Thursday, September 14, 2006

Diplomatic Contretemps #1

As the Pope returns to Albano -- where, tomorrow morning, he'll entrust the Vatican's geopolitical apparatus to his hand-picked Secretary of State -- the Regensburg lecture has yielded scorn from the Muslim world:
Questioning the concept of holy war, he quoted a 14th-Century Christian emperor who said Muhammad had brought the world only "evil and inhuman" things.

A senior Pakistani Islamic scholar, Javed Ahmed Gamdi, said jihad was not about spreading Islam with the sword.

Turkey's top religious official asked for an apology for the "hostile" words.

In Indian-administered Kashmir, police seized copies of newspapers which reported the Pope's comments to prevent any tension.

A Vatican spokesman, Father Frederico Lombardi, said he did not believe the Pope's comments were meant as a harsh criticism of Islam....

Stressing that they were not his own words, he quoted Emperor Manual II Paleologos of Byzantine, the Orthodox Christian empire which had its capital in what is now the Turkish city of Istanbul.

The emperors words were, he said: "Show me just what Muhammad 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."

Benedict said "I quote" twice to stress the words were not his and added that violence was "incompatible with the nature of God and the nature of the soul".
Benedict is scheduled to visit Turkey in late November.

AFP/DDP/Joerg Koch