Sunday, September 17, 2006

Pope Speaks, Muslims React As Usual

Oh, look. A familiar sight: Muslims protesting in the street and leaders all riled up. What piddling thing's got their blood up now?

I've been feeling out of physical sorts, so I've not been reading or watching news, so I'm playing catch-up. If you've been snogging or napping or lost in a long novel and haven't heard about this news bit I'm about to rant on, stay and I'll catch you up. I came across the issue on Elliot's blog, and immediately I headed for google.

First, the CAUSE:

In the seventh conversation edited by Professor Khoury, the emperor touches on the theme of the holy war. The emperor must have known that surah 2, 256 reads: "There is no compulsion in religion". According to the experts, this is one of the suras of the early period, when Mohammed was still powerless and under threat. But naturally the emperor also knew the instructions, developed later and recorded in the Qur'an, concerning holy war. Without descending to details, such as the difference in treatment accorded to those who have the "Book" and the "infidels", he addresses his interlocutor with a startling brusqueness on the central question about the relationship between religion and violence in general, saying: "Show me just what Mohammed 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". The emperor, after having expressed himself so forcefully, goes on to explain in detail the reasons why spreading the faith through violence is something unreasonable. Violence is incompatible with the nature of God and the nature of the soul. "God", he says, "is not pleased by blood - and not acting reasonably (F×< 8`(T) is contrary to God's nature. Faith is born of the soul, not the body. Whoever would lead someone to faith needs the ability to speak well and to reason properly, without violence and threats... To convince a reasonable soul, one does not need a strong arm, or weapons of any kind, or any other means of threatening a person with death...".

(excerpted from September 2nd speech by The Pope)

Okay, so there you have it. Pope Benedict XVI (a guy who I think is pretty cool so far, and I'm not a Catholic) said some things in a speech at the University of Regensburg, Germany. Cause.

Now, the EFFECT:

You guessed it. The Muslim global community starts shouting and burning stuff. Ho, fricken, hum. Not that it takes much to get those effigy-burning juices going in the lands of the Religion of Peace.
Christianity Today's weblog has this, and I quote in part:

The Muslim world is outraged by Pope Benedict's criticism of "violent conversion" and references to the siege of Constantinople. A lawmaker from the Turkish ruling party said Benedict's speech on the universality of reason "looks like an effort to revive the mentality of the Crusades" and that Benedict "is going down in history in the same category as leaders such as Hitler and Mussolini." Pakistan's parliament unanimously condemned the Pope and his remarks. In Srinagar, India, a group of Muslims burned an effigy of Benedict and shouted, "Those who dare to target Islam and the Prophet will be finished!"

"This is not an effective way to argue against someone who has questioned your religion's relationship to violence," notes Catholic blogger Amy Welborn.

"Honestly, the thin-skinnedness of many Muslims is getting awfully tiresome," agrees Rod Dreher at Beliefnet's Crunchy Con. "How on earth are we ever supposed to be able to have a dialogue if the non-Muslim side has to walk on eggshells to avoid offending the wounded sensibilities of Muslim leaders, who seem very eager to take gross offense at anything critical?"

Following the speech, Rod Liddle had this easy prophecy to make:

You can bet your life that by the time you read this, some Catholic priest toiling away in a godforsaken, dusty hellhole — Sudan, perhaps, or Turkey — will have been smacked about a bit, or had his church burnt down or been arrested without charge. The Pope should have been aware that Islam always reacts to western allegations that it is not a peaceful religion by mass outbreaks of vituperation, denunciation and acts of jihadic violence.

That this is a paradox seems not to be even remotely recognised by many Muslims. Commenting on the Pope’s speech, Tasnim Aslam, a spokeswoman for the Pakistani foreign ministry, came out with this little piece of doublethink beauty: “Anyone who describes Islam as a religion as intolerant encourages violence.”

Well, he said what we all figured was coming. (Flashback to the Danish cartoon uproar.) And he and we were right:

This elderly nun's death in Somalia is possibly part of the furious payback since it occured hours after a prominent Somali cleric denounced the Pope's remarks. Note that this woman dedicated her life to serving the poor in Mogadishu. But, hey, Catholic. Fair game for several round of bullets in the back. Her bodyguard was also killed. Note that a nun needs bodyguards in this hellhole.

There's also this:
An Iraqi insurgent group threatened the Vatican with a suicide attack over the Pope's remarks, according to a statement posted yesterday on the Web.

"We swear to God to send you people who adore death as much as you adore life," said the message posted in the name of the Mujahedeen Army on a Web site frequently used by militant groups. The message's authenticity could not be independently verified. The statement was addressed to "you dog of Rome" and threatens to "shake your thrones and break your crosses in your home."

And this from (which you now will always soften things to the pro-Muslim side):
Local Christian officials said a stone church in Tulkarem built 170 years ago was torched before dawn on Sunday.

Another church in the village of Tubas was attacked with firebombs and partially burned.

On Saturday, attackers had hurled firebombs and opened fire at five churches in the West Bank and Gaza, sparking concerns of a widening rift between Palestinian Muslims and Christians.

So, then those effects become the CAUSE of another EFFECT, the Pope's reaction:

Pope Benedict has tried to calm Muslim anger over his comments on Islam. The head of the world's one billion Catholics used his weekly prayer to say he was "deeply sorry" about the reaction to his remarks, but he stopped short of a retraction demanded by some Muslims.

"I am deeply sorry for the reactions in some countries to a few passages of my address which were considered offensive to the sensibility of Muslims," he told pilgrims at his summer residence. "These, in fact, were a quotation from a medieval text, which do not in any way express my personal thoughts. I hope this serves to appease hearts and to clarify the true meaning of my address, which in its totality was and is an invitation to frank and sincere dialogue, with mutual respect," he added.

Not that the apology is sufficient to quell the fury:
But the Pope's apology by proxy was not enough to quell a string of attacks against Christian churches on the West Bank and in Gaza. And Egypt's Muslim Brotherhood demanded a direct mea culpa from the head of the world's 1.1 billion Catholics.

The New York Times is calling for Pope Benedict XVI to grovel. (I see some Qu'ran kissing suggestions coming from the lunatic lefty columnists soon.)

Me, I think a recap will show that the Pope shouldn't need to apologize:

1. Pope gives speech with quotes that don't paint Islam too peacefully.
2. Muslims get pissed (again) and are riled out of peaceful slumbers.
3. Death threats made toward Pope (yeah, sounds like a broken record)and churches torched and a nun killed.
4. Said threats and prove the original point.

Irony is apparently lost on the Muslim community, yet again.

And not just irony, but the POINT is lost. Captain's Quarters posted this, which does get the point:
If one reads the speech at Regensburg, the entire speech, one understands that the entire point was to reject violence in pursuing religion in any form, be it Islam, Christianity, Judaism, or Bahai. The focal point of the speech was not the recounting of the debate between Manuel II and the unnamed Persian, but rather the rejection of reason and of God that violence brings (emphasis mine):

The decisive statement in this argument against violent conversion is this: not to act in accordance with reason is contrary to God’s nature. The editor, Theodore Khoury, observes: For the emperor, as a Byzantine shaped by Greek philosophy, this statement is self-evident. But for Muslim teaching, God is absolutely transcendent. His will is not bound up with any of our categories, even that of rationality. Here Khoury quotes a work of the noted French Islamist R. Arnaldez, who points out that Ibn Hazn went so far as to state that God is not bound even by his own word, and that nothing would oblige him to reveal the truth to us. Were it God’s will, we would even have to practise idolatry.

This is really the crux of the argument, which is that argument, debate, and rhetoric are absolutely essential in forming any kind of philosophy, including religious doctrine. The words of sacred text do not cover all situations in the world, and therefore development of a solid philosophical body of thought is critical to growth and wisdom. That requires the ability to challenge and to criticize without fear of retribution, a difficulty that most faiths struggle to overcome.

Islam, on the other hand, doesn't bother to try. Benedict never says this explicitly, but Islam's demands that all criticism be silenced turns doctrine into dictatorship, which rejects God on a very basic level.

So, to conclude, I'm with Mario:
And that's why we should be defending the pope, said Italian Mario Mauro, one of 14 vice-presidents of the European Parliament. "Let us defend the Pope without ifs or buts, let us defend reason," he said. "The monstrous attempt on the part of many Islamic leaders, even the so-called moderates, to distort the Pope's reaching out to all religions (through the lecture), in order to hit out at Christians and the West shows us the gravity of the danger we are facing."


ainelivia said...

And unfortunately it has been the life of an Italian nun in Somalia.

You write up a storm here. I think in Europe we have been bullied into silence by the constant threats of civil disruption and violence that occurs when Muslims, (some Muslims, I do believe the press gives far more attention to the big voices) perceive themselves or their Prophet to have been insulted.

Though it is the double standard that really gets me. When in Darfur, Arab-Muslims have made homeless 2 million people, and murdered and raped women. And 200,000 are dead.

Yet not one voice raised, not one demonstration, not one have I heard cry out in protest at the killing and murder of their own, by their own. Would I be unfair to conclude that it's then OK?

Interesting writing, I'll be back.

Mirtika said...

Yeah. Christians were helping in Darfur from day one. I know, cause I gave my first of several donations to the Darfur aid more than two years ago. But the media was slow to latch on. I mean, hey, Muslims acting like animals--they get a pass.

Now, after all the, "US Warrior IMPERIALISM" shit, there are protests to get Bush to send troops to Darfur. Where were the protestors 2 years ago?