What were the real reasons for the Popes ‘insult’?


by Leon
18th September, 2006 at 1:03 pm    

Has the whole [Muslim] world gone mad? So it would seem from the latest round of outrage over the Pope’s ill judged remarks:

Italian police were yesterday ordered to tighten security at potential Catholic targets across the country as the leaders of the Roman Catholic church anxiously waited to see if a personal expression of regret by Pope Benedict would assuage Muslim fury over his remarks on Islam.

The Pope’s speech in Germany last week, in which he quoted a medieval ruler who said Muhammad’s innovations were “evil and inhuman”, has led to widespread condemnation in the Muslim world. Last night the controversy seemed to have claimed its first victims when gunmen killed a 65-year-old Italian nun and her bodyguard at the entrance to a hospital where she worked in the Somalian capital, Mogadishu.

A doctor said the nun, who was named as Sister Leonella Sgorbati, from Piacenza in northern Italy, had been shot four times in the back by two men with pistols. The attack was linked by some to the Pope’s remarks.

A Vatican spokesman, Father Federico Lombardi, said he hoped it was “an isolated event”, adding: “We are worried about the consequences of this wave of hatred and hope it doesn’t have grave consequences for the church around the world.” [Via The Guardian]

In a sense it shouldn’t come as any surprise that the Pope made these remarks; nor should the reactions surprise. Religions in conflict with each other is nothing new in human affairs. To be honest, I’m not really interested in whether the Pope did insult Islam or its followers, nor am I really that bothered by the Muslim outrage across the world.

What I do find interesting is this, why did he do it? The Pope (and by that I mean him, his advisors and the Church) is no fool, he wouldn’t have made such a speech without a certain intent in mind. My question to you good Picklers is why? What was his purpose? Was he just being offensive, is he innocent and the “Muslim world” is overacting? Or is it something else?

I’m going to play Devils Advocate: I think this was a considered political manoeuvre, the Church realises more and more Islam (amongst other things) is growing in followers, attention and thus power. The Pope/Church views this naturally as a threat and wanted to deal them back in the game, so to speak. What better way to re-focus the world attention while looking like they’re defending their flock against the Muslim threat than this? What other way could they dramatically have everyone talking about them again?

Far fetched? Wholly offensive of the Holy Father and his minions? Or just too wide of the mark?

Enter your thoughts below.


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  1. sonia — on 18th September, 2006 at 1:11 pm  

    he’s no fool, he probably wanted to have a little fun. Muslim baiting – knowing full well the kind of reaction received would require no further statements on his part. .. pretty smart eh as far as baiting goes?

    of course the sensible thing to do would be not to go for such crazy worded ‘protests’ and violence, keep a dignified silence and the Pope’s remarks would look pretty hypocritical, which they so obviously are. One doesn’t need to ‘protest’ in the face of such a blatantly silly statement.

    But there you go! – its a bit like the reaction of certain x y and z in brick lane – monica called us ‘ignorant’ so we thought we’d burn her book..

    amusing really! did you see the faces of the people protesting in india? they looked like they were having a good laugh and an excuse to burn an effigy of the Pope. A bit of fun for them perhaps? And not so much fun for others perhaps.

  2. Chairwoman — on 18th September, 2006 at 1:31 pm  

    It’s quite logical really, Christianity and Islam are both religions that welcome, no, encourage converts. Let’s look at it this way, Christianity’s Tescos, and Islam’s Sainsburys.

    They’re just setting out their stall.

  3. wardytron — on 18th September, 2006 at 1:31 pm  

    Yes, I’ve never burned an effigy or torched an embassy or set fire to a church, but I imagine it can be quite enjoyable. Theodore Dalrymple wrote something about this in the Times a while ago: “Anyone who has observed a riot will have been struck not by the misery of the crowd but by its happiness. To feel morally superior while doing evil is one of the most exquisite pleasures known to man”.

  4. sonia — on 18th September, 2006 at 1:33 pm  

    I can’t see that the Catholic Church can view ‘Islam’ as a threat. I do think – the so-called Mullah blokes probably want the ‘power’ the Catholic Church have – i.e. the social legitimacy of the institution. Though Islam isn’t supposed to have ‘clergy’ these Mullah men clearly seem to think they have such a position – methinks they might want to cement it. And I bet they’re jealous they haven’t got their own version of the Vatican!

  5. sonia — on 18th September, 2006 at 1:38 pm  

    i don’t think id enjoy it myself ( especially setting fire to a church!) but it did seem that the crowd were enjoying themselves.

    wardytron – that quote is interesting. Mob violence indeed..

  6. Neil — on 18th September, 2006 at 1:45 pm  

    I think it was a political manoeuvre to inflame muslims, and the muslims played right into his hands. He knew this would spark off voilence and protests, and in the case of the nun, murder. Bush makes Muslims look bad politically, the pope is doing it religiously. Note: This is different from the cartoon controversy. What the pope said or quoted, is a historical fact.

  7. buff and blue — on 18th September, 2006 at 1:48 pm  

    Strangely the belief that the pope sees Islam as the main source of competition is Ian Paisley’s anaylsis.

    http://www.ianpaisley.org/article.asp?ArtKey=benedict2

    My own impression from reading the whole thing is that Benedict was keen to assert the superiority of Catholicism against that of western-style rationalism and, incidentally, had a cut at Islam for what he regards as its attachment to faith and the irrational.

    In conclusion he argues that Catholicism is best placed to engage with Islam. Ie someone like me (agnostic, Protestant background) has less to offer than the Vatican.

    “Only thus do we become capable of that genuine dialogue of cultures and religions so urgently needed today. In the Western world it is widely held that only positivistic reason and the forms of philosophy based on it are universally valid. Yet the world’s profoundly religious cultures see this exclusion of the divine from the universality of reason as an attack on their most profound convictions.”

    Now I can’t say I greatly care for his arguments (nor his previous attacks on Protestantism) but to suggest that he wanted to stir up a hugh ‘clash of civilisations’ style conflagration seems far of the mark. I just don’t think that he imagined anything of the sort could happen from his quoting a medieval criticism of Islam. Oh well. He knows better now.

  8. Chairwoman — on 18th September, 2006 at 1:48 pm  

    Neil – I’ve been looking at the US press on line, and it seems to be pretty low key there compared with here.

  9. kitten — on 18th September, 2006 at 1:52 pm  

    It’s a fact that Islam (along with other religions) has used violence and force to convert people to the religion… no harm in stating it as it is… although he should have balanced the argument and recognized that every religion has some history of violence. I don’t see why Muslims are getting so offended – history is history so what’s the harm in saying it out aloud?

  10. bananabrain — on 18th September, 2006 at 2:01 pm  

    i urge everyone to first READ THE BLOODY SPEECH! full text can be found here:

    http://www.guardian.co.uk/pope/story/0,,1873277,00.html

    if after reading this, you think that he intended to “muslim-bait” i’d be very surprised. the question is really whether he expected such an explosion of pique. the speech is, of course, about reason and religion and what each has to contribute to debates about right and wrong. i wonder how many of the protesters, peasants and Beards of Outrage (nod to katy there) have actually read the speech and how many actually just heard “ooh, that bloody cross-worshipping infidel crusader just insulted islam” down the coffee shop or on the radio or wherever and decided to register their displeasure at what they imagined he’d said by burning down a church.

    at this rate it is not only actual speech but reported speech and perceptions about islam that is likely to require an apology. perhaps we should screen all public pronouncements for “islamological correctness”? bah. i hereby state that i apologise for recently overhearing a conversation in which someone said that muhammad was a warmongering paedophile. i didn’t agree with them, mind you – and i did attempt to correct them, but i expect i should now be wearing an enormous fake moustache and emigrating to tibet.

    b’shalom

    bananabrain

  11. Sid — on 18th September, 2006 at 2:01 pm  

    Nice bit of mischief-making by the ex-Nazi Youth Pope.
    The difference in perception between him and mad Ahmadinejad is quite startling. When the pope does it, his words are “taken out of context” by the “intemperate” dial-a-Muslim mob.

    When its Ahmadinejad doing his party piece then, well, he speaks for the entire Muslim world doesn’t he? And we move one step towards a war on Tehran.

  12. bananabrain — on 18th September, 2006 at 2:09 pm  

    i don’t think ahmadinejad needs necessarily to speak for the entire muslim world – the iranian political class will do. besides, if you can tell me, sid, what precisely ahmedinejad said that was taken out of context when he said that the holocaust was a myth and that israel was a stain that needed to be wiped off the map i’d be delighted to admit my error. i do concede, however, that i might take this a bit more seriously if the pope had a dodgy nuclear enrichment programme and a large fleet of missiles. as it is, i don’t find him all that threatening.

    b’shalom

    bananabrain

  13. Anas — on 18th September, 2006 at 2:09 pm  

    Did you hear about the pope’s next speech? The topic will be on paedophilia and how in the modern world we’ve become far too lenient with child abusers. He’ll be illustrating his speech with the example of those third world south east asian countries that are now havens for sex tourists.

  14. Sukhjit Singh — on 18th September, 2006 at 2:14 pm  

    The one taboo that nobody is allowed to state is that Islam has a bloody and imperial history. A large part of Sikh history was forged by this. But today, to state so, even in a qualified way, and setting it in the context of history, is to bring down accusations of ‘Islamophobia’ and being part of conspiracy of Zionists or whatever. Well, the speech he quoted was by a Christian who had just seen Constantinople put to the sword and their cathedral converted into a mosque. The comparison with Ahmadinejad is erroneous, of course – where are the riots in the street of the west when he makes his rants?

    For a world religion that claims it is the salvation of mankind, Islam has very raw nerves and is very touchy these days.

  15. sonia — on 18th September, 2006 at 2:20 pm  

    ah he didn’t quite say just that – he made a remark about a person which im sure he was perfectly aware in any context would be considered slanderous if nothing else. Schoolground you’re momma’s a nasty woman style comments. Naturally people wouldn’t be impressed.

    But that’s besides the point, it doesn’t call for behaving in a manner which then seems to indicate there might be something to the Pope’s comments. which is very silly. when i was a kid i used to throw tantrums. my parents would say – you’re ‘over-emotional’ then i’d scream more and shout ‘no im not emotional!’ ha ha.

  16. Kismet Hardy — on 18th September, 2006 at 2:21 pm  

    ‘What the pope said or quoted, is a historical fact.’

    I thought he quoted a bloke that said the prophet was evil cos the ottoman was whipping byzantine arse at the time?

    Still just an opinion

  17. Jai — on 18th September, 2006 at 2:35 pm  

    Based on various news reports during the past few days, I gained the impression that, while the Pope did not aim to be deliberately insulting, all this was a deliberate manouvre on his part to re-initiate a more open two-way dialogue between Christianity/Catholicism and Islam.

    However, it is more than a little self-defeating when people object to allegations of historical religious-based violence by reacting with…..violence.

    It’s a bit like (for example) someone accusing me of swearing too much, and then me getting offended at the accusation and reacting with a stream of four-letter words aimed at the other party.

  18. AsifB — on 18th September, 2006 at 2:37 pm  

    Leon – I’m with Banananbrain no. 10 on this. Its really nothing new as an insult anyway, even if he totally agreed with the 14th C quote.

    The media has well and truly made a mountain out of this molehill here – offensive statements about Islam are nothing new.

    Since Friday, every news bulletin every hour has had the newsreader reading out the offensive 14th c quote – immeidately undermining any attempts at context/theological debate discussion.

    Like a virus, it spreads round the world and places that are vulnerable to xenophobic mobs work themsleves into a frenzy – a nun shot in Somalia today can now be blamed on this ‘crisis’

    Most people – Muslim or non-Muslim surely realise that one person’s sacred belief is another’s blasphemy – yet the media is doing its best to stoke the flames. And as ever, give voice to extremists who present themselves as the face of Islam.

    It seems that everyone with an axe to grind against ‘God’s Rottweiller’ is having a go – even if it means helping to incite more Muslims to act in counterproductiive ways. So this article does not help either.

    Too much heat, not enough light. What next?

    Demands for Pope to apologise for being Catholic
    - shitting in the Woods*
    - his predecessor smoking a spliff on his trip to Camden Market (photographic evidence available)?….

    *(the Provisional BEAR claims repsonsibility)

  19. sonia — on 18th September, 2006 at 2:46 pm  

    ‘Islam’ hasn’t got any nerves – people do. :-)

  20. Jai — on 18th September, 2006 at 2:48 pm  

    Our old friend Anjem Choudhary has been calling for the Pope’s execution.

    Article here.

  21. sonia — on 18th September, 2006 at 2:59 pm  

    hah with people like him around, it doesn’t matter if the Pope says ‘bad things’ or not, he’s giving Muslims a not so good reputation to say the least!

  22. Jai — on 18th September, 2006 at 3:05 pm  

    You’re right, Sonia. My basic premise is that the whole thing becomes counter-productive, and such people basically prove the (alleged) accuser’s point via their own actions.

    eg. “You say we’re violent ? We find that grossly offensive and we’re going to kill you for it unless you apologise.”

    See what I mean ?

  23. Bert Preast — on 18th September, 2006 at 3:11 pm  

    The pope could have chosen a quote from plenty of texts on violence and religion without specifically mentioning a religion, so I see this as a deliberate attack on islam.

    This doesn’t mean I’m at all sympathetic to the complaining muslims – catholics in islamic countries, what remains of them, are genuinely restricted in their freedom to worship and in some places it goes further than that. There are no such restrictions I know of on muslims in catholic countries, yet islamic leaders aren’t at all shy of accusing the west of intolerance, crusading etc.

    So why didn’t the pope start his latest crusade by demanding religious freedoms for catholics in the islamic world? I can’t see catholics in Malaysia or Syria thanking him for what he said here as the end result will almost certainly be more restrictions to say nothing of personal danger. All I can think of is that he’s arrived at the conclusion that catholics must be encouraged to leave islamic lands, but surely there’s a safer way to do so? As we saw with the cartoons this stuff can drag on and on and may well get worse before it gets better.

  24. Anas — on 18th September, 2006 at 3:13 pm  

    I wonder what the outcry would have been like if the pope had used an viciously anti-semitic quote from one of his predecessors in one of his discussions and had been ambigious as to whether he agreed with it or not?

    The point is that coming in the context of a culture where one of the primary assumptions of a lot of discourse is that Muslims are irrational violent zealots, the fact that the spiritual head of 1 billion catholics chose to use a quote that accuses of gross immorality the Prophet Muhammad — whose life serves as the moral and ethnical template of the majority of Muslims — without explicitly stating his own opinion on the content of the quote, sends out a very important and extremely disturbing message.

    I think it’s imperative that Muslims challenge this message and the assumptions that underlie a lot of the commentary that’s built up around it in the West; but in as peaceful reasonable and most of legal way as possible. Muslims in the West at least have a legal right to protest, and the fact that a small minority of Muslim idiots and nuts around the world have taken up this opportunity to agrrevate for their own agendas shouldn’t mean peaceful protest becomes unacceptable for the rest of Muslims especially when it relates to challegning the prejudices of many in the West.

  25. nyrone — on 18th September, 2006 at 3:22 pm  

    That was an interesting post.
    I like the ever-expanding nature of this topic, it just keeps mutating…the next thing you’ll hear was that it was Mohammad that stole the cookies from the cookie jar.
    @wardytron – That is an excellent quote!

    Why is Mr Choudhary not in jail?

  26. Bert Preast — on 18th September, 2006 at 3:23 pm  

    From:

    http://www.guardian.co.uk/worldlatest/story/0,,-6082027,00.html

    Comes my favourite comment on all this:

    “Anyone who describes Islam as a religion as intolerant encourages violence,” Pakistani Foreign Ministry spokeswoman Tasnim Aslam said.

    heh

  27. Arif — on 18th September, 2006 at 3:26 pm  

    Reading the speech (thanks for the link, bananabrain), I do perceive a slightly unsettling subtext.

    He is aligning Catholicism with rationality through contrasting it with (a reading of) Islam where God is not bound by rationality so the use of human reason to get close to God becomes ridiculous.

    The previous Pope John Paul II made speeches which aligned Catholicism with Islam in a common cause against materialism. The current Pope may be signalling his own preoccupation to align Catholicism and secular rationalism in a common cause against … irrationalism? He happened to use Ibn Hazm’s reading of Islam as his main example of this, and we can guess whether this is significant or not – does he actually associate Islam with irrationalism in contrast to hellenistic and Christian rationality? Or was he taking an example at random without considering its relevance and political ramifications?

    It isn’t clear to me.

  28. Bert Preast — on 18th September, 2006 at 3:27 pm  

    Nyrone wrote: “Why is Mr Choudhary not in jail?”

    I think it’s to do with some new fangled EU law on prisoners’ human rights. Who would you condemn to share his cell?

  29. S — on 18th September, 2006 at 3:32 pm  

    Have you noticed that there is a cartoon of the pope on the Guardians CIF website with a sword coming out of his head. Is that supposed to be reminiscent of the MoToons cartoon or is it an unintended irony? He is supposed to be infallible (why does he have to apologise i wonder?) so I should be angry– strangely though I’m not really bothered.

  30. Bert Preast — on 18th September, 2006 at 3:37 pm  

    S – I think the pope needs to use a certain phrasing for his words to be considered infallible.

  31. soru — on 18th September, 2006 at 3:38 pm  

    I wonder what the outcry would have been like if the pope had used an viciously anti-semitic quote from one of his predecessors in one of his discussions and had been ambigious as to whether he agreed with it or not?

    I wouldn’t really call it ‘vicious’, but he has actually just gone and done that, something about the crucifiction being a ‘scandal’ for the Jews.

    Hindus or Buddhists next, I wonder?

    Or maybe he could burn an american flag, or goose the queen.

  32. nyrone — on 18th September, 2006 at 3:41 pm  

    Tony Blair?

  33. Anas — on 18th September, 2006 at 3:43 pm  

    The current Pope may be signalling his own preoccupation to align Catholicism and secular rationalism in a common cause against … irrationalism?

    He’ll have an uphill struggle on that one. Someone needs to tell him about Gallileo and the Inquisition. To quote the genius Robert Anton Wilson:
    Roman Catholics believe they drink blood and eat human flesh during Holy Communion. Protestants say the ritual is “symbolic.” But to the Roman Catholic, the bread miraculously becomes the flesh and blood of a dead Jew, i.e., the late Redeemer of Biblical fame. Why they wanna eat a dead Jew is another question…

  34. Amir — on 18th September, 2006 at 3:47 pm  

    Leon,

    (I) ‘nor am I really that bothered by the Muslim outrage across the world.

    Disgusting. Think of yourself as a principled socialist, do you? While Churches go up in flames across the Middle East, all you can say on the matter is that it doesn’t bother you. Added to your moral indifference and moral ambivalence is an adolescent streak of conspiracy-mongering…

    (II) ‘My question to you good Picklers is why? What was his purpose.’

    Grow up, and act your age. This isn’t a frigging game for your amusement.

    (III) ‘What better way to re-focus the world attention while looking like their defending their flock against the Muslim threat than this?’

    Don’t. Be. Silly. It was an obscure quote from a Byzantium emperor in a dull academic lecture. Those who incite murder and arson, or who silkily justify it (such as yourself), are incapable of rising above the childish glee that it was ‘a conspiracy against us’.

    (IV) ‘What better way to re-focus the world attention while looking like their defending their flock against the Muslim threat than this?’

    A quite masterful sleight-of-hand. Give us a Catholic conspiracy theory, and all compassion and concern is re-directed to those who wield guns and throw grenades, and who yell and scream for joy as the Churches of good Christians are put to the torch in the capital cities of miserable, fly-blown dictatorships. Let’s be sure we haven’t hurt the vandals’ feelings.

    You make me sick,
    Amir

  35. Anas — on 18th September, 2006 at 3:47 pm  

    Why didn’t the pope use these quotes?(from http://www.edwardtbabinski.us/dave_armstrong/catholic.html)

    “It is indeed better (as no one ever could deny) that men should be led to worship God by teaching, than that they should be driven to it by fear of punishment or pain; but it does not follow that because the former course produces the better men, therefore those who do not yield to it should be neglected. For many have found advantage (as we have proved, and are daily proving by actual experiment), in being first compelled by fear or pain, so that they might afterwards be influenced by teaching, or might follow out in act what they had already learned in word.”
    –Saint Augustine, Treatise on the Correction of the Donatists

    “The wounds of a friend are better than the kisses of an enemy. To love with sternness is better than to deceive with gentleness…In Luke [14:23] it is written: “Compel people to come in!” By threats of the wrath of God, the Father draws souls to his Son.”–Saint Augustine [Setting forth the principle of Cognite Intrare ("Compel them to enter"), a church mandate that all must become orthodox Catholic Christians, by force if necessary. Cognite Intrare would be used throughout the Middle Ages to justify the Church's suppression of dissent. Walter Nigg, The Heretics: Heresy Through the Ages (1962), p. 138, quoted from Helen Ellerbe, The Dark Side of Christian History, critical editing by Cliff Walker.]

    Hallelujah!

  36. Leon — on 18th September, 2006 at 3:47 pm  

    @ Anas and they also pray for the end of the world too: “Thy Kingdom come, thy will will be done” etc…strange bunch for sure but no stranger than the average religion when looked through the lense of rationality.

  37. Leon — on 18th September, 2006 at 3:49 pm  

    Think of yourself as a principled socialist, do you?

    Nope, I’m not a socialist.

    You make me sick,

    You make me laugh. And I know which of us has the better end of the deal.

  38. Amir — on 18th September, 2006 at 3:49 pm  

    Sonia,

    ‘Muslim baiting – knowing full well the kind of reaction received would require no further statements on his part. .. pretty smart eh as far as baiting goes?’

    Pathetic. Those who demand ‘respect’ from others are obliged to show ‘respect’ themselves. As long as they do not, then they should not be surprised if they are viewed with suspicion and subjected to criticism. Moslems are entitled to be treated with good manners. But they should not be allowed to dictate what is and is not said about them.

    Amir

  39. Anas — on 18th September, 2006 at 3:54 pm  

    It seems that Christians are not only preaching forgiveness but forgetfulness! I remember an absurd instance of this in an interview with Julie Birchill in which she admitted she might be prejudiced against Muslims because she’s such an ardent lover of Jews. Then later she talks about her conversion to Lutheran Christianity. Ah yes, Luther that great lover of the Jews, author of ‘On the Jews and Their Lies’. The preface of which begins:

    I had made up my mind to write no more either about the Jews or against them. But since I learned that those miserable and accursed people do not cease to lure to themselves even us, that is, the Christians, I have published this little book, so that I might be found among those who opposed such poisonous activities of the Jews and who warned the Christians to be on their guard against them. I would not have believed that a Christian could be duped by the Jews into taking their exile and wretchedness upon himself. However, the devil is the god of the world, and wherever God’s word is absent he has an easy task, not only with the weak but also with the strong. May God help us. Amen.

    Amen!

  40. Sid — on 18th September, 2006 at 3:54 pm  

    Same applies to papal types

  41. Jai — on 18th September, 2006 at 3:55 pm  

    Okay, having read through the major portions of the Pope’s speech, I think that he was contrasting what he perceives to be the differences between Christanity and Islam with regards to spreading the messages of the respective faiths and potentially formal conversion of other parties.

    Certain historical events aside, he does not appear to regard forcible conversion as compatible with the basics of Christianity. I get the impression that he believes this should be achieved via dialogue, appeals to reason, and (to use a cliche) “winning hearts and minds”. In essence, threats of violence are incompatible with the notion of constructively spreading the Christian message, at least with regards to the “true spirit” of the faith.

    However, I also get the impresssion — and this is a purely subjective opinion so I may be wrong — that he thinks conversion “by the sword” is a part of Islamic teachings, at least with regards to some of Mohammad’s later teachings which form some of the “later period” chapters of the Quran.

    So he’s contrasting the disparate approaches between the two faiths. The final paragraph indicates that he currently feels that proselytising Muslims (especially the more “extremist” variety) should attempt to promote their religion in a more constructive manner and without any relation to actual-or-threatened violence, and that such peaceful methods should be used as a bridge between “the Islamic world” and other cultures.

  42. Anas — on 18th September, 2006 at 4:02 pm  

    Hey anyone watch the Doomsday Code on Saturday. It turns out that Christian Fundamentalists are FAR, FAR, FAR more dangerous than Islamic Fundies can ever be!

    I’m taken aback by the hypocrisy and double standards this whole episode has revealed. How anyone can make out that Islam is bigger force for evil and harm than Christianity is or has been is obviously nuts! Didn’t Voltaire make the same point a few hundred years ago when he contrasted the piles of bloody bodies that resulted from violence in the name of Islam with those resulting from violence in the name of Christianity?

  43. bananabrain — on 18th September, 2006 at 4:04 pm  

    I remember an absurd instance of this in an interview with Julie Burchill in which she admitted she might be prejudiced against Muslims because she’s such an ardent lover of Jews.
    i think the problem with julie burchill is that she’s an ignorant sozzled old trout who confuses invective with insight. “ardent lovers” like her we could well do without.

    b’shalom

    bananabrain

  44. Jai — on 18th September, 2006 at 4:04 pm  

    Anas,

    The Pope is alluding to what is happening in the world right now. Despite the propaganda in some quarters, Christians are not actually involved in a violent global crusade against the rest of the planet in order to spread their religion; however, some Muslims are currently engaged in violence against other parties in the name of their religion, and they are using their faith’s supposed teachings on the matter as justification for their actions.

    I believe the Vatican formally apologised some time agao for the Spanish Inquisition and what happened to Galileo, so those are moot points.

  45. BevanKieran — on 18th September, 2006 at 4:06 pm  

    Hindus or Buddhists next, I wonder?

    Razinger is on record as saying that Buddhism is “mental autoeroticism”, which to be fair is a damn good cuss.

  46. Leon — on 18th September, 2006 at 4:08 pm  

    Christians are not actually involved in a violent global crusade against the rest of the planet in order to spread their religion

    I’m sure those rightwing Christian coalition types that backed Bush would beg to differ.

  47. sonia — on 18th September, 2006 at 4:11 pm  

    ‘Pope’s comments about Jews unwise’

    http://www.guardian.co.uk/pope/story/0,,1874891,00.html

    and -

    http://www.guardian.co.uk/pope/story/0,,1874914,00.html

    “The pontiff appeared to risk causing fresh controversy during his speech yesterday when he cited a passage from St Paul that risked being interpreted as hostile – not by Muslims, but by Jews. It described the crucifixion of Jesus as a “scandal for the Jews”.”

  48. Jai — on 18th September, 2006 at 4:13 pm  

    Leon,

    Yes you’re right about that. This is the problem with apocalyptic types on both sides.

    However, when “Christian” terrorists start formally declaring a violent Crusade against the rest of us, I’ll regard them as being an equal threat as OBL and his supporters. Until then, the jihadists are the biggest problem as far as I’m concerned.

  49. Leon — on 18th September, 2006 at 4:18 pm  

    Sure I agree with you, just pointing out that they (as in Christian fundies) ain’t that far from OBL etc and have some sway with the leader of a super power…

  50. Anas — on 18th September, 2006 at 4:22 pm  

    The Pope is alluding to what is happening in the world right now.

    By quoting a 14th century pope?

    Pope apologists, stop digging yourselves into a bigger and bigger hole!

  51. Anas — on 18th September, 2006 at 4:33 pm  

    ‘Pope’s comments about Jews unwise’

    Given he was a former member of the Hitler youth, and the role of the Catholic Church during the Holocaust, very, very unwise.

  52. Chairwoman — on 18th September, 2006 at 4:35 pm  

    Pope criticises Jews. Must make effigy to burn while rioting in street.

    *starts making anti-papal/Christian placards while assembling Molotov cocktail*

  53. Sahil — on 18th September, 2006 at 4:41 pm  
  54. sonia — on 18th September, 2006 at 4:49 pm  

    :-)

  55. Bert Preast — on 18th September, 2006 at 4:50 pm  

    Sahil wrote: Run for the hills!

    “That’ll help, will it?”

    “No, but the view will be better”.

    /Pratchett (?)

  56. Leon — on 18th September, 2006 at 4:53 pm  

    Yep, Pratchett, a years back in the midst of my Pratchett fanboyishness I could have told you which character in which book said that…

  57. Leon — on 18th September, 2006 at 4:54 pm  

    Hmmmm… I’m betting it was Rincewind. But anyway, Pratchetts take on religion is brilliant to say the least (read Small Gods everybody!). It’d be fun to see his take on recent events…

  58. Sahil — on 18th September, 2006 at 4:54 pm  

    Shit the index is at 200!!!!! ARRRGGGGGGHHH

  59. sonia — on 18th September, 2006 at 4:55 pm  

    sum it all up: these religious blokes got more in common with each other than not.

  60. Sahil — on 18th September, 2006 at 4:57 pm  

    “sum it all up: these religious blokes got more in common with each other than not.”

    Far more than the average guy certainly, that mad power look which you get after talking to god on numerous occasions.

  61. Nusrat — on 18th September, 2006 at 4:58 pm  

    Muhammad was a very evil and inhuman man.
    Can any of you disprove the above statement?

  62. miss hawahawai — on 18th September, 2006 at 5:19 pm  

    he was buzzing
    he thinks muslims live in caves and don’t have tv’s
    he was playing ‘my dads better than yours’
    he thought out aloud

    in honesty this was a no issuer until someone decided to play god and kill. one stupid comment by one person and another person dead

  63. S — on 18th September, 2006 at 5:19 pm  

    “Given he was a former member of the Hitler youth, and the role of the Catholic Church during the Holocaust, very, very unwise.”

    Don’t sling mud.
    All German kids were legally required to be members of the Hitler Youth at this time. He says his family were opposed and he did not attend. No-one has contradicted this as far as I know. I believe a disabled cousin of his was also “put down” by the nazis. He was conscripted into the army near the end of the war and as far as I know never fought. I am not aware that anyone has ever come forward and said he or his family were ever associated with the nazis.

  64. Sunny — on 18th September, 2006 at 5:25 pm  

    Though this has been an even-handed discussion (fairly), the whole controversy is not even worth merit.

    Pope says something stupid.

    Illiterate Muslim groups in particular countries start a protest over something they don’t understand.(we went past a protest near Lucknow in India and no one really knew what the fuck exactly they were protesting about).

    Al-Ghuarabaa and their ilk stage protest in London with idiotic posters.

    People start becoming offended, defensive or derisotory towards others depending on their prejudices.

    Hell, this controversy has played out to the book. Nothing went unpredicted.

    It’s not even worth having a big fuss about.

    And, erm, hello from India everyone! I love Chandigarh :)

  65. Chris Stiles — on 18th September, 2006 at 5:37 pm  

    I can only conclude that with Sunny away, pickled politics has been temporarily infected with madness.

    Did anyone read the speech? bananabrain in number #10 said enough on the topic already.


    My own impression from reading the whole thing is that Benedict was keen to assert the superiority of Catholicism against that of western-style rationalism and, incidentally, had a cut at Islam for what he regards as its attachment to faith and the irrational.

    I think it was more that he wanted to emphasise the role of reason in evaluating and understanding spiritual truth – and the need to respect the scientific approach. I suspect that the timing of the speech was connected with the recent debate regarding Creationism/ID within the Catholic Church rather than with any attempt to ‘get at’ Muslims.

    In any case, the Pope has now retracted someone else’s statement, so we can proceed without killing people to prove non-violence.

  66. soru — on 18th September, 2006 at 5:40 pm  

    ‘read Small Gods everybody’

    _Thud!_ is even better for a liberal and sympathetic take on the guys with beards.

  67. bananabrain — on 18th September, 2006 at 5:45 pm  

    and the description of dwarf society in “the fifth elephant” is pretty amusing satire on judaism as far as i am concerned, particularly the stuff about how dwarf mining law works and the costumes worn by the fundamentalists. hehehehehe. there’s a man who knows how to take the piss affectionately.

    b’shalom

    bananabrain

  68. Sid — on 18th September, 2006 at 5:54 pm  

    As per the comment made on #10.

    My own impression from reading the whole thing is that Benedict was keen to assert the superiority of Catholicism against that of western-style rationalism and, incidentally, had a cut at Islam for what he regards as its attachment to faith and the irrational.

    If Catholicism is agianst western-style rationalism it must be located failry and squarely in un-rationalism. Or supra-rationalism as one metaphysicist called it. And surely this applies to all religious thought.

    The problem with bananabrain’s, and indeed the Pope’s selective comparitive religion, is that one particular religion’s (and guess which) adherence to this supra-rationalonlism is “inferior” by definition. In other words, all religions are superior to Rationalism except Islam’s. Surely this is a case of wanting to have your anti-western non-Rationalism and refusing to share it too.

  69. bananabrain — on 18th September, 2006 at 6:08 pm  

    one particular religion’s (and guess which) adherence to this supra-rationalism is “inferior” by definition. In other words, all religions are superior to Rationalism except Islam’s.
    where on earth did *i* say or imply this?? i mean, i don’t even think his papal popeness implied it. the only slightly daft thing is the idea that any religion (including my own) is ultimately the product of superior rationalism. certainly you couldn’t make that case for catholicism!

    b’shalom

    bananabrain

  70. Marcus — on 18th September, 2006 at 6:15 pm  

    As an educator who has devoted his life to learning and teaching about the Middle East I have spent countless hours standing up for Islam and Muslims.
    I have explained away bombings, executions, and violent threats against non-Muslims as the work of a “extremist minority.” Unfortunately this minority is growing, their efforts to provoke global “Holy War” are moving forward with disturbing speed, and the moderate majority is doing nothing to reclaim their tarnished faith.
    Shame on those in the house of Islam who have given in to the propaganda machine that justifies the killing of civilians. Shame on the majority of Muslims who have remained silent as extremist divide the planet along religious lines. Shame on each Muslim who has chosen to blame the Shia/Sunni war in Iraq on America. Shame on those Muslims who have allowed the recent controversial statements from the Pope to ring true.
    Stop distracting yourself and others with the issue of violence committed by Christians. These acts were not part of a blatantly Christian global effort to spread Christianity.
    No matter how hard moderate Muslims try to convince the world of Islam’s positive aspects and peaceful aims no one will believe it until Jihadists are cast out of the house of Islam and violence committed specifically in the name of Islam is a rare rather than a daily occurrence.

  71. Ghatee Vikrant — on 18th September, 2006 at 6:39 pm  

    Though Ratzinger can be an intolerent old fool sometimes, i dont think he ‘incited’ Muslims deliberately … the organismic rants coming from the Muslim world are tad funny if not expected. The left on their part are as expectedly painting any criticism of Islam as Islamophobia… Its like a merry-go-round….

  72. Ghatee Vikrant — on 18th September, 2006 at 6:42 pm  

    How long do you reckon before the Islamists put out a contract on Pope?

  73. Jai — on 18th September, 2006 at 6:43 pm  

    Anas,

    =>”By quoting a 14th century pope?”

    By quoting a 14th century Christian Emperor and a Persian scholar who were both debating theology with each other. Bear in mind what was happening with regards to the expanding Ottoman Empire at the time and its impact on the neighbouring Byzantine Empire.

  74. Zak — on 18th September, 2006 at 6:44 pm  

    So much for not being my brothers keepers lol..I am getting tired of, as a Muslim, having to apologize everytime a Muslims does something others find offensive. I am getting tired of watching the Lebanons or Chechnyas or other nations of this world and then explaining to people why muslims seem so easy to offend.

  75. Don — on 18th September, 2006 at 7:09 pm  

    My first response to this was similar to Wardy’s and others, there seemed to be an eagerness – even a glee – at having this month’s reason to be outraged provided by someone high profile. No doubt the jerks who shot the nun in the back will regard themselves as heroes for the rest of their lives, and find plenty to agree with them.

    The Vatican is re-positioning itself as regards rationalism and attempting to establish a defensible position of, as Sid put it, supra-rationalism. In that debate I would be firmly against the Pope ( hell, in almost any debate …) but in the course of this he contrasted what he chooses to see as the church’s Hellenisation of the God of Abraham with his perception of Islam’s more traditionalist approach; that human reason and human ethics are irrelevant to God. I think he’s on a sticky wicket with that one, I agree that he may be trying to ‘have your anti-western non-Rationalism and refusing to share it too.’
    but I’m no subtle theologian.

    We could try to analyse exactly what was meant and in what context, but it would be an academic exercise because I would bet my meagre pension that not a rioter, arsonist or murderer who got active over this has the faintest knowledge or interest in that. Can one become addicted to the rush of pious outrage? Need a bigger and better fix? Seems to me there are a significant number of clergy and ‘leaders’ who are little more than pushers of the smack of hate.

    There are those – on both sides – who want positions to become entrenched and render debate impossible. Trivia is magnified, remarks twisted, demonic enemies conjured up. Hard times to be a rationalist, but more important than ever not to get sucked into conspiracy theory or a ‘with us or against us’ mentality. For some the simplicity of a final show-down between good and evil is terribly seductive. Less so if you are aware that both sides regard you as destined for the lake of fire and a damned good riddance.

  76. Don — on 18th September, 2006 at 7:13 pm  

    Zak,

    Speaking of context, check out the context of the brother’s keeper line.

  77. Chris Stiles — on 18th September, 2006 at 7:21 pm  


    If Catholicism is agianst western-style rationalism it must be located failry and squarely in un-rationalism. Or supra-rationalism as one metaphysicist called it. And surely this applies to all religious thought.

    Actually – that is still a misrepresentation of what he says regarding scientific rationalism. His position does not – from a read of that speech – differ much from that of the average 21st century philosopher.

  78. Nusrat — on 18th September, 2006 at 7:22 pm  

    Why not let them duke it out – I mean they both have blood on their hand – the catholic church and Islam.
    They both demand subservience to one god, their god.
    So, reconciliation is unlikely and, if they kill each other, maybe they will leave the rest of us, moderates, alone.

  79. Sid — on 18th September, 2006 at 7:23 pm  

    Big sigh of relief. Shut up you rowdies in back! Don and his penchant for ultra-objectivity has entered the debate. All delivered through a curled lip. My respect for you Don knows no bounds. Have I said that before?

  80. Don — on 18th September, 2006 at 7:29 pm  

    Damn, is that lip curling again?

  81. mirax — on 18th September, 2006 at 7:52 pm  

    # 78
    I’m very much in favour of a Qaradawi-Benedict celebrity death match. Tag teams allowed for any other religious blokes who want to jump into the fray.

    My condemnation for :

    1. the retarded bastards who shot an old woman in the back (allegedly) because she was a nun

    2. Madeline-mad-Bunting for blaming the pope for this in her piss poor column. A commentor called her a moral blackhole and that seems about right.

    3. The Guardian/CiF for its rank hypocrisy in running a cartoon of the pope with a sword sticking outta his head while refusing to reprint the motoons. The Guardian’s action confirms its true feelings about muslims – they really, really, believe old Ben’s views about violent Islam.

  82. Sid — on 18th September, 2006 at 8:11 pm  

    If religion is classical music and secular Rationalism punk, then religions should be happy to remain classical and leave the Punk to, well, punks. The problem is that Pope Benedict would like us to believe that, following Vatican II, classical music should be adopted by punks, because it is punk in classical form or some such horrible hybrid. What he lacks is the balls to say religion should remain classical.
    Instead he has made it his business to attack other classical forms of music.

    What’s up Benedict? Is it the plumetting record sales thats getting you so shirty? Don’t you know that all you’re going to be left with is Intelligent Design and music that looks and sounds like the crap produced by this guy.

  83. Don — on 18th September, 2006 at 8:16 pm  

    Interesting metaphor; needs a little fine-tuning.

  84. Sid — on 18th September, 2006 at 8:49 pm  

    mirax

    yeah but no but yeah but

    If Julie Birchill attacked some Mullah for making “indiscrete and ill-judged remarks” about Christianity/Judaism/Hinduism (again, take yer pick) would that make her a moral blackhole?

  85. Marcus — on 18th September, 2006 at 9:07 pm  

    The Pope made negative comments about Islam and Muhammad – THESE WERE ONLY WORDS! Now a nun is dead in Somolia, churches are burning in Palestine, and some Muslims are even calling for the Pope’s murder? You have to be kidding me! They are angry that the Pope was critical of Islam’s violent past so they become violent? This makes a lot of sense. Where is the global Christian outrage over not only offensive words from Muslim leaders, but murder and violent action? Are only Muslims allowed to offend?

  86. Bijna — on 18th September, 2006 at 9:54 pm  

    > Why not let them duke it out -

    1) The Pope just said he prefers talking.
    Are you going to force the Pope to “duke”.
    2) Its not a Pope vs. Islam fight,
    Islam is fighting every1, including itself.

  87. mirax — on 18th September, 2006 at 10:02 pm  

    >>yeah but no but yeah but

    That’s your line, no? Wouldn’t want to steal it.

    >>If Julie Birchill attacked some Mullah for making “indiscrete and ill-judged remarks” about Christianity/Judaism/Hinduism (again, take yer pick) would that make her a moral blackhole?

    Yeah, right, divert and dissemble. Who is talking about Julie B? Have I ever mentioned her? Or is this some more of your pathetic stereotyping – like your hinting previously that I was a melanie philip’s groupie? You’re getting sadder by the day, Sid; do take that huge chip off your shoulder. Deal with what I said than what you imagine me to be saying.

  88. Bijna — on 18th September, 2006 at 10:03 pm  

    > the next thing you’ll hear was that it was
    > Mohammad that stole the cookies from the cookie jar.

    The funny part is, some1 who has stolen cookies would be a saint compared to Mohammed. Go read the Koran and Hadit h to find out what a monster he was.

  89. limpia — on 18th September, 2006 at 10:04 pm  

    Amir- I agree with you totally- the tone and substance of Leon’s piece is offensive- and illogical(plus their was used repeatedly for they’re!).Is the pope being strategic? and led by his desire to maintain the power of Rome in Europe? I think that radical Islam’s desire to enforce sharia in various parts of the world is a threat that all of the west deals with, and it is that element with which the pope seeks to dialogue.

  90. Chris Stiles — on 18th September, 2006 at 10:04 pm  


    Why not let them duke it out

    Or he could simply take the Pope’s challenge and engage him on his own ground in debate.

  91. soru — on 18th September, 2006 at 10:10 pm  

    Where is the global Christian outrage over not only offensive words from Muslim leaders, but murder and violent action?

    http://normblog.typepad.com/normblog/2006/09/angry.html

    ‘I see. May I ask what it is you’re angry about?’
    ‘We’re angry about them.’
    ‘And alienated. And aggrieved.’
    ‘Anything in particular, though?’
    ‘Yes, obviously… We’re angry about the way they keep getting angry.’
    ‘Excuse me? It’s their anger that angers you?’
    ‘That’s it. Every time someone says or does something they don’t like, they get angry. It makes us angry. We are enraged. We are outraged. We are incensed. We are cross. We are furious. We are full of ire.’

    I think there was a time when global politics was less silly than a Monty Python sketch.

  92. Sid — on 18th September, 2006 at 10:11 pm  

    mirax

    oh dear. Let me rephrase it then:

    If [some CiF blogger] attacked [some Mullah] for making “indiscrete and ill-judged remarks” about [Christianity/Judaism/Hinduism] (again, take yer pick) would that make [the blogger] a moral blackhole?

  93. Amir — on 18th September, 2006 at 10:14 pm  

    Anas (and anyone else who is interested),

    (I) ‘How anyone can make out that Islam is bigger force for evil and harm than Christianity is or has been is obviously nuts!’

    I beg to differ. The attraction of radical Islamism in the Moslem diaspora, in Europe and in other parts of the world continues to be substantial. It has been argued by French experts such as Olivier Roy and Gilles Kepel that radical Islam has been based on an alliance between the devout middle class, the urban poor, and sections of the younger generation.

    In some cases Moslems have been the aggrieved party. One needs only to think of the Chechnya, Bosnia, Kashmir, the West Bank, or the Uighurs in China. But the moment the Albanians had the opportunity, they turned against their Serbian and Macedonian neighbours; the Chechens invaded Dagestan; the Moslem Kashmiris made it known that they wanted not only a state of their own but to expel those who were not Moslems. The radical Palestinian groups have made no secret that they do not merely want to liberate Gaza and the West Bank but to destroy the state of Israel, for which they argue their no room.

    A review of wars, civil wars, and other contemporary conflicts shows indeed a greater incidence of violence and aggression in Moslem societies than in most others. If we ignore tribal warfare in Nigeria and Somalia and the Sudan, the Islamic factor has been prominently involved; almost 90 % of these conflicts appear to affect Moslem countries and societies. For Christianity and other major religions, the Crusades, the Inquisition, and the burning of witches are a thing of the past. But in Islam, once the most tolerant of religions, fanaticism in various manifestations (Wahabism, Salafism, etc.) is making a radical comeback.

    (II) ‘I’m taken aback by the hypocrisy and double standards this whole episode has revealed.’

    So Am I. Week after week in those lands where Moslems rule, Islam has treated members of rival faiths as third-class citizens, forced to pay heavy taxes, unable to find proper work, and stripped of legal protection. Let me remind you of the persecution inflicted upon Egyptian Copts, Yemenite Jews, Algerian Berbers, Turkish Armenians, Ahwazi Arabs, and Pakistani Christians – many of whom are sold into slavery.

    Today, many Moslem countries make apostasy from Islam a crime punishable by death, including Afghanistan, Pakistan, Saudi Arabia, Iran, Sudan, and Yemen. That is without even mentioning the apartheid status of women under Sharia Law or the vile, degrading, and barbaric treatment of gays and lesbians – many of whom are flogged, publicly humiliated, and (in extremis) put to death.

    Koranic scholars who live here in Europe, such as Christoph Luxenberg and Ibn Waraq, feel compelled to work under a pseudonym for fear of reprisal (highlighted by the recent murder of filmmaker Theo Van Gogh). Other critics, such as Irshad Manji, Ayaan Hirsi Ali, and Robert Spencer, have had to install bullet-proof glass into their cars and homes. They are also provided with 24-hour-bodyguard-protection. (Does anyone here remember Adbul Rahman? Or Salman Rushdie (author of the Satanic Verses)? Or human rights activist Taslima Nasrin? Or liberal theologian Nasr Abu Zayd?) Clearly,… something here is not right.

    The Pope should have known that Islam always reacts to western allegations of ‘intolerance’ and ‘bigotry’ by mass outbreaks of violent hysteria and hooliganism (i.e. the global-intifada against Denmark and the boycott of Danish products). This is a paradox that has yet to be recognised on Leon’s thread (barring Jai). The idea that the Pope should now apologise is so repugnant that it borders on masochism. Lest we forget, there is an increasing number of isolated Arab Christians who have been quietly leaving the Middle East in their thousands during recent years, largely because of subtle persecution by a newly confident Islam, which it is dangerous – and even fatal – to resist.

    (III) ‘It seems that Christians are not only preaching forgiveness but forgetfulness!’

    Piffle. Whether it is Rome’s Nostra Aetate or the French Church’s ‘Declaration of Repentance,’ Christianity has begun to recognize the criminal wrongdoings of its past, to assume moral responsibility for its actions, as well as rejecting proselytisation by force, preaching tolerance towards other faiths and lifestyles, and accepting gracefully the separation of church and state.

    Reconciling Islam with the Enlightenment, on the other hand, is going to be a tricky and messy business. The Koran is a vast, vague book, filled with poetry, ambiguity and contradiction. You can find in it condemnations of war and incitements to violence, beautiful expressions of tolerance and barbaric strictures against ‘infidels’. Read it for yourselves.

    (IV) ‘Ah yes, Luther that great lover of the Jews, author of ‘On the Jews and Their Lies’.

    Through its long history, Christianity has often supported inquisitions and anti-Semitism. In fact, Bernard Lewis, the pre-eminent scholar of Islam, has argued that for much of history religious minorities did better under Moslem rulers than they did under Christian ones.

    STILL… it has been a very long time since any serious Christian figure has preached violence against Jews or Judaism. Yet I have seen contemporary videos of Moslem clerics (‘mainstream’ clerics) fulminating against Jews, and newspapers in Moslem countries often containing blood libels of a kind that would horrify public opinion here.

    If anti-Semitism is going to continue to rise in this country then it will be because of mass immigration from Moslem countries like Pakistan, Bangladesh and Turkey (combined with higher birth rates), where anti-Semitic discourse is now vicious and ubiquitous. Jews know this. I know this. The liberal establishment knows this. But it is, I am afraid, too ‘inflammatory’ to mention in public. The BBC would never allow this thought to enter into our consciences.

    Amir

  94. Bert Preast — on 18th September, 2006 at 10:20 pm  

    Sid wrote: “If religion is classical music and secular Rationalism punk, then religions should be happy to remain classical and leave the Punk to, well, punks.”

    Tonight, I shall be burning an effigy of Sid. My love of punk notwithstanding.

  95. Sid — on 18th September, 2006 at 10:24 pm  

    Amir.

    Agreed with every iota of your text. (Except the bit about Bernard Lewis, who was a complete tosser.)

    But why didn’t the Pope speak up in such bold and strident terms as yours? Why did he have to make a sneaky quote from a 14th century pope and then try and contextualise it?

    I’m not asking you to defend or contextualise dear Popey of course. Just threw that question up in the air and all that…

  96. mirax — on 18th September, 2006 at 10:25 pm  

    >>If [some CiF blogger] attacked [some Mullah] for making “indiscrete and ill-judged remarks” about [Christianity/Judaism/Hinduism] (again, take yer pick) would that make [the blogger] a moral blackhole?

    You are a clever little boy, aren’t you? Note what I actually wrote :

    >>Madeline-mad-Bunting for blaming the pope for this in her piss poor column. A commentor called her a moral blackhole and that seems about right.

    this refers to my point 1- the murder of the nun.

    But since you want a distraction, I rather relish Cif bloggers attacking any of the religions – all equally fake- and some, specifically Islam and Christianity, with very bloody and nasty histories. Now go play with that.

  97. Trofim — on 18th September, 2006 at 10:27 pm  

    Amir:

    Thank you for your eloquent and comprehensive post.

  98. Bert Preast — on 18th September, 2006 at 10:30 pm  

    Sid wrote: “But why didn’t the Pope speak up in such bold and strident terms as yours? Why did he have to make a sneaky quote from a 14th century pope and then try and contextualise it?”

    http://www.pcbrigade.de/ :(

    Seriously, it’s the first obstacle to overcome. We think we have an albeit moderated freedom of speech, but we’ve actually lost that. Speak your mind on certain subjects and lose your job.

    Anyone know what became of Inigo Wilson?

  99. Bert Preast — on 18th September, 2006 at 10:35 pm  

    Thinking for a change, if the pope had spoken in Amir’s terms then there really would be trouble. Bear in mind the education system and lack of free press in some muslim countries and the pope’s words would have literally gone against everything they had ever been taught. Not that they’re all like that, but I doubt the ones with the option to read less biased media are the ones proposing to burn churches over this. Though they might be if introduced to the good Amir.

  100. raz — on 18th September, 2006 at 11:13 pm  

    Osama would be laughing his head off at all this. The amount of mistrust and ill-feeling which has spiralled out of control within both the West and the Islamic world over the last few years is mind-boggling. Ironic that Al-Queda is currently winning its battle, not through its own terrorism but through our own ignorance and indifference towards our fellow human beings. This is what the terrorists always wanted, and sadly we are all playing into their hands… :(

  101. Don — on 18th September, 2006 at 11:29 pm  

    ‘why didn’t the Pope speak up in such bold and strident terms…?

    Can’t think of a single reason.

  102. Refresh — on 19th September, 2006 at 12:04 am  

    Had the Pope raised the issues as Amir has done – I think it would have been far more rational and engaging.

    As it is, the Pope was sly and cowardly

    The offence would not have been taken if he had simply said that Islam was spread by the sword. This would have sparked a heated debate.

    The device he used allowed him to conveniently avoid the vicious past of the Church of Rome.

    The offence is taken because of his attempt to chop away the legs. It is no different to Blair’s speech on evil ideology – but uses the language that would come out of Jihad Watch of the 14th Century.

    Having hinted Amir’s post was rational, I would suggest that he, as often is the case – is hebephrenic.
    His earlier post to Leon was vicious and lacked substance, followed by a much more reasoned contribution.

    As for rationality, the Pope is a latecomer to the party. The reason why the Christian world took so long to stop burning their scientists was precisely this irrationality. Even now the Pope’s message on contraception and AIDS is seriously flawed.

    Rationality and Scientific enquiry is what allowed Islam to flourish in its golden age. And that will again be the foundation of its future.

  103. Aharon — on 19th September, 2006 at 12:10 am  

    When I 1st happened to read that the pop had something to say, I thought “well, no one would have heard about it if these clerics didn’t shout”.
    Why do they shout? Because:
    a – It brings good dividends.
    b – They actually think religion is important for people.

    The pope, and his catholicism ltd, clearly hoped someone, anyone, will pick up on his latest activities – be it some lecture in an obscure conference (..or was it a seminar??) in bavaria. ..and as any school child can tell you – any publicity, is the one to go with.

    However, I don’t think that anyone of the protagonists here is losing. (..which is another clue as to the “why” – people like a win-win situations..) In the big picture, more people provide religion a debating space in public life – which is afterall what we do here now. By giving that space, the protagonists increase the chances of more people turning their way..
    If you get people to talk about a new magazine – some of them will actually buy it..

  104. Chris Stiles — on 19th September, 2006 at 12:11 am  


    But why didn’t the Pope speak up in such bold and strident terms as yours? Why did he have to make a sneaky quote from a 14th century pope and then try and contextualise it?

    Because Sid .. sometimes it isn’t all about you. I don’t think the pope intended to address Islam as the main point in his speech. It really was more about religion (and let’s be clear that he is primarily addressing Catholicism) and scientific reason and the interplay between two.

    Why was he doing this at this particular time? See:

    http://www.theregister.co.uk/2006/09/05/pope_evolve/
    http://www.theregister.co.uk/2006/08/30/pope_calls_meeting/

    The Catholic church is in the middle of a debate on what their position should be regarding evolution – not just in term of its truth but its theological implications. Regardless of how you personally might feel about *that* issue, this particular speech should be seen in that context – something which is very obvious when you read all of it.

    And for the record, I’m not on that side of the Tiber.

  105. Chris Stiles — on 19th September, 2006 at 12:12 am  

    I did wonder who this chap was protesting about:

    http://newsimg.bbc.co.uk/media/images/42101000/jpg/_42101124_ap416bodyjakarta.jpg

    Teletubbies anyone?

  106. Rowshan — on 19th September, 2006 at 12:27 am  

    gosh. i spent three years studying holy wars and crusades in the name of debate and intellectual reason – it is possible to do this without insulting others. It is possible to debate the concept of Holy War in general terms but it’s not fashionable – appealing to the masses these days involved anti-islamic hysteria. Then again, I am not the Pope and don’t have an agenda to push.

    Sure – the Pope doesn’t speak off the cuff – he has a zillion clerks writing his speech so Leon is write to ask why. Every txt gets screened and looked at by aides – that’s their job – to play with words, minimise and exagerate where it’s needed.

  107. Rowshan — on 19th September, 2006 at 12:39 am  

    You can say concepts, islamic or otherwise, can lead to justification for violence, often mis-interpreted blah blah. But what we mustn’t say is Jesus bought nothing to this world except violence and evil. I doubt the Pope would’ve said that in the context of this speech on Holy War and violence. Slip of the tongue – don’t think so.

  108. Nero — on 19th September, 2006 at 1:17 am  

    The question I would like answered is:

    Did the pope quote the bzyantine emperor correctly and is
    there any truth to the allegation that the prophet advocated conversions to islam by the sword?

  109. Amir — on 19th September, 2006 at 1:53 am  

    Refresh,

    (I) ‘His earlier post to Leon was vicious and lacked substance, followed by a much more reasoned contribution.’

    Nonsense. I, for one, could have been a lot harsher on Leon, and, in the process, downsized his ego to the size of confetti. But I didn’t. His conspiracy-mongering bullshit could just have easily been written by a member of the MPAC or the Ku Klux Klan. It was appalling. No evidence whatsoever. Just pure, paranoid conjecture. A ruthless smear against the Catholic Church and the good character of Pope Benedict. If anything, Leon was fortunate. Could you imagine the outrage if he had said anything similar about 9/11 – linking it to MOSSAD or the CIA? People who say such things are usually denounced as ‘trolls’ and hereupon banned from commenting.

    (II) ‘As it is, the Pope was sly and cowardly’

    How so? Have you read his entire speech? I don’t think you have.

    (III) ‘Having hinted Amir’s post was rational, I would suggest that he, as often is the case – is hebephrenic.’

    Laugh Out Loud! You’re a very sweet girl. :-)

    (IV) ‘Rationality and Scientific enquiry is what allowed Islam to flourish in its golden age. And that will again be the foundation of its future.’

    Wishful thinking, such as this, reeks of a naïve teleology. One step at a time. One step at a time.

    Amir

  110. Amir — on 19th September, 2006 at 1:56 am  

    Chris Stiles,

    Teletubbies… heh heh! :-)

  111. Amir — on 19th September, 2006 at 2:13 am  

    Trofim – no problem mate.

    Mirax – you’re so sexy when you get angry.

    Raz – Osama is winning. Bush is losing. You are correct. :-(

    Sid – Bernard Lewis is, to put it simply, a genius. His historical and theological contributions to Islam and the Ottoman Empire are groundbreaking in more ways than one. Edward Said, on the other hand, is a fraudulent huckster and a phoney pseudo-historian (notwithstanding his invaluable contributions to the Palestinian cause in American society). A useful corrective to his nasty, amateurish diatribes is Martin Kramer’s Ivory Towers on Sand. Read it and realise why CounterPunch is such a shitty Web site.

    Amir

  112. sonia — on 19th September, 2006 at 2:35 am  

    100 – raz – well said. Precisely.

  113. sonia — on 19th September, 2006 at 2:39 am  

    i don’t think Bush is losing – i think both osama and bush had similar aims and made similar gains ( this is not suggesting they cooked it up together) but rather they both politically exhorted people to form ‘opposing camps’ to enhance their own personal power.

  114. sonia — on 19th September, 2006 at 2:45 am  

    Don – ‘Can one become addicted to the rush of pious outrage? ‘ : I think so – and definitely that’s part of the problem. and always has been – one reason why ‘religion’ as an organized form has been popular with certain types of personalities. i’m thinking quite a few Puritans and Mullahs fell/fall into this type. must be cause they didn’t want anyone else to have ‘too much fun’ or something. Like these so- called ‘moral police’ in Iran…

  115. Amir — on 19th September, 2006 at 2:49 am  

    Happy birthday Sonia.

    xxxx

  116. sonia — on 19th September, 2006 at 2:51 am  

    hello Amir you’re being unnecessarily unpleasant. Leon’s done well not to react ( well done laughing it off) but it’s really quite irritating. Can you lay off? you might not agree with him or others – most of us don’t agree with each other but we can behave like adults surely?

    Reduced his ego to the size of confetti indeed – as if.

  117. sonia — on 19th September, 2006 at 2:53 am  

    thank you amir for wishing me happy birthday. if we can all stay neutral about each other..

  118. Amir — on 19th September, 2006 at 3:05 am  

    Sonia,

    When I see Churches getting burnt to a crisp in Gaza or Mogadishu, devout nuns dying at the hands of jihadist blowhards, innocent Christians being hounded into their homes like dogs by their local Islamist mob, and effigies of the Pope going up in flames,… then having to put up with garbage like this…

    ‘nor am I really that bothered by the Muslim outrage across the world’

    ‘The Pope (and by that I mean him, his advisors and the Church) is no fool, he wouldn’t have made such a speech without a certain intent in mind’

    … then you can’t honestly expect me to ‘lay off’. Leon should think very carefully about what he writes. It was, in tone and in content, an appalling contribution to the debate.

    Nuff said.

  119. sonia — on 19th September, 2006 at 3:10 am  

    oh please. you can express your ‘concerns’ without resorting to unpleasantness can’t you?

  120. sonia — on 19th September, 2006 at 3:11 am  

    Nuff said, forget it, i can’t be bothered with this. PP’s too much of a flame war zone itself.

  121. Amir — on 19th September, 2006 at 3:21 am  

    Reduced his ego to the size of confetti indeed – as if.

    Sonia, re-read the article. Try and see it from a Christian’s perspective. I could, just as easily, have sublimated my anger through a long-winded polemic against Leon. I chose not to. Which was, in my opinion, a good decision.

    I’m glad I didn’t do it.

  122. Amir — on 19th September, 2006 at 3:34 am  

    Sonia,

    oh please. you can express your ‘concerns’ without resorting to unpleasantness can’t you?

    I have no time or patience or manners for conspiracy-mongering or conspiracy-mongerers. That, effectively, is what Leon is pandering to: dark thinking and mindless conjecture. The real reason why you’re getting so uppity with me is because you hate evidence that doesn’t conform to your worldview.

    So stop trying to pretend that you’re some ‘fair-minded’ and ‘objective’ person. You, like Leon, are trying to gloss over this highly-significant outbreak of unmitigated hatred and Islamist violence. There are, let me remind you, Christians who are living in Pakistan, in East Timor, in the West Bank, and in Gaza who’re fearing for their lives.

    For a change, let us have some frigging condemnation? Huh?

  123. Sid — on 19th September, 2006 at 8:17 am  

    Amir

    Bernard Lewis is nothing if he’s not a sallow neocon hack of the lowliest order.

    “Although [Lewis] has a track record of coming up with interesting – if debatable – ideas, in recent years his ideas have been based less and less on solid research, and directed more and more towards providing a scholarly veneer for the Bush administration’s Middle East policies.

    His track record in that area is pretty bad. He was one of the key figures promoting the invasion of Iraq and, presumably drawing on his knowledge of Turkey, he argued that his chum Ahmad Chalabi, the convicted fraudster, could become an Iraqi version of Ataturk.”

    Edward Said is one of the finest minds that has come forward who elucidates the Palestinian position. And if you can’t recognise his genius it says a lot about the grubby partisan nature of your didacticism.

  124. Sid — on 19th September, 2006 at 8:26 am  

    For a change, let us have some frigging condemnation? Huh?

    Yes, lets. And let us start with the pope’s vituperative ejaculations, shall we?

  125. Parma Violets — on 19th September, 2006 at 8:34 am  

    Why is it ‘conspiracy mongering’ to say the Pope may have had a motive in saying what he did? The Pope isn’t an improvisational comedian, you know; every public statement he says is very carefully planned.

    As for the lack of condemnation for the rioters, I think it’s because it’s taken for granted that everyone here thinks shooting nuns is actually quite a bad thing. Shock!

  126. Sid — on 19th September, 2006 at 8:41 am  

    Shuggy’s view is, as always, worth considering.

  127. Sid — on 19th September, 2006 at 8:42 am  

    view even.

  128. Chairwoman — on 19th September, 2006 at 8:50 am  

    Religious leaders are appointed for two reasons,firstly to keep their followers in line, and secondly to ‘fight their corner’. They achieve the first by doing the second. It’s not rocket science.

    As I said earlier, they are competing for the ‘hearts & minds’ and setting out their stall.

    The world’s beating itself up about this, and they are probably rubbing their hands.

  129. Sahil — on 19th September, 2006 at 9:23 am  

    WOw, there seems to be a lot of effigy burning here in PP. Like I said before, run for the hills!!!

  130. Rakhee — on 19th September, 2006 at 9:27 am  

    What I think we all agree on here is the fact that religious leaders should be sensitive to a heightened news climates, political issues and the possible consequences of their comments and actions.

    They shouldn’t walk on eggshells but at the same time, these leaders are not naive to what they are saying and the possible consequences of it. I do feel that there has been an element here of adding fuel to fire, at a time when it is clearly not necessary to do so.

    Let’s not pretend that The Pope had a slip of the tongue but I do think these things have a way of spiralling out of control and to help, the media is more than happy to oblige.

    Sonia, happy belated birthday baaaby!

  131. Chairwoman — on 19th September, 2006 at 10:20 am  

    Sonia,

    Belated happy birthday!!

    Chairwoman Auntie

  132. Leon — on 19th September, 2006 at 10:24 am  

    Every txt gets screened and looked at by aides – that’s their job – to play with words, minimise and exagerate where it’s needed.

    Indeed. That’s why the thought struck me over the weekend (and hence this thread of devils advocate and speculation), I work, shall we say, in the political sphere and know full well the internal process’ at work before any leader speaks out. I looked at the Popes speech through that lense and the questions arose from there…

    As for Amirs “Christian” outrage I say unto him: Turn the other cheek and forgive me.

    No discussion of religion will be without controversy. Someone is always going to be up in arms about something.

    For myself, I’ve had plenty of heated discussions and arguements stretching back to when I was still a Roman Catholic. I take the anger of the religious minded against me with a pinch of salt these days, lifes too short to worry about someone elses’ God and their view of a ‘sinner’ like me!

  133. sonia — on 19th September, 2006 at 10:45 am  

    why thank you Chairwoman auntie..:-)

  134. sonia — on 19th September, 2006 at 10:58 am  

    good one Leon.

  135. sonia — on 19th September, 2006 at 11:01 am  

    Academically speaking Bernard Lewis is pretty flawed – he doesn’t admit to any bias – which is clearly present in his writings.

  136. Jagdeep — on 19th September, 2006 at 11:05 am  

    bananabrain’s post at number 10 is smokin!

    To add a few Jagdeep points:

    (a)Christian Evangelical types always have bad things to say about other religions, I believe this Pope said some things about Hinduism and Buddhism in a speech just before he was elected. They only just got around to ‘accepting’ the right of Jews to remain Jews (how gracious of them!) I have read Christian evangelist tracts on how to ‘save’ Sikhs from hellfire. It’s just the way it is. However, I do respect the institution the Pope represents and have great respect for the Catholic Church which has some wonderful things, especially the way footballers from Latin countries make the sign of the cross when they come on the pitch or score a goal.

    (b)Muslims need to chill out, especially because Islam is also an evangelical religion and Muslims go around denigrating other religions all in the service of ‘da’wah’ and seem to want that right but get very touchy when the same kind of rhetoric is applied to them – and if we had to shoot imams or have riots everytime the head mullah of the mosque in Mecca made a bigoted speech against other religions we’d do nothing else but riot and burn down mosques 24/7

    (c)Those protestors remind me of little children playing with their excrement. The right thing to do is tell them to stop doing it because it’s disgusting and wrong, not to join in or excuse them, like some people are doing. It causes smell, is unhealthy and repulsive. Stop playing with your shit, babies. Keep your nappies on, and try and keep them clean.

  137. Jagdeep — on 19th September, 2006 at 11:12 am  

    Chairwoman

    I don’t know if you’ve thought the full implications of being an Auntie through. I don’t know if it’s the same with Jewish Aunty’s, but an Asian Aunty has to be obsessed with the marital status of all youngsters and devote her life to engineering matches and marriages between them. Think Mrs Bennet from Pride and Prejudice living in Southall or Leicester. With extra neurosis.

    An Aunty could beat the Pope in a debate anyday. It would be, ‘Have you eaten?’, ‘Are you married? Why not?’

    Those Catholics wouldnt stand a chance.

  138. Chairwoman — on 19th September, 2006 at 11:26 am  

    Jagdeep – Yes, it’s pretty much the same. Do your aunties also pinch you on the cheek and say ‘Look at you, haven’t you grown, I remember you when you were so high, do you remember me, I’m your Auntie Blank’ and then an aside to the mother ‘she/he hasn’t met anybody yet? You should take her to Blank, lots of unmarried Doctors/Lawyers/Accountants looking for a suitably qualified husband/wife’.

    We have the neurosis, just move it to North West London.

    Of course they wouldn’t. They’re big on guilt though.

  139. Jagdeep — on 19th September, 2006 at 11:34 am  

    Yeah. Looks more and more like Jewish and Asian Aunties are interchageable. Put you in one of my family gatherings and nobody would even notice you were Jewish.

    Don’t Catholics have Aunty types in Latin countries like Spain and Italy? Mamma Mia and all that?

    Anyway….the Pope needs a good Aunty to tell him to behave himself, and those protesting babies, I just wish one day on the TV we saw a gang of Pakistani or whatever Aunties take them by the earlobe and drag them home shouting at them and telling them to start behaving themselves.

  140. Leon — on 19th September, 2006 at 11:35 am  

    Oh dear this sounds very similar to my Afro-Caribbean family experience…interesting derail though.

  141. Roger — on 19th September, 2006 at 11:38 am  

    Actually, it’s quite possible Bishop Ben thought he was telling the truth.

  142. Jagdeep — on 19th September, 2006 at 11:38 am  

    I tried to keep it on the rail by bringing in the question of whether Catholics have Aunties too Leon???

    I think in Spain and Italy they might.

  143. Sid — on 19th September, 2006 at 11:45 am  

    he said bishop. hur hur.

  144. Leon — on 19th September, 2006 at 11:49 am  

    Jag, nice try! I think they do, going by my recollections of Spainish and Italian friends at school (I went to an RC secondary school)…

  145. Jai — on 19th September, 2006 at 11:58 am  

    I guess I’m stating the obvious, but if the protestors really did object to the apparent suggestion that Islam was “spread by the sword”, rather than going on the rampage perhaps it would have been a more constructive course of action for them to calmly and patiently disclose relevant historical facts which would have disproved the allegation.

    If someone accuses you of something which you think is not true, one way to refute the accusation is to just ensure they are made aware of the relevant facts supporting your own stance, rather than trying to make them shut up purely by reacting with anger and threats. If they still don’t believe you — assuming that you yourself have been telling the truth and not “massaging the facts” — then that’s their problem. You can agree to disagree if you reach an impasse.

    I’m not thrilled about the fact that both Catholicism and conventional Islam state that all people who do not believe in their religion(s) will go to Hell, but I don’t demand a formal apology from them to be sent to the Akal Takht in Amritsar for causing “offence” to all the Sikhs worldwide. They’re just stating the official party line as per the teachings of their faiths (in their organised orthodox forms, anyway), even though I don’t agree with it myself.

  146. Jai — on 19th September, 2006 at 12:05 pm  

    Which actually leads us to a relevant question:

    Exactly what was it about the Pope’s statements — or, more accurately, quotation — which some Muslims have found so offensive ?

    The alleged claim that Mohammad brought “nothing but evil etc”, or the allegations that Mohammad supported spreading Islam by force (and that Islam itself condones this) ?

  147. Roger — on 19th September, 2006 at 12:15 pm  

    “both Catholicism and conventional Islam state that all people who do not believe in their religion(s) will go to Hell”
    In fairness to islam, it doesn’t actually say that: it says that those who committed various sins and failed to repent in time or associated another with god, whether they repented or not, will go to hell, but thos who were mnonotheists and didn’t commit sins and those who never had the oportunity to accept islam will probably go to an inferior heaven.
    Actually, given what muslims and christians say about hell- that it is a plsce where people will sufferr torture beyond human imaginings ['though people have imagined them pretty thoroughly] literally for ever in revenge for irrevocable actions- then it’s not surprising followers of both beliefs behave as badly as they do.

  148. sonia — on 19th September, 2006 at 12:58 pm  

    there are aunties the world over! :-)

  149. sonia — on 19th September, 2006 at 12:59 pm  

    ‘an aunty could beat the Pope in a debate any day’ ..heh heh very amusing.

  150. nyrone — on 19th September, 2006 at 1:01 pm  

    At the end of a two-day visit to Venezuela, Iran’s president Mahmoud Ahmadinejad said on Monday that he respected Benedict, apparently downplaying the pontiff’s remarks.

    “Regarding the issue of the pope’s comments, we respect the pope and all of those who are interested in peace and justice,” Ahmadinejad said.

    Probably the most common-sense response i’ve read in this stupid debate so far.

    To be blunt, these comments have become like a world-wide parasitical ring-virus, being uttered from the lips of thousands of newsreaders and spectators up and down the planet, with everyone desperate to be ‘in on the debate’ and prove they ‘really know’ history.
    History is a tapestry of lies forged by people who felt they were the chosen and anointed ‘recorders of history’
    The reaction to this out-of-context comment just confirms what everybody already thinks about Islam, and though they are wrong of course it’s going to be a test for real Muslims to see how they deal with all the bile being chucked their way from ignorant people trying to make them feel personally guilty that a nun was shot by someone who supposedly shares the same religion as them.
    Those men shot that 70-year old woman not as Muslims, but thugs..
    They are NOT Muslim.

  151. nyrone — on 19th September, 2006 at 1:24 pm  

    These people burning representations of the pope are acting as if he were George Bush or something. It’s the height of collective-madness idiocy. GB slaughters Muslims for breakfast as part of his war-on-notUSideas and the pope has just uttered a few words in some boring obscure lecture.

    I think people just LIKE the idea of ratslinger being a cheeky chappy who wanted to start ww3 and the so-called ‘Muslims’ burning stuff in India and Pakistan (where else?) are playing their part in this ‘we are togethhhherrrr’ melee of a situation.

  152. The Common Humanist — on 19th September, 2006 at 2:04 pm  

    Can anyone offer me evidence that Islam isn’t irrational? Or for that matter Catholicism?

    Although the latter has fewer adherents liable to explode on public transport………..

    And also seriously, this ‘don’t say Islam is violent and irrational or we’ll be violent and irrational’ is just hilarious to watch……..if it wasn’t for the pain and suffering caused………

    And has anyone read the Anas Al Tikriti piece in CiF…..he thinks Islam was never spread by conquest.
    And the ‘David Irving Award for Air Brushing History goes to………..’

    You honestly couldn’t make this stuff up.

  153. Jai — on 19th September, 2006 at 2:40 pm  

    Sonia,

    A very happy belated birthday to you :)

    I just wanted to say that I always enjoy reading your posts here; you write very “naturally” and it sounds like someone writing exactly as they speak in real life, which makes your posts very easy to read. I especially like the posts where you are a bit indignant about something — I can just imagine you standing there with your hands on your hips, frowning, and going “Humph. Gosh. I mean, really”. Always puts a smile on my face.

    Great stuff.

  154. nyrone — on 19th September, 2006 at 2:47 pm  

    Blaming Islam as a whole for being ‘irrational’ is rather simple, as anybody with Muslim friends will tell you. I bet you would’t say all brown haired people are irrational, would you?
    Muslims have all turned out different, and that ‘Islam is more violent than Islam thing just doesn’t wash with me….this has become a poverty-induced ethno-class war…wanna know why the ‘christians’ are no longer ‘violent’? Why are they civilised now? People always ask why the poor are so poor, why not ask why the rich are so rich?
    I have huge disagreements with Islam coming from this background, where I was forced by family to repeat arabic that i didn’t understand parrot-style like a sacred mantra, but I don’t blame that on Islam and Muslims everywhere, I blame my parents!

    Trying to use this giant brush to broadly apply ‘violence’ to Islam is dumb and will simply go further towards cementingBush and Osama’s dreams of eternal 2-way division.

    I swear it all boils down to insane human psychology that sane human beings struggle to understand.
    eg: It’s easier to burn flags than meet new people and work together, if we could have an age of co-operation rather than competition things would flow so much more smoothly, but Capitalism doesn’t allow that and this is why Bush sees Political Islam (with it’s no interest rule) as anti-corruption ideology as a threat.

    I don’t think that the anger by Muslims has much to do with the remarks made by the pope, it’s anger at forign occupation and the humiliation of Muslims for the last few years. This is more than justified and shouldn’t be confused with a religious problem, when it is in fact a political one.

    The question I am thinking about now, is what is to be done about these people becoming furious in India and stamping on stuff?? I don’t think their culture permits them to understand the damage they are doing to ‘Islam’ internationally.

  155. El Cid — on 19th September, 2006 at 2:47 pm  

    I bet the Catholic Church has tried to engage the Moslem world more than the other way around.
    From what I understand, the Vatican has been keen to engage Moslem religious leaders in a discussion about whether violence and religion are compatible. It has not been reciprocated. So he’s upped the intellectual tempo, by throwing down the gauntlet with a treatise. Has anybody really read it? Has any journalist even tried to get his hands on it in order to put the quote in context? Aren’t you curious? If I quoted say, Stalin, by saying “Who cares about the hair when one is cutting off the head”, would that make me a fascist of the left? Don’t people care anymore about truth and intellectual rigour? (Or is it coz I is da Pope?)
    I don’t think the Pope really thinks there is a problem with Islam and violence per se but — like most people with eyes and ears — he knows that Imams and Mullahs and what nots have not have not been very loud in condemning violence (not as loud as, say, the previous Pope condemning the Iraq War, even the Afghan war, if I remember rightly).
    You want, need, a right-wing conspiracy theory? Quite simple really: the Pope wants to engage the Moslem world on the issue of religious violence because it wants them to end the persecution of Christians in parts of the Moslem world and to allow the building of churches, even proselytising, in moslem countries, in the same way that Islam is allowed to flourish in the West.
    Is modern Islam capable of academic discourse? Was the Orange-faced ex-morning TV presenter right after all? I’m beginning to wonder.

  156. Jai — on 19th September, 2006 at 3:02 pm  

    =>”he thinks Islam was never spread by conquest.”

    This relates to my earlier question about exactly what it was about the Pope’s quote that some Muslims found so offensive.

    To be fair, there are notable examples of Islam being spread by non-violent means; obvious examples are Indonesia (spread by Muslim traders from South India) and some parts of Western/northwestern India (spread by Arab traders several centuries before the rise of the Delhi Sultanates).

    But there are indeed other historical events involving Islam being spread “by the sword”. Asians on PP (or non-Asians with an interest in Indian history) will already know about the Delhi Sultanates and the Mughals, but we can take it even further back with regards to the history of Afghanistan, Iran, and the entire Arabian region. Hell, this would also include what happened to the Byzantine Empire — the remnants of the Eastern Holy Roman Empire — as a result of the Ottoman Empire’s invasion.

    Whether the military assaults were a deliberate effort to spread Islam or purely/mostly for political/economic reasons (with Islam being a secondary by-product) is of course a debatable issue, and will depend on the specific period and which part of the world we’re talking about.

    I’m also wary of taking it much further back with regards to the spread of Islam during Mohammad’s own lifetime and the period shortly afterwards, because there appear to be numerous stories around, propagated by those on both sides of the fence, arguing that his actions were aggressive or defensive respectively. I remember some fairly heated arguments here on PP a while back involving (I think) Old Pickler and Bikhair, so I don’t want to get dragged into all that.

    However, there are also interpretations of Islam which support both viewpoints, and it would be fair to say that historical figures propagating Islam (directly or indirectly) by violence or modern-day, extremist Khilafat types (along with Al-Qaeda) attempting to do the same today have obviously interpreted their faith as being compatible with their aggressive actions and attitudes.

    So it depends on whether the current protestors are objecting to a) the allegation that Islam itself supports violence in the name of proselytisation, b) the allegation that Mohammad himself acted in this way, and/or c) the allegation that Islam has historically been spread by violent means.

    If it’s “c”, then their objections are refuted by historical facts. Options “a” & “b”, however, are a blurred area in my view.

  157. nyrone — on 19th September, 2006 at 3:18 pm  

    Good post El Cid, and where is ol Mr Silk?
    I thought he would be clamouring to get his legs spread for a daily mail headline over this…

    possible bylines: “IF ONLY THEY HAD LISTENED TO ME..”
    “THE INVASION IS NIGH”
    “CAN I BE YOUR PM?”

    and my personal fav: “HITLER WAS A MUZLIM”

  158. Ghatee Vikrant — on 19th September, 2006 at 3:19 pm  

    So it depends on whether the current protestors are objecting to

    Methinks the “protestors” are using Pope’s comments as a mere pretext to rally the ummah… much like the ridiculous cartoon protests.

  159. sonia — on 19th September, 2006 at 4:15 pm  

    eteraz has an interesting post on ‘fatwas’ issued against terrorism:

    http://eteraz.wordpress.com/2006/09/18/fatwas-useless-against-madmen/

  160. sonia — on 19th September, 2006 at 4:20 pm  

    cheers jai, that’s quite amusing – hands on hips – ho ho :-)

  161. nyrone — on 19th September, 2006 at 4:24 pm  

    Muslims pay tributes to deceased Pope.

    http://www.sarid.net/archives/2005-april/050405-muslims-pope.htm

    Just reading this makes me think about how strong christian leaders have been in the last few years, with John Paul condemning the Iraq War:

    “The fight against terrorism must not be
    purely repressive and punitive” but “must also proceed from the
    elimination of its causes, which are rooted in injustice.”

    …and the Archbishop of Canterbury standing up for human rights, child protection and human dignity all over the globe.

    Let’s hope for more peaceful co-existence between tolerant minds on both sides of the religion, which (in my opinion) are really pretty similar anyway.
    Real Christins and Muslims have a lot to learn from each other.

  162. nyrone — on 19th September, 2006 at 4:25 pm  

    this is italic

    This is not

  163. nyrone — on 19th September, 2006 at 4:26 pm  

    this is italic

    This is not

  164. sonia — on 19th September, 2006 at 4:26 pm  

    well its pretty clear that a large chunk of these ‘protesters’ are rather unpleasant people looking for excuses to go out and ‘stamp on stuff’ or shoot nuns. i can’t imagine that reasonable people – even if they were offended by the Pope’s comments- would go out on a homicidal killing spree.

    there must be entire clubs of people waiting to pounce on some international news item or other that they can then use as a good excuse to schedule a burning of some effigy or other…

  165. nyrone — on 19th September, 2006 at 4:27 pm  

    this is now

    sorted

  166. Leon — on 19th September, 2006 at 4:28 pm  

    @ sonia No 164: I wonder what they do with themselves during “peacetime”??

  167. sonia — on 19th September, 2006 at 4:30 pm  

    i can’t imagine what Amir thinks i think. ‘re-read the article’. did he think i was ‘condoning’ the nastiness? that unless one is ‘deathly serious’ in the way one writes then one is not showing enough ‘respect’ ( for whomever or whatever?) I don’t know.. just goes to show how much misunderstanding there is in the world!

  168. sonia — on 19th September, 2006 at 4:32 pm  

    leon 166 – yeah good question! probably trying to instigate some war or other. strikes me that there’s a hell of a lot of paranoia going about..

  169. nyrone — on 19th September, 2006 at 4:38 pm  

    Yeah, Sonia…but where on earth do these people get off? and what should be done about them? I don’t think much can be done right now besides the usual things, but this hysterical mob that spread their ‘fire and brimstone’ stances to topical subjects need a good slap with a wet fish.

    It was the same in the UK with those protestors on Sunday calling for the Pope’s death…these violent, vocal collectives make things hard for everyone when they come on TV screaming and before you know it….Fox has beamed those pics out to the world and then the media jumps on the global pimpmobile bandwagon calling it a “global uproar” to squeeze another few days of ‘news’ out of it. I swear, so many factions are complicit in this mess, Im tempted to just read my Osho books and stick my head in the sand.

    I feel like they start a lot of problems and from those first few ripples, things grow and before you know it…the finger pointing has become a farce, with it’s new set of ‘rules’.
    So the pope said something…who gives a shit?

    Get on with ur life people..all those Indians jumping up and down in rage, I wonder if they feel the same rage when they walk past thousands of starving, diseased and malnourished children everyday when crossing the street. Isn’t that also an insult to islam? why don’t they do something about that?
    I’m really beginning to realise that if you want to change something global, take a shovel to the earth and do it yourself, people listen to physical examples…not endless words and text.

  170. soru — on 19th September, 2006 at 4:41 pm  

    Here’s a thought:

    (military) jihad: the ruler of a centralised empire decides a war is a good plan. He collects taxes, uses them to pay for soldiers, and clerics provide spiritual reassurance to everyone involved that they are doing the right thing.

    crusade: clerics operating within a system of disunified weak kingdoms decide a war is a good plan, and persuade civilians, using mostly religious arguments, that they should fight it, or contribute money towards fighting it.

    By that analysis, isn’t bin Laden a Crusader, and Bush a Jihadi?

  171. Bijna — on 19th September, 2006 at 6:01 pm  

    Any1 wondering whether Islam is spread at gun point,
    should talk to two Fox News reporters.

  172. Bijna — on 19th September, 2006 at 6:06 pm  

    Their names are Mohammed and Yousef, but they still use their old names Steve Centanni and Olaf Wiig.
    http://www.elsevier.nl/opinie/weblog/asp/weblogId/4/knooppunt/1103/index.html

  173. sonia — on 19th September, 2006 at 10:18 pm  

    soru – 170 – good one.nyrone – what can be done about them? well this is the question. methinks if they had more fun they wouldn’t be as inclined to get up to such no good. now i know people will say there speaks the woolly hippie ( :-) ) but as any pscyhologist knows, personal fulfilment’s pretty important…The problem is i don’t think there aren’t any short-term ‘solutions’ or a one-size fits all..

    what would bill hicks think?

  174. sonia — on 19th September, 2006 at 10:21 pm  

    bijna that link you sent to is in dutch!!

  175. sonia — on 19th September, 2006 at 10:26 pm  

    ah but perhaps there could be a short-term solution -invite ‘them’ to come to pickled politics or some similar forum and they’d be so busy slagging people off virtually they wouldn’t have time or the inclination to go off and cause trouble in real life…

  176. Nyrone — on 19th September, 2006 at 10:34 pm  

    Sonia. A fellow fan? I walk around most days with that question lodged in my head….what would Bill Hicks think?

  177. sonia — on 19th September, 2006 at 10:51 pm  

    :-) indeed – bill hicks was the best. he’d probably give them a spliff…;-)

  178. ZinZin — on 19th September, 2006 at 10:58 pm  

    Bush in power and War in Iraq.
    Hicks would be right at home.
    Fundamentalism means no irony or Fun for that matter. To paraphrase Hicks send me to the Zionist family down the road the one with the decent albums.

  179. ZinZin — on 19th September, 2006 at 11:01 pm  

    Bush in power and War in Iraq.

    Hicks would be right at home.

    Fundamentalism means no irony or Fun for that matter. To paraphrase Hicks send me to the Zionist family down the road the one with the decent albums.

    Anyone got a purple veined dick joke?

  180. Shuggy — on 19th September, 2006 at 11:28 pm  

    170 – good one. Bin Laden also more like Crusader in that he doesn’t seem to like Jews very much. All this waffle about ‘Crusader-Jews’. So much for Bin Liner’s much-vaunted knowledge of history.

  181. Rowshan — on 20th September, 2006 at 12:44 am  

    Bijna

    Democracy , too, is spread by the ‘sword’ in Iraq and no doubt in other places where self-interest prevails. That’s the New Century Project – Democracy by any Means Necessary. The sword is a useful tool to spread many value systems and religions – Islam isn’t exempt – but neither is it the only actor in town to do so.

  182. Rowshan — on 20th September, 2006 at 12:49 am  

    On B Lewis

    Isn’t all history biased to some extent – E.H Carr on What is History ?

    Students on historical method will happily testify.

    Bernard Lewis fails on many counts as a credible historian.

    Said on the other hand, I love and admire , but he isn’t a historian – more literary -cultural criticism pundit turned commentator on Middle East?

  183. Amir — on 20th September, 2006 at 2:23 am  

    Leon,

    ‘As for Amirs “Christian” outrage I say unto him: Turn the other cheek and forgive me.’

    I’m not so sure why you put ‘Christian’ in inverted commas, unless you think I am being hypocritical or insincere about my religious beliefs? Nor would I characterise my ‘beef’ with you in such a theological way. On the contrary, it is due to my universal belief in human dignity, freedom of speech, expression and faith, which characterises my overall hostility to the Islamist movement. Obviously, I do not take kindly to those who insist on spreading conspiracy theories and/or downplaying the civilizational divide between Islam and Christianity, which, at present, is massive.

    HOWEVER, I do forgive you. And, what’s more, I vehemently apologise for suggesting that you make me ‘sick’. Which is not, nor has it ever been, true. :-)

    Amir

  184. sheikh_liberally — on 20th September, 2006 at 3:56 am  

    Every now and then i check out PP, and control-f for the word ‘amir’, and each time, im duly impressed by the force of his very potent intellect, cutting through the nonsense. Its affirming to read through these threads knowning that Amir and Vikrant are the sole voices of reason, though one often wonders why they bother. I salute you!

  185. ZinZin — on 20th September, 2006 at 9:19 am  

    A considered Political manouevere?

    ME christian minorities are denied freedom of religion and His Holiness may be asking for a level playing field. Also as apostates can be killed in many Muslim states he is looking out for his flock. The irony is that Muslim hyper-sensitivity has put them at risk.

    I have to go to work now mull on this point until i return. I will be back.

  186. Leon — on 20th September, 2006 at 9:54 am  

    W00t more Bill Hicks fans!:D

  187. Arif — on 20th September, 2006 at 10:51 am  

    ZinZin seems to echo the Vaticanology in the press which says that Pope Benedict wants reciprocity rather than dialogue or even common cause with Islam sometimes suggested by Pope John Paul. And that seems fair enough to me.

    It is just bound to be confusing and subtle for everyone concerned, since he has to be clear which Muslims are not reciprocating and use different methods to achieve his objectives with different ….. (can’t think of a polite word for bigots at the moment), while there are shifting objectives among his potential … interlocutors.

    If he wants to start with the Saudi Government, say, then apart from making links with clerics there, having polite private and public discussions with Government officials and so on, he might also want to make alliances with Muslims and other religious people who also want freedom of religion in Saudi Arabia.

    Insisting on a principle of reciprocity itself is something that will win me over, but is probably ineffective with people who have a different psychology. Its a hard road, and I hugely respect him and his predecessor for trying to find morally consistent paths.

  188. Jai — on 20th September, 2006 at 11:05 am  

    Rowshan,

    =>”Democracy , too, is spread by the ’sword’ in Iraq and no doubt in other places where self-interest prevails.”

    I understand your point, but I don’t think there is anything morally wrong with spreading democracy in this way as an absolute last resort if the majority of the citizens in the “target” nation genuinely desire it.

    The problems, of course, arise if large numbers of citizens in the invaded country don’t want democracy in the Western sense…..

  189. sonia — on 20th September, 2006 at 11:19 am  

    ho ho one can’t ‘spread’ democracy like butter surely?
    if one can, then it ain’t democracy anymore is it?
    ( small matter of definition and all that..) perhaps a close relative?

    {my point here isn’t to cast a negative light on the wish to ‘spread’ democracy or jai’s idea that it’s not morally wrong – i’m not trying to make a normative point here..} simply a point pertaining to this ‘democracy’ thing that’s being ‘spread’.

  190. sonia — on 20th September, 2006 at 11:35 am  

    181 – rowshan – good points. Said wasn’t an historian – yup.

    as far as i can see – all societies throughout history have done things through force. in areas like religion where theoretically one is supposed to have a choice – this is a patently ridiculous approach but there you go!/ democracy -again – same thing – it’s hardly democracy if ‘imposed’ – ridiculous but there you go. much of history has been illiberal and force has featured heavily. there’s not much point in people pointing fingers at each other. perhaps there is a point in realizing how crap ‘force’ is and trying to do down an actually democratic path – consensus based.

  191. Arif — on 20th September, 2006 at 11:39 am  

    Jai, I think democracy and Islam are more likely to be garments in which invaders clothe less respectable interests. In the blood-soaked process of getting what they want, they don’t seem to mind the clothes stains which disillusion their more earnest followers. But I agree with what you say in principle.

    I would like to defend the Pope’s approach of reciprocity which I think provides a moral path in a cynical world. It would mean that he feels Democrats shouldn’t impose their values even on what they believe to be willing populations, unless non-Democrats are allowed to do the same. It is not just the appropriate form of democracy that would be at issue, it is the fact of imposition, the other impositions which might go along with the democracy together with the lack of reciprocal rights for the vanquished to impose their values on their conquerors in return.

    Accepting the principle of reciprocity would probably allow for humanitarian interventions, but would make a war to spread Islam, Christianity, democracy, any economic model etc problematic. The Pope and the UN Secretary General probably have a lot of principles in common.

  192. soru — on 20th September, 2006 at 1:43 pm  

    ‘spreading democracy like butter’

    Using the same terms as the descriptions of crusades and jihad in #170, democracy is a particular arrangement of ruler, soldiers and people that all three have to willingly participate in, and clerics, royalty and so on have to agree to stay out of. You can replace a ruler in a way that has popular support, but it is far more difficult to replace the military class, and all but impossible to replace the people.

    The specific mistake the americans made was, after the invasion, they failed to negotiate the seperate consent of the Iraqi military class, thinking they were redundant with american troops available. They were wrong, and almost all the non-jihadi political violence of the next few years has followed directly from that mistake.

    The same mistake, by the Spanish Republicans, kicked off the Spanish Civil War, and that seems to be the background to the current coup in Thailand.

  193. Col.Mustafa — on 20th September, 2006 at 2:39 pm  

    Wooh, so much has been typed.

    I say it all the time but it doesn’t really matter; but the muslim world have alot more to be getting on with than condemning the pope on some random crap he said.

    This is the same story over and over again, im wondering what next.

    Maybe 50 cent is gonna say something about islam, or maybe even write a track about it.
    Its a good way to get famous as well it seems; lets say something about Islam, doesn’t matter what just something.

    I wouldn’t be surprised to see a few bands try it out soon.

  194. Leon — on 20th September, 2006 at 2:48 pm  

    Its a good way to get famous as well it seems

    Not sure it works quite like that, I reckon there are people that say worse about Muslims/Islam every second of the day but we don’t hear of it. You’d need to have a pretty big profile to begin with to spark worldwide protests (or be a media outlet).

    That said, a semi-famous singer could elevate sales to super stardom by saying something bad about Islam I reckon.

    I wonder if the PR industry are watching all this with interest? Someone in business must be wondering how to turn instant outrage into profit.

  195. soru — on 20th September, 2006 at 2:55 pm  

    I expect it’s all a conspiracy by the manufacturers of effigies.

  196. Anas — on 20th September, 2006 at 3:09 pm  

    Re: Amir’s post no. 93

    the Moslem Kashmiris made it known that they wanted not only a state of their own but to expel those who were not Moslems
    And what is your evidence for this statement? Can you back it up?
    A review of wars, civil wars, and other contemporary conflicts shows indeed a greater incidence of violence and aggression in Moslem societies than in most others. If we ignore tribal warfare in Nigeria and Somalia and the Sudan, the Islamic factor has been prominently involved; almost 90 % of these conflicts appear to affect Moslem countries and societies.
    If I read you correctly here, you’re saying that something like 90% of all “wars, civil wars, and other contemporary conflicts” are located in Muslim countries and societies. Obviously, that is completely absurd, so I hope I’ve misread you.
    But let’s look at the record of global conflict over the past 50 or so years to see how well your thesis that Muslim societies exhibit a greater level of “violence and aggression” than “most others” holds up.
    For a start if we concentrate on the Americas themselves, there is almost no country in South or central America (majority Catholic) that hasn’t at sometime in the past 50 years played host to a bloody civil war or brutal totalitarian regime. The first examples that come to mind are Pinochet’s bloody CIA backed overthrow of the elected government in Chile and the bloodshed that followed that; then there’s the similarly murderous civil war (with a huge civilian toll) in Colombia between leftwing guerrillas, the government and CIA backed counterinsurgency forces ; the widespread bloodshed that took place during conflicts in the Eighties in Nicaragua, Panama, Honduras, Haiti. The ‘dirty war’ started by the military Junta in Argentina, etc.
    Then there’s sub-Saharan Africa, the home of such brutal savage, and mostly ongoing conflicts such as those taking place or that have taken place in the Congo (far bloodier than Darfur), Uganda, Rwanda, Burundi, and Liberia. There is also Mugabe’s despotic and murderous rule in Zimbabwe. None of these countries have anything other than a marginal Muslim presence, so it is difficult to pin the blame on them. Again it’s hard to find a country in the whole of Africa, Muslim or non-Muslim, it hasn’t at one stage been involved in either bloody civil war or suffered under the depredations of a tyrannical ruler within the last 50 years.
    In Asia it’s the same, look at countries such as North Korea, Burma or the bloody actions of the Maoist rebels in Nepal. Then of course you have Sri Lanka, whose Hindu Tamil population are especially fond of using suicide bombing to further their cause, and also not averse to ethnically cleansing areas containing Muslims.
    Surely, the problem lies not with Muslim societies, but with poor nonwhite societies. It must be some inherent racial inferiority, right?

    Then you realise that Europe itself has played host to almost continuous and profoundly barbaric conflict throughout practically its whole history. Ending only at the point when the technology was such that any further conflict between the main Western states would have resulted in the complete annihilation of both sides.

    So no, there’s nothing particularly special about Muslim societies in that respect, either in the contemporary world or in the broader scheme of history. It’s a human problem. But then why let facts get in the way of a perfectly good anti-Muslim rant?

    For Christianity and other major religions, the Crusades, the Inquisition, and the burning of witches are a thing of the past. But in Islam, once the most tolerant of religions, fanaticism in various manifestations (Wahabism, Salafism, etc.) is making a radical comeback.
    Ah, but then you’re surely unaware of the rise in religious fanaticism and intolerance within the United States, especially within the corridors of power, and its potentially disastrous impact worldwide? Didn’t George Bush claim that God told him to attack Iraq, and how many innocent people have died as a result that? What about the power of the fundamentalist Christian lobby in Washington, and their ability to influence policy? for example, the end timers’ pressure on Bush (who apparently phones up evangelical church leaders to ask for their opinion on potential policies) to expedite the Apocalypse by hastening climate change. It sounds absurd and sinister, but apparently it is having an effect on how the Bush government is handling environmental issues. The potential consequences of this could be far more catastrophic than anything OBL could ever dream up.
    Islam has treated members of rival faiths as third-class citizens… many Moslem countries make apostasy from Islam a crime…Koranic scholars who live here in Europe, such as Christoph Luxenberg and Ibn Waraq, feel compelled to work under a pseudonym for fear of reprisal
    I agree with you and condemn these instances of intolerance and fanaticism on the part of sombunall (some-but-not-all) Muslims. Yet apparently these abhorrent actions now represent the totality of Islam since it is “Islam”, and not some Muslims, or even the majority of Muslims, that “always reacts to western allegations of ‘intolerance’ and ‘bigotry’ by mass outbreaks of violent hysteria and hooliganism.” The actions of some few now stand-in for the beliefs of all, it sounds as if it’s some worldwide conspiracy by 1.5 billion Muslims, in their multitude of ethnicities, sects, outlooks, etc, to silence their critics; or otherwise this violence and intolerance is inherent to Islam. And yet strangely enough you also concede that Islam was “once the most tolerant of religions.” Funny that.
    The idea that the Pope should now apologise is so repugnant that it borders on masochism.
    So having uncritically used a quote that maligns the moral integrity of the man who Muslims consider to be their chief moral exemplar and role model, therefore questioning the moral integrity and rectitude of all Muslims, he shouldn’t even apologise? Don’t you realise what’s at stake when you call the Prophet Muhammad evil, you are effectively applying that same pejorative to all Muslims, either that or calling them completely misguided? Obviously the Pope’s free to do that, but don’t you think that when the spiritual head and supreme earthly authority of Catholicism and the leader of one billion Catholics seems to call into question the moral character of 1.5 billion Muslims they have a right to protest (peacefully and legally) or expect an apology? But of course all that has been drowned out by the clamour of the minority of Islamic extremists whose actions have apparently included the completely vile murder of a nun, (something that any rational Muslim would tell you is utterly contrary to everything Islam stands for) and the publicity they have attracted across the world, and now the issue has become one of western free speech versus Islamic fundamentalist extremism. Then on top of this, the Pope says he’s trying to start a dialogue — funny way to start a dialogue, by using a quote that gratuitously slanders and impugns your opponent? it would be like Ian Paisley claiming he only called Pope an Antichrist because he wanted to start a discussion over whether Catholic priests should be celibate or not.

    Christianity has begun to recognize the criminal wrongdoings of its past, to assume.moral responsibility for its actions, as well as rejecting proselytisation by force, preaching tolerance towards other faiths and lifestyles, and accepting gracefully the separation of church and state.
    Oh yes remind me, what’s the Catholic Church’s stance on homosexuality? Or contraception, especially in Africa where the Pope is happy to spread his anti-condom message while millions are dying of aids? And of course, those bombings of abortion clinics in America by pro-lifers must have been infiltrated by Muslims. Obviously, the millions of born-again fundamentalists who inhabit the American midwest perfectly embody your description of Christianity: “preaching tolerance towards other faiths and lifestyles, and accepting gracefully the separation of church and state.” They’re obviously very much for the separation of church and state, and are probably the most tolerant people on earth, right? Or are they abominations of the true Christian message and not representative of “Christianity” unlike in Islam where Islamic extremists apparently do represent a whole religion?

    And I have to add, as someone whose grown-up in Glasgow, I could tell you a thing or two about Christian tolerance and brotherly love. I’d like to invite you to Glasgow the next time there’s a Rangers-Celtic match to learn for yourself about tolerance. Or you could follow an orange walk.

    And why doesn’t the Catholic Church properly recognise the criminal wrongdoings of its present such as its suppression of the numerous child abuse charges that have been made against its priests?

    Reconciling Islam with the Enlightenment, on the other hand, is going to be a tricky and messy business. The Koran is a vast, vague book, filled with poetry, ambiguity and contradiction. You can find in it condemnations of war and incitements to violence, beautiful expressions of tolerance and barbaric strictures against ‘infidels’.

    And the Bible isn’t?!?!?! BTW the Koran certainly isn’t vague when it says: There is no compulsion in religion.

    Through its long history, Christianity has often supported inquisitions and anti-Semitism. In fact, Bernard Lewis, the pre-eminent scholar of Islam, has argued that for much of history religious minorities did better under Moslem rulers than they did under Christian ones.
    You don’t need to invoke the hideous neoconservative apologist and orientalist BL to make that point, its a consensus amongst historians, and indeed anyone with an ounce of intelligence.

    STILL… it has been a very long time since any serious Christian figure has preached violence against Jews or Judaism.
    It’s not so long since the Holocaust.
    If anti-Semitism is going to continue to rise in this country then it will be because of mass immigration from Moslem countries like Pakistan, Bangladesh and Turkey (combined with higher birth rates), where anti-Semitic discourse is now vicious and ubiquitous. Jews know this. I know this. The liberal establishment knows this. But it is, I am afraid, too ‘inflammatory’ to mention in public. The BBC would never allow this thought to enter into our consciences.
    Anti-Semitism is of course completely loathsome and cannot be excused in those countries, but in Europe we currently have a far more serious and widespread problem, that of discrimination and violence against people who have what is considered to be a Muslim appearance, which usually means having brown skin. A lot of the time it goes unreported, I myself was threatened with violence in the street a few weeks ago simply because someone thought I looked like a terrorist, i.e. I had brown skin though I could as easily have been a Sikh or Hindu. But it’s become almost commonplace now, as you’ll know if you live in many European inner cities. And the absurd thing about your post is that you’re defending the Pope’s comments, comments that will inevitably have the effect of increasing the incidence of these kinds of attacks and entrenching people’s prejudices against Muslims; as anyone with any ounce of brain could work out, no doubt that it is potentially very inflammatory. But obviously that’s irrelevant, the Pope’s entitled to his free speech, why criticise the wisdom of what he said or its possible consequences? You’re only pandering to the Islamists.

    I have to say, if you want to keep to this whole Western civilisation/Islamic civilisation dichotomy that this whole issue hasn’t reflected well on the West either. Just as apparently the Islamic world seems to relish any and every opportunity to build itself up into an unrestrained frenzy; the West is especially fond of lies, hypocrisy and double standards. But then it always has been.

    And Jagdeep 136 states:

    if we had to shoot imams or have riots everytime the head mullah of the mosque in Mecca made a bigoted speech against other religions we’d do nothing else but riot and burn down mosques 24/7
    I’m interested, can you substantiate this claim you make against “the head mullah of the mosque in Mecca”? Can you dig up a few relevant quotes from this head mullah actually showing him bad mouthing other religions? It shouldn’t be hard, since he’s made so many of them. Just asking for fairness.

  197. Jagdeep — on 20th September, 2006 at 3:19 pm  

    Yeah you know when the Head of Mecca mosque was invited to London the BBC did a programme on him and his statements about Jews being apes and pigs and Hindus being idol worshipping infidel.

    The thing is, Anas, it’s a truth, that Islam is a religion that seeks converts and in doing so, some of it’s more, ahem, intemperate adherents cuss and are disrespectful to followers of other faiths and have a superiority/inferiority complex.

  198. Anas — on 20th September, 2006 at 3:37 pm  

    Yeah you know when the Head of Mecca mosque was invited to London the BBC did a programme on him and his statements about Jews being apes and pigs and Hindus being idol worshipping infidel

    I must have missed that one. Got any more details on it?

    it’s a truth, that Islam is a religion that seeks converts and in doing so, some of it’s more, ahem, intemperate adherents cuss and are disrespectful to followers of other faiths and have a superiority/inferiority complex.

    No one’s gonna argue with that.

    BTW, just as the Quran can be read in different very contrary ways, so can the bible, as the following link demonstrates:
    http://deoxy.org/godholoc.htm

  199. Jagdeep — on 20th September, 2006 at 3:55 pm  

    +++

    Sheikh Sudais is a leading Imam from the great mosque in Mecca, Islam’s holiest city.

    He had one voice for his Western audience – another for his followers in Saudi. Sheikh Abdur-Rahman Al-Sudais: The worst … of the enemies of Islam are those… whom he… made monkeys and pigs, the aggressive Jews and oppressive Zionists and those that follow them: the callers of the trinity and the cross worshippers… those influenced by the rottenness of their ideas, and the poison of their cultures the followers of secularism… How can we talk sweetly when the Hindus and the idol worshippers indulge in their overwhelming hatred against our brothers… in Muslim Kashmir…

    ++++

    http://news.bbc.co.uk/1/hi/programmes/panorama/4171950.stm

  200. Anas — on 20th September, 2006 at 3:59 pm  

    Thanks Jagdeep, checking out the link.

  201. Chris Stiles — on 20th September, 2006 at 4:07 pm  


    The actions of some few now stand-in for the beliefs of all, it sounds as if it’s some worldwide conspiracy by 1.5 billion Muslims, in their multitude of ethnicities, sects, outlooks, etc, to silence their critics; or otherwise this violence and intolerance is inherent to Islam. And yet strangely enough you also concede that Islam was “once the most tolerant of religions.”

    What’s so strange about that ? The way in which beliefs are expressed changes over time. Incidentally, you can’t have it all your own way, historical tolerance could also be seen as the actions of a few – seeing as it was mostly mandated from the top, and yet you are quick to claim the one and deny the other.

    The instances of ill-treatment of religious minorities in various countries stem from the actions of both governments and small radical groups – in most cases these radical groups garner support from some of the rest of the population with the rest of the population turning a blind eye.

  202. Anas — on 20th September, 2006 at 4:14 pm  

    Yes, thanks for bringing that to my attention. One minor point, it doesn’t say he’s head of the Mecca Mosque; it says he’s *a* leading imam not *the* leading Imam.

  203. Anas — on 20th September, 2006 at 4:31 pm  

    Well Chris if Muslims are so pliable that the much vaunted era of Islamic tolerance was primarily due to the influence of rulers then surely the indifference of Muslims to intolerant acts instigated in part by the government must be the result of fear of speaking out against those in charge, since most Muslim governments are totalitarian and tyrannical in nature?

  204. bananabrain — on 20th September, 2006 at 5:16 pm  

    sid –

    you may not like bernard lewis’ recent work much, but to describe him as a “sallow neocon hack” is a shabby way to describe a scholar as eminent, authoritative and groundbreaking has him. certainly he’s more coherent and reasonable and far less hysterical than his critics.

    Academically speaking Bernard Lewis is pretty flawed – he doesn’t admit to any bias – which is clearly present in his writings.

    actually, what he says is, comparing historical impartiality to medical hygiene, that “complete asepsis is impossible, but one does not for that reason perform surgery in a sewer.” in other words, we can at least attempt to be fair in our analysis.

    jagdeep – you can’t let the aunties loose on this – apart from chairwoman. you should meet my auntie who is slightly more right-wing than genghis khan. that point about babies playing with poo is spot on.

    Iran’s president Mahmoud Ahmadinejad said on Monday that he respected Benedict, apparently downplaying the pontiff’s remarks.

    yeah, he’s no fool, that one – bearing in mind he was in venezuela at the time where everyone’s catholic and he’s busy making a deal with the president.

    b’shalom

    bananabrain

  205. Sid — on 20th September, 2006 at 5:26 pm  

    Lewis has managed to prostitute his academic objectivity to his own private prejudices and to partisan NeoCon hawkism. That makes him redundant by any definition but useful to those whom he lends his “credibility”. And yes, I stand by my earlier description of him as being a a sallow neocon hack.

  206. bananabrain — on 20th September, 2006 at 5:29 pm  

    and what precisely are these “private prejudices” of his, sid? perhaps you’d care to enlighten us?

    b’shalom

    bananabrain

  207. Sid — on 20th September, 2006 at 5:30 pm  

    your tone suggests you already know, brain.

  208. bananabrain — on 20th September, 2006 at 5:49 pm  

    no i don’t, sid. you’re the one who seems to know what his “private prejudices” are, not me. i’m asking you what you mean. it seems a fair question.

    b’shalom

    bananabrain

  209. sonia — on 20th September, 2006 at 6:17 pm  

    good analogy arif in 190

  210. Sid — on 20th September, 2006 at 7:01 pm  

    You’re right, my bad. I don’t know his private prejudices. I meant to say his personal prejudices, which in any case, colour his scholarship for all to see.

  211. Chris Stiles — on 21st September, 2006 at 1:55 am  


    Well Chris if Muslims are so pliable that the much vaunted era of Islamic tolerance was primarily due to the influence of rulers then surely the indifference of Muslims to intolerant acts instigated in part by the government must be the result of fear of speaking out against those in charge, since most Muslim governments are totalitarian and tyrannical in nature?

    Quite Anas – and I hate to act as some kind of perceived agent provocateur of Amir, but at that point all you have left is to abandon Islamic tolerance as a value supported by the ummah, and embrace eternal victim status.

    In any case Present Stonkina rightly points out that it is beyond time that I was in bed.

    Goodnight.

  212. saurav — on 21st September, 2006 at 9:10 am  

    What about the power of the fundamentalist Christian lobby in Washington, and their ability to influence policy?

    Well said. As someone who has been in the United States for the nearly three decades of his life, I can tell you that the influence of conservative Christians (and Hindus and Jews) makes itself felt in this administration and at lower levels and did even before 2000. We have an active debate about whether evolution and creationism are equally valid theories, displays of the ten commandments in courtrooms, etc.! We had an attorney general (Ashcroft) who covered about the breasts on the statue of justice with cloth! And the interests of the state of Israel are seen by some (many?) Christian rightists as part of the prescription for the End Days.

    And of course there is the violence and harrassment of abortion clinics and their patients. See here for a nearly twenty year history.

  213. bananabrain — on 21st September, 2006 at 10:05 am  

    ok, sid, i’m still no closer to what you’re getting at. what are these “personal prejudices” that you are referring to, which i appear to have missed in my reading of about ten of his books?

    b’shalom

    bananabrain

  214. Sid — on 21st September, 2006 at 10:32 am  

    Personally I think he’s up there with David Irving in terms of damage done to academic research with his tendency to associate his scholarship with his personal prejudice. But if you don’t see that after a reading of 10 of his books then there’s really little more I would want to say.

  215. sonia — on 21st September, 2006 at 10:40 am  

    213 – Sid – spot on!

  216. Amir — on 21st September, 2006 at 10:48 am  

    Personally I think he’s up there with David Irving

    Sid, stop bullshitting. You sound very, very silly. Lewis’ work is revered by Middle Eastern scholars throughout the world. His theological/sociological advice is sought by the likes of President Mubarak, King Abdullah of Jordan, and Prime Minister Recep Tayyip ErdoÄŸan.

    Let me direct you to a surgical dismantling of Edward Said by Ibn Waraq, titled ‘Debunking Edward Said’.

    Read it and weep.

  217. sonia — on 21st September, 2006 at 10:49 am  

    b’brain:

    now this is the problem with Lewis i perceive: he seems to understand the ‘Islamic world’ as one entity – and whilst it may be possible to do this nowadays to some extent what with global consciousness -( even then it’s flawed thinking! ) but back in the day? arabs/turkic peoples/persians/etc –>? a ‘unified’ world?

    it’s hardly as if thedr different groups who were Muslim weren’t fighting each other at different stages or allying with other groups against each other.

    in not mentioning certain facts, things get skewed.

    if you are interested check out what Juan Cole says..(
    ( and he seems to generally think Lewis is alright!)this criticism is specifically about ‘What Went Wrong: Western Impact and Middle Eastern Response’

    http://www.juancole.com/essays/revlew.htm

    “When discussing some European fears of the Ottomans (p. 9), Lewis lets it slip that the Iranian Safavids sought alliances with the Europeans against their Ottoman enemies. Lewis does not tell us that the Ottomans also made Protestant alliances in the Balkans against Catholic powers. Since Europeans were fighting amongst themselves, and Muslim powers were fighting amongst themselves, and each was willing to make tactical alliances across religious boundaries, it is not clear what is gained by setting up a dichotomy in the early modern period between the “West” and “Islam.”

  218. sonia — on 21st September, 2006 at 10:50 am  

    i think amir needs a blog of his own..:-)

  219. sonia — on 21st September, 2006 at 10:52 am  

    perhaps then he wouldn’t get so hot under the collar everytime someone expresses a point of view he disagrees with.

    It’s a subjective world Amir – relax! Everything is bullshit on some level..

  220. Leon — on 21st September, 2006 at 10:57 am  

    Everything is bullshit on some level…

    Heh heh heh Philosophy of Leon in a sentence!:D

  221. Leon — on 21st September, 2006 at 10:59 am  

    i think amir needs a blog of his own..:-)

    Utterly agree. When someone has that much to say I think they need their own forum (if only to vent). He’s got a lot of things bubbling away there; it would make for a prolific and interesting blog.

  222. Sid — on 21st September, 2006 at 11:03 am  

    Amir, and you sound like a twerp.

    As per your proto-polemic #215: You seem to have no trouble complimenting Arab/”Moslem” nations when they favour your opinion.

  223. Chairwoman — on 21st September, 2006 at 11:11 am  

    now this is the problem with Lewis i perceive: he seems to understand the ‘Islamic world’ as one entity – and whilst it may be possible to do this nowadays to some extent what with global consciousness -( even then it’s flawed thinking! ) but back in the day? arabs/turkic peoples/persians/etc –>? a ‘unified’ world?

    Sonia – Here’s the dichotomy. The ‘Islamic World’ appears to want it both ways. Universal Islamic Brotherhood when they object to something non-Muslims are doing. Arabs/Turkic peoples/Persians (and of course Egyptians!) when they’re killing each other!

    A blog for Amir? Great idea, except perhaps he’s like me, and finds other peoples blogs more stimulating than his own.

  224. sonia — on 21st September, 2006 at 11:57 am  

    Chairwoman – i don’t think there is any such thing as the ‘Islamic World’. :-) whose ‘they’? some people express their views as that of the ‘Islamic World’ – highly anti-democratic i say.

    in any case i come from the indian subcontinent – and then i moved to the Middle east. the differences are enormous.

  225. sonia — on 21st September, 2006 at 12:04 pm  

    its this constant problem we’re faced in thinking ‘the Other’ is somehow more unified, homogeneous, organized etc..

  226. sonia — on 21st September, 2006 at 12:11 pm  

    leon :-) )

  227. Anas — on 21st September, 2006 at 1:44 pm  

    Thought I’d post this link, it makes a pretty convincing case against the validity of B. Lewis’s scholarship and for his strongly pro-zionist, pro-imperialist bias:
    http://www.counterpunch.org/alam06282003.html

    And if you want another indictment of US Academia and its rock bottom (at the very least moral) standards, I give you Alan Dershowitz, Felix Frankfurter Professor of Law at Harvard, one of the top universities in the World:

    http://www.normanfinkelstein.com/article.php?pg=4&ar=1

  228. Chairwoman — on 21st September, 2006 at 1:54 pm  

    No Sonia, it is not I who considers them unified, it is they who make that mistake. What I said was that they wanted to appear one when it suits them, and many when it doesn’t. This isn’t an ‘us and them’ analogy, it’s a ‘me and them’ one. Goodness alone know what I was trying to say in that post, I have obviously edited myself out of existence.

    BTW does anyone know what imperialist means?

  229. Jagdeep — on 21st September, 2006 at 1:58 pm  

    BTW does anyone know what imperialist means?

    One definition is:

    Anybody who cusses Islamists/Islamism and apologists for suicide-bombing and the pathetic pathology of anti-semitism in the Muslim world ;-)

  230. bananabrain — on 21st September, 2006 at 4:11 pm  

    sid clearly doesn’t want to say what he thinks the rest of us seem to think. i am still none the wiser as to what this might be.

    sonia –

    firstly, thank you for your post. it was very interesting.

    he seems to understand the ‘Islamic world’ as one entity – and whilst it may be possible to do this nowadays to some extent what with global consciousness -( even then it’s flawed thinking! ) but back in the day? arabs/turkic peoples/persians/etc –>? a ‘unified’ world?

    basically, what chairwoman said. if you are talking about “ummah” consciousness, then it has surely existed from the very beginning and, as karen armstrong says (presumably she’s not too controversial, being kind of apologetic nowadays) its temporal success or failure reflects on the state of the Divine Plan for humanity to those who believe in it. on the other hand, it is, as you correctly point out, blaringly obvious that some bits of it tend to suit themselves along either ethnic, regional or sectarian lines. it particularly annoys me when i hear about “muslims being under attack” when quite a lot of this involves self-declared muslims fighting other self-declared muslims. presumably this goes back to the oft-quoted bit about the seventy sects, sixty-nine of which are in the fire. in short, who is meant by “the muslims” is rather more malleable than the various people who use it might suggest – which brings us to bernard lewis.

    i thought it was an interesting review actually – it made some very good points which, from my own knowledge of the book, seem to be reasonable criticisms. however, it seems to me that some of the other criticisms that juan cole makes are a little unfair given what bernard lewis has covered in other books. things that are “dismissed in a wave of a hand” are discussed extensively elsewhere in terms which make it clear that he’s thought about it much more deeply than “what went wrong?”, which is a very short book, allows. in particular, cole singles out numerous examples of lewis’s apparent disdain for the ottoman empire which i think, in view of his admiration for the ottoman archives which gave him so much opportunity to study. i don’t think it’s a fair reflection of his affection for the ottoman state in general. basically, it’s a short book and for it to have been the book i think cole would have liked it would have to have been it would have needed to be about ten times as big (like some of his other books) which i suspect would have prevented it becoming a new york times bestseller! perhaps this is the problem anyway…. or perhaps cole is right and the dichotomy is too much of an easy device. either way, to paint lewis as a supercilious, patronising eurocentric is staggeringly unfair and inaccurate to boot. ok, he is pretty critical sometimes, but what’s wrong with that as long as the criticisms are fair? cole seems to be pretty dismissive himself, of the popularity of fascism in the muslim world in the 1930s through to the ba’ath party, to say nothing of the present day (whilst acknowledging the overwhelming debt of muslim antisemitism to christian antisemitism) and if he’s going to criticise bernard lewis for bringing it up, i wonder if he reviewed “semites and anti-semitism”?

    anas – counterpunch? whoopee! they’re such impartial people and soooo even-handed in their criticisms…. right up there with norman finkelstein. you go ahead and read whatever makes you happy. i expect you get a warm feeling inside from being right all the time.

    *rolls eyes*

    b’shalom

    bananabrain

  231. Anas — on 21st September, 2006 at 4:20 pm  

    you go ahead and read whatever makes you happy. i expect you get a warm feeling inside from being right all the time.

    in my pants too

  232. Sid — on 21st September, 2006 at 4:23 pm  

    you go ahead and read whatever makes you happy. i expect you get a warm feeling inside from being right all the time.

    It should be said that the very same is applicable to all fervent Bernard Lewis readers as well. ;-)

  233. Chairwoman — on 21st September, 2006 at 4:25 pm  

    Gentlemen, we all get a warm feeling inside from being right .all the time

  234. Leon — on 22nd September, 2006 at 10:17 am  

    I don’t, I start to wonder…

  235. Jai — on 22nd September, 2006 at 11:08 am  

    A good article from CNN yesterday:

    Quote: “About 1,000 clerics and religious scholars at a meeting in eastern Pakistan demanded the removal of the pope for making “insulting remarks” against Islam, and warned the West of severe consequences if it didn’t change its stance regarding Islam.”

    Full article here.

  236. Chairwoman — on 22nd September, 2006 at 11:42 am  

    I don’t know where the most appropriate place to put this is, but Jewish New Year starts this evening at sunset, and I’d like to wish you all a Happy New Year, regardless of whether or not it’s your festival. A Happy New Year never hurt anybody.

  237. Kismet Hardy — on 22nd September, 2006 at 11:50 am  

    That’s a beautiful sentiment chairwoman

    Rosh Hashanah to y’all xX

  238. Jagdeep — on 22nd September, 2006 at 11:53 am  

    Yes Happy Rosh Hashanah to you Chairwoman and Katy, and to all the Jewish Aunties and Uncles and our Jewish cousins too.

  239. Kismet Hardy — on 22nd September, 2006 at 11:56 am  

    And Jewish lovers. Oh where oh where are my jewish lovers?

  240. Jagdeep — on 22nd September, 2006 at 11:59 am  

    Yes indeed, and our Jewish lovers, boyfriends and girlfriends, Happy Roshanah too!

  241. Jai — on 22nd September, 2006 at 12:00 pm  

    Happy New Year to all our Jewish brothers and sisters everywhere.

  242. Sid — on 22nd September, 2006 at 1:24 pm  

    A happy and peaceful Rosh Hashanah to all.

    gosh, 5767 already!

  243. sonia — on 22nd September, 2006 at 1:27 pm  

    yes the more new years parties there are the better! happy new year chairwoman auntie and katy and all..

  244. Kismet Hardy — on 22nd September, 2006 at 1:29 pm  

    Tonight I’m gonna party like it’s 5667

  245. Leon — on 22nd September, 2006 at 1:40 pm  

    @ Jai (#235),

    Cheers for the link. I always wonder what would happen if the situation was reversed? How would these 1000 clerics and religious scholars react if it was their leaders Catholics demanded removal of?

    Was watching Mock the Week last night on BBC2 (poor mans Have I Got News For You). Someone made a rather pertinent observation that it’s the Popes job to slate other religions and big up his own.

    Shame others don’t take religion with quite the same level of humour…

  246. Sid — on 22nd September, 2006 at 1:51 pm  

    The ever-sensible Chairwoman aunty made that very point back on #128.

  247. Leon — on 22nd September, 2006 at 2:37 pm  

    Yup, and always worth restating.;)

  248. Jai — on 22nd September, 2006 at 3:22 pm  

    Leon,

    re: #245

    =>” always wonder what would happen if the situation was reversed? How would these 1000 clerics and religious scholars react if it was their leaders Catholics demanded removal of?”

    Someone on Newsnight yesterday evening made the same basic analogy; about 100 protestors, led by Anjem Choudary, were in front of Westminster Cathedral earlier this week and holding placards saying things like (I can’t remember the exact words but it was pretty close to this:) “Islam will take over Rome”. The guest said that one should imagine the reaction (social and legal) if she stood outside a mosque with a placard saying “Rome will take over Islam”.

    She was making a point about how there should be one law for everyone, but it’s an interesting & highly relevant comment about double-standards and how respect needs to be a two-way thing.

    What you have here are two proselytising/evangelical faiths who believe that they alone are the “right path” and that everyone else should think the same way. So, paraphrasing & translating an Indian proverb, you basically have two obstinate, opposed worldviews who think they they alone are right and are stubbornly bashing their heads together.

  249. Leon — on 22nd September, 2006 at 3:53 pm  

    Or alternatively as Kosh put it: “The Truth is a three edged sword…”

  250. Anas — on 22nd September, 2006 at 4:37 pm  

    I was watching Question Time last night and the first topic was (obviously) the whole Pope/Mad-Muslims debacle. They had the usual shower on including senile Marxist Tariq Ali, sozzled ex-Lib Dem Leader Charlie Kennedy, Blairite Cabinet Minister Harriet Harmon, and the grotesque old Tory trout Ann Widdecombe.

    Ann, a fundamentalist Catholic and fervent supporter of war crimes in Lebanon, made the same point that J mentioned about the effect a transposition of the slogan on the placards would have, and how we should be treating everyone equally under the law(I’m pretty sure you’re talking about the same program J).

    Now, correct me if I’m wrong here, but don’t the British blasphemy laws ONLY apply to Christianity and to no other religion? How’s that equal?

  251. Jagdeep — on 22nd September, 2006 at 4:42 pm  

    The blasphemy laws are obsolescent and a throwback to another age. Citing them as an example of the oppression or double standards of society against other religions because they are not covered by them is ridiculous, especially because given half the chance they’d be used every other day by the usual suspects with chips on their shoulders and medieval withfinder general attitudes.

  252. Sid — on 22nd September, 2006 at 4:43 pm  

    What would you like to do with a British Muslim Blasphemy Law, Anas? Prosecute the Ahmaddiyya group?

  253. Jai — on 22nd September, 2006 at 4:51 pm  

    Anas,

    Let me give you another perspective on this. Islam’s teaching that only Islam is the “true” faith and that Muslims are essentially “God’s elect” are blasphemous concepts from the perspective of both Sikhism and Hinduism. So is the idea that Mohammad was the “last” prophet.

    Corresponding Sikh Blasphemy Laws and Hindu Blasphemy Laws would, in theory, give their adherents the right to prosecute Muslims making such statements because they are “offensive” to both of these faiths and their followers.

    I’m speaking purely hypothetically but you can see what I’m getting at here. Exactly how far do you want to go with this ?

  254. Sid — on 22nd September, 2006 at 4:55 pm  

    Is there a concept of blasmemy in Sikhism? I’m pretty sure it does not exist in Hinduism. Don’t know about other non-monotheistic faiths either.

  255. Leon — on 22nd September, 2006 at 5:04 pm  

    Blairite Cabinet Minister Harriet Harmon

    I thought she was more a Brownite these days?

  256. Kurt — on 22nd September, 2006 at 6:08 pm  

    I would ask westerners to support me in my campaign for the public beheading of Anjem Choudary. As you may be aware, Mr. Choudary is a Muslim cleric who has called for the beheading of those persons who insult Islam. In fact, Mr. Choudary has recently called for the execution of Pope Benedict. You can find several pictures of Mr. Choudary on the Internet with other Muslim protesters. Many of them are holding signs which say things like “Be prepared for the real Holocaust” and “Trinity of Evil.” These disparaging slogans slander Christianity and are deeply insulting to Westerners. By protesting outside holy places such as Westminster Cathedral these persons make a mockery out of all things good and righteous in our western society. Christian rage wells at this profane and blasphemous display as well as the desecration of our holy places.

    Yesterday Choudary said: “The Muslims take their religion very seriously and non-Muslims must appreciate that and that must also understand that there may be serious consequences if you insult Islam and the prophet.” Well Mr. Choudary, many Christians take their religion very seriously as well and revile the obnoxious and provocative display made by one of the leading British Muslim leaders. This defamation cannot go unpunished, and therefore as an example to others who would say bad things about the west or Christianity, I say that Mr. Choudary be publicly beheaded in Hyde Park as a statement by the west that we will not tolerate the implication made by Mr. Choudary and others that Christianity is a religion of violence or that the west is on a crusade against Islam. This kind of rhetoric is deeply insulting to Christians and demands Mr. Choudary’s head. This will also serve to avenge the death of Fabianus Tibo, Dominggus da Silva and Marianus Riwu, three Christians who were executed in Indonesia and charged with inciting violence against Muslims. Mr. Choudary, has similarly incited violence against Christians in the west and therefore must be beheaded as a warning to those with similar aspirations in Britain.
    Sheik Abu Saqer, leader of Gaza’s Jihadia Salafiya Islamic outreach movement, called for holy war against the pope and stated that Christian leaders such as Benedict are “afraid” because they realize Islam is Allah’s favorite religion and they are going to hell unless they convert. The Gaza preacher further declared the “green flag of Muhammad” would soon be raised over the Vatican. This type of inflammatory statement shows an ignorance and wrongful view of Christianity and must be avenged by the immediate death of Sheik Abu Saqer. Christians worldwide are enraged by Sheik Abu Saqer’s statements and demand that the Palestinians turn him over to an ecumenical council headed by Pat Robertson for decapitation with a skill saw.

    This will not be done in a spirit of anger but to promote greater Christian/Muslim understanding.

  257. Jai — on 22nd September, 2006 at 6:45 pm  

    Sid,

    =>”Is there a concept of blasmemy in Sikhism?

    Yes, but not in the same way as the Abrahamic faiths. There are certain fundamental theological concepts in the religion which are regarded as universal (ie. not “relative”), so it could be said that some proclamations by members of other faiths which contradict these tenets are “blasphemous” from the Sikh religious perspective.

    I was just drawing an analogy for our friend’s benefit, as per the examples I previously listed.

    =>”about other non-monotheistic faiths either.”

    Sikhism is a monotheistic faith.

  258. Jai — on 22nd September, 2006 at 6:48 pm  

    Kurt,

    =>”As you may be aware, Mr. Choudary is a Muslim cleric”

    Anjem Choudary is not a cleric. He is a spokesman for certain banned community-based organisations, and has no formal religious authority as far as I know.

    Neither does Osama bin Laden for that matter, despite his pretentions to the contrary.

  259. fugstar — on 23rd September, 2006 at 12:39 pm  

    i dont think this is a bit deal anyway, Idont take much truth from the pope anyway, neither do i expect to. its just more fodder for the press engine and other gossipy spaces.

  260. Anas — on 23rd September, 2006 at 3:56 pm  

    Just to make things clear here. I WAS NOT ARGUING FOR A MUSLIM ANTI-BLASPHEMY LAW. My point was that it’s a bit rich for that bloated fool Ann Widecombe to criticise the British legal system for being biased in favour of Islam when in other respects it’s clearly biased in favour of Christianity. Something she did not acknowledge. OK?!?!

    Plus: no comparative concept of blasphemy in Sikhism? What excuse did the violent Bezhti protestors give then?

  261. Jai — on 23rd September, 2006 at 5:37 pm  

    Anas,

    =>”Plus: no comparative concept of blasphemy in Sikhism? What excuse did the violent Bezhti protestors give then?”

    The topic has already been extensively discussed here on PP, so I recommend you do a ‘search’ for it. You can do the same on the Discussion Forum at the Sikhnet website (www.sikhnet.com).

  262. Leon — on 25th September, 2006 at 3:44 pm  

    i dont think this is a bit deal anyway, Idont take much truth from the pope anyway, neither do i expect to. its just more fodder for the press engine and other gossipy spaces.

    Fair point. I note with interest that the Pope is calling for a Muslim/Christian dialogue. Dealt back into the game it seems…

  263. Anas — on 26th September, 2006 at 3:25 pm  

    Interesting (in my wholly biased opinion) Article by Uri Avnery on this topic http://www.zmag.org/content/showarticle.cfm?SectionID=105&ItemID=11039

  264. lost soul — on 26th September, 2006 at 9:39 pm  

    “they looked like they were having a good laugh and an excuse to burn an effigy of the Pope”

    Its all so simple to burn effigy of other religious leaders. Imagine, christians burning effigy of MD for burning down their churches. Pathetic, if you react to every comment made by others, you are only playing right in the hands of your critiques.

    When the British ruled India, they criticised Hinduism, idol worshippers, Karma Sutra, the science of Yoga etc…. if all Hindus reacted violently, Hinduism would not be where it is today.

    Remember, the wrath Hinduism went through over centuries of invasions and other influences. Every religion has its feat & fury. A noble idea or movement/religion will inevitable go through transition of change due to socio-political and ecomomic accord of the era.

    If Muslims want the respect from the rest of the world they must unite in one voice, condemn and take punitive actions against extremists no matter who they attack, even fellow muslims as is seen in Darfur. Its not enough to just say “we condemn” or “Islam is a peaceful religion” action is requied. It is the silence of moderate muslims that create such rift and conflict, thus, promoting prejudism against the religion.

    I know my muslim friends (all moderates) will not ever report another muslim if they committed a crime or involved in illegal activities as it will be seen as betrayal of brotherhood, and fear of being isolated from the community. Although, I can sympathise with the isolation bit, but we have move away from this kind akin relationship, if we are to live in a peaceful and tolerant society.

  265. Chairwoman — on 27th September, 2006 at 1:41 pm  

    Anas – have just followed your link and found it extremely interesting. I just feel that the men we see rabble-rousing on the streets, holding placards intended to create an atmosphere of fear, are not of the same mindset as the men who worked with their Christian and Jewish counterparts in times gone by.

  266. Arif — on 27th September, 2006 at 1:48 pm  

    Chairwoman, I agree with you, but I think he was trying to address the stigmatisation of Islam as a religion which is inherently intolerant and prone to violence. That stigma allows people to broaden their hostility from the rabble-rousers on the streets to anyone who identifies with Islam as if they are either duped by those rabble-rousers, or secretly in league with them.

    These times will also go by, if enough of us are willing to accept the possibility of being friends and work towards it.

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