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The term Saracen (from a Greek root) was used during the Byzantine and Crusader periods to refer to Muslims, especially those in a European context, for example in Sicily and southern Italy.

Ptolemy, in classical times, refers to an area in the nothern Sinai called Sarakene, and a people, the sarakenoi, living in Arabia.

The Christian fathers viewed them as Ishmaelites by origin and therefore outside the Abrahamic line of descent and outside the divine dispensation to Israel. They were therefore viewed as pagan, living outside the normal societal mores, and characterised as enemies of the Faith and raiders of civilised areas.

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