Sep 22 2006

MY blog on Pope in washington post and reactions to it

Published by at 4:31 am under Blogs

Five Reactions: Clearing the Way for Dialogue

by Daoud Kuttab

Amman, Jordan – I saw this problem brewing. On Al Jazeera, the Pope’s speech was distorted in the news bulletins through scrolling text on the bottom of the screen where it was repeated ad naseaueum, taken out of context and exaggerated. I then noticed five different types of reactions to the speech.

One trend I would call the “herd mentality” which saw in the few words repeated in the media further proof of some global conspiracy against Islam. The conspiracy’s major highlights were George Bush and his “crusade” quotation, secular Europeans and their blasphemous cartoons and then the leader of the Christian Catholic church in his stereotyping of Islam as principally violent.

Another trend I noticed was also in opposition to the Pope’s speech but this time more from a survivalist rationale. This was clearest among Arab Christians (and some secular Muslims) who as a minority see in these statements a scary and dangerous excuse for the uncontrolled herds to hurt them.

The third trend I noticed welcomed the statements as an opportunity for debate and dialogue instead of keeping these issues under the carpet. Some of my friends felt that the Pope dared say things that most are unwilling to say. They point to the hypocrisy many Muslims engage in that simply allows regular attacks and descriptions of heresy to any other religion or any other version of Islam while going nuts when someone questions some of the issues in their own faith. They also point to the daily killings in Iraq of Muslims by fellow Muslims simply because they follow a different persuasion in Islam as yet another indication of the need to confront these theological issues which are used to justify killings.

Finally there are the reactions of Islamic leaders like the Palestinian Prime Minister Ismael Haniyeh who publicly denounced the torching of churches as a totally unacceptable way to deal with the Pope’s remarks. Palestinian Christians have nothing to do with them.

Finally my personal opinion is that all of us should take a position against any person or group who uses religion to justify violence. Here I remind people of the most recent statements by Christian Zionists who publicly encouraged Israel to continue its attacks on the Lebanese using Biblical quotations (i.e. the story of Kaleb and Joshua to legitimize the killings of women and children) as justification for killing civilians in Lebanon, as well as Jewish settlers who continue to plunder Palestinian lands and attack Palestinians because of a claim that this was their God-given right.

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