The Vatican Falls for the ‘Interfaith’ Scam
Ned May is the co-proprietor (along with his wife) of the Gates of Vienna blog, which focuses on Islam and the Great Jihad, particularly in Europe. Before taking up blogging he was a mathematician, a computer programmer and a landscape artist. In the last few years he has devoted his attention to assisting the development of counter-jihad networks in Europe. When he is not blogging, writing for Big Peace, or being an activist with the International Civil Liberties Alliance, he works as a book editor.
On June 8, 2014 — Pentecost Sunday — the Vatican hosted an “interfaith event” that included prayers by Christian priests, a Jewish rabbi, and a Muslim imam. The occasion was well-publicized in advance by the Holy See as a “pause in politics” that would promote peace between the Israel and the Palestinians.
During his visit to Israel and the Palestinian Authority the previous month, Pope Francis had invited Israeli President Shimon Peres and Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas to attend the event. Both leaders accepted the invitation, and sat with the Pope while prayers were said and chanted in the Vatican garden.
The imam, however, went beyond the script that had been handed to the Vatican in advance. He included in his chanted prayer verses 284-286 of Sura 2 in the Koran, the last part of which calls for Allah to grant the Muslims victory over the infidels. His words were broadcast live to a television audience, but they were in Arabic, so most non-Muslim viewers had no idea what he had said.
This apparently included the Vatican hierarchy. When someone whodid understand Arabic pointed out what had happened, a Vatican spokesman at first denied that any such thing had occurred. Those verses weren’t in the advance script — how could he possibly have said them? No Muslim, especially a respected imam, would ever go back on his word!
Later, when that story became untenable, the Vatican soft-pedaled the added text, saying that there was nothing really wrong with it. To further complicate matters, a doctored tape of the Arabic prayer was released in which the final part of verse 2:286 was edited out. It’s not clear who did the editing, but the altered version certainly did serve the interests of the Vatican.
With the help of Vlad Tepes, I was able to track down a complete video of the prayer from an Arabic television channel and then have it translated (by a volunteer who prefers to remain anonymous) and subtitled. As far as I can determine, the imam’s name was never made public, either by the Vatican or the English-language Arab news sites. I’m told he’s Palestinian, and his distinctive headgear identifies him as having the authoritative credentials of Al-Azhar University:
A German-speaking Jesuit priest, Fr. Felix Körner, made a valiant effort to demonstrate that 2:286 was in full accord with Christian doctrine, and was peaceful in intent. During an interview he said (translated from the German by Rembrandt Clancy):
“This verse, perhaps spontaneously selected by someone who then also recited the Koran from memory, actually fitted very well into the overall context of the Prayer for Peace! There are always three steps in the three religions: We recognise the Creator and praise Him, we recognise our guilt and confess it and we plead for the gift of peace. And all that comes out very beautifully in these three verses of the Koran.
“There is a certain parallel insofar as a quotation torn out of context is particularly easily misunderstood. And if one removes from the text only the reference to unbelievers, one can easily use it as a peg upon which to hang something and then say that an infringement has taken place here. On the other hand we have in this case a Koran recitation which pertains to someone who not only quotes, but recites, and who also says: what I am reciting here is also what I believe. And in the same breath he is also saying: We Muslims, as the Koran precisely tells us, recognise the other religions with their prophets. Therefore from the Muslim side,there was by no means any deprecation or exclusion intended or expressed. Rather it was said: We are bringing here a religious idea, one which welcomes and accepts you all, and naturally in certain Koranic way, tries to set things right again. But there was nothing here which was meant to exclude or rebuff; rather a Koran verse was recited, which is meant to express the highest respect and therefore can also be received as such.” [emphasis added]
But is this interpretation true? Does Islam really “recognize the other religions with their prophets”? Was there really no “deprecation or exclusion intended”?