A newly discovered letter has revealed that Winston Churchill – the man behind the famous words of the Iron Curtain speech and UK’s prime minister during the World War II years – allegedly “flirted” with the idea of Islam. At least, that’s one interpretation of a letter urging him not to convert to Islam.
The letter, written by Lady Gwendoline Bertie who eventually married Churchill’s brother Jack, was written in 1907. It reads:
“Please don’t become converted to Islam; I have noticed in your disposition a tendency to orientalize, Pasha-like tendencies, I really have. If you come into contact with Islam your conversion might be effected with greater ease than you might have supposed, call of the blood, don’t you know what I mean, do fight against it.
The letter was discovered by a historian researcher at Cambridge University, Warren Dockter who came across it while researching his upcoming book Winston Churchill and the Islamic World: Orientalism, Empire and Diplomacy in the Middle East.
But he doesn’t believe that Churchill truly considered converting. “He was more or less an atheist by this time anyway. He did however have a fascination with Islamic culture, which was common among Victorians,” he told The Independent.
There’s the keyword. It wasn’t the Islamic religion that Churchill was fascinated by, it was their culture. And it’s believed that his curiosity was aroused when he served as a British officer in Sudan.
Along with his friend, Wilfrid S. Blunt, Churchill used to dress up in Arabic attire in secret. He also once, in a letter, expressed the desire to be considered a “Pasha,” a military ranking of high order within the Ottoman Empire.
So it’s no wonder that there’s speculation about all of this.
Chances are, this piece of revealed history will go down in controversy as it comes out at a time when the Middle East conflict remains unresolved, and the matter of religion has indeed blurred within the lines of international politics.