Monday, September 18, 2006

"That'll show them for calling us violent."

Waleed Aly well conveys the ironic and indecipherably irrational reaction to Pope Benedict XVI's citation of fourteenth century dialog when he writes:
Let me get this straight. Pope Benedict XVI quotes the 14th century Byzantine Emperor Manuel II Paleologus asserting before a Persian Islamic scholar that the prophet Muhammad brought nothing new to the world except things "evil and inhuman, such as his command to spread by the sword the faith he preached". Some Muslims clearly interpret Benedict to be quoting Manuel with approval, and take offence at the suggestion that Islam is inherently violent. The response is to bomb five churches in the West Bank, and attack the door of another in Basra. In India, angry mobs burn effigies of Pope Benedict. In Somalia, Sheikh Abu Bakr Hassan Malin urges Muslims to "hunt down" the Pope and kill him, while an armed Iraqi group threatens to carry out attacks against Rome and the Vatican.

There. That'll show them for calling us violent.
We must be careful not to think that these irrational reactions represent the majority of Muslims, of course. But is it too much to ask of some major Muslim leaders to say, "Hey, guys, he was quoting a fourteenth century conversation. Get a grip!"? Aly, who is a Muslim community leader in Britain has had the courage to say as much. (He also has some interesting insights on the role of the Pope as being more like that of a politician than a scholar, something he suggests that Benedict may not yet fully realize. And his distinction between the provocative and disrespectful Danish cartoons, on the one hand, and the Pope's unexceptionable reference, on the other, is good.)

(TY: David Vogel)


Charlie said...

We must be careful not to think that these irrational reactions represent the majority of Muslims, of course.

Like you, I don't want to slander Islam or all Muslims. But... Islam has had a long history of spreading itself through violent conquest and forcing Christians and other religious communities into submission. It's a very troubling side of Islam, and one that is gaining favor.

An American Muslim and Islamic scholar recently told reporters that he couldn't discuss certain aspects of Muhammed's life because it would put him and his family in danger from reprisals. In such a climate, it's little wonder that moderate Muslims are unwilling to criticize the people who are calling for a more radical interpretation of Islam.

Mark Daniels said...

Excellent comments, Charlie!