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Comments

I never thought I would have to bitch-slap Gedmin, but here goes.

Most of us know, or have known, Muslims who are very good people. If they are offended by the Pope's remarks, they are quite simply ignoring the fact they illuminate.

Islamic violence has been a problem for centuries. I hardly call that 'hijacking' - more like the standard mode of transportation, I'd say.

It's no use for good Muslims to deplore the mouse on the floor while ignoring the elephant in the room. If these people really believe their religion has been hijacked, then do something to take it back.
They can start by admitting the Pope has a point.

What is this common sense to which Jeffery refers but does not enumerate? That it is unwise to pointedly criticize Islam? Because it might cause offense or because it might spark a riot?

I certainly see no reciprocity with respect to criticism of Christianity or Christians. Christians will not riot in the streets if a certain criticism, whether deserved or not, is offensive to their religious sensibilities. Why? Because violence in the name of religion is unreasonable.

Perhaps Muslims might be offended by the Pope's remarks. Perhaps the Pope's remarks were meant to - or it was known in advance that they would be, offensive to Muslims. So what?

That Islam is divorced from reason is plain. The Pope pointed this out.

Jeffery's suggestion that perhaps the Pope should have said just that "...religion should never be used to justify violence" would likely have elicited precisely the same response.

Lipo

Oft mag ich seine Kommentare. Hier liegt er aber völlig daneben.

Hmmm. Can't really agree with him on this one, either. And it looks more to me now like "if I were a Muslim, I'd hijack a plane in Turkey to protest the Pope's planned visit."

If everyone stays quiet, due to empathy with the moderate muslims, then no one communicates the threat that has to be dealt with. If the moderate muslims don't help us fight the errant ones then they are part of the problem also.

"Islam has been hijacked by a small band of men"
This meme is really ignorant. The "small band of men" are following what the "Holy" koran directs them to do. Either Islam is spread by violence and intimidation or it isn't. Being a dhimmi ahead of time doesn't count.

No, I take the point. Making pointed comments is not as harsh as violence or discrimination, but it does carry its own sting. We might think that the sting is small, small enough that a person of maturity could deal with it, but the point is that the sting is real, rather than imaginary. For a Muslim to take offense is not unreasonable. What is unreasonable is what some are doing with the offense-taking.

I don't object to the Pope giving offense either. I am Protestant with strong Catholic sympathies, but I accept that when you press any devout Catholic into a corner, to be true to their faith they will have to believe some things that make me uncomfortable and may even seem insulting to me. The insult is real, even if they mean it with the kindest of intentions, and even if it is eminently fair. The Pope's comments may fall far short of what should prompt a violent response, but they are not neutral and innocuous. Reality is often painful for very real reasons.

"If I were Muslim, I’d be offended by the Pope’s speech"

And then how much money would you put on his head?
How many embassies would you burn down, how many innocent people would you murder in an attempt to show Islam is NOTevil and inhuman?

So a small group has hijacked Islam? Like the small group 3 to 4% who were Party members and had almost total control of the Soviet Union?

I’ve read that the Pope’s speech was beautifully written. Who’d disagree?

You have read the Pope's speech was beautifully written? Did you bother to read the speach on your own?
Pope's Speech at Regensburg
I was reminded of all this recently, when I read the edition by Professor Theodore Khoury (Münster) of part of the dialogue carried on-- perhaps in 1391 in the winter barracks near Ankara-- by the erudite Byzantine emperor Manuel II Paleologus and an educated Persian on the subject of Christianity and Islam, and the truth of both. It was probably the emperor himself who set down this dialogue, during the siege of Constantinople between 1394 and 1402; and this would explain why his arguments are given in greater detail than the responses of the learned Persian.
The dialogue ranges widely over the structures of faith contained in the Bible and in the Qur'an, and deals especially with the image of God and of man, while necessarily returning repeatedly to the relationship of the three Laws: the Old Testament, the New Testament, and the Qur'an. In this lecture I would like to discuss only one point-- itself rather marginal to the dialogue itself-- which, in the context of the issue of faith and reason, I found interesting and which can serve as the starting-point for my reflections on this issue.
In the seventh conversation edited by Professor Khoury, the emperor touches on the theme of the jihad (holy war). The emperor must have known that surah 2, 256 reads: There is no compulsion in religion. It is one of the suras of the early period, when Mohammed was still powerless and under threat.
But naturally the emperor also knew the instructions, developed later and recorded in the Qur’an, concerning holy war. Without descending to details, such as the difference in treatment accorded to those who have the “Book” and the “infidels,” he turns to his interlocutor somewhat brusquely with the central question on the relationship between religion and violence in general, in these words:
Show me just what Mohammed 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.
The emperor goes on to explain in detail the reasons why spreading the faith through violence is something unreasonable. Violence is incompatible with the nature of God and the nature of the soul.
God is not pleased by blood, and not acting reasonably is contrary to God's nature. Faith is born of the soul, not the body. Whoever would lead someone to faith needs the ability to speak well and to reason properly, without violence and threats... To convince a reasonable soul, one does not need a strong arm, or weapons of any kind, or any other means of threatening a person with death....
The decisive statement in this argument against violent conversion is this: not to act in accordance with reason is contrary to God's nature.

Gedmin
If I were Muslim, I think I might be offended by the Pope’s speech. And that’s what I am missing in much of the commentary, and in the Pope’s stingy statement of regret: empathy. In fact, precisely because I am not Muslim, does not decency and fair play demand that I at least try to put myself in the other person’s place?

If you were a Muslim would you not care to educate us infidels on on the subject of Christianity and Islam, and the truth of both.

Gedmin
In fact, precisely because I am not Muslim, does not decency and fair play demand that I at least try to put myself in the other person’s place?

This is such a howler. I truly do not know how to read it. Does this say that ONLY non-Muslims are held to a decency and fair-play standard? Does it say that Muslims cannot be expected to be held to standards of decency and fair play? Beats me. But let me stipulate that EVERYONE is held to the standard of decency, fair play and trying to understand by putting one self's in another shoes.

And this is how Gedmin thinks about this:

the current controversy reminds me of the insensitivity and smugness of some white Americans at times vis-a-vis their black fellow citizens. “He’s just thin-skinned,” someone will say of an African American colleague. It’s possible. But it’s also possible that it is a little like me the Christian insisting that my Jewish friend is just oversensitive and imagines anti-Semitism. Or like me the German, arguing that anti-Americanism doesn’t really exist. The Amis just don’t take criticism very well. Ever heard that before?

Yep. Sure have. Let's examine this a bit. African Americans. Slavery. No question that this is a sin on the soul of the United States. But it is not a sin without context. Nor should it be forgotten that it is a sin we tried to expunge with our own blood, the ideology of State Rights nothwithstanding.

The Role of Islam in African Slavery
The most favoured of all Islamic slaves seems to have been the military slave -- although performers were the most privileged. By the ninth century slave armies were in use across the whole of the Islamic Empire. The early slave armies tended to be white, taken from Russia and eastern Europe. However, the first independent Muslim ruler of Egypt relied on black slaves and at his death is said to have left 24,000 (white) Mamaluks and 45,000 Nubian military slaves. In north Africa the source of black slaves from Nubia and Sudan were too convenient to ignore. At the time of the Fatimid defeat, in the twelfth century, black troops formed the majority of the army. By the fifteenth century black military slaves were being favoured with the use in battle of firearms (the Mamaluks refused to use such dishonourable weapons). Slave troops in Tunisia in the seventeenth century even included cavalry, and the Sultan of Morocco is recorded as having an army of 250,000 black slaves.

Even as late as the mid-nineteenth century, Egyptian rulers actively recruited black slaves into their army -- for example, they were included in the Egyptian expeditionary force sent by Sa'id Pasha to Mexico in support of the French in 1863.

The transatlantic slave trade sent Arab slavers into overdrive, here was a new market which could be exploited. When the Europeans abolished slavery in the 1800's, the taking of slaves in Africa continued. The eradication of such practices was cited as a major justification by the Europeans for the colonisation of Africa. Certainly Britain had a significant fleet of ships patrolling the coasts against such slave traders.

Britannia.com's historical survey of slavery points out that "The European colonization movement of the second half of the 19th century put an end to slavery in many parts of Africa..." and that "the British turned their attention back to Africa. They moved onto the continent, took control of those governments that were thriving on slavery, and attempted to abolish the institution." Further "in the 1870's British missionaries moved into Malawi, the place of origin of the Indian Ocean Islamic slave trade, in an attempt to interdict it at its source... In Dahomey the French abolition of slavery resulted in the cessation of ceremonial human sacrifice."

Unfortunately this was not enough for "some parts of Africa and much of the Islamic world retained slavery at the end of World War I.

Saudi Arabia was in fact one of the last nation-states to abolish slavery. Along with Yemen, the Saudis only abolished slavery in 1962

United Nations Report 2003 - International Educational Development/Humanitarian Law Project (IED/HLP) brings to the attention of the Commission a situation that constitutes a contemporary form of slavery:

International Educational Development/Humanitarian Law Project (IED/HLP) brings to the attention of the Commission a situation that constitutes a contemporary form of slavery:
[snip]
On January 25, 1986 the two daughters (then aged 7 and 3 ½) of Pat Roush, an American, and a Saudi national, were kidnapped by their father and taken to Saudi Arabia.

Gedmin
Islam has been hijacked by a small band of men bent on spreading death and destruction around the globe. We keep saying we urgently need a dialogue with peace-loving Muslims. The vast majority of Muslims does not store weapons in Mosques, use women as human shields and murder children to prove a political point. Trust me, if they did, with 1.4 billion Muslims in the world we would hear about it

Trust me We've already heard about it. Vast Majority not required.

Gedmin
It is hard to imagine that the Pope’s speech is deepening our dialogue with all those potential allies. I think he’s done Muslim moderates, unwittingly perhaps, a bad turn.

If speaking the truth about historical facts is doing someone a bad turn, I think we need to question the dynamics of 'bad turn'. The Pope has harmed no one. And 'potential' has been a long time coming, thank you very much (I'll come back to this later). And frankly, Mr. Gemin, if you think Pope Ben does or speaks anything unwittingly, you have most seriously underestimated him and overestimated yourself.

Gedmin
I concede a rather subjective view of all this. I just read Khaled Hosseini’s “the Kite Runner.” It is a powerful book, a story of courage, dignity, lost honour and redemption. It’s written by a doctor living in California whose name does not sound very Christian and whose principal characters are two Muslim boys growing up in Afghanistan. I can only admire their faith, and how it helps Amir and Hassan to live meaningful, honest lives. I have thought in recent days about a valued colleague I once had in Washington, a gentleman named Sharrief. A kinder, more decent human being you will not meet. Sharrief happens to be black. He also happens to be a devout Muslim, who likes talking about the importance of Islam in his and his family’s life.

Ok. We have a book of fiction that has moved Mr. Gedmin. That's nice. Perhaps Mr. Gedmin would like to offer it as a gift to the children and or spouses of the 5 families in our neighborhood who lost loved ones in the Pentagon on 9/11. I still see them every Halloween, which is just around the corner. Perhaps he could send me some copies and I could hand them out as 'trick-or-treats'.

I too knew (past tense - make no mistake) some Muslims who are wonderful people. Warm, hospitable, funny, loved their kids, etc. In most cases, the women didn't cover, either. But always, the phrase was "This is not Islam". Why do the Saudis next door torment my dog? "This is not Islam." Why 9/11? "This is not Islam." Why is the literacy rate is Islamic countries so low? "This is not Islam." Why is that satus of women is Islamic countries beneath that of men? "This is not Islam."

So Mr. Gedmin, I come back to your point about 'potential' allies. It's been how many years? Every time they get bad PR from their co-relgionists, it's either "This is not Islam" or "You insult Muslims".

And make no misktake. I have gone out of my way to explore this community. You can read about one of my explorations here.

My Evening with Khatami


@Assistant Villiage Idiot
The Pope's comments may fall far short of what should prompt a violent response, but they are not neutral and innocuous. Reality is often painful for very real reasons.

What should prompt a violent response?

You are hereby promoted. You are the Village Idiot.

Incitement to violence might. Calling for the massacre of Muslims might.

You know, the Koran isn't really very long. Anyone can read it and decide for themselves whether it is really the "religion of peace" or not. Let us consider what it says from a theological point of view. Over and over and over again, it proclaims that those who don't accept the truth of Islam will burn in hell for ever and ever, for millions and billions and trillions of years. Each time one skin of the evildoers is burned away, a new skin will grow, so that the torture can be renewed, for a billion times a billion times the current age of the universe. (Read it yourself, my friends. You won't need to tire yourselves looking for a needle in a haystack, because the Koran is laced with these threats.) God is described as an infernal monster capable of creating beings, knowing in advance precisely what they will do, leaving them no "free will" whatsoever, and then subjecting them to the most refined torture forever for the paltry sins they can commit in their lifetimes, infinitesimally short compared to the time they will be tortured in the afterlife. This God, who is described as "merciful" and "beneficent," must necessarily be infinitely greater in comparison to mere humans than the most abject amoeba is to us. We are to believe that it is quite possible for this divine entity to become so incensed at an amoeba that he (for, of course, he has human sexual characteristics) will torture that amoeba for an eternity. Am I insulting Moslems here? I think not! I am merely repeating precisely what their religion teaches! Let any Moslem challenge me and prove me wrong, and I will meekly withdraw my "insults." Alas, that's very unlikely, because these vile threats, which really amount to the most disgusting blasphemy against the nature of a supreme being, should one really exist, are the heart and soul of the Koran, constantly repeated throughout. We are told that these threats don't really apply to "Christians," because they are "people of the book," and, therefore, exempt from all these tortures. Bunk! Read the book! Any Christian who believes in the trinity, shall we say, perhaps 98% of them, are explicitly described as "adding gods to God," and, therefore, idolaters. The Koran further explicitly proclaims that idolaters will burn in hell forever. Will any Moslem demure? Then he is no Moslem! I can quote him line and verse.

In a word, my friends, the pope's comments were not only true, but really rather mild. If Moslems are insulted by them, perhaps they should consult their own scriptures, and actually think about what they proclaim. If they actually start thinking about what they are supposed to believe, and conclude that, perhaps, the supreme being is not really an indescribably vile monster, capable of burning beings as pathetic as humans in hell forever for whatever paltry sins they commit on earth, capable of becoming "angry" (another human trait) at abject creatures so incredibly far beneath him, why, too bad my friends. The penalty for apostasy in Islam is death. But, then, I forget myself. After all, Moslems love death, as they have recently demonstrated with abundant clarity.

I remind you, my friends, that upwards of one billion people really believe that the supreme being is the entity I have described above. Do you still doubt that we are living in an asylum?

@Helian

You are obviously well-versed in Koran. Thank you for you refined explanation. I still don't understand where is the difference between the Christian and Muslim Gods. As much as I can figure it out, they are pretty juvenile.

Seriously, I don't think some religions are worse than others. In my opinion, they are equally bad, but they can't be dismissed on such grounds.

I think he has a point. Although perhaps he should change the "i'd be offended" into a "i might be offended"
Actually the last question in his article was the one i asked myself many times.
Its a sad thing to read the responses and comments here. I wonder if you gave the proper time to think about his text.
I get the impression some here seem to fear that agreeing to one or two points of his text would render the whole issue to something completely different.

@Deist

Personally, I totally agree with you.

The pope held the speech in his position as a professor of the university of regensburg. It actually was a lecture and no simple speech at all. The fact that a large part of the muslim world is not able to differ between different offices or to take part in scientific discussions is nothing we should be considerate of. There is no need to adopt to fools.

"The pope held the speech in his position as a professor of the university of regensburg."
Yes

"It actually was a lecture and no simple speech at all."
I agree

"The fact that a large part of the muslim world is not able to differ between different offices or to take part in scientific discussions is nothing we should be considerate of. There is no need to adopt to fools."
I almost agree here. I think that there is allways a need for certain consideration and adoption even to fools. Actually you see that every day in a situation involving for example the police. You know when someone is a drunkyard, beats his wife regularly and has a gun it might seem heroic to say "i dont adopt to fools" and go in his house while his family is there to get him but generally i think most officers are a bit "wiser" than just doing such things.

But reviewing again through the comments made including yours i think the problem is that you (and others) make the wrong deduction from the text ! Because actually Gedmin never states that you should "adopt to fools". And he never says that you should be considerate of people that do what you said above !

He speaks about empathy ! And he speaks about the simple fact that in the fight against fools you have allies amongst muslim people and you should consider their view and their position.
The point is that some/many/all muslims actually claim to be offended. Be it because of wrong media information, be it because of foolishness, be it for whatever reason.
And he things that he might be too IF he were a muslim. So he merely states the obvious. "Even normal muslims/people that actually have no hatred for the west might be offended"
And this one should indeed consider. Because the fight is about exactly THOSE people !

@Alexandru

"You are obviously well-versed in Koran. Thank you for you refined explanation. I still don't understand where is the difference between the Christian and Muslim Gods. As much as I can figure it out, they are pretty juvenile.

"Seriously, I don't think some religions are worse than others. In my opinion, they are equally bad, but they can't be dismissed on such grounds."

I am certainly no Christian. I found out after the fact that all the objections to that religion that I had arrived at myself were formulated very succinctly much earlier by an obscure French Catholic priest named Jean Meslier. He died around 1732, leaving a few handwritten copies of a "Testament," in which he apologized to his flock for not having the courage to criticize religion. He then set forth his objections to Christianity. His work is sometimes published with the title, "Superstition in All Ages." Voltaire assigned great significance to the discovery of the Testament, although he quipped it was "written in the style of a carriage horse." I will not quibble with the great philosopher on matters of style, but Meslier set forth his ideas and objections to the scriptures and the contradictions therein very clearly. Voltaire, with all his genius, never did a better job, at least in any single work, although his writings are, of course, more entertaining.

Be that as it may, there are profound differences between Christianity and Islam. The most significant difference in my opinion, at least for those of us who object to having religion shoved down our throats, is the fact that the Bible can be, and often has been, interpreted to justify a separation of church and state, a "rendering to Caesar that which is Caesar's, and unto God that which is God's." The Baptists and several other Christian sects have agreed with this interpretation. In Islam, however, there can be no question that the holy law, the Sharia, must be the basis for the law of the state, and no such separation of church and state exists. Early Muslim visitors to the West were nonplussed by the existence of parliaments, which made laws, because THE "law," as codified in the Koran, already existed, once and for all. The rest is merely interpretation of "the law." This is a huge difference, as far as I'm concerned.

As far as the difference between the two Gods is concerned, there, too, the differences are great. The Christian God cannot really be conflated with Allah. For most Christians, God is the three in one, the trinity of Father, Son, and Holy Ghost. Belief in the trinity is explicitly condemned in the Koran as idolatry, and believers in that doctrine are consigned to hell forever. Thus, there is a very fundamental contradiction between the two religions. Again, as St. Paul said, the Christian belief is vain if Christ did not die for our sins. Moslems deny that Christ was even crucified, although they consider him a prophet. In a word, any idea that Christianity and Islam are merely two separate ways to the same "truth" is completely irrational.

There are other significant differences. For example, Islam prohibits religious conversion by force more explicitly that the Bible. Hence the continued existence of Christianity and other religions in Muslim lands for centuries, albeit in a state of servitude, and certainly without equal rights in matters of religion. This relatively greater "tolerance" of Islam is exemplified by the life of the great Kurdish hero, Saladin, who directed that his alms be distributed among Jews, Christians and Moslems without distinction, and the sanctuary given to Jews in Moslem states when they were forcibly expelled from Christian lands such as Spain and Portugal. Interestingly, the Moslem scriptures prohibit both suicide and the illegal taking of life, both of which prohibitions fly in the face of the modern practice of the Islamists.

When it comes to judging between the two religions, I tend to agree with Christ's prescription, "By their fruits shall ye know them." Todays Islamic states are abject in comparison to those in "Christendum" by any objective standard. It is, perhaps, not a fair standard of comparison. The Moslem states were far more tolerant, enlightened and "modern" than the Christian states in the Middle Ages. The gradual development of the concepts of liberty that culminated in the Enlightenment in the West had much more to do, IMHO, with the pre-Christian culture of our forefathers, and, most importantly, our German forefathers, than any fundamental difference between the religions. With all due respect to Greek democracy, I don't think it is an exaggeration to say that Liberty is a gift of the Germans.

@Helian

Thank you for your argument and I want to apologize for being so sarcastic in my earlier post.

I have to admit that I feel extremely uncomfortable to talk about these issues, as I'm not at all prepared in this field.

However, there are certain things in your post that I don't agree with.

You said: "Be that as it may, there are profound differences between Christianity and Islam. The most significant difference in my opinion, at least for those of us who object to having religion shoved down our throats, is the fact that the Bible can be, and often has been, interpreted to justify a separation of church and state, a "rendering to Caesar that which is Caesar's, and unto God that which is God's." The Baptists and several other Christian sects have agreed with this interpretation. In Islam, however, there can be no question that the holy law, the Sharia, must be the basis for the law of the state, and no such separation of church and state exists. Early Muslim visitors to the West were nonplussed by the existence of parliaments, which made laws, because THE "law," as codified in the Koran, already existed, once and for all. The rest is merely interpretation of "the law." This is a huge difference, as far as I'm concerned."

First of all, "rendering to Caesar that which is Caesar's, and unto God that which is God's." does not (necessarily) refer to the separation you're hinting at. It might equally represent some sort of "colaborationism" with the Romans. While this is debatable - and, as I said, I'm not prepared for such a (lengthy) argument -, I dare to say that the second part of your paragraph is misleading. You are talking about "state" in its modern meaning. By the time the New Testament or the Koran were written, there was no such notion of "state". So, to imply that the teachings of Koran forbid in an explicit manner the existance of a separation between church and state is an error.

As you already said it, Islam had its time of openness. I think it's dangerous to assume that whatever is going on now is because of the religion itself. There are times when religions develop a kind of "political appetite". Islam is going through it a little later than Christianity. But these things will (inevitably) go away. However, it is also up to us to influence the speed of this course. I'm only saying that we should think before saying something that might offend millions of people. We (human beings) don't usually choose our religion.

Saying this, I also want to add one more thing. I don't think that the whole Pope's speech thing is similar to the Jyllands-Posten cartoons and I think that the reaction of the msm is a disgrace.

"First of all, "rendering to Caesar that which is Caesar's, and unto God that which is God's." does not (necessarily) refer to the separation you're hinting at. It might equally represent some sort of "colaborationism" with the Romans. ..."

How you or I interpret religious scripture is neither here nor there. What is significant is how it has been interpreted historically by those with the power to do something about it. The greater elaboration and putting into practice of a separation of church and state in predominantly Christian countries is a historical fact, regardless of any scriptural exegisis.

"As you already said it, Islam had its time of openness. I think it's dangerous to assume that whatever is going on now is because of the religion itself."

I think that the idea that what is going on now is not "because of the religion" is such nonsense that it's not even worth discussing.

"I'm only saying that we should think before saying something that might offend millions of people. We (human beings) don't usually choose our religion."

It is grotesquely offensive to emigrate to another country and assume you have an implicit right to dismantle freedoms in that country, such as the freedoms of speech and the press, that millions have shed their blood to establish and uphold. The level of "offensiveness" of anything the pope said, or the content of any cartoon, is not even remotely comparable. If people are not offended by the speech of others, then freedom of speech does not exist. Freedom of expression, by its very nature, is meaningless, unless it applies to people who don't share our opinions. It must certainly apply to matters as weighty as religious belief. Religious belief is not an inherent characteristic, such as skin color or sex. People can change their religion or cease to believe in any religion. One's decision in these matters can hardly be said to have no significance. As has been amply demonstrated lately, it can effect the lives of many others, and, according to the belief of hundreds of millions of people, will determine whether we go to heaven or burn in hell forever. It has a decisive influence on our whole interpretation of the purpose of live and the significance of morality. It is, then, absolutely essential that we be able to discuss and criticize religion, regardless of whether anyone is offended by it or not.

@Helian

"I think that the idea that what is going on now is not "because of the religion" is such nonsense that it's not even worth discussing."

So what do you propose? Banning Islam? A holy war? If the Islamic world has been more tolerant than the Christianity for hundreds of years, doesn't this mean that what is going on NOW is not related to the religion itself? Isn't this what the terrorist and some representatives of the left are saying? That the whole thing is a new crusade, when it's obviously not?

As for the last paragraph of your post, I may agree with certain parts. My impression is that you place too much emphasis on responsability of the individual. We are not entirely built the way we want to. Our set of beliefs is - to a certain extent - "inherited". I'm sure that there are many (otherwise decent) Muslims that genuinly hate US or Israel because that's the environment they grew up in. We all take (many) ideas for granted without analyzing them.

I will try to give you a small example. The Romanian Orthodox Church. For hundreds of years, it played only a minor role in the "state" and it didn't manifest any real interest in politics. Yet, at the beginning of the 20th century, it developed this "political appetite" I was talking about in my previous post. This fanatism led to movements somewhat similar to the Islamist ones (see the Iron Guard, for instance, who carried out "suicidal" attacks on the "establishment"). I'm not much of fan of the Romanian Orthodox Church, but I wonder... Is the religion's fault? Or is it because of a bunch of fundamentalists?

Freedom of speech means you can say anything. But it also means that you can be subjected to criticism.

"So what do you propose? Banning Islam? A holy war?"

That is certainly the issue of the hour. There is now a fundamental divergence of opinion in the West about how we should respond to the threat. It's reflected in the blogosphere. Blogs like LGF, Michelle Malkin, and Politically Incorrect see Islam itself as a fundamental threat, and are inclined to fight back against what they consider an alien culture that cannot adapt to the values of the Enlightenment, and that is a threat to our survival. Others believe that the problem is not Islam itself, but its false interpretation by many of its current adherents. They feel that fighting back against Islam itself is a fundamental rejection of our own values, and, in particular, freedom of religion. My own opinion is that survival trumps all other values. At some point, if an alien religion or philosophy poses an existential threat to the values of the Enlightenment, we can only affirm those values by fighting back, and eliminating the threat. Cultural suicide is not an appropriate way to "defend Western values." At the very least I am in favor of ending Moslem immigration to the West now. There is no fundamental "right" to emigrate from one country to another, for Moslems or anyone else, and choosing to allow emigration of socially and culturally disruptive elements in the name of some half-baked interpretation of "human rights" makes no sense to me. No country is obligated to import threats to its survival, or to the lives of its citizens. That this threat is real is evident historically. A recent example is the case of Kosovo. Unlimited immigration of an alien population into what was previously a predominantly Christian area with a Serbian population, as we know from census data collected after WWI, resulted in the dismemberment of Serbia and the takeover of the region by an alien culture.

If Moslems attack the West with nuclear weapons, all bets are off. At that point, I will favor removing them from our midst, in both Europe and America, at the least.

"As for the last paragraph of your post, I may agree with certain parts. My impression is that you place too much emphasis on responsability of the individual. We are not entirely built the way we want to. Our set of beliefs is - to a certain extent - "inherited". I'm sure that there are many (otherwise decent) Muslims that genuinly hate US or Israel because that's the environment they grew up in. We all take (many) ideas for granted without analyzing them."

I agree. However, the fact that most people adopt the religion or ideology of their culture uncritically, without questioning whether the religion or ideology is true or not, is still irrational, and can be self-destructive. Unfortunately, we are not rational animals, although we have a vastly exaggerated opinion of our own mental powers. That does not relieve us of the responsibility to search for the truth. If a God exists, it seems to me that he gave us brains in the hope we would actually use them for something more substantial than stuffing for our skull. Failing to make use of Gods gifts and blindly following priests and mullahs who demand we accept what they say on faith is, as far as I'm concerned, just another form of blasphemy.

This "faith" has certainly made it possible for the priests and mullahs among us to live a parasitic existence, justifying their exploitation in the name of blind acceptance of dogma. It has also resulted in the shedding of oceans of blood, and the enslavement of millions. I strongly suspect that, if there really is a God, those who have committed horrendous acts such as the destruction of the twin towers in the name of "faith" are now finding themselves in a somewhat more tropical environment than they expected.

"I'm not much of fan of the Romanian Orthodox Church, but I wonder... Is the religion's fault? Or is it because of a bunch of fundamentalists?"

It is certainly the religion's fault, if it provides scriptural justification for the acts of the fundamentalists. Islam, in my opinion, does provide such justification. One cannot dismiss the current predominant opinions among a very large percentage of the world's Muslim population, if not a majority, as merely the ravings of a "bunch of fundamentalists," any more than one can dismiss the Inquisition, the murder of hundreds of thousands of women as "witches," and the recurrent massacres of Jewish populations over many centuries as mere "aberrations" of Christianity. I do not agree that we must always simply accept such enormities, and be patient until the religion that inspires such acts returns to "normal." At some point, the religion itself must be held to account.

"Render unto Caesar..." can be explained simply as this: I am to obey the laws of the country in which I live (ie the 'outside man' is governed by secular law) but my conscience/spirit/will is governed by God's laws. The trouble comes when the government/state tries to dictate what I should believe/think.
About Islam, I have spent the best part of the past two years looking at the Koran, reading everything that I can about Islamic culture, faith, practices, etc. What I have learnt has led me to believe that the problem lies with the teachings of the Koran. If you are a Muslim set on pleasing Allah, following his commandments as set out in the Koran, violence is the end point of your faith. Now, why is it that all the Muslims in the world have not committed acts of terror? Simply, they are not following the commandments of their faith closely or, through a sense of decency or out of distaste, refuse to take their faith to its logical conclusion. This in no way means that the original commandments do not exist, merely that some choose not to follow them.
When I read the Koran, I was struck by its violent tone, its lack of mercy and compassion for others, its demonising of non-Muslims and its complete lack of love between Allah and man. Muslims may submit to Allah but they do not love him.


The last comments are completely accurate. Islam does not have the concept of "Grace", and does not embrace redemption. The wars of compulsion devastated many peoples and cultures, from the south of France to the Indonesian archipeligo. The crusades were in many ways a response to centuries of Islamic conquest. Muslim slave raiders ravaged European coasts for slaves until the 16th century. Slavers still operate, and are protected by Islamic nations. Islam is not tolerant, nor has it ever been. That the purest propaganda. The fate of the Dhimmi in the Dar Al Islam is a fickle and dangerous one. Christian, Jew, Hindu, and Budhist suffer and have suffered enourmous persecution in Muslim lands. The fate of Egyptian Coptic Christians, Iranian Bahai, Lebanese Christians, or Pakastani Catholics is illustrative to the eventual fate of any nation or peoples that succumb to Muslim dominance. The historical comparisons, when made by pundits, are usully devoid of historical context. This is indeed the thousands year conflict. We must take pride in our cultural and scientific achievments, and cherish our heros, for we trully are a force for good in the world. What is the solution to this long running dilemma? Standing up to Islamists, and refusing to grant them special status is a start. Killing Jihadis when they attack us is vital. Dealing with all Islam governed nations with caution and skepticism would be prudent. Limiting Muslim immigration and Islamic religious groups access very wise. A moderate Muslim is an apostate to the Muslim world and beneath contempt. There are far fewer of them than we have been lead to believe.

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