Wednesday, September 20, 2006

Islamists to Pope: Stop saying we're violent or we'll kill you.

So the Pope's been taking quite a bit of heat for quoting a Medieval text that described Mohammed as "inhuman" and evil (according to the Koran itself, he was a brutal warrior and assassin). The Pope didn't mention the brutality of the early Catholic Church. I guess he forgot about that. But what do we expect... he's the Pope. Neglecting to mention the Church's own brutal history is disappointing, but not exactly surprising.

Here's what bugs me more:

Is it just me, or are killings, fire-bombing of churches and wanton destruction a piss-poor way of responding to someone who quotes a statement about your religion being violent?

Now, the man who tried to kill the last Pope warns of a potential assassination should Pope Benedict visit Turkey. From London's Evening Standard:

Pope Benedict faces a growing chorus of demands to make an unequivocal apology for remarks seen as portraying Islam as a violent faith, despite attempts by Western leaders and churchmen to defuse the crisis.The calls came as it emerged papal hitman Mehmet Ali Agca, who is serving a life sentence for the attempted assassination of Pope John Paul II in May 1981, has written to Pope Benedict XVI from jail, warning him not to go to Turkey as planned in November in the light of his remarks.

Agca, a Turk gave his ominous warning in a letter to an Italian daily newspaper. For many Muslims, the Pope's attempt to explain himself on Sunday did not go far enough and observers were waiting to see if he would speak about it again at his general audience at the Vatican.

The Pope enraged Muslims in a speech a week ago in Germany quoting 14th century Byzantine Emperor Manuel II Palaeologus, who said everything the Prophet Mohammad brought was evil "such as his command to spread by the sword the faith he preached".

The leader of the world's 1.1 billion Roman Catholics said on Sunday he was 'deeply sorry' for the reaction caused - but stopped short of apologising for his words or retracting them. In a telegram to the order of an Italian nun killed in Somalia who may be the crisis' first victim...
Read the rest...
Most Muslims in the world haven't responded to the Pope's predictably one-sided comments by being total whack-jobs (and some have denounced the violence) -- but as usual when it comes to organized religion, the few morons out there are doing everything they can to validate the negative stereotypes.


Anonymous said...

Good points, Darrin. I was thinking the same things about the Muslim response--using violence to protest someone saying your religion is violent.

I teach college level history courses that include sections on Islam--I mention how Islam thinks of itself as a religion of peace, but that it got as far as Spain and India by military conquest. It is a religion both of peace and of violence--and I point out that the exact same things could be said about Christianity and Judaism. All these religions at some point in their histories have been peaceful and tolerant, as well as violent and intolerant at other points.

Benedict, I think, was badly misquoted and his words taken out of context. For a good discussion of what he was actually saying, see:

Paul said...

Further illustrates the concept of "foreign." I'm regularly amazed at people who say "but they (can be referring to many groups) are just like we are." Granted, many mean it in a general sense related to life, but in some very fundamental ways "everyone" is not "just like we are." Nor do they see the "pursuit of life" in the same context.

Anonymous, I find it hopeful you can make such points at university in the role of instructor and not face difficulties. Main difference I see in "religion of both peace and violence" is for Christianity and Judaism it is part of their history. For a portion of Islam (who would like to dominate the other portions of Islam) it is part of their current situation.

You may find interest in a recently released book - Walid Phares "Future Jihad." Parts read somewhat like an academic journal, other parts very good on historical perspective and etymology.

Anonymous said...


I think that peace and violence is also a current part of the current situation both for christianity and Judaism--depending on how you want to define those religions. Look at how many Christians right now support the war in iraq and the "war on terrorism." Recall Falwell's comments about "Kill all the terrorists in the name of the Lord"? And one might argue that the recent war in Lebanon reflects Judaism's tendency toward violence--depending on whether one considers the modern state of Israel to be Jewish in the fuller religious, and not only ethnic, sense.

Paul said...

anonymous - fair points. A key phrase was "depending on how you want to define" - spend far too much time listening to people using either general terms or different definitions.

I believe a key difference is - while some Christians or Jews (let's restrict the groups to these two) - support "necessary war" or "defensive war" those are personal views and not directives by religious leaders. I'm purposely avoiding phrases as "religious Right" as I think it much too messy. And I don't give much influence to errant Falwell comments - wasn't that one of those intemperate remarks for which he apologized?

Hundreds of years ago - Christian leaders (popes) were also the political leaders. Church and state were one, in many cases. Not true now. Is true now in view of many (jihadists) in Islam - state exists to serve religion, not vice versa. Even non-jihadists, moderates, still adhere to that. Turkish model is the exception, not the rule.

Granted, many Christian denominations organize get out the vote campaigns, support candidates who support their religious/moral views, but that's just part of democracy. Again, these denominations do not have their leadership advocating the annihilation of opposing groups.

Paul said...

Interesting column today that addresses this issue - not the Moslem violence but the Moslem anger. Column was by Rami G. Khouri, editor-at-large for the Beirut-based Daily Star, published with the International Herald Tribune. Makes the point that Moslem faith is not just about worship, but a central part of life. That religion replaces many attributes of statehood in societies where the legitimacy of the state is thin. Traces establishment of Moslem countries by colonial powers, identifies them as despotic, but regardless of how they were establish, avoids commenting on fact the regimes are perpetuated by the people.

Oftentimes a passing comment in an essay is one of the most interesting. He referenced the Pope's quote, then "The pope (sic) also mentioned the Islamic concept of jihad as "holy war," adding that violence in the name of religion is against God's nature and reason."

"These are deeply insulting ideas to Muslims..."

Wow. Identifying warfare to spread religion is deeply offensive. I do not believe Mr. Khouri meant the definition of jihad was erroneous, else he would have spent time identifying his reasons.

The Kurd, viewed as an infidel by Siites and Sunnis said...

Anonymous, you are not counting the fact that the radical muslim jihadists want to kill Christians and Jews. Even a lot of Kurds (like myself) support the war, as they are being killed by Sunni and Shi'a radicals, and even Sunni and Shi'a moderates, a minority I know exceptionally support it. I have lost my grandparents in 1990 when there was a gas bomb put in on of several apartments in Izmir, killing nine.
Kurdish are like Protestant Muslims, more accepting Western cultures.
As for those Jews and Christians you said are both peaceful and violent, your just one-sided, not a liberal, as both left and rights acknowledge both religions (even Kurdish Islam) have some violent verses as well as peacefull ones. As for the attacks by Jews and Christians, that was decades ago.

Anonymous said...

What do you mean "even a lot of Kurds" support the war? OF COURSE Kurds support the war, they're one of the main beneficiaries. Excuse my bluntness, but I resent having to spend our treasure and our blood to win YOU a political advantage. You lost your grandparents, and I'm sorry about that. I lost my brother in Iraq ten months ago, all for a fucking LIE. He signed up to kill Al Qaeda, and ended up dying for Kurds in fucking IRAQ? Give me a goddamn break.

Oh, and attacks by Jews and Christians were not "decades ago." Israel bombed the crap out of Lebanon just a couple MONTHS ago, and a Christian who thinks God talks to him has killed 100,000 Iraqis since 2003, with the full support of the so-called Christian fundamentalists in America. I live in Utah, I see these hypocrites all the time, always talking about Jesus but foaming at the mouth at the thought of tearing Muslims (ANY Muslim) a new a-hole.

Sorry for sounding so angry, but I am.

Paul said...

Must be a different "anonymous" than the first poster.

I am also sorry anonymous' loss of brother, also for the Kurdish deaths. Religions or political intolerance and the desire for power have caused the death of many. Regardless of the past reasons for invading Iraq (even Clinton's Secretary of Defense Cohen stated last week the Clinton Administration was convinced Hussein had WMDs) the current reality is: the past is done and the current situation is Iranian involvement in supporting Sunni terror, mullahs through militias establishing their own terror networks, the overall jihadist philosophy of some Moslems (not just al Qaeda)- all of which do not give the people of Iraq any chance of stability but guarantee years of bloodshed. Israel/Lebanon in this context is a misleading example. Hezbollah is a terror organization dedicated to the destruction of Israel. Just yesterday Hizbolla's leader Nasrallah said he would not cooperate with any Palestinian government that recognized Israel (a cease fire,yes, so Iran can resupply their weapons). Self defense by those who've been told they'll be annihilated (Jew or Kurd) is not the same as violence by the aggressors.
"Centuries ago" referred to the religions system synonymous with the political system, directing warfare in the name of religion (study Pope Benedict's comments in their entirety - the ones that caused the latest firestorm and were part of the earlier discussion). What we see with significant elements of Islam today is much different that what is seen regarding using violence and murder to achieve political or religions aims as propounded by mainstream Christian groups (Roman Catholic, Greek Orthodox, Lutheran, Baptish, Episcopalian, Mormon, Seventh-day Adventist, etc.) or Jewish groups.

Paul said...

Correction - I said "Hezbollah's Nasrallah said he would not cooperate" while that lead-in is perfectly obvious for anything dealing with Israel, I should have said "Hamas' Haniyeh said he would not lead a coalition that recognizes Israel."

Chalk it up to TBC syndrome (thinking before coffee) or JPSU syndrome (just plain screwed up).