Ali, Omar and Hassan stood gazing at the sea. Wild currents crashed to the shore, spraying frothy water and salty droplets on their face. Their school trip to the Karachi naval headquarters had been very inspiring. Ms. Salman, their accompanying teacher, asked them to take their seats on the docks and handed over their snack boxes of sandwiches and juice to conclude the field trip.
Thoughtfully she asked: “Who knows Hayreddin Barbarossa?”
The students gave a blank stare. Some didn’t even look up from being too busy munching on their sandwich.
“When Muslim Spain fell, in the fifteenth and sixteenth centuries, hundreds of Muslims were killed, and the knights of St. John captured every Muslim ship sailing the Mediterranean Sea. This caused a great loss of human life and business. In these trying times, Hayreddin rose as a leader to defend the ships of Muslims from enemies. Hayreddin had three other brothers, and all of them worked together. He learnt to build ships, worked as a sailor and later turned into a pirate to save Muslims from cruelties. He helped seventy thousand Muslim captives (called Morisco) escape from the Christian ruler’s torture and transported them to safer lands.”
“How come we have not heard of him?” Hassan asked, sipping his juice.
“If you visit Turkey, you will see his statue in The Istanbul Naval Museum. The Turkish seamen to this day salute his statue with canon fire, whenever they set sail for fighting. It’s sad that you know so little about your brave heroes.”
“Please, tell us more!” Ali insisted, curious to find out more.
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