Sunday, September 17, 2006

Papal Perplexities

If someone were to call you "violent" and your reaction was to punch him in the face, it would be fair to conclude that, not only did your accuser have a fair argument, but also that you'd condemned yourself by your own actions.

The Pope's recent speech, in which he quoted a 14th Century Byzantine Emperor (full quote here) suggesting that spreading faith through violence is unreasonable, has been misinterpreted as the Pope himself being critical of Islam and has led to a familiar rash of violence; churches being burned and death threats.

Let's be clear here - the Pope hasn't called the religion itself "Evil", in fact his purpose was quite the opposite - to call for dialogue. The response however has (yet again) showed the evil nature of the religion in a manner that is only too clear - the ones that are not merely calling the religion "evil" but actually showing it to be, are those who burn places of worship and threaten peoples' lives (and take them) in the name of Allah.

It seems that in the 7 centuries since the quote was originally made, there are those who have not advanced one inch from old ingrained attitudes; any disagreement is still met with violence. Once again the Imams and Ayatollahs are shamed by their silence: no condemnation of the violence has been issued by a religious leader of note - they're too busy fanning the flames.

The Pope can back down on this issue if he would like to; the Leaders of the West may well make comments containing terms like "ill advised" or "misguided" (although Chancellor Merkel has leapt to his defence) but they should also take note; there is only so long that they will be able to rely on a policy of apologising and hoping that the menace will go away. George Bush knows it, Tony Blair knows it and Israel certainly knows it - how long before the rest of the world wakes up?


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