Sunday, September 17, 2006


The old saying goes that you learn something new everyday...and in the last few days the Pope has learned just how easy it is to offend the Islamic world. In an attempt to open dialgue on the reasonableness of faith and the merits of blood shed and jihad the Pope referenced a 14th century emperor who was a little unkind to the Muslim faith.

The Popes actions were certainly unwise...a little careless even. The whole furore over those infamous Danish cartoons vividly illustrated just how sensitive the Muslim world is to any percieved slight on their faith. Open and frank discussions are frankly a non-starter. Certainly, Western values and practices should be left at the door in any "discussion" on Islam if offence is to be avoided.

However, were the Pope's action really that unreasonable? What exactly did he do that created such offence and has resulted in him issuing a public and personal apology today? Forgive me, but I just can't see it. Are all unkind words on Islam forbidden, even if the context is merely to point out that someone else uttered them? That is in effect what the Pope has done.

Once again a claim that Islam is not a peaceful faith has prompted the threat of violence from some quarters, the charge of offending the Islamic faith from others and a blanket refusal to accept any form of critical dialogue. Of course the irony in this reaction remains, but by now it's getting a little tiring.

Today the Pope has issued a personal and public apology for any offence caused by his comments. However, the Egyptian Muslim Brotherhood have since stated that this apology is insufficent as it is not a 'clear' apology.

It is high time Muslim leaders stood up and were counted. The Pope's speech and its infamous quotation was greeted with prompt and loud calls for an apology for the offence caused. However, where are the similar reactions to the angry mobs who, in the name of Islam, burn effigies of the Pope and threaten violence to all who criticise Islam? Is it really the case that the former causes the greater offence to Islam?


Simon said...

but it is the leaders that are causing the problems. How many pakistai people read the popes speechs

Eamonn said...

I totally agree...should have made that clearer.

Anonymous said...

And yet we have no protests on the situation in Darfur, where another holocaust is on the way. Where are the Islamic leaders protesting the slaughter? No protests about the Iranian regime's execution of women for "crimes against modesty"? No protest about the daily killing in Iraq, muslim on muslim? So would I be alone if I said that this double standard is hypocritical?

Get exercised about words, when human lives are being extinguished, I fail to understand.