The West Should Be Free To Criticize Islam
By DANIEL PIPESSeptember 19, 2006
A D V E R T I S E M E N T
A D V E R T I S E M E N T
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The Vatican responded by establishing an extraordinary and unprecedented security cordon around the pope. Further away, the incitement spurred some violence, with more likely on the way. Seven churches were attacked in the West Bank and Gaza, as well as one in Basra, Iraq (prompting this ironic headline at the "RedState" blog: "Pope implies Islam a violent religion ... Muslims bomb churches"). The murder of an Italian nun in Somalia and two Assyrians in Iraq also appear connected.
Second reflection: This new round of Muslim outrage, violence, and murder now has a routine quality. Earlier versions occurred in 1989 (in response to Salman Rushdie's novel "The Satanic Verses"), 1997 (when the U.S. Supreme Court did not take down a representation of Muhammad), 2002 (when Jerry Falwell called Muhammad a terrorist), 2005 (the fraudulent Koran-flushing episode), and this February (the Danish cartoon incident).
Vatican leaders tried to defuse the pope's quotation, as well as his condemnation of jihad. The Catholic News Service reported that the papal spokesman, Federico Lombardi, said Benedict did not intend to give "an interpretation of Islam as violent. ... Inside Islam there are many different positions and there are many positions that are not violent." Cardinal Tarcisio Bertone, the secretary of state, said in a statement that the pope "sincerely regrets that certain passages of his address could have sounded offensive to the sensitivities of the Muslim faithful."
Then, in what may be an unprecedented step by a pope, Benedict himself proffered the sort of semi-apology often favored by those feeling the heat. "I am deeply sorry for the reactions in some countries to a few passages of my address," the official Vatican translation into English reads, "which were considered offensive to the sensibility of Muslims. These in fact were a quotation from a medieval text, which do not in any way express my personal thought."
In the Italian original, however, Benedict says only "sono rammaricato," which translates as "I am disappointed" or "I regret."
Third reflection: The Muslim uproar has a goal — to prohibit criticism of Islam by Christians and thereby to impose Shariah norms on the West. Should Westerners accept this central tenet of Islamic law, others will surely follow. Retaining free speech about Islam, therefore, represents a critical defense against the imposition of an Islamic order.
Bingo I agree with this article one hundred percent, the last paragraph is bang on.