suggesting that current global hostilities involving Muslims result from
insufficient dialogue, the website declares that the film “inspires
solutions for the negative atmosphere we find ourselves in today.” PBS’ online portrayal of Fifth Crusade historical figures is equally fallacious, such as in the statement that St. Francis wanted “to oppose the bloodshed of the Fifth Crusade.” Meanwhile, crusader commander John of Brienne has base motives in PBS’ description:
“Like many who were motivated to join the Crusades, John might have
thought he could improve his lot and gain land, nobility and fame in the
Holy Land.” At the website of the film’s pro-Islam producer, Unity Productions Foundation (UPF), Cardiff University professor and film expert Helen Nicholson cynically states that “for these people, the Crusade is a gift from God.” The Crusades were a Christian reaction to centuries of Islamic jihadist aggression that directly targeted the Catholic Church and Francis’ followers. Frank M. Rega, a Secular Franciscan and author of Francis of Assisi and the Conversion of the Muslims, has noted that an army of 11,000 Muslims sacked Rome itself in 846 and desecrated the tombs of saints Peter and Paul.
Rega’s fellow Secular Franciscan Vail noted that Muslims later in 1240 attacked the Franciscan Poor Clare monastery in Assisi, which the order’s founder herself, St. Clare, successfully defended. Saladin’s atrocities include the 1169 slaughter
of 50,000 disarmed Sudanese soldiers in Cairo, Egypt, in breach of a
surrender agreement after he had suppressed their rebellion. Following
his 1187 decisive defeat of Crusaders in the Holy Land at the Battle of Hattin, Saladin had executed with religious ritual
some 230 captured Knights Templar and Knights of St. John Hospitallers.
After Hattin, Saladin considered sacking Jerusalem like the Crusaders
before him, but its desperate defenders warned him that without a pardon
guarantee they would fight to the bitter end and destroy the city’s
Muslim holy sites. He therefore relented and ransomed the city’s population,
but an estimated 8,000 could not pay and became slaves, among whom the
women suffered mass rape, a practice common among armies of the era.