Saturday, September 30, 2006

A call for dialogue ...

... well, more like a debate. This is from a journal for Pakistani expats published in Jeddah (Saudi Arabia), about an Islamic scholar who wants to dialogue with, err... debate, the Pope.
Dr. Naik sees the Pope’s statement on Islam as pre-planned. "He (the Pope) knew very well what he was speaking at University of Regensburg in Germany on September 12," he said.

"The Pope’s apology to the Muslims was at all not an apology rather it was putting salt on the wounds," said Dr. Naik, adding that the Pope should have explicitly apologized and retracted his statement.

Benedict XVI seems to be toeing the same line of neo-con as that of President George Bush, he said.

Dr. Naik said if the Pope wants to initiate an authentic dialogue then he is more than willing to participate in such an inter-faith debate.

"I am more than willing to participate in the inter-faith dialogue with Pope Benedict XVI. I am ready on any topic he (the Pope) wishes as long as it focuses on Qur’an and the Bible," Dr. Naik said.

He said he can go to Rome or Vatican to meet the Pope.

"I can go to Rome and to Vatican on my own expense if an Italian visa is arranged for me," he told ONLINE after delivering his lecture on "20 most common questions about misconceptions of Islam," organized by Sri Lankan Embassy in Riyadh, attended by a number of ambassadors, diplomatic staff and members of the Sri Lankan community.
I can see it now ... the Pope and Dr. Naik duking it out on the steps of St. Peter's (shades of Elijah and the priests of Baal?) Dr. Naik also goes on to suggest that the Western media is biased and reports truth as untruth. Quite possibly. Of course, the media in the Muslim world is pure and objective. Especially when it comes to the Grand Jewish Conspiracy, and condemning any and all violence in the name of religion. He also suggests that people shold not be saving their money in dollar accounts. I guess he wants to tell that to His Holiness too? :-) Ok, I'll stop.

Maybe Dr. Naik could talk to the folks who're threating this French school teacher? [Via Amy]You know, tell them that Islam is not really about violence and hatred.
The teacher, Robert Redeker, 52, wrote in the center-right daily Le Figaro 10 days ago that Muhammad was “a merciless warlord, a looter, a mass-murderer of Jews and a polygamist,” and called the Koran “a book of incredible violence.”

The Redeker case is the latest manifestation in Europe of a mounting ideological battle that pits those who believe Islam and the Prophet Muhammad can be criticized in the name of free speech against those in the Muslim community who believe no criticism can be tolerated.
[snip]
Immediately afterward, Mr. Redeker, who teaches in a public high school near Toulouse and is the author of several books on philosophy, began to receive death threats by telephone, e-mail and through the online Islamist Web site known as Al Hesbah, a password-protected forum with ties to Al Qaeda. The forum published photos of him and what it said was his home address, directions to his home and his cellphone number, according to the SITE Institute, which tracks violent Islamist groups.
Tell me. How does one dialogue with those who want to kill you and your family?

I'm sure there are those who will say that this schoolteacher's remarks were intemperate, or even bigoted. Well, how does one counter intemperance and bigotry? By death threats and public calls for his execution? [How did Catholics, for instance, respond to the mendacities of the Da Vinci Code? Anger, maybe. Or calls for dialogue. Or education. Or self-examination. Or even suggesting that Brown was on the mark and the Church needed to change. Did anyone threaten death? Violence? Anywhere? There were protests in the global South, I think. But calls for Brown's execution? I think not.]

Don't get me wrong. I'm not saying that we should not dialogue, not promote more peaceful relations with Muslims, not respect Muslims, even learn from their faith and understanding of the world,and so on. But such a dialogue has to have as its basis an atmosphere where opinions can be expressed freely, without fear of physical violence. We are far from that situation. Very far. Unless what we want to do is just meet for tea and biscuits and make nice. Or, worse, make nice because we're afraid we'll get killed. That is not dialogue. We have our part to play -- to promote the moderate voices in Islam, and in the West, promote peaceful co-existence and co-operation. But the greater onus, I think more and more, lies with the Muslim world.

That's exactly what Thomas Friedmann wrote in his column in the NYT yesterday: Islam and the Pope. [Not free]


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