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Short of religious wars
While Pope John Paul II focused on communism, his successor is more concerned about political Islam

Spetember 20, 2006

After the scandal of Muhammad’s cartoons, this time, Pope Benedict XVI, during his pilgrimage in Germany, by offending Islamic sensibilities with remarks about jihad, poured oil on the existing fire and ignited a new anger in the Islamic world,

The Pope made his remarks about Islam in a speech in which he quoted from a book recounting a conversation between 14th century Byzantine Christian Emperor Manuel Paleologos II and an educated Persian on the truths of Christianity and Islam. "The emperor comes to speak about the issue of jihad, holy war," the Pope said. "He said, I quote, 'Show me just what Muhammad 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,"' he quoted the emperor as saying.

The Pope did not however demand a deep examination of jihad which ruined many civilisations, advanced cultures and killed many millions “non-believers” in the course of history. Actually, no religious personality from the main conventional religions can do so without having the ball back in his own field. Most religions have periods of atrocities against humanity. The Inquisition courts of early Christianity or the Zionist expansionism have no better records than Islamic jihadist killers. Condemning jihad is in fact a task of seculars who reject all religions as means of crimes and repressions in the course of history.

Although the Pope reflects some animosity in the West to whatever is Islamic, clearly he is aware of the delicacy of the issue. He was not reflecting the judgment of most western people over the depth of crimes committed by Islamists. Benedict is careful not to mention about many crimes of political Islam, including many thousand executions of the IRI. As a religious leader of his stature, he knows that religious crimes are not only due to Islam, but also to the past Christianity.

Benedict XVI is a defender of traditional Catholic values and has always emphasized their importance in the survival of Western civilisation. For Europeans, especially for his compatriot Germans, he is considered to be a right-wing conservative and even a fundamentalist Pope. His controversial Nazi background shows his conscious ideological background -- the pontiff was voluntarily enrolled in the Hitler Youth in 1941 when the Catholic Church was still approving Nazi ideology.

Benedict's views at least in one point are fundamentally different from his predecessor, John Paul II who was more focused on reflecting a western policy of anti-communism during the Cold War. Instead Benedict is more affected by the appearance of political Islam which is partially a result of the same Cold War.

The reactions to Benedict’s statement in the Islamic world are different: most Islamic leaders demand that the Pope make a public apology to help bring an end to animosity -- what actually he did later to get rid of the problem. Some harsh critics have accused him of lowering his stature by giving Bush-like statements.

While many Islamic countries and Islamic societies show protests against the Benedict’s offence on Islam, the IRI, the main cradle of world’s political Islam, has not yet mobilised popular demonstrations. IRI’s officials, also high-ranking clergymen, hesitated to react. The hesitation was not only because of German role in their current atom conflict or any international political game, but mainly because of the domestic fact that most Iranians are not willing to protest against claims condemning jihad.

It is clear that the Iranian Mullahs who preach jihad, but at the same time are involved in a nuclear programme for their jihadist strategy, are not in a position to immediately condemn the Pope’s statement on jihad. The “calumnious” statement was not very reflected by the state-owned press. Unlike during earlier years of the revolution, the regime cannot mobilise protest demonstrations.

The IRI knows that anger among Iranians is running high. The reason behind such feelings is that the whole IRI -- ruling and Islamic opposition -- is not yet prepared for a peaceful transfer of power. In such an atmosphere of instability, the supreme Leader, Khamenei, with a few days’ delay, took the chance to release a declaration condemning the Pope’s “anti Islamic” remarks.

As the main victims of political Islam, Iranians know better than others that jihad is a religiously justified tool for invasion and Islamo-colonisation. Iranians know much better than the Pope what Islam and its concept of jihad really mean. People in Iran experimentally know what the Pope was citing a 14th-century Christian emperor who said that Prophet Muhammad had brought the world "evil and inhuman" things.

"Violence is incompatible with the nature of God and the nature of the soul," Benedict recently said in an address in Germany, such phrases are repeated and repeated by Mullahs too. But neither the Pope nor any Mullah is honest enough to respectively mention some11 millions female “witches”, among many victims, burned by the Inquisition courts or many millions of victims of Islam’s sword in the course of religious expansion.

In some perspective, Benedict should cultivate an attitude of respect and dialogue towards other religions, and obviously towards Islam too. Benedict’s attitude ultimately approaches the Khatami’s “Dialogue of Civilisations” and both of them show that their common enemy is the world of secularism and modern civilisation. Benedict’s dream of revival a new Christian Inquisition is fortunately impossible, if not, we could witness the same atrocities which reigned during the Inquisition in Europe and now under political Islam in Iran.

It is understandable to note that what is in the Pope's mind is only a refusal of the Islamic violence. His speech might lead to some tensions, but never leads to a war of religions. The Pope's statement is not of course irresponsible; he forcibly reflects the fact that if the concept of jihad was to spread Islam with sword, today it is to spread political Islam with many Islamic crimes around the world.

This sudden offence does not reflect a new trend for the Vatican policy towards the Islamic religion, but it was a political reaction to the wave of Islamist crimes in the West since the revival of Islamic terrors after the creation of the IRI.

In Cologne, Germany, last year the Pope urged Islamic leaders to take responsibility for their communities and teach their young to abhor violence. But the pope's statements would not amount to the pursuit of the Crusades because he knows that a great majority of civilised western people are not interested in such bloody events.

Although, Benedict’s statements are the clear attack on Islamists, but he has never contradicted his call for dialogue between religions. In fact, contrary to aggressive political Islam, Christianity is after the Renaissance in a defensive position and has no ability to open the way to animosity between communities. The Pope cannot challenge Islam or its framework of political legitimacy.

Regarding the facts, the views of the international community about the role of Sharia, Islamic misogyny and jihad are much more at variance with Islam, but Pope’s views are only some censured reflections. A semi-consensus between the Pope and western values is not enough to push the Pope at the brink of war of religions. Despite the call by all freedom-loving people, the Pope is still looking for dialogue with Islam and cannot consequently attack political Islam at its core.

The Pope's statement was not an attempt to jeopardise a necessary unity displayed by the main conventional religions against the world of secularism and modernity. He knows that the time is not for a new war of the Crusade; therefore he had to apologize the Islamic world for his controversial statement.

Today, thanks to secularism, the civilised people would not accept a war of religions. People’s interests are not in saving this or that religion, but to push all of them further back. Comment

For letters section
To: Jahanshah Rashidian

Jahanshah Rashidian


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