In this weeks edition of the influential Finnish Lutheran Church magazine of Kotimaa, its editor in chief, Olavi Melin opines in a column about the controvesry over the Pope’s remark’s in a speech to German academics. Melin writes:
“The Catholic Church should communicate that Pope Benedictus XVI’s speech, in which he addressed the relationship between religion and violence (by borrowing the statements of Byzantine Emperor Manuel II Palaiologo (1350-1425) about Islam) was not directed against Islam. Nor that the Pope thinks about Islam in the same was as the Emporer. This was the advice given by the Professor of Islamic studies Jaakko Hämeen-Anttila in comments to Kotimaa.The Medieval Emporer had claimed that: “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”. The Pope’s speech has been broadly condemned amongst Islamic leaders. In Egypt, from the headquarters of the influential Muslim Brotherhood, Islamic countries are encourged to break off their relations to the Vatican, if the Pope does not apologize to Muslims. The Pope has publically given his regrets over the controversy, but no actual apology has been given.”
This is of course the same professor who spoke earlier of the speech by Pope Benidictus:
“The speech can be interpretated in much the same way as the Danish cartoons of the Prophet Mohamed, in other words, that the West’s attitude towards the Islamic world is in some way, one of belittlement or contempt.”
Meaning that the Islamic world could/would interprit the Pope’s words in much the same way. What this observation fails to include, is that the more learned Islamic scholars and leaders “should know better”, what the Pontiff was driving at, “that violence in the name of (any) religion is completely unacceptable”. The average uniformed Muslim in the street could be forgiven for not knowing, but an Imam or other religious leaders? Hardly. That the Pope expressed regrets, was more than should be expected, especially when considering the context of his speech.
“The main intention of the speech was basically to promote religious dialogue. One of the main points being the complete rejection of the use of violence in the name of religion. The Catholic Church’ medieval crusades would have been as good of an example of excessiveness that has happened in history. Maybe the Pope momentarily forgot the meaning of his position and out of habit gave voice to reflections as a scholar. Islam’s extremists will use every opportunity to incite doubt, hate and disgust, from which they draw strength to spread anti-west extremism. That’s what happened to the Jyllands-Posten cartoon controversy and the same fate now awaits Pope Benidictus.”
What’s interesting about the EIC’s “knee jerk reflex” to make the ancient crusades “a better example” of religious violence than the present day phenomenon raging around the world, is that there is an added sense of naivity in the statement. I would assume then, that Olavi Melin is ignorant over the use of the crusades as “the favored means” by the leaders of Islam to either “down play or not admit responsibility” over Islamic acts of violence. For many in the Islamic world, today’s acts of violence, are in response to the ancient crusading Catholics. Robert Spencer debunks that assumption rather easily here. That Islamist extremists use any situation in order to instigate violent rhetoric against the West, is well known, but why not mention that the Islamists draw encouragement and validation from their very own holy scriptures?
“An open society has the known ability through the use of common sense when to raise an issue, being able to consider when and when not speak, and never offending those over something which is sacred. Drawing the line is sometimes a difficult matter. The ramifications of the outbursts from adherents to Islam, should not be a cause for the west to give in to armed threats. When religion is being used as a political tool, is always reason to doubt the intention. Western states’ democratic values and free speech shouldn’t be endangered by silence, when criticism is needed.”
I interprit his words to mean, that the situation in the Islamic world is so volatile, that any criticism of Islam should be averted if at all possible. Any criticism over sacred beliefs is to be avoided at all cost. Does this include “the sacred Islamic right” to beat one’s wife? His last two thoughts are contradictory to say the least.
“Don’t criticize Islamic beliefs, but don’t be cowered by intimidation, into not being able to criticize Islam. ….Huh? KGS