Friday, September 15, 2006

The Muslim Street and The Pope In Rome

You'll never guess what emotion the "Muslim Street" is expressing this time. Chagrin? Bemusement? Mild affection? Disinterest? Glee (this did happen once, 9/11/2001)? No, the proverbial Muslim street is ENRAGED. I know, it's hard to believe that when the Pope quotes an obscure 14 century Byzantine emperor on relations between Islam and Christianity it can have the effect of enraging people who heretofore had never heard of Manuel Paleologos II, but it did. I find this quote from NRO's Andrew Stuttaford at The Corner perfectly apt:
A deputy leader of Turkey's 'moderate' Islamic party has said that, following those remarks in Germany, the Pope will go down in history "in the same category as leaders such as Hitler and Mussolini." Oddly, in this selection of history's monsters, Salid Kapusuz declined to throw in the names of any of those responsible for the slaughter of the Armenians during World War One. I wonder why that was. Putting that issue to one side, before the Pope responds in detail to the criticism of his speech from the political and religious leadership in Islamic countries, he might consider making a few remarks about the way that Christians are treated, say, by the Turkish authorities (admittedly improving, but there's a quite a way to go), or, Pakistan (where the parliament has condemned Benedict's speech), or Egypt (lets talk about the plight of the Copts), well, I think you get my point...

Meanwhile, writing in the Guardian, the newspaper's religious affairs writer adds this:

"Benedict's offence, of course, was recklessly to quote this 600 year-old expression of the point of view of a medieval Middle Eastern potentate. He didn't endorse it, didn't say that it was his own view, attributed it in context. And is now told that he has "aroused the anger of the whole Islamic world". Most of which, probably, had never heard of Manuel II Paleologue before this morning. Perhaps the pope should be careful of bringing such subversive ancient texts to light. On the other hand, if you cannot, as part of a lengthy and profound academic lecture, cite a 600 year-old text for fear of stirring the aggravation of noisy politicians half way around the world, what CAN you do? We might as well all retreat into obscurantism. And keep our mouths shut, for otherwise, who knows who we might offend. And if, as a result of the outrage, some Catholics get killed or their churches burned down by offended scholars and textual exegesists it might be thought that Manuel's original point had rather been made."

1 comment:

CultMan said...

Bravo, Guardian journalist!