Photo Credit: The collections of the Imperial War Museums
Winston Churchill in his seat at No 10 Downing Street, London, 1939-45.

British Foreign Secretary David Cameron on Thursday visited Kibbutz Be’eri which was destroyed in Hamas’s October 7 massacre. Accompanied by Israeli FM Eli Cohen, Cameron stated: “World leaders need to see the atrocities of Hamas with their own eyes, and understand that Israel is fighting a terrorist organization worse than ISIS.”

But then, the British FM added: “Today is also a day where we hope to see progress on the humanitarian pause. This is a crucial opportunity to get hostages out and aid into Gaza, to help Palestinian civilians who are facing a growing humanitarian crisis.”


Soon enough, it appeared that Hamas, shockingly, broke their word and didn’t deliver the first batch of hostages – children, mothers, and the elderly – as promised.

Cameron would do well to pick up for the flight home a copy of Winston Churchill’s 1899 book, The River War: An Account of the Reconquest of the Sudan, in which Churchill shared his views of Islam, which he called, “Mohammedanism,” and Muslim law, “Mohammedan.”

How dreadful are the curses that Mohammedanism lays on its votaries (followers)! Besides the fanatical frenzy, which is as dangerous in a man as hydrophobia in a dog, there is this fearful fatalistic apathy. The effects are apparent in many countries. Improvident habits, slovenly systems of agriculture, sluggish methods of commerce, and insecurity of property exist wherever the followers of the Prophet rule or live.

“A degraded sensualism deprives this life of its grace and refinement; the next of its dignity and sanctity. The fact that in Mohammedan law every woman must belong to some man as his absolute property – either as a child, a wife, or a concubine – must delay the final extinction of slavery until the faith of Islam has ceased to be a great power among men.

“Individual Moslems may show splendid qualities. Thousands become the brave and loyal soldiers of the Queen: all know how to die: but the influence of the religion paralyzes the social development of those who follow it. No stronger retrograde force exists in the world. Far from being moribund, Mohammedanism is a militant and proselytizing faith. It has already spread throughout Central Africa, raising fearless warriors at every step; and were it not that Christianity is sheltered in the strong arms of science, the science against which it had vainly struggled, the civilization of modern Europe might fall, as fell the civilization of ancient Rome. (pp 248–250).

In an attempt to engender skepticism regarding their faith, Winston Churchill sought to plant seeds of doubt in the minds of his readers, irrespective of whether they adhered to the Muslim faith. His endeavor aimed to elucidate Islam to a predominantly non-devout audience, many of whom harbored no particular affinity for the religion. Churchill’s critique of Islam is rooted in his extensive readings and observations of Muslims encountered during his experiences in India and along the Nile.

An examination of his argument reveals his perception of Islam as a detriment to its adherents. Churchill contends that Islam can lead its followers down two divergent paths: either unwavering confidence bordering on fanaticism, wherein individuals believe salvation awaits them in death through fervent service to God, described by Churchill as “fanatical frenzy,” or a paralyzing diffidence that renders them practically inert, relying solely on divine providence, characterized by Churchill as “fearful fatalistic apathy.”

In both India and the Sudan, Churchill witnessed a fervent zeal in the Muslims’ approach to warfare. Whether Pathans or Dervishes, they shared a profound inclination to engage in combat with an unwavering commitment to fight to the death for Allah, believing that their martyrdom would guarantee entry into paradise.

According to Churchill, unlike the common practice among civilized soldiers who tend to sit down when severely wounded, devout Muslims display a remarkable tenacity, persisting in battle until they are disabled. He likens their conduct to hydrophobia––extreme fear of water, especially when associated with painful involuntary throat spasms from a rabies infection, and he finds it perplexing that individuals could remain so indifferent to their physical well-being, pressing on in combat even when grievously injured, fueled by their faith in an afterlife.

In Churchill’s view, such a relentless commitment raises the question of how can humans be so casual about bodily harm due to an unwavering belief in an impending life beyond.

Staring at the Muslim hordes in the Sudan, Churchill no doubt saw the inevitable outcome of their encounter with the West. He would not have been shocked by the events of October 7. He also would have advised the carpet bombing of Gaza and south Lebanon, which the RAF would have completed in one day back in 1945.


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