Mark Twain produced his book The Innocents Abroad after making an excursion to Italy, Greece, Palestine, and Egypt in 1867.  Excerpts from the book* show his low esteem for Arabs and their religion.


Mohammedans here (in Morocco), who can afford it, keep a good many wives on hand.  They are called wives, though I believe the Koran only allows four genuine wives - the rest are concubines.  The Emperor of Morocco don’t know how many wives he has, but he thinks he has five hundred.  However, that is near enough - a dozen or so, one way or the other, don’t matter.  Even the Jews in the interior have a plurality of wives.  I have caught a glimpse of the faces of several Moorish women, (for they are only human, and will expose their faces for the admiration of a Christian dog when no male Moor is by,) and I am full of veneration for the wisdom that leads them to cover up such atrocious ugliness.  (p. 85)


Spain is the only nation the Moors fear.  The reason is, that Spain sends her heaviest ships of war and her loudest guns to astonish these Moslems; while America, and other nations, send only a little contemptible tub of a gun-boat occasionally.  The Moors, like other savages, learn by what they see; not what they hear or read.  (p. 86)


Abdul Aziz, absolute lord of the Ottoman Empire...(is)...the representative of a people by nature and training filthy, brutish, ignorant, unprogressive, superstitious - and a government whose Three Graces are Tyranny, Rapacity, Blood...Abdul Aziz, Sultan of Turkey, Lord of the Ottoman Empire!  Born to a throne; weak, stupid, ignorant, almost, as his meanest slave...who sleeps, sleeps, eats, eats, idles with his eight hundred concubines...who found his great Empire a blot upon the earth - a degraded, poverty-stricken, miserable, infamous agglomeration of ignorance, crime, and brutality, and will idle away the allotted days of his trivial life, and then pass to the dust and the worms and leave it so!  (pp.126-128)


If ever an oppressed race existed, it is this one we see fettered around us under the inhuman tyranny of the Ottoman Empire.  I wish Europe would let Russia annihilate Turkey a little - not much, but enough to make it difficult to find the place again without a divining rod or a diving-bell.  The Syrians are very poor, and yet they are ground down by a system of taxation that would drive any other nation frantic.  (p. 443)


We had a tedious ride of about five hours, in the sun, across the Valley of Lebanon...It was a desert, weed-grown waste, littered thickly with stones the size of a man’s fist.  Here and there the natives had scratched the ground and reared a sickly crop of grain, but for the most part the valley was given up to a handful of shepherds, whose flocks were doing what they honestly could to get a living...The plows these people use are simply a sharpened stick, such as Abraham plowed with...They never invent anything, never learn anything.  (pp. 445-446)


*Oxford University Press, 1996

How they hate a Christian in Damascus! - and pretty much all over Turkeydom as well.  And how they will pay for it when Russia turns her guns upon them again!  It is soothing to the heart to abuse England and France for interposing to save the Ottoman Empire from the destruction it has so richly deserved for a thousand years.  It hurts my vanity to see these pagans refuse to eat of food that has been cooked for us; or to eat from a dish we have eaten from; or to drink from a goatskin which we have polluted with our Christian lips, exept by filtering the water through a rag which they put over the mouth of it or through a sponge!  I never disliked a Chinaman as I do these degraded Turks and Arabs, and when Russia is ready to war with them again, I hope England and France will not find it good breeding or good judgment to interfere.  (p. 463)


A Syrian village is the sorriest sight in the world, and its surroundings are eminently in keeping with it.  (p. 468)


Some of the men were tall and stalwart, (for one hardly sees anywhere such splendid-looking men as here in the East,) but all the women and children looked worn and sad, and distressed with hunger.  They reminded me much of Indians, did these people.  They had but little clothing, but such as they had was fanciful in character and fantastic in its arrangement...These people about us had other peculiarities, which I have noticed in the noble red man, too; they were infested with vermin, and the dirt had caked on them till it amounted to bark.  (pp. 472-473)


Magdala is not a beautiful place.  It is thoroughly Syrian, and that is to say that it is thoroughly ugly, and cramped, squalid, uncomfortable, and filthy...camel used for fuel.  There is no timber of any consequence in Palestine - none at all to waste upon fires - and neither are there any mines of coal.  (p. 503)


It seems to me that all the races and colors and tongues of the earth must be represented among the fourteen thousand souls that dwell in Jerusalem.  Rags, wretchedness, poverty, and dirt, those signs and symbols that indicated the presence of Moslem rule more surely than the crescent-flag itself, abound.  Lepers, cripples, the blind, and the idiotic, assail you on every hand, and they know but one word of but one language apparently - the eternal “bucksheesh.”  (p. 559)


This rock (in the Mosque of Omar), large as it is, is suspended in the air.  It does not touch anything at all.  The guide said so.  This is very wonderful.  In the place on it where Mahomet stood, he left his foot-prints in the solid stone.  I should judge that he wore about eighteens.  (p. 579)


The Moslems watch the Golden Gate (of Jerusalem) with a jealous eye, and an anxious one, for they have an honored tradition that when it falls, Islamism will fall, and with it the Ottoman Empire.  It did not grieve me any to notice that the old gate was getting a little shaky.  (p. 584)


Of all the lands there are for dismal scenery, I think Palestine must be the prince.  The hills are barren, they are dull of color, they are unpicturesque in shape.  The valleys are unsightly deserts fringed with a feeble vegetation that has an expression about it of being sorrowful and despondent...It is a hopeless, dreary, heart-broken land...Palestine sits in sackcloth and ashes.  Over it broods the spell of a curse that has withered its fields and fettered its energies.  (pp. 606-607)



            The introduction to the book has the following paragraph:


First port of call was in the Azores, and it becomes instantly clear that the freewheeling Twain, bless him, is not going to be shackled by political correctness.  Oh dear oh dear.  Given today’s touchy political climate, I suspect there is sufficient kindling in The Innocents Abroad to light a fire of protest under Portuguese, Italians, Moslems, Catholics, Turks, Greeks, feminists, Arabs, American Indians, and other sensitive types.  I have no doubt that Innocents Abroad, released today, would be banned in schools, the author condemned as a racist, and possibly, just possibly, finding himself the subject of a fatwa.


            Mark Twain’s evaluation of the backwardness of Muslim lands would be too candid for many sensitive ears today.  The onus of political correctness nowadays stifles honest observation and truthful judgment regarding low-classed people.  It is now the custom to deny inferiority by using euphemistic, white-washed language that speaks of depraved savages as being merely deprived.


            The fact of the matter is that Muslim rule still means oppression and stifled progress.  One has only to contrast the desolation of the Palestine of Mark Twain’s era to the productive fertility of Israel today to see that the right kind of people in a land can make a vast difference in its prosperity and its enlightened spirit.

                        INDEX  TO   THE  INNOCENTS  ABROAD


The Excursion  xxxiii, 63, 309, 434, 479, 525, 645, 648

Political Correctness  xxxv

Tourists and Vandalism  xliv, 451, 471, 529, 550

America  29, 64, 100, 152, 267

French  105-158, 491, 568

Greeks  354, 369, 572

Chinese  463

Art Appreciation  195, 237-239, 260, 311, 331

Religion  30, 32, 39, 45, 46, 408, 409, 412, 416, 442, 451, 462,           490, 492, 501, 502, 537, 571, 572, 629, 633

Science  415, 547, 552, 565

Mormons  368, 426

Catholics  xliv, 51, 55-57, 131, 165, 180, 200, 208, 209, 245, 256-263, 267, 273-276, 297, 298, 306, 311, 312, 317, 472, 528, 538, 560-562, 566, 568, 569, 570, 572, 575,          580, 583, 598, 599, 601, 640

Muslims  xxxvi-xxxviii, xl-xlii, 69, 85, 86, 126-128, 262, 263, 356, 361, 365, 368, 369, 406, 433, 443, 445, 446, 455,             463, 468, 469, 472, 473, 477, 481, 482, 486, 488, 503-            505, 508, 532, 541, 546, 559, 579, 580, 584, 602, 605-    608, 623

Arabic anachronism  467

Jews  xlii, 69, 78, 85, 195, 269, 505, 580, 633

The Wandering Jew  576

Negroes  xxxiv, 78, 240, 241, 488

American Indians  205, 472, 473, 486, 532, 546

Caves, Grottoes  528, 601