster & Sargent Inc., a $3 billion wealth management firm that has offices in Hartford, Connecticut, and Wellesley, Massachusetts. This column represents his personal views and does not represent the views of the firm.