Saturday, September 16, 2006
Pope's remarks row rumbles on...
I must admit I'm disturbed at the way so many Muslims have gone absolutely ape-shit over remarks that Pope Benedict XVI made in a speech this past week in Germany.
The Pope quoted from a book recounting a conversation between 14th century Byzantine Christian Emperor Manuel Paleologos II and an educated Persian, on the truths of Christianity and Islam:
"The emperor comes to speak about the issue of jihad, holy war."
"He said, I quote, 'Show me just what Muhammad brought that was new, and there you will find things only evil and inhuman, such as his command to spread by the sword the faith he preached.'"
Now when I read the remarks myself a few days ago I sensed there would be a backlash. As a Catholic, my take on this is that the Pope made comments that were ill-advised. Thus I was pleased to hear Pope Benedict XVI come out and say he was sorry his speech offended Muslims. In a statement read out by a senior Vatican official, the Pope said he respected Islam and hoped Muslims would understand the true sense of his words.
What pisses me off though is how leading Islamic figures are saying that they are still not satisfied and how they seem to want to engage in conflict over this issue. Whatever happened to robust debate eh? Egypt has since come out and warned the Pope's remarks could incite violence between Muslims and Christians. What are you kidding me?
This whole controversy is strikingly similar to the Danish cartoon controversy from a few months back. Several Muslims get offended by what they perceive to be a negative, stereotypical view placed on themselves as people who are bloodthirsty and violent. Their response? To live up to this very stereotype by coming out with comments that seem to support the spilling of blood and violence.
Anyone else see the inherent problem with this approach?
Apparently 'sticks & stones' is not a concept these guys are familiar with...
In Pakistan, Pope Benedict was universally condemned and in Turkey, the ruling party likened him to Hitler and Mussolini and accused him of reviving the mentality of the Crusades. At least they haven't overreacted or anything...
In Egypt about 100 worshippers demonstrated after Friday prayers at Cairo’s Al-Azhar mosque, the Sunni Arab world’s most prominent institution, chanting, "Oh Crusaders, oh cowards! Down with the Pope!"
Many attributed the Pope’s comments to a larger political bias against Muslims:
"This is part of the whole war against Islam. Whenever we close a door on evil, they open another door," said an Egyptian man who spoke on condition of anonymity because of the sensitivity of the matter.
"These Christians are all infidels. Benedict himself is an infidel and a blind man. Doesn’t he see that the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan and other places were waged by Christians?" another worshipper said.
As you will have noticed, apparently it's OK for all Christians to be branded as "infidels" but it's the final horror if all Muslims are tarred with the same brush. A bit of consistency wouldn't go amiss.
I'm really getting sick and tired at the way the Muslim world seems to be spoiling for a fight with other religions based upon the words or actions of a few. Yes the Pope made remarks that are hard to defend but he apologised for them.
Can we not move on now from all of this or must we have a holy war?
Heaven help us.
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