September 16, 2006

Sticks and Stones...On the Pontiff's Words

As if we don't have enough frustration and anger in the Muslim world for the wars, occupation, poverty, unemployment, humiliation, lack of freedoms, and so called terrorism that plague us, the highest authority of the Catholic faith decides that there is a pressing need to reiterate the ignorant and insulting message the Danish cartoons portrayed only a few months ago. And as if we don't have enough people saying we're crazy angry terrorists, a few Muslim lunatics had to go prove the Pope's statements by throwing fire bombs at churches in the West Bank town of Nablus. Do people not think anymore?! Is it really that hard to think twice before saying or doing something that might cause harm to many people around you and many people who listen to you?

The 'cartoon controversy' is still fresh in the memory of most people around the world, especially Muslims. The Prophet Muhammad was defamed in the satirical Danish cartoons with complete disregard for the feelings of 1.6 billion Muslims around the world who consider such drawings offensive at least and blasphemous at best. Millions of Muslims around the world peacefully protested the cartoons and some of course violently protested. It took much effort on the part of the Danish to retract and apologize for the actions of a few of their countrymen, and it took a lot more effort from the Muslim world to begin a dialogue about the important role the Prophet plays in the Islamic faith with the West. Discussions, conferences, and countless dialogues were held in order to bring both sides together to recognize the sanctity of different aspects of religion for followers of different faiths. This is the only positive result of the Danish cartoon controversy.

But just as people are beginning to calm down and realize that discussion and exchange of ideas is the only way to educate ourselves and each other about our beliefs, ideals, and customs, the Pope decides to spark yet another controversy by insulting the most revered figure in the Islamic faith, the Prophet Muhammad.

Muslims around the world have demanded an apology from the pontiff, and rightly so, for his insulting and inflammatory statements. Today, the Pope issued a statement, which most media outlets are still debating as to whether it constitutes an apology or not. The BBC says the Pope has apologized, while CNN says his statement comes short of an apology. [The full text of the statement is here.]

Thank you, Pope Benedict XVI, for "regretting" that your statement "could have sounded offensive" to Muslims around the world. Unfortunately, the damage has been done, yet again. And while most Muslims want an official and personal apology, that is not likely to change the reality of what happened. We all make mistakes, that is true. But we also know that a Pope is given such an important responsibility that he could not mistakenly make such a statement in a well-prepared for speech before a large audience.

And to those individuals who claim to represent me and my religion by attacking sacred churches and burning effigies and flags, please remember that the Prophet would not have, in a million years and in the face of thousands of insults, ever acted this way. His neighbor threw trash in front of his house every single day and the non-Muslims in Mecca insulted him verbally and even abused him physically. He turned the other cheek and prayed that God would forgive them and guide them. The Prophet said, "The strong is not the one who overcomes the people by his strength, but the strong is the one who controls himself in a moment of anger."

I conclude with a very well written editorial in the New York Times today which analyzes the situation very clearly and effectively:

There is more than enough religious anger in the world. So it is particularly disturbing that Pope Benedict XVI has insulted Muslims, quoting a 14th-century description of Islam as “evil and inhuman.”

In the most provocative part of a speech this week on “faith and reason,” the pontiff recounted a conversation between an “erudite” Byzantine Christian emperor and a “learned” Muslim Persian circa 1391. The pope quoted the emperor saying, “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.”

Muslim leaders the world over have demanded apologies and threatened to recall their ambassadors from the Vatican, warning that the pope’s words dangerously reinforce a false and biased view of Islam. For many Muslims, holy war — jihad — is a spiritual struggle, and not a call to violence. And they denounce its perversion by extremists, who use jihad to justify murder and terrorism.

The Vatican issued a statement saying that Benedict meant no offense and in fact desired dialogue. But this is not the first time the pope has fomented discord between Christians and Muslims.

In 2004 when he was still the Vatican’s top theologian, he spoke out against Turkey’s joining the European Union, because Turkey, as a Muslim country was “in permanent contrast to Europe.”

A doctrinal conservative, his greatest fear appears to be the loss of a uniform Catholic identity, not exactly the best jumping-off point for tolerance or interfaith dialogue.

The world listens carefully to the words of any pope. And it is tragic and dangerous when one sows pain, either deliberately or carelessly. He needs to offer a deep and persuasive apology, demonstrating that words can also heal.

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At 4:39 AM, Blogger joladies said...

Thank you Moi for that rational and reasoned comment. I wish there were more like you around. T

At 9:53 AM, Anonymous Andy said...

Because of THIS tolerant adherents of "religion of peace" are burning churches through the ME. Text of the Pope's speech. Instructions: read first, try to understend second, than - burn the church if you like. Or mosque (no synagoges there anyway:)

At 1:51 PM, Blogger kilamxx said...

Seems to me the burning of the churches only happened in the occupied territories and nowhere else. Wonder if Mossad is taking advantage of the situation by posing as Muslims. After all the Israelis control all the checkpoints, not to mention their unending night patrols.

At 8:31 PM, Blogger moi said...

T--Thank you for your kind words.

At 4:44 AM, Anonymous Andy said...

"only happened in the occupied territories and nowhere else" you are SO pathetic, buddy. Moslems burn churches because they LOVE burning churches. No pretext needed. How about burning churches on Bali? or in Kosovo, or in Nigeria? Or in Egypt? (Poor native Egyptians - Christian Copts - are suffernig Arab occupation for 1300 years) or in Lebanon during the civil war?
You are so childish - smashing the mirror when you don't like your own reflection. And btw, thanks for your high evaluation of Mossad and IDF- I really liked it:)

At 12:00 PM, Blogger kilamxx said...

"burning churches on Bali? or in Kosovo, or in Nigeria? Or in Egypt? (Poor native Egyptians - Christian Copts - are suffernig Arab occupation for 1300 years) or in Lebanon during the civil war?" - The usual rehashed, vague references.
False-flag operations by Mossad are nothing new, nor are they limited to Palestine. Check out this website:-

At 6:04 PM, Anonymous Andy said...





Should I charge you for enlighten your ignorance, buddy? Btw, I've checked that site, and you know what? It's ALL TRUE! Not only those guys , but also Prophet Himself (peace be on him and on His wives and cattle) was a Mossad agent. Go burn a church:)))

At 12:32 PM, Blogger kilamxx said...

Andy is trying to do exactly what the typical Zionist has been trying to do ever since he set foot in Palestine - play off the Muslims and the Christians against each other. It doesn't work, mate.
Christians and Muslims have always been united in facing up to the Zionist tyranny in Palestine. To the Zionists, there's no difference between a Muslim or a Christian when you're grabbing Arab land.
Try and see how Palestinians together condemn the fire-bombing.

At 9:35 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

When will Muslims be able to accept critiques, outlandish or not of their religion? Look at popular culture in Europe and America and what it says about Christianity, yet Christians aren't out burning things, stoning embassies, etc.

At 10:48 PM, Blogger moi said...

Anon-- The majority of the reactions to the Pope's words in the Muslim world have been non-violent. Unfortunately, the media does not cover that and chooses to highlight the 5% who are burning effigies and using violence to express their anger.

They dynamics and role of religion in the West is simply not comparable to what it is in Muslim majority countries. While Christianity has been watered down for the past few centuries to 'accommodate' to modernization, Islam has remained pure in its message and therefore any attempts to undermine it are not taken lightly by Muslims.

It is a matter of how Christians feel they need to defend their religion and how Muslims feel they should defend theirs. If Muslims do not accept that their holiest Prophet be demonized and misunderstood, that is not a crime. If they do so in a violent way, that is a crime. And the latter option is in the minority, as mentioned earlier.

While we may accept that certain Muslims are insulted and attacked in many ways, unfounded and unsubstantiated claims about a holy figure in Islam such as the Prophet will not be tolerated.


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