Irreconcilable Differences

by Steve on September 18, 2006

From the NYT:

The speech was largely a scholarly address criticizing the West for submitting itself too much to reason, for walling belief in God out of science and philosophy. But he began by recounting a conversation on the truths of Christianity and Islam that took place between a 14th-century Byzantine Christian emperor, Manuel II Paleologus, and a Persian scholar.

“He said, I quote, ‘Show me just what Muhammad 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,’ ’’ the pope said.

He also briefly discussed the Islamic concept of jihad, which he defined as “holy war,” and said violence in the name of religion was contrary to God’s nature and to reason. (Ed. emphasis added.)

At the same time, without mentioning Islam specifically, he suggested reason as the basis for “that genuine dialogue of cultures and religions so urgently needed today.”

In the speech, he did not say whether he agreed with the quotations he cited about violence and Islam — but on Sunday he distanced himself strongly from them.

From The Age: (H/T to Michelle)

A HARDLINE cleric linked to Somalia’s powerful Islamist movement has called for Muslims to “hunt down” and kill Pope Benedict XVI for his controversial comments about Islam.

Sheikh Abubukar Hassan Malin urged Muslims to find the pontiff and punish him for insulting the Prophet Mohammed and Allah in a speech that he said was as offensive as author Salman Rushdie’s novel The Satanic Verses.

“We urge you Muslims wherever you are to hunt down the Pope for his barbaric statements as you have pursued Salman Rushdie, the enemy of Allah who offended our religion,” he said in Friday evening prayers.

“Whoever offends our Prophet Mohammed should be killed on the spot by the nearest Muslim,” Malin, a prominent cleric in the Somali capital, told worshippers at a mosque in southern Mogadishu.

“We call on all Islamic Communities across the world to take revenge on the baseless critic called the pope,” he said.

Insensitive selection of a quote by the Pope, maybe. Rational response by a cleric, decidedly not. Imagine Christians in this country gunning down those who take the Lord’s name in vain. Militant Islam needs to graduate from the dark ages or be extinguished. There is no place in the modern world for such barbaric thoughts and actions.

Point: Violence does not belong in religion. Counter-point: Kill the Pope.

Say what?

**UPDATE 09/18/06 14:45**

Judge for yourself: full translation of the Pope’s speech from German.

Or the abridged version with Lex’s take.

Either way you get the impression that the Pope’s intent was missed entirely and convoluted for use as the incendiary device of the month. What will it be next month? Ever get the feeling that this is all a smoke screen, a diversion to keep us otherwise occupied so we forget about issues of greater importance? Like this one for example: The UN Security Council’s 31 August deadline for Iran to cease uranium enrichment.

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