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September 16, 2006

Benedict Quotes Fourteenth Century Emperor -- Muslims Enraged

"Show me just what Mohammed brought that was new, and there you will find things only evil and inhuman, such as his command to spread by the sword the faith he preached."

So spoke the Byzantine Emperor Manuel II Paleologus nearly seven centuries ago, during a dialogue with a learned Persian on the nature of God, revelation, and reason.

And so quoted Pope Benedict XVI in discussing the nature of faith and the place of reaon in relation to it.

Quite frankly, as a Christian, I've gon no problem whatsoever with the original quote, or with its use by the Pope.

Anyone want to guess who does? You got it -- the prickly, easily offended Muslims.

They are demanding apologies, burning effigies, and engaging in violence -- all over the perceived insult to their religion.

But let's stop for just a moment and consider the quote itself.

For a Christian, public revelation stops with the closing of the Christian canon of Scripture. Private revelation must be consistent with Scripture to be accepted as true. That which conflicts with God's revelation to us is false, and therefore presumptively evil.

Which brings us to the question of Islam.

While Islam claims (and many others accept) that Islam worships the same God as the Christians and the Jews, there arefundamental conflicts which exist between these three faiths. Judaism follows the revealed books of the Torah, which point towards the coming of the Messiah. Christianity accepts and reveres those books and adds to them the New Testament, which we hold to reveal that the Messiah came in the form of Jesus of Nazareth, who was the Word made Flesh. Islam, on the other hand, claims that the Quran supercedes Jewish and Christian Scripture, which are labeled as corrupted. Christian belief in the divinity of Jesus and the Triune nature of God are rejected in Islam -- indeed, some Muslims consider Christians to be polytheists because of those beliefs. In short, Judaism and Christianity are, to a Muslim, false, and contain in them elements of evil. I don't hear any calls for Muslims to apologize over what their faith teaches.

Yet when a Pope dares quote a long-dead emperor who expresssed a similar sentiment about Islam, there is outrage. Why? If you are a Christian, you MUST believe that parts of Islam are false. Why shouldn't a Christian say that?

And if there are elements of Islam that go beyond mere falsehood into the realm of evil, then it is incumbent upon Christians to say so.

Which leads us back to the initial quote.

Jihad, for all the recent attempts of Muslims to deny and disguise the truth, is a part of Islam and has been since the days of Muhammad. Furhtermore, it is not merely a peaceful internal struggle for conformity with the will Allah. Jihad is and always has been the use of warfare to defend and spread Islam. If you doubt that, read the Quran and scholarly histories of the Islamic world. Indeed, jihad was the method used to wipe out the historically Christian cultures of much of what is today considered to be "the Muslim World" -- places like Israel, Syria, Egypt, Turkey, and North Africa. They became Muslim through the use of the sword -- jihad.

And therein lies a difference between Chrstianity and Islam, one that the Holy Father was attempting to highlight. Christians believe that faith must spring from reason, and that coercion in religious matters is wrong. Islam does not -- whether we are talking the events of the seventh centuy or the present day, when conversion has been demanded as a condition of being permitted to live (remember the Fox News journalists). To the Christian, forced conversion denies the fundamental free will with which God endowed each of us. It is therefore, as the quote above says, evil and inhuman (in that it fundamentally contradicts what Christians believe to be the true nature of each human person).

So what, exactly, is there to apologize for? For believing it? Or for daring to speak it?

Which leads me to demand of Muslims and their dhimmified apologists (like the al-NewYorkTimes) a response to the following.

1) Is forced conversion wrong ("evil and inhuman") or not?

2) If it is, why shouldn't the Pope (or any other person) say so unapologetically?

3) If it isn't, why did you object to Ann Coulter's call to forcibly convert terrorists and their supporters following 9/11?

As for me, I echo Manuel II Paleologus, and applaud Benedict XVI for daring to use the quote.

Oh, and I wonder -- for all their outrage over words, will Muslim leaders condemn these violent actions?

UPDATE: Even if al-NewYorkTimes doesn't get it, the Times of London does.

This is, in some ways, a re-run of the hoo-ha among some Muslims over the publication in a Danish newspaper of cartoons depicting Muhammad. In the frenzy that followed, with bloody riots and demonstrations in Afghanistan, Pakistan, Syria, Libya, Indonesia and India, about 140 people were killed and hundreds were injured. The cartoons were implicated in religious riots in Nigeria in which 200 people — Muslims and Christians — died. Denmark was targeted, its embassies attacked and its businesses boycotted.

The clash of civilisations is not between Christianity and Islam, it is between nations that encourage religious diversity and those which practise religious intolerance. It is between those who favour open debate and those who think free speech is anathema. The Pope may or may not have known what a hornets’ nest he was stirring up. Even if he did, there was nothing inappropriate, within context, in what he said.

The Vatican has said he is very sorry his speech caused such offence to Muslims. That is fine but it should not go further than that. He should certainly not be pushed into withdrawing his remarks. As in the case of the Danish cartoons, Muslim zealots are trying to impose their restrictions of free expression on the West. Mindful as we should be of religious sensitivities, that cannot be allowed to happen.

Well said! Bravo!





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Comments on Benedict Quotes Fourteenth Century Emperor -- Muslims Enraged

Yes, Muslim leaders do condemn church burnings. No educated Muslim would support such actions.

And yes, mainstream Muslims (well over 95% of them) believe forced conversion is wrong. It's Christian history which is full of forced conversions. This is why in many Muslim countries (Syria, Eygpt, Malaysia, Bosnia, the Indian subcontinent) there have always been thriving non-Muslim (including Christian) communities, whereas in Europe (esp. Spain), all of North America and in much of the colonized world, forced conversion was the norm. This is why Muslims are angry; he's quoting an idiot who was about to lose his inheritance, not an impartial scholar.

Compare, for instance, the way in which the Muslim world was Islamised to the way in which the Americas were Christianised. Islamisation proceeded with remarkable gentleness, at the hands of Sufis and merchants. Christianisation used mass extermination of the native Americans, the baptism of uncomprehending survivors, and the baleful scrutiny by the Inquisition of any signs of backsliding. A more extreme contrast would be impossible to find.

Perhaps no less extraordinary than this contrast is its interesting concomitant: Christianisation brought Europeanisation. Islamisation did not bring Arabisation. The churches built by the Puritans or the Conquistadors in the New World were deliberate replicas of churches in Europe. The mosques constructed in the areas gradually won for Islam are endlessly diverse, and reflect and indeed celebrate local particularities. Christianity is a universal religion that has historically sought to impose a universal metropolitan culture. Islam is a universal religion that has consistently nurtured a particularist provincial culture. A church in Mexico City resembles a church in Salamanca. A mosque in Nigeria, or Istanbul, or Djakarta, resembles in key respects the patterns, now purified and uplifted by monotheism, of the indigenous regional patrimony.

No less remarkable is the ability of the Muslim liberators to accommodate those aspects of local, pre-Islamic tradition which did not clash absolutely with the truths of revelation. In entering new lands, Muslims were armed with the generous Qur'anic doctrine of Universal Apostleship; as the Qur'an says, ‘To every nation there has been sent a guide’. This conflicts sharply with the classical Christian view of salvation as hinging uniquely on one historical intervention of the divine in history: the salvific sacrifice of Christ on Calvary. Non-Christian religions were, in classical Christianity, seen as demonic and under the sign of original sin. But classical Islam has always been able and willing to see at least fragments of an authentic divine message in the faiths and cultures of non-Muslim peoples. If God has assured us that every nation has received divine guidance, then we can look with some favour on the Other.

-Prof. Winter, Cambridge University

The Guardian has some great commentary on the Pope's mistake from other Christian leaders.

|| Posted by acrobat, September 16, 2006 02:26 PM ||

Ah, yes, a guy about to lose his inheritance -- in the face of a jihad by those intent upon forcing their religion on the city they conquered, a jihad that he and his predecessors had fought for hundereds of years as it gobbled up a Christian empire and converted it into an Islamic one.  After all, we all know what happened to the great Basilica of Hagia Sophia -- it was desecrated, turned from the worship of the one true God and converted into a mosque!  Respect indeed!

And as far as your assertion that 95% of Muslims oppose forced conversion, it is interesting how silent they were when kidnapped journalisms were forced to make an Islamic profession of faith.  It is interesting how silent they are when Coptic Christian girls in Egypt are kidnapped by Muslim men and forced to convert -- with the law then affirming that they are Muslims and denying any relief to them and their families.  Seems to me that 95% of Muslims are content to see forced conversion go on unabated.

|| Posted by Rhymes With Right, September 16, 2006 06:13 PM ||

By the way, acrobat -- the atrocities you mention have been renounced, denounced, and repented of by Christians.  When will Muslims completely renounce jihad, denounce those who have engaged in it in the past, and repent of the sins committed in the process?

Answer -- they won't.

|| Posted by Rhymes With Right, September 16, 2006 06:17 PM ||

There are Muslim countries that extended their empire through conquest, but they didn't force the inhabitants to become Islam. (Whereas Christian kingdoms did force conversion on pain of death.) And what happened to the Great Mosque of Cordoba?

As for the kidnapped journalists-- did you interview any mainstream Muslims to hear their views? If you would talk to any mainstream Muslim theologian, they would tell you that those conversions are illegal and non-binding under Islamic law since they were made under duress. And do you spend all your time denouncing everything evil done in the name of America and Christianity? No, you're pretty silent on those matters, and furthermore I don't expect you to be accountable for everything evil done in the name of America and Christianity-- I presume you have a job and family to attend to. Like most Muslims.

As for the Coptic Church... here is what their Pope had to say:

"The Church categorically rejects the comments of the Vatican Pope," said spokesman Bishop Murqos, whose church's leader Shenuda III also bears the title pope.

"The Christian religion commands us to love other people whatever their faith," the spokesman said in comments carried by the opposition daily Al-Wafd on Saturday.

"We must respect the Muslim faithful and their prophet as we respect the followers of Jesus Christ and it is unacceptable to offend their religious beliefs.

"We utterly reject any offence to Islamic values or the Prophet."

A fine Christian gentleman-- unlike some others we know. ;-)

|| Posted by acrobat, September 17, 2006 01:01 AM ||

Funny, I've looked and not found a single statement condemning those forced conversions. Point me to one.

Second, Shenouda knows that if he doesn't speak out again, he'll face another stint in an Egyptian jail -- it has happened before and will happen again.

As for what happened at the Grand Mosque in Cordoba, let me apply your own standard from another post -- Spain had been illegally occupied by a foreign army for centuries, and the Spaniards simply were wiping out any sign of the occupiers.

And regarding forced conversions, we have a perfect example of the difference between Islam and Christianity in this regard. We reject forced conversion, regret when it has been engaged in the past, and repent of the sins committed when it was engaged in. On the other hand, Muslims lie and deny -- claiming it never happened, despite much documentation and encouragement of it in the Quran.

|| Posted by Rhymes With Right, September 17, 2006 08:10 AM ||

The Pope is faced with a very delicate world geopolitical situation. He must take an independent tack from America's anti-Islamic aggressions sponsored by a Congress bought and paid for by Israel. Yet he must help protect and revivify a Christian Western Europe,allowing the Orthodox to handle their relations with the Islamic world independent from encroachment.


The Pope condemned the US invasion of Iraq as violating the terms of Christian warfare. Unfortunately he did not specify the Zionist-dominated neocons as villains and show elements of their trickery in creating false intelligence to propel America into the war.


In short, because of America's unfortunately predominance in the world, the Pope must mete out  his criticisms ,however circumspect,of non-Christains groups, evenhandedly and take pains to distance himself in the eyes of Islam, from the prime interveners in their regions.

|| Posted by Ken Hoop, September 17, 2006 05:48 PM ||

The Pope needs to mete out criticisms of non-Christian groups proportionately due to an Israel-controlled Congress leading America on
an anti-Islamic crusade from which the Pope must distance himself, while he reinvigorates Western Christian Europe.

Though he properly condemned America's invasion of Iraq as un-Christian he did not specify the
Jewish supremacist-dominated neocons leading the charge while creating false WMD intelligence
against Iraq.

Such specification would have well served a
Pope now being accused of willfully or as a dupe serving George Bush's war against Islam.

|| Posted by Ken Hoop, September 17, 2006 06:55 PM ||

In other words, Ken, no one can speak the truth because you and the Muzzies hate the USA!

|| Posted by Rhymes With Right, September 17, 2006 09:03 PM ||

In other words,I wish to see Europe remain Christian, the Islamic Middle East remain dominantly Islam and the United States withdraw into its proper sphere of influence, which the Monroe Doctrine outlined, was in our own hemisphere.

And not only Moslems but most Europeans would have it the same.

|| Posted by Ken Hoop, September 17, 2006 09:21 PM ||

In other words, you want the post-Christian US Empire to continue utilizing its Zionist policy to neuter Islam, while I want it to get out of Europe,get out of the Islamic world, and adhere to Monroe Doctrine pricipals.

|| Posted by Ken Hoop, September 17, 2006 09:25 PM ||

And, of course, you would have preferred that the US stay out of WWII so that Hitler could finish the job properly.

Of course, then you would have a neo-pagan Europe dominated by the malign philosophy with which you are enamored, Ken.

And you are wrong -- most Muslims want to see an Islamisized Europe with the remaining Christians dhimmified and the remaining Jews dead.

As for your assertion regarding my views, you are incorrect -- I want a Christian US empire neutering Muslims, if necessary, to end terrorism and ensure the survival of both the US and Israel. Screw the Europeans if they choose to oppose us.

|| Posted by Rhymes With Right, September 17, 2006 09:36 PM ||

You indeed do NOT want what you describe because American is no longer a Christian nation. Nor idoes it even rise to the neo-pagan nation in the qualitative sense you theorize Europe would have returned to,sans American intervention.


As Gore Vidal correctly said recently when asked whether America is not closer to Sparta than Athens by a "left" writer expecting assent..."America is not as good as Sparta-having not its heroic fighting espirit d corps." Referring obliquely to the upper and upper-middle class paucity of troops in  the chickenhawks' such as Cheney's misadventure.


 If you indeed wanted what you depict you would call on American troops to get out of Iraq and Afghanistan and come home to protect the Rio Grande border.


Meanwhile you would embark on reinstituting a set of social laws which had a chance of returning America to its formerly Christian status,abandoned certainly by the 1960s at the latest. Until you siucceded here ,you would not counten-ance foisting the immoral materialism and cultural leprosy of New York and Hollywood on the Moslem world.

|| Posted by Ken Hoop, September 18, 2006 05:05 PM ||

Ken -- if you want it, it must be wrong.

|| Posted by Rhymes With Right, September 18, 2006 07:56 PM ||

It is peculiar that even though Israel was not involved at all, most of your commentators blaimed Israel and the Zionist lobby. Please remember, we are only a small nation of 7 million Jews and Arabs, and certainly not sufficiently rich, to influence financially the Pope. Please see my article on the Pope's speech.

It is simply a question of science
By David Verveer

Did you ever wonder why negative opinions, speeches and publications are generally a nucleus for gigantic political unrest, while positive opinions, speeches and publications are forgotten immediately, even before the ink has completely dried.
The lecture of the Pope in Germany contained many positive aspects, but attacked the Muslim faith negatively. Less than 1% of the entire speech was negative, but only that small part was recorded by the media.
The reason is that negative proclamations won’t evaporate in thin air, is because they are heavier than air, thus when set free in open air, they remain near the ground level and suffocate (occupy space of positive thoughts) until finally a strong wind or long period of mixing them with positive ideas will thin them sufficiently to enable them to disappear.
If the Pope would have reminded us that all three main Monotheist religions (Judaism, Christianity and Islam) have used the same cursed sword policy in order to spread their religion and ensure their continuity, (concurring Canaan by the Israelites, the Crusades by the Christians and the spreading of the Islam by the Mohammedans). However, today we believe in a more humanistic approach, whereby a human being remains a human being, even when he believes that his God has a different name and is prayed to in a different ritual.
An apology of the Pope won’t help to calm down the Muslim rioters; as such a positive act will evaporate immediately, while his historical correct but negative remarks will remain as long it serves the Islam-phobic ideology of the radical Muslims worldwide. But due to the fact that the Pope can not openly apologize and admit he made a mistake, as Popes are infallible and do not make mistakes, we don’t have to worry if his apologies will be accepted. Only a pity that this certainly will cause riots, killing and burning of innocent bystanders, as negative thoughts are extremely explosive and provide fuel for riot flames. I wonder if the Holy Father (still relatively new at his job) realizes that his inflammatory remarks were the sparks required to rekindle the offensive of Islam radicalism (financed by Al Qaeda) in Europe. I realize that the Pope does not make mistakes and his wisdom is unquestionable superior to that of an ordinary world citizen, like myself, but even so, what ever clever reason he had to make these remarks, I think that somebody should repeat to him the fable of “the King cloths” and explain to him, that nudism is unbecoming for a Pope.

|| Posted by David Verveer, September 19, 2006 03:45 AM ||

I am not sure if my article was already posted.

|| Posted by David Verveer, September 19, 2006 06:50 AM ||

David -- you are wrong abut the whole infallibility question.  Only unde rare circumstances does it directly apply -- and this would not be one of them.  He could apologize -- but should not, for his comments (as well as the quote) were both 100% accurate.

|| Posted by Rhymes With Right, September 19, 2006 08:18 AM ||
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