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The Ottomans: Europe's Muslim Emperors 2013

  • 2013-10-20T21:00:00-04:00
  • BBC Two
  • 2013-10-05T20:00:00-04:00
  • 60 mins
  • 3 hours, 0 mins
  • Documentary
It was the world's last Islamic empire - a super-power of a million square miles. From its capital in Istanbul it matched the glories of Ancient Rome. And after six centuries in power it collapsed less than a hundred years ago. Rageh Omaar, who has reported from across this former empire, sets out to discover why the Ottomans have vanished from our understanding of the history of Europe. Why so few realise the importance of Ottoman history in today's Middle East. And why you have to know the Ottoman story to understand the roots of many of today's trouble spots from Palestine, Iraq and Israel to Libya, Syria, Egypt, Bosnia and Kosovo.

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Rageh Omaar may identify himself as a Muslim but throughout the show he demonstrates an alarming lack of knowledge about the basic principles of Islam and given the subject matter that's a tremendous falling of the documentary. Rageh choses to focus on the Ottomans architectural and administrative achievements while largely glossing over their conflicts with other Muslims. Their war against the Mamluks had a hugely damaging impact on Islam, one they have yet to recover from. The Mamluks defended Islam and the Muslim world from the threat of the Crusaders and Mongols, they were the defenders of the faith. Going to war against them showed the Ottomans to be nothing more than imperialist warmongers. That not a single Ottoman ruler ever made the pilgrimage to Makkah is telling. The Ottomans were just as fraudulent adherents to a faith as the European powers of that era who hijacked Christianity for political gain, that is the point Omaar fails to make.

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