Now let's see, the chief cleric of the al-Azhar university accused the pope of ignorance about Islamic history, right? Let's hear what another history scholar from al-Azhar said in one of his books about the same stage of Islamic history as the one the pope was referring to.
Sheikh Khaleel Abdul Kareem in his book "Shadu al-Rababa fi Ahwal al-Sahaba" (first edition 1997) said:
"Did the invaded people take the belief of the invaders voluntarily? What were they expected to do after seeing with their own eyes their men being slaughtered even after they surrendered and raised the white flag? Or when they saw their houses burned down, women taken slaves, belongings purged and taxes imposed, where they expected to keep their religion or move to embrace that of their invading masters to get away from the punishment?"
I believe this testimony which comes from one of al-Azhar scholars is way more critical than the words the pope quoted…
By the way, Khaleel Abdul Kareem was prosecuted more than once but was never pronounced guilty because of his factual and objective approach in which he used examples and proofs taken from the history texts approved by al-Azhar and the like.
His prosecutors backed off when they realized that denouncing him would mean renouncing the history the live by and that's what none of them dared to do.
Some accuse the pope of bad timing but I wonder what is going to be the best time to accept criticism and accept questions? Next year? a decade from now? When?
There will no be such time for our clerics who derive their power from this history, and to them, questioning or criticizing this history is a threat to their holiness and power.
In other Pope-ally news...
John Vinocur notes, in the NYT, that German Chancellor Prime Minister Angela Merkel's statements in support of the Pope are part of a larger shift in German politics:
Over the weekend, this new tone leapt from the text of Merkel's reaction to attacks from the Islamic world on Pope Benedict XVI's speech in Germany about what she called his intended invitation to a dialogue between religions. There was no element of regret over Benedict's words in her response, only a statement that he had been misunderstood.
"What Benedict made clear," she said, "is a decisive and uncompromising rejection of any use of violence in the name of religion."
Merkel had gone to the issue of jihads herself more than a week before the German pope spoke. "As important as respect and tolerance for other cultures is," she said, "it's also clear that certain values that we demand are not expendable, above all that every human life has its dignity."
And, in Pope-apology news,
- In Italy, the apology closes a chapter.
- At Reuters, an "unequivocal" apology is called for by unspecified Muslims.
- The Iraqi Parliament wants a "clear" aplogy.
- Muslims in Turkey, Iraq, and Palestine desire a "detailed" aplogy.
- Bush calls the apology "sincere."
- Malaysia:"It's acceptable."
And, in Pope-adversary news,
- Turkey workers get ill, want Benedict arrested when he visits.
- Gaza Christians feel the heat...You know, from their churches burning down under the raining fuel of peace.
- Londonistan beefs up security for Catholic and Anglican churches...as well as mosques. You know, to control the backlash.
Update: "Enough apologies"