Why Islamic symbols added to Irish city's coat of arms

Abdul-Majid I and Drogheda's coat of arms
Abdul-Majid I and Drogheda's coat of arms

Islam has become the second largest religion in the British Isles a long time ago. 2.5 thousand Muslim charitable organizations operate here, and the British recognize that Muslims are the most generous philanthropists. Meanwhile, against the background of the migration crisis, the issue of treating Muslims in the United Kingdom remains one of the most important in British politics. Some experts believe that Islamophobia is deliberately inflated by national media. Whether that is true or not, but it is appropriate to recall the story that happened in the 1840s.

The middle of the 19th century was the most tragic time in Ireland's history. There was one disaster after another for the Irish back then. The bad potato harvest, which is poor people's main food, led to famine; after which the Irish began to suffer from typhus fever, dysentery, scurvy and cholera. For several lean years, more than one quarter of Irish people died or fled from the miseries inflicted on them to the United States. The authorities of the United Kingdom tried to help them, but they had very little money.

There's no telling what would happen to Ireland if it did not received help from ... Sultan of the Ottoman Empire Abdul-Majid I. A young Ottoman reformer, a connoisseur of Western culture, was famous for his generosity, but It looks like his charity was politically motivated - a few years after the sultan saved the Irish, the Great Britain (together with France) took the side of the Ottoman Empire in the Crimean War.

Abdul-Majid I, Queen Victoria of Great Britain and French emperor Napoleon III

Anyway, the sultan decided to grant Ireland financial assistance in the amount of £10,000. But a huge amount of money for those times had to be cut tenfold, because British diplomats decided that the sultan's aid should not exceed the size of the British queen's help, who sent the Irish only £2,000.

However, Abdul-Majid found a way to circumvent the laws of diplomacy by sending to Ireland not just money, but also humanitarian aid - several ships full of food that entered Drogheda's port. Since then, the Irish are very sympathetic to the Turks. British media, calling Abdul-Majid "a good sultan," wrote then: "A Muslim ruler representing a large Islamic population showed kindness toward the Christian people. Perhaps such relations can become a tradition in all spheres of the crescent and the cross adherents." According to one of the versions, the crescent and the star appeared on Drogheda's coat of arms in gratitude for the sultan's help. Later, a similar symbol became the emblem of the Drogheda United Football Club.

During former Irish President Mary McAleese's official visit to Turkey, she recalled the salvation of her forefathers: "The Irish people have never forgotten this rare example of favor. Ireland turned the symbols on your flag, this beautiful star and crescent, into a symbol of the city. We also see these beautiful Turkish symbols on the uniform of the football team."