The Day of the Siege

Day of the Siege

Almost every day we read and hear about the brutality against Christians perpetrated by a group of Islamic fanatics who call themselves the Islamic State of Iraq and Syria (ISIS). The group is also known as the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant (ISIL).

The brutality of ISIS was displayed recently by the beheading of the American journalist James Foley. Foley’s graphic execution was made available through a video that was widely watched on the Internet.

ISIS’s goal is to establish an Islamic State in parts of Syria and Iraq. They also want to exterminate Christianity in the Arab world, which they consider to be an enemy of Islam.

Christians have lived in Syria and Iraq since the inception of Christianity. They lived in what was known as the land of Mesopotamia at least six hundred years before the birth of Islam. Today, those Christians who live in the new Islamic State face persecution and possible extinction.

The Islamic State is forcing Christians to leave the city of Mosul. ISIS is beheading men, women, and children. Their soldiers are taking women to be their concubines. They are destroying Christian churches while the world is watching.

Those who have organized the Islamic State are not willing to coexist with Christians. Although Christians have lived in Iraq for centuries, this brand of fanatics are anti-Christians and against Western culture.

But this persecution of Christians is going on not only in Iraq and Syria. A growing number of Christians are fleeing Iran because of persecution. In Africa Islamic jihadis burn Bibles, destroy Christian symbols, and persecute believers.

Persecution of Christians is happening in Bethlehem, the place where Jesus was born. According to a recent report, “the Christian population of Bethlehem went from a 60 percent majority in 1990 to a 40 percent minority in 2000, to about 15 percent of the city’s total population today.”

The struggle between Christianity and Islam is centuries old. Islam has a tendency to convert Christian churches into mosques. A classic example is Hagia Sophia, the church in Istanbul that once was the seat of the Patriarchate of Constantinople. When the Ottoman empire conquered Constantinople in 1453, Hagia Sophia became a mosque.

Mosques were regularly built on places where Christian and Jewish sanctuaries existed. When the Muslims conquered Spain, the great cathedral of Córdoba was converted into a mosque. The traditional place where Jesus celebrated the Lord’s Supper with his disciples in Jerusalem was converted to a mosque. The place where the temple of Solomon was built, today is the place where the Al-Aqsa mosque is located.

All this history was brought to mind when I was looking on Netflix for a movie to watch. By chance I came to an Italian-Polish movie called “The Day of the Siege: September Eleven 1683.”

The movie is about the Siege of Vienna. The battle for Vienna occurred on September 11, 1683 when Ottoman Turks besieged Vienna on their way to conquer Christian Europe. The Turks were commanded by Kara Mustafa (played by Enrico Lo Verso).

Mustafa’s army had 300,000 soldiers. He left Istanbul and marched to Vienna with an intent to convert every church in Vienna into a mosque. Once that was done, he was planning to go to Rome and convert St. Peter’s Basilica into a mosque.

In “The Day of the Siege,” Kara Mustafa is opposed by a simple monk, Father Marco d’Aviano (played by F. Murray Abraham). Father Marco was able to convince the Austrian king to allow the Polish king, King Jan III Sobieski (played by Jerzy Skolimowski), to join in the defense of Vienna and save Christian Europe from the Turks.

The Christian army was greatly outnumbered by the Turks (they had about 30,000 soldiers), but Father Marco encouraged the Europeans to fight for their faith and save Christianity in Europe. The Siege of Vienna ended with a great victory for the Europeans.

I liked the movie. I will not tell you more about the plot of the movie because I do not want to spoil it for you with more details. You will probably enjoy the movie too.

What is so sad is that the same thing that happened on the day of the great siege is happening today. Lives are being lost because people are using the name of God to kill people who believe in God.

Since you have not seen the movie, I will not give much detail of what I believe was one of the best scenes of the movie. It was the occasion when Kara Mustafa met Father Marco face to face. Mustafa said that his God would give him the victory. Father Marco said that the true God would give his people the victory. What happened next is what I will not tell you.

If you are planning to watch a movie this weekend, watch “The Day of the Siege: September Eleven 1683.” If you watch this movie, you will discover that 9/11 has happened more than once.

Claude Mariottini
Professor of Old Testament
Northern Baptist Seminary

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8 Responses to The Day of the Siege

  1. navcad56 says:

    Watched the film

    Terrific. Thanks for the recommendation


    On Wed, Aug 27, 2014 at 1:07 AM, Dr. Claude Mariottini – Professor of Old


  2. Debbie says:

    My husband and I just watched the movie, a moving Christian message. Nothing new under the sun in today’s world news. And the message, we believe and fight for our faith is a much needed prayer today.


  3. linda says:

    I was shocked that this was not taught in European history nor was it brought up when it recently reoccurred. I applaud the director and scriptwriters as I found the movie insightful and inspiring. I am grateful amazon is carrying the movie and I plan to share this film with everyone I know. Thanks for elaborating on the historical accuracy.


    • Linda,

      The problem is that in our society today, people are afraid to teach these things because of political correctness. I could cite dozens of cases like this, but I am quite sure you also may know some of them.

      Thank you for your comment.

      Claude Mariottini


  4. Dave says:


    I am a former Marine and now US Navy Chaplain. I recently watched this movie; I was exceedingly encouraged by Abraham’s portrayal of Marco of Aviano. Marco did not swerve in his devotion to Christ and worked to advise the leaders of his day–often mediating where they did not agree and ensuring the just and ethical conduct of war. This absolutely parallels the role of the military Chaplain. I’ve found a new role model.

    I can only hope that our nation retains its Judeo-Christian heritage and survives our own complacency in the face of those who would seek to destroy us.

    Semper Fidelis and in His grace,



    • Dave,

      Thank you for your comment. I wish more people would watch this movie. Some of our political leaders are blind to the threat our nation is facing at the present. One has only to study history to see that there is a real and present danger. People who do not know the past tend to forfeit the future. It is unfortunate that our country is becoming more secular. Some people are abandoning the Judeo-Christian heritage that made our country what it is today.

      Thank you for your service to our nation. Semper Fidelis.


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