The Pope Says:
In the seventh conversation edited by Professor Khoury, the emperor touches on the theme of the holy war. The emperor must have known that sura 2, 256 reads: "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 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…
Apparently this is a direct attack on Islam. Notice all we get from the media is this bit: "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".
Clearly Benedict has been taken completely out of context - a False Attribution. But not only that, to prove “him” wrong (I use inverted commas as he never actually claims Islam is inherently violent), here is a few selected responses.
We say to the servant of the cross (the pope): Wait for defeat . . . We say to infidels and tyrants: Wait for what will afflict you. We will smash the cross . . . you will have no choice (but) Islam or death, the Mujahideen consultative council said.
A Supreme Islamic Courts Council of Somalia cleric has called for the Pope's assassination, urging Muslims to: "...hunt down the Pope for his barbaric statements." Another demanded that: "...whosoever offends our Prophet Mohammed should be killed on the spot by the nearest Muslim."
Well, I'm convinced. The statement the Pope cited was clearly way off base...
And fantastic irony: Pakistan's Foreign Ministry spokeswoman Tasnim Aslam said: "Anyone who describes Islam as a religion as intolerant encourages violence."
Did she not think that one through?
Of all the people to get it right, we have… Mohammad Khatami, president of Iran from 1997 to 2005, and member of the UN Secretary General's Alliance of Civilizations: "I hope that the reports in this regard are misinterpreted as such remarks [as reported in the press] are usually made by uninformed and fanatic people but my impression of the pope was rather an educated and patient man".
Last word to the Archbishop of Sydney, George Pell:
"The violent reactions in many parts of the Islamic world justified one of Pope Benedict's main fears; Cardinal Pell said in a statement.
"They showed the link for many Islamists between religion and violence, their refusal to respond to criticism with rational arguments, but only with demonstrations, threats and actual violence."
Our major priority must be to maintain peace and harmony within the Australian community, but no lasting achievements can be grounded in fantasies and evasions.
Disclaimer: I'd like to remind any readers, especially those prone to violent religious based outbursts, that the statements above are direct quotations and do not necessarily reflect my own personal view… Oh, it's probably a waste of time pointing that out, isn't it?