What Are They Trying to Do?

I heard something about the Pope saying something that upset the Muslims. I tried to find out exactly what was said. I looked in the paper. I looked on websites. I found a lot of stories about just how pissed off the Muslim world was, how they were going to protest, and a vague sentence or two about the Pope "Quoting a 14th century Byzantine Emperor."

I wanted to know exactly what was said, and in what context. Finally, a found a Reuters link to the Pope's speech so I could read it for myself. The Pope was not speaking about Islam; he was speaking about using violence to foist religion onto people. Here's exactly what was said:

"There is no compulsion in religion". According to the experts, this is one of the suras of the early period, when Mohammed was still powerless and under threat. But naturally the emperor also knew the instructions, developed later and recorded in the Qur'an, concerning holy war. Without descending to details, such as the difference in treatment accorded to those who have the "Book" and the "infidels", he addresses his interlocutor with a startling brusqueness on the central question about the relationship between religion and violence in general, saying: "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 emperor, after having expressed himself so forcefully, goes on to explain in detail the reasons why spreading the faith through violence is something unreasonable. Violence is incompatible with the nature of God and the nature of the soul. "God", he says, "is not pleased by blood - and not acting reasonably (F×< 8`(T) is contrary to God's nature. Faith is born of the soul, not the body. Whoever would lead someone to faith needs the ability to speak well and to reason properly, without violence and threats... To convince a reasonable soul, one does not need a strong arm, or weapons of any kind, or any other means of threatening a person with death..."

Okay. Was this a denouncement of Islam by the Pope? Because this is how I read it: when Islam was in its infancy and not very powerful, Mohammed preached that religion can't be forced upon someone, using violence or coercion. Later on, "holy" war becomes okay according to the Qu'ron, coincidentally when Islam happens to develop more political and military strength. This is wrong because you cannot use physical means to affect a spiritual change.

I'm not a historian; I don't know if it's true or not. I would leave that debate to people who know what they're talking about. But is it "hate speech"? Is it cause to burn someone in effigy, burn down churches, become angry and violent? I'm sorry, I don't think so. And the reporting doesn't help diffuse the situation, bring reason to the situation -- it seems almost bent on ignoring the Pope's actual words and fanning the flames of violence.

Check out the first paragraph of this story:

"Protests were witnessed in all parts of the state on Friday as Muslims came out in defence of their religion and against the remark of the Pope, who had reportedly termed Islam as a religion that protected terrorists."

Huh? Is that what he said? Did he mention terrorists at all? He's talking about forcing religion with violence and he used an example from the 14th century. True, that guy's first quote is bad, but he's from the 14th century. People said all kinds of stuff back then. The point was about power and politics influencing religion. Nobody knows better than the Catholics how bad that gets.

The Pope has apologized that his comments were open to misinterpretation, but it's "not enough" to some people. I'm sorry, but people need to chill. Nobody burnt down Tom Hank's house when "The DaVinci Code" came out, and that movie questioned Christ's divinity and Christianity's validity. Maybe if our riotous inclinations received a friendly push from the media, we would've.

UPDATE: Here's a quote from ABC News: "PETER MADROS: This is the very thing that his holiness had denounced, mainly violence in the name of religion. And here you go, it is in order to react to his criticism that you exactly apply what he had actually criticised. I don't think this is very smart." That's for you, Todd.

Also, I am tired of the Crusades being portrayed as some sort of one-sided conflict. Muslims gave as good as they got. It was a war. Not the proudest moment for Christianity, a religion whose members are told to "love one's enemies" and to find non-violent ways to stand up for yourself, but a two-sided conflict nonetheless.
Name: Übermilf
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