Friday, September 15, 2006

The Pope And His Speech

The first headline this morning on CNN:

Muslim fury at pope jihad comments

"Oh no," was the first thought that came to my head. "Not again!"

So the pope believes (wrongly) that Islam was spread by the sword and by violence.

I hope the hordes of illiterate, oppressed and unemployed Muslims in the developing world do not take the decision to prove him wrong by burning down embassies, churches or businesses. It seems every time there is an opportunity to put a foot in our mouth, the Muslims in the uneducated East will oblige.

First - the Pope is wrong. If Islam was really enforced on the colonies, then all of India, Serbia, Croatia, Hungary, Austria, Greece, Armenia, Sudan, Egypt etc. would all have been Muslims. The Coptic church survived thousand years of Muslim rule. The Ottomans never interfered with the local churches. The Mughals in India did not convert hordes of Hindus and Brahmins into Muslims.

And Indonesia would never have become Muslim either. No Muslim army landed in Indonesia, Malaysia or Singapore.

Second, and this I find troubling, is why the Pope made those statements. It's one thing if he believes it. It's also negligible if it's a slip up; but if he deliberately made those statements to provoke a certain reaction, then he is guilty of a serious charge. He wants a clash of civilizations - that's very easy to get in today's polarized world.

I had hoped the Catholic church was going to move into the twenty first century. Yet, one of the first statements I recall from this pope was that Turkey shouldn't be allowed into the European Union as this would dilute Europe's "Christian" heritage. The Pope also wanted situations of Christians in the Muslim world to improve (I would like to know how his current statements would help them). On one hand the Pope leads a fight for the rights of this minority and on the other hand the Pope leads the fight against same sex marriage and gay rights. And now, he reads a 14th century criticism of Islam in discussion of the present century (as if there was a shortage of criticism from this century). One has to question - why?

UPDATE: (11.15 am) I am in NYC so it will be hard to have the updates of this sitation but I will try.

In India, taking strong exception to the remarks, Congress party spokesperson Satyavrat Chaturvedi said: "The Pope should have spoken with more wisdom. He is not merely the head of a religion, he is also the head of a state (Vatican)."

The (Hindu nationalist) BJP's reaction was stronger. "The pope should immediately clarify his position and if he has actually made the remarks he should apologise," senior party leader Mukthar Abbas Naqvi said. [link]

In a gross overreaction a Turkish lawmaker compared the Pope to Hitler.

In an alarming development, Reuters reported an explosion at a Gaza church, meanwhile BBC showed pictures of Sunni and Shia muslims marching in India, burning effigies of the Pope, while Pakistan deployed forces to guard Catholic churches.

BBC has a variety of "important" people in the Muslim "community" who have decided to take offense.

Again, one has to wonder at the Pope - why? Did any Muslim leader criticize your faith, your religion or you that you suddenly decide to be Pope Urban II (or XIVI or whatever).



Anonymous said...

I've only read the quotation that the Pope cited, but I can't find the full context of his remarks. Where is the evidence to prove that the Pope agrees or endorses the comments?

Increasinly, I think that Muslims are being overly-sensitive to comments made about their religion and use any slight (real or imagined) to reproach the west about our wicked ways.

The following are comments found in a NY Times from a Turkish official. I doubt we will see any Catholics taking to the streets buring Turkey's flag...

"Salih Kapusuz, a deputy leader of Turkish Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan's party, said Benedict's remarks were either ''the result of pitiful ignorance'' about Islam and its prophet, or a deliberate distortion.

''He has a dark mentality that comes from the darkness of the Middle Ages. He is a poor thing that has not benefited from the spirit of reform in the Christian world,'' Kapusuz was quoted as saying by the state-owned Anatolia news agency. ''It looks like an effort to revive the mentality of the Crusades.''

''Benedict, the author of such unfortunate and insolent remarks, is going down in history for his words,'' he said. ''He is going down in history in the same category as leaders such as (Adolf) Hitler and (Benito) Mussolini.''

SouthernOntarioan said...

I believe he was referring to other parts of the world (ie N. Africa and much of the other parts of the Middle East) when commenting about that. And it is true that in many muslim countries non-muslims are treating like crap (worse than how christians treat muslims here).

However, while it is true that the Muslim faith has been spread by the sword, so has the Catholic church (think of S. and C. America). I don't believe the Pope is really in a place to condemn the Muslims for doing exactly what they did.

However, if the Muslim reponse grows to include attacking catholic churches and catholics, it will simply be proving the Pope right, that Muslims are violent.

Instead of simply bashing the Pope's poor judgement, moderates need to encourage the radicals to calm the heck down.

Jay said...

I think it is obvious why the Pope opened his mouth. He would benefit from a clash between Islam and Christianity. Nothing gets people clinging to their particular faith with more ferver than a holy war.

The Vatican should not be a state in the first place and this man is of absolutley no use on the global scene except to hold back developing countries and further the AIDS epidemic. And they wonder why their are fewer priests. When I see this it is obvious, and also the fact many are locked up as pedophiles.

Anonymous said...

"..... meanwhile BBC showed pictures of Sunni and Shia muslims marching in India, burning effigies of the Pope ....."
at least it can be said he brought two warring factions together.

mezba said...

Anon (11.36) The Pope read from a 14th century book where an emperor criticised the Prophet and repeated those words.

The context of the Pope's quotation about the unreasonableness of spreading faith by violent means was an academic lecture on the relationship of faith and reason for professors and graduate students of the University of Regensburg in southern Germany, where the Pope once taught.

"God is not pleased by blood and not acting reasonably is contrary to God's nature... Whoever would lead someone to faith needs the ability to speak well and to reason properly, without violence and threats.


Unlike the Turkish official, the Pope DOES speak for Catholics and therefore his words carry greater weight.

Southernontarian: I don't have great optimism on muslim reactions - they are uneducated and unemployed in those poor countries, therefore they will react violently. Besides, those clerics and rulers who want to remain in power will stoke the fire just to divert the attention from their own failings.

Jay: I have lost all respect for this Pope. The previous Pope was a man of honour and a great man who wanted to create true peace and understanding between religions. While conditions of Christians in some muslim countries may be worse than of muslims in christian countries, they were improving (until recently a christian was vice-captain of Pakistan's cricket team).

fragmunt: i guess.

Anonymous said...

In the end, the Pope should mind his own business. He is well educated but his views are antiquated. He knows the sensitivity of the world right now and should have known better.

No matter what history says and no matter what we think the Muslim world believes that the war on terrorism is a war against Muslims.

This is absolute proof that there should be separation of church and state. When church gets involved hatred starts.

And, who in hell is the Pope to tell anyone/country how they should live, what their laws should be.

He (Pope) after all is just a man, he is NOT God, he is NOT Christ - he's a man who climbed up the corporate ladder of the church and nothing else and I do not understand why he has any say in world situations whatsoever.

Jason Bo Green said...

It's a very unfortunate happening with very bad timing, in my opinion.

Islam has been spread by the sword, and there is nothing wrong with saying that -- but, a Pope has to acknowledge also that at times, Catholicism has been, too. Goose and gander, and all.

Benedict is wrong to point the finger without acknowledging grievous mistakes in his own religion's past.

There are those today who seek to spread Islam by violence and to put to death those who do not revert. The well-deserved criticism of these people doesn't have to rely on 14th Century texts, surely.

mezba said...

Anon, Jason:

I think you will find the comments of Umar Lee, a new convert to Islam, interesting, on this issue.

EX-NDIP said...

The Muslim world once again demonstrates that is more like a group of spoiled children, completely unable to participate in any intelectual debate. The Pope meerly quoted from history . . . like it or not . . . you don't see the pope's people going on the rampage when media, athiests or whatever attack Catholism. But muslim world, turns into a hate-fest of murder and destruction. Read their book . . . . the Sun sets in a muddy puddly . . . the devil hides up you nose at night . . . . kind of silly. Islam has little to bring to an intelligent debate . . . history speaks volumes as to their true nature.

mezba said...

Ex NDP you are so wrong that one wonders where to start correcting. first, it was not the whole of muslims protesting but a mere 500, out of 1.8 billion.

Second, I looked at some of the protestors in Bangladesh. They are of some obscure group called Khelafat Andolon. Mere 200. While 10,000 people were attending a political protest against the government, it shows that even Muslims there are concerned with other things.

Second, since you brought up history, look up contributions of Muslims in history towards mankind. Once you sober up, come back here and I will give you some starters.