Pope Innocent III, an avowed enemy of Islam
Compiled By: Syed Ali Shahbaz
On July 16, 1216 AD, Innocent III, the most powerfully politicized Pope of the Catholic sect of Christianity, and the most hostile towards Muslims and Jews, died suddenly while on a visit to Perugia, Central Italy, at the age of 56 after an 18-year reign, and appeared in a vision the same day to the nun, St. Lugarda in her monastery at Aywieres in faraway Belgium, engulfed in flames for three of the most cardinal sins he had committed in life, and for which he said (before disappearing in anguish) that he would languish for centuries in purgatory as divine punishment. Named Lotario dei Conti di Segni at birth in Italy to a Roman family that produced nine popes, he believed in the superiority of the Church over temporal rulers, and on being selected pope, strove to make the kings and emperors of Europe subordinate to his authority.
He also decreed that all Jews in Christendom should wear special identifying markings on their clothing. At the same time, he persecuted as heretics all those Christians that dissented with the Catholic Church. An instance in this regard was his ordering of wars that resulted in the massacre of 20,000 men, women and children of the Albigenses or Cathar sect of southwestern France, who viewed the Catholic Church as corrupt. An avowed enemy of Islam, Pope Innocent III, in total disregard to the Muslim-Christian peace accord in Palestine, mobilised the Fourth Crusade for invasion of Egypt, which, however, because of fears of facing the powerful Ayyubids, was diverted towards an easier target, that is, the fellow Christians of the Byzantine Empire, and led to the fall of Constantinople and its savage plunder – all of which were legitimized by the Pope, regardless of the permanent rift he was causing between the Greek and Latin Churches. Earlier he had ordered a crusade involving Christian mercenaries against the al-Muwahhadin Muslim rulers of Islamic Spain that resulted in the unmanly ambush of Las Navas de Tolosa (Battle of al-Uqab in Arabic), and huge massacre of civilians in 1212 – incidentally on July 16.