Pope Angers Muslims

As far as Joey Ray's argument that we don't hear of Muslim condemnations because that type of news doesn't sell, I don't quite buy it. After each attack inevitably all the newspapers and talk shows are publicly asking "Where is the Muslim condemnation? C'mon Muslims, step up and make your disapproval public!"

It seems to me Muslim views are sought out, not ignored. And it makes sense; westerners want the violence stopped and making Muslim condemnation against these types of attacks public would be one valuable tool in the quest to influence Muslims to reject violence.

Actually, he is somewhat correct on this point. Speaking as someone who has actually tried to get letters and articles published on the matter, I can assure you that the media would rather devote space to the semi-literate rantings of extremists than give a platform to Muslims with a serious anti-terror message.

People like Kamal Nawash do get booked now and again (eg. he has appeared on Fox News a number of times), but on the whole they do not. Following the recent terror busts in the UK, for example, Sky News decided to do a special interview with some associate of the infamous cleric colourfully known as Captain Hook. This guy wasn't some high profile Muslim leader. His 'claim to fame' was simply that he was a friend of that cleric. Yet they allowed him to go on the air for a significant chunk of time and rant like a lunatic. Meanwhile people like Kamal (whom I use as a specific example because I have a personal association with him and his organisation) do not receive the same kind of attention.

Even Mark Steyn, hardly a fan of Islam and Muslims, condemned the media for how little attention they gave to the anti-terror protests which followed the bombings in Jordan, and complained that if the protests were anti-Bush in nature the media would have plastered it all over the place.

Furthermore, the most powerful Muslim organisations in the west are the Saudi-funded ones (eg. CAIR). They gain a position of strength thanks to the oil-money which gets thrown at them from their Saudi backers, and therefore when the media does decide to put on a 'moderate' Muslim voice they use people like them - even though they are pretty much extremists in moderate clothing.

So, have no illusions - the deck is very much stacked against people like me and the organisations we support when it comes to getting media time. Hopefully when my book comes out next year I can grab a little more attention if it does tolerably well, but that remains to be seen.

With that said, there is no question that many Muslims demonstrate an infuriating silence over extremism and terrorism yet will rant and rave like a mob of degenerate idiots over trivial things such as a Papal speech or some cartoons in a paper. In part this is due to their leaders (both religious and political). It's no coincidence that these demonstrations tend to happen after Friday prayers, when imams have had a chance to whip people up into a frenzy in the hope of enhancing their own status by creating and demonising an enemy. Or to further their own ideological agendas by doing so. There is also an element of primitive tribal mentality. In much the same way that lots of black leaders will speak out vehemently about incidents (real or supposed) of racism against their group but will bend over backwards to ignore or excuse black crime, a lot of Muslims have a tendency to demonstrate a great apathy to Islamist violence but react with Heraclean fury towards attacks on Islam.

IBI,

Thanks for the input. I know that you and muslims like you are doing good work and that if most Muslims were like you we would have peace between Islam and Christianity.

Do you find the Pope's words, taken in context, to be insulting?

I should add too, since this thread would not reveal it, that I agree with the Hawker when he says that the West is indeed full of corruption and vice and that mingling with the West can bring that corruption and vice to the Muslim world. I don't think Muslims are actually wrong about our moral degeneracy and materialism. Its just that when you live in the West you tend to focus on the positive, which is very positive, but the negative is equally negative.

The Pope has apologised. Sort of.

"The Holy Father is very sorry that some passages of his speech may have sounded offensive to the sensibilities of Muslim believers," said new Vatican Secretary of State Cardinal Tarcisio Bertone in a statement.

I read that as "sorry you guys are a bunch of over-sensitive ninnies" which is all he should say.

This Pope is an extremely intelligent man, though, and I seriously doubt he didn't expect any response to his carefully chosen words. He has certainly undone the JPII Koran kissing incident where the papacy is concerned.

"(Papal infallibility, where are you?)"

I assume you are joking, but that's not how the concept of Papal infallibility works.

I wanted though to make a brief comment about your swipe against religious belief:

"Unfortunately, this is one of the dangers directly derived from many forms of religious belief, especially mono-theism."

You make that statement as if your own belief set is free from the same charge. If the history of the latter 20th Century has shown us anything, it is that you don't need any belief in a higher being to inspire you towards acts of massive violence and great cruelty.

Stalinism and Maoism, the Khmer Rouge and the Nazis were responsible for far more murder, in sheer numbers and cruelty, than any religious movement in history. Atheism was a driving force behind all of them. or at the very least, they were all grounded in atheism.

But I think it's silly and simplistic to blame atheism for all of those deaths, just as I think it is silly and simplistic to say religious belief is the cause for violence, as if either inherrently and inevitably lead to bloodshed.

It is the particulars of any one movement that leads to violence. It was the influence of the philosophy of Heidegger and Nietzsche that steered Nazism to violence, not atheism as its own credo per se, just as the literal reading of certain suras within the Kuran inevitably lead to violence within Islam, not it's belief in a God, monotheistic or otherwise.

"So, have no illusions - the deck is very much stacked against people like me and the organisations we support when it comes to getting media time. Hopefully when my book comes out next year I can grab a little more attention if it does tolerably well, but that remains to be seen."

I am certainly glad that you are writing letters, although I would say that other muslim refusniks, such as Irshad Manji and Salman Rushdie for example, have gotten a fair amount of air time, at least in the US and both of them are very well spoken and quite passionate about their cause.

But it seems to me they are small voices singing in a very loud wind. It doesn't seem to me to be a simple matter of media manipulation insofar as the representative view of the majority of muslims around the world tend towards the more radical, at least relative towards your own believe. A recent poll on al-Jazeera, to which over 40,000 people responded, showed that nearly half said that they support Osama bin Laden. In another poll, a third of British muslims said they felt the London bombings were justified, and I think over that number said they would prefer to live under sharia law than under Britain's current legal system. That is within a modern, western state. Those numbers are pretty high. The more common view seems to be those of Yusuf Al-Qardawi, a man embraced by the mayor of London and praised as a moderate, but one who has praised suicide bombers, railed against the west, etc. Many of the anti-terrorist protests in the arab world, like the one you mention in Jordan, weren't against terrorism as an action, but against terrorism that harms muslims. Anti-terrorism protests organized by muslims in the west, like the one in DC, drew only a few dozen people.

I hope voices like yours get heard more often and believe they deserve to be heard...but they need to be heard in the muslim world far more than they do in the west.

===I read that as "sorry you guys are a bunch of over-sensitive ninnies" which is all he should say. ====

That is what I thought to. The article does say he sincerely feels bad though.

Prof.,

The issue revolves a great deal around how God is seen in a particular religion. If God is loved and followed because he is good that is different, perhaps in a subtle way for some, than if God is followed simply because he is powerful.

It was the goodness of Jesus that attracted people to him. He never once used his powers to intimidate his disciples into following him.

George MacDonald, in his essay on Justice, to paraphrase, wrote that if the Bible appears to teach that God is evil then the Bible is wrong. He argues that it does not but he won't go along with anybody who thinks scripture gives them permission to do evil.

This is one of the many reasons I disagree with the notion that Muslims and Christians worship the "same" God. If you mean "same" in a historical sense fine but your concept of God will, as you often point out, inform your own belief and behavior. I see nothing in the Muslim concept of Allah which equates to the HOly Trinity. Even Islamic monotheism is defined differently.

And as Pneuma pointed out you offer no alternative with the abolition of religious belief. Some people will do evil for an evil god (like the Aztecs) but plenty of people will do evil for an evil god they rename "science" or "progress" (like Margaret Sanger and the eugenicists). In some respects the removal of religion results in the gloves really coming off in terms of the evil committed for merely humanistic and secular goals.

Ridgeback, as Prof probably will point out, the Bible gives no good information of what it means to be good. If you look at the OT, God is many times just a cruel massmurderer.

"Ridgeback, as Prof probably will point out, the Bible gives no good information of what it means to be good."

It doesn't?

I thought the beatitudes and the commandments were fairly explicit, as are many of Jesus' parables.

Do you find the Pope's words, taken in context, to be insulting?

No, I don't.

In another poll, a third of British muslims said they felt the London bombings were justified

You might be thinking of this poll (link). The result was actually as follows:

"The ICM opinion poll also indicates that a fifth have sympathy with the "feelings and motives" of the suicide bombers who attacked London last July 7, killing 52 people, although 99 per cent thought the bombers were wrong to carry out the atrocity."

No, this one (http://news.scotsman.com/uk.cfm?id=1145782006), although working from memory I did get the numbers wrong, although they are still very high:

ALMOST a quarter of British Muslims say the 7/7 bombings can be justified because of the Government's support for the war on terror, according to an opinion poll.

And nearly half of those polled, or 45 per cent, believe the 9/11 attacks on New York were a conspiracy between the United States and Israel. The survey, for a Channel 4 Dispatches documentary to be screened tonight, found Muslims under 24 were twice as likely to justify the 7/7 attacks as those aged over 45. It found 24 per cent either agreed or tended to agree that the 7/7 bombings were justified, although 48 per cent said they "strongly disagreed".

A third of those questioned said they would rather live under Sharia law in the UK than British law.

The very concept of Sharia law is absolutely frightening for non-Muslims, or at least should be. I suppose it's natural for Muslims to want to live under Sharia, since it's mandated by their religion.

"It doesn't?"

Unfortunatly not. The message of Jesus (which I very much try to follow btw), is heavily contradicted by how the OT describes Gods actions. So if the God of OT is good, I don´t want to be like her, but rather like Jesus in NT.

This is a very good thread. I might add that the muslim concept of monotheism (Allah) is not equatable to either the Western orthodox concept of the trinity or any of the modalist concepts of God in Christianity. God was manifest in the flesh is anathema to a muslim.

Also, the God of the OT is not a different God the the NT. He's not a mean old man in one covenant and then suddenly nice in another one.

What you see in the OT is often times the excution of judgement after the extension of mercy, grace and the spokesman of God (prophets) calling on the people to repent etc.

For instance, despite whether you think Noah's story is true, the bible indicates that judgement did not come until after the death of Methusalah. It just so happens that he was the oldest man in the bible and his death effectively mean, when I die, judgement comes, or something of that nature. Noah preached throughout his grandaddy's life about the coming judgement and the need to get on the ark.

Now again, whether you think the story is true or not, the message is clear. God is a Holy God and will judge sin, but he always provides a plan of salvation, a way to escape judgement, an olive branch extended with mercy and grace accessible.

Or another way to look at it is that he is trying to preserve the souls of the lost at the cost of their earthly lives.  If the people were only becoming worse and worse and seeking deeper into a state of freely chosen antagonism with God letting them live longer would just make them less likely to repent when Jesus preached to all the souls in prison. 

But when we are talking about God killing people there is a lot of silliness in thought on one side.  If he made a person its pretty silly for a person to imagine that he has a life somewhere apart from God which God takes away from him.  He wouldn't even be alive if God wasn't animating him.  He wouldn't even exist.  If it was not God's will in the first place for man to die then it is pretty silly to blame him after the whole human race falls into death for timing their deaths according to his redemptive plan.  At least their deaths can have the effect of helping some who will repent do so before the whole human race was lost. 

St. Athanasius described the flood as God's method for staving off human extinction.

I also find the OT rather troublesome. Passages like this do not seem inspired but evil to me.

If your brother, the son of your father or of your mother, or your son or daughter, or the spouse whom you embrace, or your most intimate friend, tries to secretly seduce you, saying, "Let us go and serve other gods," unknown to you or your ancestors before you, gods of the peoples surrounding you, whether near you or far away, anywhere throughout the world, you must not consent, you must not listen to him; you must show him no pity, you must not spare him or conceal his guilt. No, you must kill him, your hand must strike the first blow in putting him to death and the hands of the rest of the people following. You must stone him to death, since he has tried to divert you from Yahweh your God. . . .(Deuteronomy 13:7–11)

Why is that evil in the context of a nation alone in the desert under a covenant? It applied to a particular people in a particular situation in a particular time. It was certainly a time where widespread idol worship could have removed the protection of the Lord and then they would have been wide open for attack by neighboring tribes.

To me it is no different than killing a spy in your unit in WWII who has been sneaking to the German side and giving away your position.

Think of all of the Mosaic rules in the desert in terms of extending life and preserving a small group of people in a hostile region and they make sense.

Really try to imagine God maneuvering in the jungle of human freedom. That sets up all kinds of limits. Jesus was prevented from performing miracles in some regions not because he didn't want to heal people and God didn't want to show his love to them but because their hearts were so hard it wouldn't work.

I don't know any thoughtful person who doesn't find the OT troublesome but I think we have to resist the two urges to either sweep it under the rug or to embrace an evil understanding. It would certainly not be appropriate to kill your brother today because there is a new Covenant at work. That's why I always find modern Christians who use the OT to justify their political views suspicious.

Good stuff Rooster and this was a very good statement by Ridge.

"Why is that evil in the context of a nation alone in the desert under a covenant? It applied to a particular people in a particular situation in a particular time. It was certainly a time where widespread idol worship could have removed the protection of the Lord and then they would have been wide open for attack by neighboring tribes."

Very Nice

"From: Ridgeback

Date: 09/16/06 01:00 PM
Member Since: 01/01/2001
14387 Total Posts Ignore User

How many muslims do you think actually read a full translation of the speech (how many in the West for that matter)? A lot of people have a vested interest in delivering half-truths to the Muslim world for the sake of enraging them. The problem, however, is the degree to which they are so easily enraged "

This is right on. The point has not been made that the actual title and focus of the speech was something like Faith, Reason, and the University. The comments about Islam were 2 paragraphs out of about 7 pages mostly consisting of erudite ideas about Hellenistic thought and the movement of the Western intellectual tradition through the Enlightenment era.

I will paraphrase from what I saw on another blog--- The media's handling of this situation either shows a complete lack of intelligence on their part in the sense of not understanding the speech as a whole, or even BOTHERING TO MENTION that this was not a speech about Islam, but rather an academic discourse in a University setting about a differt subject all together. Either the media is that dull, or they intentionally wish to create discord, and foment violence. There really is no third option.