Saturday, September 16, 2006

Muslims 'offended' by Pope's remarks

Following Pope Benedict XVI's speech on Tuesday the Muslim world has reacted with its usual mixture of phlegmatism and equanimity.

The lecture which the Pope gave on Tuesday at his former univeristy in Regensburg has seen demonstrations across the Muslim world. In Allahabad, India protestors burned an effigy of the pontiff and Pakistan's Pervez Musharraf has also condemned his remarks.

Benedict XVI had been lecturing on the need to reconcile faith and reason (a doomed enterprise, old boy) when he quoted a 14th Century Christian emperor who said the Prophet Muhammad had brought the world only "evil and inhuman" things. Now, undoubtedly the comments were ill-judged but to what extent the old buffer can claim he didn't mean to cause offence (as the BBC is now reporting) is doubtful. He's got previous where anti-Muslim comments are concerned. Before he became Pope he spoke out against Turkey joining the EU, reasoning that Christian Europe had to be defended. And it's unlikely the furore which resulted from the Danish cartoon incident passed him by. If some badly-etched and not particularly witty cartoons could cause such offence, suggesting that in Islam Allah is higher than all things including reason was not going to be laughed off with a collective roll of the eyes.

Of course, that either of these religions- nevermind any other- has more of a handle on reason than the other is laughable. But as usual the Muslim world goes some way to justifying the criticism levelled at it as pictures are beamed in from around the world of burning effigies and angry mobs with fists aloft. Nonetheless, comdemnation of Benedict's malign idiocy from the non-partisan among us must be swift and exacting.

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