Pope Benedict XVI Islam controversy

The Pope Benedict XVI Islam controversy arose from a lecture delivered on 12 September 2006 by Pope Benedict XVI at the University of Regensburg in Germany. The pope had previously served as professor of theology at the university, and his lecture was entitled "Faith, Reason and the University — Memories and Reflections".The lecture received much condemnation and praise from political and religious authorities. Many Islamic politicians and religious leaders registered their protest against what they said was an insulting mischaracterization of Islam, [ [http://news.bbc.co.uk/2/hi/europe/5348436.stm BBC Article. "In quotes: Muslim reaction to Pope" last accessed September 17, 2006] ] [http://news.bbc.co.uk/2/hi/europe/5353208.stm BBC News Article:"Pope sorry for offending Muslims", last accessed Septermber 17, 2006] ] contained in the quotation by the pope of the following passage:cquote|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.

The passage originally appeared in the “"Dialogue Held With A Certain Persian, the Worthy Mouterizes, in Anakara of Galatia"” [ [http://frontpagemagazine.com/Articles/ReadArticle.asp?ID=24446 "The Pope, Jihad and "Dialogue""] , "The American Thinker", 19 September, 2005] , written in 1391 as an expression of the views of the Byzantine emperor Manuel II Paleologus, one of the last Christian rulers before the Fall of Constantinople to the Muslim Ottoman Empire, on such issues as forced conversion, holy war, and the relationship between faith and reason.

Pope Benedict XVI's lecture

The lecture on "faith and reason", with references ranging from ancient Jewish and Greek thinking to Protestant theology and modern Secularity, focused mainly on Christianity and what Pope Benedict called the tendency to "exclude the question of God" from reason. Islam features in a part of the lecture: the Pope quoted strong criticism of Islam, which he described as being of a "startling brusqueness, a brusqueness which leaves us astounded".

In three paragraphs at the beginning of the speech, Pope Benedict quoted from and discussed an argument made by the Byzantine Emperor Manuel II Palaiologos in a 1391 dialogue with an "educated Persian" (who remained unnamed in the Pope's lecture), as well as observations on this argument made by Theodore Khoury, the scholar whose edition of Manuel II's dialogues the Pontiff was referencing. Pope Benedict used Manuel II's argument in order to draw a distinction between the Christian view, as expressed by Manuel II, that "not acting reasonably is contrary to God's nature", and an Islamic view, as explained by Khoury, that God transcends concepts such as rationality, and his will, as Ibn Hazm stated, is not constrained by any principle, including rationality.

In part of his explication of this distinction, Pope Benedict referred to a specific aspect of Islam that Manuel II considered irrational, namely the practice of forced conversion. Specifically, the Pope (making clear that they were the Emperor's words, not his own) quoted Manuel II Palaiologos as saying: "Show me just what Muhammad brought that was new and there you will find things only bad and inhuman, such as his command to spread by the sword the faith he preached." The Pontiff was comparing the Islamic teaching that "There is no compulsion in religion" with what Pope Benedict described as the newer teaching that allowed "spreading the faith through violence"; the latter teaching being offered by Pope Benedict as an unreasonable one, on the belief that religious conversion should take place through the use of reason. His larger point here was that, generally speaking, in Christianity, God is understood to act in accordance with reason, while in Islam, God's absolute transcendence means that "God is not bound even by his own word", and can act in ways contrary to reason, including self-contradiction. At the end of his lecture, the Pope said, "It is to the great logos, to this breadth of reason, that we invite our partners in the dialogue of cultures."

Key paragraphs

Quoted below are the three paragraphs (of sixteen total) which discuss Islam in Pope Benedict's lecture:

cquote|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 presumably 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 those of his Persian interlocutor. 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 between — as they were called — three "Laws" or "rules of life": the Old Testament, the New Testament and the Qur'an. It is not my intention to discuss this question in the present lecture; here I would like to discuss only one point — itself rather marginal to the dialogue as a whole — 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 holy war. The emperor must have known that sura 2, 256 reads: "There is no compulsion in religion". According to the experts, this 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 addresses his interlocutor with a startling brusqueness on the central question about the relationship between religion and violence in general, saying: "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, after having expressed himself so forcefully, 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", he says, "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. The editor, Theodore Khoury, observes: "For the emperor, as a Byzantine shaped by Greek philosophy, this statement is self-evident. But for Muslim teaching, God is absolutely transcendent. His will is not bound up with any of our categories, even that of rationality." Here Khoury quotes a work of the noted French Muslim R. Arnaldez, who points out that Ibn Hazn went so far as to state that God is not bound even by his own word, and that nothing would oblige him to reveal the truth to us. Were it God's will, we would even have to practice idolatry. [http://www.vatican.va/holy_father/benedict_xvi/speeches/2006/september/documents/hf_ben-xvi_spe_20060912_university-regensburg_en.html "Lecture of the Holy Father - Faith, Reason and the University Memories and Reflections"] , "Libreria Editrice Vaticana", 12 September, 2006]

Translation differences

The original German text of the Pope's lecture as published at the Vatican website differs slightly in several respects from the English translation, despite both versions being official (though "provisional") Vatican versions. It is unknown whether this had an impact on perceptions of the speech.

Commenting on the quote from the Byzantine emperor, Pope Benedict states in the English translation of his lecture, "he addresses his Interlocutor with a startling brusqueness". According to the German text the Pope's original comment was "He addresses his interlocutor in an astoundingly harsh — to us surprisingly harsh — way" "(wendet er sich in erstaunlich schroffer, uns überraschend schroffer Form)." [ [http://www.vatican.va/holy_father/benedict_xvi/speeches/2006/september/documents/hf_ben-xvi_spe_20060912_university-regensburg_ge.html "Lecture of the Holy Father - Faith, Reason and the University Memories and Reflections"] , "Libreria Editrice Vaticana", 12 September, 2006 de icon]

This difference was corrected on 17 September. The official (though still "provisional") passage now reads: "he addresses his interlocutor with a startling brusqueness, a brusqueness which leaves us astounded". (emphasis in original)

Another difference involves the use of the word "jihad", which is present in the German version but not in the English one: the original statement "The emperor touches on the theme of jihad, holy war" "(kommt der Kaiser auf das Thema des Djihad, des heiligen Krieges zu sprechen)" became in the English rendition "The emperor touches on the theme of the holy war."

A third difference involves the emperor's quote employed by the Pope: "...things only evil and inhuman...". What the Pope said, and which is found in the German text and verifiable with the audio from the lecture, was "... things only bad and inhumane ... ". The word used was "Schlechtes" (bad/wicked), whereas the English word "evil" would have corresponded to "Böses", a word the Pope did not use. Similarly, the German word "inhuman" (inhumane) was used, and not "unmenschlich" (inhuman). [ [http://www.vokabeln.de/v2_Englisch_christlich.htm "Vorschau der Vokabeldatei 'Englisch - christlich' "] , "Langenscheid", 12 September, 2005 de icon]

Initial reactions

Political leaders


*flag|Egypt – Foreign minister Ahmed Aboul Gheit: " This was a very unfortunate statement and it is a statement that shows that there is a lack of understanding of real Islam. And because of this we are hopeful that such statements and such positions would not be stated in order to not allow tension and distrust and recriminations to brew between the Muslim as well as the west." The Vatican envoy was also summoned. [http://news.bbc.co.uk/2/hi/europe/5348436.stm "In quotes: Muslim reaction to Pope"] , "BBC", 16 September 2006]

*flag|Morocco – Morocco recalled its ambassador to the Vatican. [ [http://www.theaustralian.news.com.au/story/0,20867,20426792-1702,00.html "Ambassador recalled over Pope row"] . "Agence France-Presse", 17 September 2006.]


*flag|United States - Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice praised the Pontiff's "love of humanity," and said: "We all need to understand that offense can sometimes be taken when perhaps we don't see it." [ [http://www.boston.com/news/world/europe/articles/2006/09/20/muslims_seek_fuller_apology/ "Muslims seek fuller apology"] . "The Boston Globe", 20 September 2006.]


*flag|Iran – The Guardian Council said the Pope was part of "a series of Western conspiracy against Islam" and had "linked Islam to violence and challenged Jihad at a time when he apparently closed his eyes to the crimes being perpetrated against defenseless Muslims by the leaders of power and hypocrisy under flag of Christianity and Jewish religion". [ [http://www.irna.ir/en/news/view/line-17/0609169368210934.htm "Guardian Council condemns Pope's anti-Islam statement"] . "IRNA", 17 September 2006] President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad stated that "Regarding the issue of the Pope's comments, we respect the pope and all of those who are interested in peace and justice." [ [http://www.jpost.com/servlet/Satellite?cid=1157913657839&pagename=JPost%2FJPArticle%2FShowFull Iranian president expresses respect for pope] , "The Jerusalem Post", September 19, 2006]

*flag|IraqGovernment spokesman Ali al-Dabbagh said that "The Pope's remarks reflect his misunderstanding of the principles of Islam and its teachings that call for forgiveness, compassion and mercy," but also called on Iraqis not to harm "our Christian brothers." [ [http://news.scotsman.com/latest.cfm?id=1372812006 "Iraq calls for calm after Pope's remarks"] . "Reuters", 16 September 2006]

*flag|Indonesia – President Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono stated that the Pope's comments were "unwise and inappropriate," [ [http://www.thejakartapost.com/detaillgen.asp?fileid=20060917190035&irec=0 "Pope says he's sorry about strong reaction, says speech didn't reflect his personal opinion"] , "The Jakarta Post", 17 September 2006] but also that "Indonesian Muslims should have wisdom, patience, and self-restraint to address this sensitive issue....We need them so that harmony among people is not at stake." [ [http://www.asianews.it/view.php?l=en&art=7234 Amid criticism and violence the first balanced views about the Pope’s speech appear] ]

*flag|Malaysia – Prime Minister Abdullah Ahmad Badawi said, "The Pope must not take lightly the spread of outrage that has been created. The Vatican must now take full responsibility over the matter and carry out the necessary steps to rectify the mistake."

*flag|Pakistan – President Pervez Musharraf, in a speech at the United Nations, called for legislation against "defamation of Islam." [ [http://news.yahoo.com/s/afp/20060919/wl_sthasia_afp/unassemblypakistan_060919201407 Pakistan calls for ban on 'defamation of Islam' in veiled attack on pope] ,"AFP", 19 September 2006] Pakistan's parliament, issued a statement saying "The derogatory remarks of the Pope about the philosophy of jihad and Prophet Muhammad have injured sentiments across the Muslim world and pose the danger of spreading acrimony among the religions." Pakistan's Foreign Ministry spokeswoman Tasnim Aslam said, "Anyone who describes Islam as a religion as intolerant encourages violence." [ [http://www.foxnews.com/story/0,2933,213923,00.html "Pakistan's Parliament Condemns Pope"] ,"Fox News", 17 September 2006]

*flag|Palestinian AuthorityHamas leader and Prime Minister Ismail Haniya condemned the Pope's remarks: "In the name of the Palestinian people, we condemn the pope’s remarks on Islam. These remarks go against the truth and touch the heart of our faith." He also denounced the Palestinian attacks on churches in the West Bank and Gaza. [cite news |url=http://www.nytimes.com/2006/09/17/world/europe/17cnd-pope.html?ex=1316145600&en=bd45a56d2f9e575a&ei=5088&partner=rssnyt&emc=rss&pagewanted=print |title=Pope Apologizes for Uproar Over His Remarks |date=2006-09-16 |publisher= The New York Times]

*flag|Yemen - President Ali Abdullah Saleh has threatened to sever diplomatic ties with the Vatican.cite web
accessdate=17 September


* – Prime Minister John Howard has backed the Pope's comments, saying that angry response from the Islamic world is "disproportionate, strange and disappointing". He also stated that Muslims should "move on", adding that, "I don't, at the moment, note terrorist groups killing people and invoking the authority of the Catholic Church". [ [http://www.abc.net.au/lateline/content/2006/s1744911.htm Interview with John Howard] ]


* – President Jacques Chirac warned against "anything that increases tensions between peoples or religions".cite news|url= http://www.timesonline.co.uk/article/0,,3-2363459_1,00.html |title=Al-Qaeda threatens jihad over Pope's remarks |date=2006-09-17 |publisher=The Times]

*flag|Germany – Chancellor Angela Merkel said: "Whoever criticises the Pope misunderstood the aim of his speech… It was an invitation to dialogue between religions and the Pope expressedly spoke in favour of this dialogue, which is something I also support and consider urgent and necessary." [ [http://abcnews.go.com/US/wireStory?id=2452162 "Merkel defends Pope amid Muslim fury"] , "Reuters", 16 September 2006]

*flag|Italy – Prime Minister Romano Prodi said: "There cannot be any controversy... Religious dialogue and respect for every faith are essential today and religion does not justify any type of violence." [ [http://www.agi.it/english/news.pl?doc=200609161856-1197-RT1-CRO-0-NF82&page=0&id=agionline-eng.italyonline "Prodi, religions must be committed to Dialogue"] , "Agenzia Giornalistica Italia", 16 September, 2006]

* – Interior Minister Pascal Couchepin stated the Pope's speech was "intelligent and necessary." [ [http://fr.news.yahoo.com/17092006/5/le-ministre-suisse-de-l-interieur-defend-beno-t-xvi.html "Le ministre suisse de l'Intérieur défend Benoît XVI"] , "Associated Press", 17 September 2006 fr icon]

*flag|Turkey – Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdoğan said: "I believe it is a must for (the Pope) to retract his erroneous, ugly and unfortunate remarks and apologise both to the Islamic world and Muslims. …I hope he rapidly amends the mistake he has made so as not to overshadow the dialogue between civilizations and religions." [ [http://www.turkishpress.com/news.asp?id=142438 "Turkish PM urges pope to apologise for Islam remarks"] , "Turkishpress.com", 16 September, 2006]

* - The director of the Vatican press office stated: "Pope Benedict’s remarks about jihad may have been taken out of context but they were not an aberration. On the contrary, they stem from his thinking about Islam and the West in the one and a half years since he became Pope. It was certainly not the intention of the Holy Father to undertake a comprehensive study of the jihad and of Muslim ideas on the subject, still less to offend the sensibilities of Muslim faithful. Quite the contrary, what emerges clearly from the Holy Father’s discourses is a warning, addressed to Western culture, to avoid 'the contempt for God and the cynicism that considers mockery of the sacred to be an exercise of freedom.'" [ [http://www.timesonline.co.uk/article/0,,3-2360085,00.html "Homily on faith, logic and holy war was seen as a slur on Islam"] , "The Times", 16 September 2006] [ [http://www.cwnews.com/news/viewstory.cfm?recnum=46449 "Islam not condemned in papal speech, Vatican spokesman says"] , "Catholic World News", 13 September 2006]


*flag|European Union – A EU Commission spokesman objected to "picking quotes out of context", and said the commission would not "clarify or interpret" the speech, because they consider it "a theological contribution to a theological debate." He added that "reactions which are disproportionate and which are tantamount to rejecting freedom of speech are unacceptable." [ [http://euobserver.com/9/22438 " Brussels defends Pope's freedom of expression"] , "EU Observer", 18 September 2006]

=Religious leaders=


* Cardinal Jean-Marie Lustiger said “We are faced with a media-driven phenomenon bordering on the absurd... If the game consists in unleashing the crowd’s vindictiveness on words that it has not understood, then the conditions for dialogue with Islam are no longer met.” [ [http://www.nytimes.com/2006/09/18/world/18cnd-pope.html?hp&ex=1158638400&en=09867eb4bf0ed8e6&ei=5094&partner=homepage "Many Muslims Say Pope’s Apology Is Inadequate"] , "New York Times", 18 September 2006]
* Abbot Primate Notker Wolf, head of the worldwide Roman Catholic Benedictine Confederation of the Order of Saint Benedict, said that the Pope used Manuel's dialogue with a Persian to make an indirect reference to Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad. "I have heard he plans to write a letter to the Pope," Wolf added. "I think this would be a good opportunity to take up the gauntlet, so to speak, and really discuss things." [ [http://www.antara.co.id/en/seenws/?id=19894 "Pope invites Muslims to dialogue, slams 'holy wars'"] , "ANTARA", 13 September 2006]
* Cardinal George Pell of Australia has backed the Pope's comments, saying he does not "rule out the link between Islam and violence" and that "The violent reaction in many parts of the Islamic world justified one of Pope Benedict's main fears". [ [http://news.scotsman.com/latest.cfm?id=1383832006 Cardinal adds to islam-violence debate] ]
* Cardinal Secretary of State Bertone said: "Addressing the world's other religious faiths is part of the Church's mission... We must all return to the original source of human life, which is love." [ [http://www.cwnews.com/news/viewstory.cfm?recnum=46450 "Church has a role to guide other faiths: Cardinal Bertone"] , "Catholic World News", 13 September 2006]

Other Christian

* Shenouda III, the Coptic Pope of Alexandria while admitting that he hadn't heard the exact words used by Pope Benedict XVI, said that "any remarks which offend Islam and Muslims are against the teachings of Christ." [ [http://www.foxnews.com/story/0,2933,214167,00.html "Christian Leader Joins Muslims in Denouncing Pope's Remarks"] , "JAP", 16 September 2006]
* Rowan Williams, the Archbishop of Canterbury and head Anglican Primate of All England of the Anglican Church, said: "There are elements in Islam that can be used to justify violence, just as there are in Christianity and Judaism." [cite news|url= http://www.guardian.co.uk/pope/story/0,,1875206,00.html |title=Archbishop backs Vatican apology |date=2006-09-18 |publisher=The Guardian]
*Former Archbishop of Canterbury George Carey dismissed Muslim charges that the Pope had "rubbished" Islam and stated that "Muslims, as well as Christians, must learn to enter into dialogue without crying 'foul'." [ [http://www.jpost.com/servlet/Satellite?cid=1157913641658&pagename=JPost%2FJPArticle%2FPrinter "European leaders back Benedict"] , "Jerusalem Post", 16 September 2006]


* On September 29, 2006, Muslim scholar of Islam and Comparative Religion studies, Dr. Zakir Naik invited Pope Benedict XVI for open interfaith dialogue. [>cite web|url=http://www.paktribune.com/news/index.shtml?155694 |title="Dr Zakir Naik invites Pope Benedict XVI for open interfaith dialogue" |date=2006-09-29 |publisher="PakTribune"] [http://sanagency.com/18Oct06.html Pope Benedict’s Provocative Utterances!] by Latheef Farook, South Asia News Agency, October 18, 2006] [ [http://www.saudigazette.com.sa/index.php?option=com_content&task=view&id=16560&Itemid=116] ]

*Ali Bardakoğlu, the head of the Religious Affairs Directorate of Turkey, commented that the Pope's statements "were extraordinarily worrying, very unfortunate, both in the name of Christianity, and in the name of shared humanity," and called on Pope Benedict to either retract or apologize for his conduct. He added "if there is a religious antagonism in the West, it's the responsibility of the logic-ignoring Christian church", citing historical incidents of religious oppression in Europe and the Americas. He also implied that the Pope should consider cancelling his trip to Turkey that was originally planned for November 2006. [ [http://www.iht.com/articles/ap/2006/09/14/europe/EU_GEN_Turkey_Pope.php "Turkish cleric attacks pope's Islam remarks"] , "Associated Press", 14 September, 2006 de icon] Bardakoğlu later admitted to not having read the Pope's lecture before making his statements. [ [http://www.spiegel.de/politik/deutschland/0,1518,437392,00.html "Türkischer Kritiker hatte Rede nicht gelesen"] "Der Spiegel", September 16, 2006 de icon]

*Mohammed Mahdi Akef from the Muslim Brotherhood said the remarks "threaten world peace" and "pour oil on the fire and ignite the wrath of the whole Islamic world to prove the claims of enmity of politicians and religious men in the West to whatever is Islamic." [cite web|url=http://cbs4.com/topstories/local_story_258111544.html |title=Pope backpedals on 'jihad' remarks: Benedict XVI says he did not intend to offend Muslims |date=2006-09-15 |publisher=Associated Press]

*Mohammed Sayed Tantawi, grand sheik of Al-Azhar University in Cairo, conveyed the university's position that the Pope's comments about Islam "indicate clear ignorance" of the religion and "attribute to Islam what it does not contain." [ [http://www.smh.com.au/news/world/malaysia-demands-apology/2006/09/16/1158334718552.html "Malaysia demands apology"] , "Sydney Morning Herald", 16 September, 2006]

*Sheikh Yusuf al-Qaradawi, Egyptian Muslim cleric and head of Islamic Scholars' Association; " Our hands are outstretched and our religion calls for peace, not for war, for love not for hatred, for tolerance, not for fanaticism, for knowing each other and not for disavowing each other. We condemn this and we want to know the explanation of this and what is intended by this. We call on the pope, the pontiff, to apologise to the Islamic nation because he has insulted its religion and Prophet, its faith and Sharia without any justification." [ [http://news.bbc.co.uk/2/hi/europe/5348436.stm "Muslim reaction to Pope"] , "BBC News", 16 September, 2006]

*Ahmad Khatami, one of Iran's most influential clerics asked the Pope to "fall on his knees in front of a senior Muslim cleric and try to understand Islam." [ [http://thestar.com.my/news/story.asp?file=/2006/9/17/worldupdates/2006-09-17T173738Z_01_NOOTR_RTRJONC_0_-267877-10&sec=Worldupdates "Pope tells Muslims he is 'deeply sorry' for crisis"] , "Malaysia Star", September 17, 2006]

*Aga Khan IV, leader of the Ismaili branch of Islam said: "I have two reactions to the pope's lecture: There is my concern about the degradation of relations and, at the same time, I see an opportunity. A chance to talk about a serious, important issue: the relationship between faith and logic" [ [http://www.spiegel.de/international/spiegel/0,1518,442180,00.html SPIEGEL interview with Aga Khan] - Der Spiegel. 12 October, 2006]


* In a letter to the Muslim scholar Sheikh Yusuf Qaradawi, Sephardic Chief Rabbi Shlomo Amar criticized Benedict's remarks, writing: "our way is to honour every religion and every nation according to their paths, as it is written in the book of prophets: 'because every nation will go in the name of its Lord.'" [ [http://haaretz.com/hasen/spages/763593.html "Sephardic chief rabbi criticizes pope's remarks"] , "Haaretz", 17 September, 2006]

=Non-religious commentary=
* In an article published in "CounterPunch", author Tariq Ali said, "The Bavarian is a razor-sharp reactionary cleric. I think he knew what he was saying and why. In a neo-liberal world suffering from environmental degradation, poverty, hunger, repression, a ‘planet of slums’ (in the graphic phrase of Mike Davis), the Pope chooses to insult the founder of a rival faith. The reaction in the Muslim world was predictable, but depressingly insufficient." [ [http://www.counterpunch.org/tariq09162006.html Papal insults – A Bavarian Provocation] by Tariq Ali for "CounterPunch". 17 September, 2006]

* A different view was taken by Christopher Hitchens, who wrote in "Fighting Words" for Slate web magazine that Pope Benedict "...has managed to do a moderate amount of harm—and absolutely no good—to the very tense and distraught discussion now in progress between Europe and Islam." Hitchens also presented what he feels is a problem with the focus of the Pope's speech with respect to Reason: "...now its new reactionary leader has really 'offended' the Muslim world, while simultaneously asking us to distrust the only reliable weapon—reason—that we possess in these dark times. A fine day's work, and one that we could well have done without." [ [http://www.slate.com/id/2149863 Papal BullJoseph Ratzinger's latest offense.] by Christopher Hitchens for Slate. 18 September, 2006]

*Hans Köchler, head of the Department of Philosophy at the University of Innsbruck and a leading advocate of civilizational dialogue, wrote in a commentary: "In his lecture preaching the compatibility of reason and faith, Benedict XVI, the scholar, deliberately overlooks the fact that the insights of Greek philosophy – its commitment to the λόγος – have been brought to medieval Christian Europe by the great Muslim thinkers of the Middle Ages. What he calls the 'encounter between the Biblical message and Greek thought' ... was, to a large extent, the result of the influence of Muslim philosophers – at a time when European Christians were totally ignorant of classical Greek philosophy."." [ [http://i-p-o.org/koechler-Religion_Reason_Violence-16Sept06.htm Religion, Reason and Violence: Pope Benedict XVI and Islam] - Hans Köchler, Statement for the International Progress Organization. 16 September, 2006]

*Tariq Ramadan, an influential visiting fellow in the University of Oxford, said "Most did not read the pope's speech; others had relied on a sketchy summary according to which the pope had linked Islam and violence.. certain groups or governments manipulate crises of this kind as a safety valve for both their restive populations and their own political agenda.. the mass protests... end up providing a living proof that Muslims cannot engage in reasonable debate and that verbal aggression and violence are more the rule than the exception." [ [http://www.iht.com/articles/2006/09/20/opinion/edramadan.php A struggle over Europe's religious identity] - Tariq Ramadan for the International Herald Tribune. 20 September, 2006]

ubsequent Vatican statements

Official Vatican declaration

On 16 September 2006, Tarcisio Cardinal Bertone, the Secretary of State of the Holy See, released a declaration explaining that the "position of the Pope concerning Islam is unequivocally that expressed by the conciliar document Nostra Aetate" and that "the Pope's option in favour of inter-religious and inter-cultural dialogue is equally unequivocal." [ [ "Traduzione In Lingua Inglesse"] , "Libreria Editrice Vaticana", 16 September, 2006]

Response to official declaration

For many Muslim leaders, the declaration on 16 September was insufficient to rectify the situation. A representative for the Muslim Brotherhood rejected the Vatican statement, noting "Has he presented a personal apology for statements by which he clearly is convinced? No." [ [http://today.reuters.co.uk/news/articlenews.aspx?type=worldNews&storyID=2006-09-16T125737Z_01_L16665781_RTRUKOC_0_UK-RELIGION-POPE-ISLAM-REACT.xml&archived=False "Pope statement not enough — Muslim Brotherhood"] , "Reuters", 16 September 2006] Grand Mufti Shaikh Abdul-Azeez ibn Abdullaah Aal ash-Shaikh, Saudi Arabia's highest religious authority, called the pope's declaration "lies", adding that they "show that reconciliation between religions is impossible." [ [http://www.netzeitung.de/spezial/derpapst/440836.html "«Hässliche, unglückliche Äußerungen»: Erdogan fordert Entschuldigung des Papstes"] , "Netzeitung", 17 September, 2006 de icon] On the other hand, the Muslim Council of Britain had a more favourable view of the declaration, issuing their own statement on 16 September that the Pope's expression of "sincere regret" was "a good first step." [ [http://news.bbc.co.uk/2/hi/uk_news/5352040.stm "Pope praised for making apology"] , "BBC", 16 September 2006]

Pope's Angelus

On 17 September, before his regular weekly Sunday Angelus prayer, Pope Benedict XVI stated the following:

Reactions to Angelus

The Angelus speech initially received a mixed yet predominantly negative response. [cite news|url= http://www.guardian.co.uk/uklatest/story/0,,-6087503,00.html |title=Mixed response to new Pope apology |date=2006-09-18 |publisher=The Guardian] Mohammed Sayed Tantawi, Grand Sheikh of Al-Azhar Mosque, Cairo, a Sunni institution, stated "We have no objection if the Pope holds another speech and declares publicly that what the Byzantine emperor had said was wrong. At the same time, the Pope has to apologize frankly and justify what he said," Mohammed el-Sayed Habib, deputy leader of the Muslim Brotherhood, Egypt's main Islamic opposition group originally, not long after the Pope's Sunday statements, called them a sufficient apology. However, later in the day, he retracted that statement, saying, "The Pope's comments that downplayed his earlier remarks are not enough. We will not accept anything less than an apology," [cite news|url=http://www.cnn.com/2006/WORLD/europe/09/17/pope.islam/index.html |title= Pope 'deeply sorry' for Muslim fury |date=2006-09-17 |publisher=CNN] Mohammed Habib also said: "It does not rise to the level of a clear apology and, based on this, we're calling on the Pope of the Vatican to issue a clear apology that will decisively end any confusion. [cite news|url= http://www.news.com.au/heraldsun/story/0,21985,20430473-5005961,00.html |title=Pope apology 'not good enough' |date=2006-09-17 |publisher=Herald Sun] This sentiment was shared by the governments of Malaysia ("inadequate to calm the anger") [cite news|url= http://www.forbes.com/business/healthcare/feeds/ap/2006/09/18/ap3025810.html |title=Iranian Leader Urges More Papal Protests |date=2006-09-18 |publisher=AP] and Jordan ("a step forward", but "not sufficient") [cite news|url= http://www.guardian.co.uk/frontpage/story/0,,1875811,00.html |title= Pope has joined US crusade, says Iran |date=2006-09-19 |publisher=The Guardian] , by Turkish State Minister Mehmet Aydin ("you either have to say this 'I'm sorry' in a proper way or not say it at all. Are you sorry for saying such a thing or because of its consequences?") and scholar Yusuf al-Qaradawi, who called for a "peaceful international day of rage" on his popular TV show on Al-Jazeera: " [The Pope's latest statements] were no apology. They were an accusation against Muslims that they didn't understand his words." [cite news|url= http://service.spiegel.de/cache/international/0,1518,437636,00.html |title=Pope's Apology Rejected by Some, Accepted by Others |date=2006-09-18 |publisher=Der Spiegel]

Later comments were more favourable of the Pope.Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad said: "We respect the Pope and all those interested in peace and justice," [cite web|url=http://www.gulfnews.com/region/Iran/10068652.html |title=Ahmadinejad 'respects' Pope |date=2006-09-19 |publisher=Gulfnews] and said he accepted the Vatican view that the pontiff’s words had been "misinterpreted" and "taken out of context". [cite web|url=http://www.timesonline.co.uk/article/0,,3-2365442,00.html |title=The Pope is in danger, warns failed assassin of John Paul II |date=2006-09-19 |publisher=The Times] Malaysia’s Prime Minister Ahmad Badavi said: "I suppose we could accept this. We hope that there would be no other statements that would anger Muslims." [cite web|url=http://www.zaman.com/?bl=international&alt=&trh=20060920&hn=36652 |title=Iran, Malaysia Satisfied with Pope's Expression of Regret |date=2006-09-20 |publisher=Zaman]
Ali Bardakoğlu, the head of Turkey’s Religious Affairs Directorate said that Benedict’s "expression of sadness is a sign that he would work for world peace." [cite web|url=http://www.amhersttimes.com/index.php?option=com_content&task=view&id=2814&Itemid=27 |title=THE POPE'S ACT OF CONTRITION |date=2006-09-20 |publisher=Amherst Times] Australian Muslim leader Ameer Ali said Australian Muslims must "accept the Pope's apology" over remarks that offended Islam and "move on". [cite web|url=http://www.theage.com.au/news/national/muslims-must-accept-pope-apology/2006/09/19/1158431691905.html |title=Muslims 'must accept Pope apology' |date=2006-09-19 |publisher=The Age] Filipino Muslims expressed support for Pope Benedict's apology and blamed certain media outlets for increasing the tensions between Muslims and Catholics. [ [http://www.cathnews.com/news/609/133.php "Benedict to meet Muslim ambassadors today"] ]

Diplomatic initiative

On September 25 2006, Pope Benedict XVI held an audience with Muslim diplomats, ambassadors of Muslim countries and members of the Consulta Islamica, the Italian government appointed consultative body on Islamic affairs. The meeting was an effort to mend relations with the Muslim community. Pope Benedict's spokesman, the Rev. Federico Lombardi, said the meeting at the Pope's summer residence was "certainly a sign that dialogue is returning to normal after moments of … misunderstanding." [ [http://abcnews.go.com/International/wireStory?id=2486620 Pope, Muslims Meet in Bid to Defuse Anger] ] During the session, Pope Benedict XVI reiterated his conviction that the dialogue between Muslims and Christians is “a vital necessity” for the good of a world marked by relativism, one that “excludes the transcendence and universality of reason.” [ [http://www.asianews.it/view.php?l=en&art=7309 ASIANEWS Pope: dialogue between Muslims and Christians “a vital necessity”] ] At this meeting, Pope Benedict expressed "all the esteem and the profound respect that (he has) for Muslim believers." [ [http://www.vatican.va/holy_father/benedict_xvi/speeches/2006/september/documents/hf_ben-xvi_spe_20060925_ambasciatori-paesi-arabi_en.html "Address to the Ambassadors of Countries with a Muslim majority and Muslim communities in Italy"] by Pope Benedict XVI, 25 September 2006] Among the ambassadors invited were those from Iraq, Iran, Turkey, Morocco, as well as many other nations and Islamic groups. [ [http://edition.cnn.com/2006/WORLD/europe/09/25/pope.muslims/index.html Pope: 'Total and profound respect for Muslims'] , "CNN", 25 September 2006]

Change of text

Pope Benedict has taken another step to placate anger in the Islamic world over his remarks on holy war, making additions to his original text by re-affirming that a quotation from a 14th century Byzantine emperor was not his personal opinion. The original text said the emperor's remark was made "somewhat brusquely." The new version says that it was made with "a brusqueness that we find unacceptable." Pope Benedict added in a footnote, "In the Muslim world, this quotation has unfortunately been taken as an expression of my personal position, thus arousing understandable indignation. I hope that the reader of my text can see immediately that this sentence does not express my personal view of the Quran, for which I have the respect due to the holy book of a great religion." He said he cited the text as part of an examination of the "relationship between faith and reason." [ [http://www.twincities.com/mld/twincities/news/breaking_news/15716784.htm Pope makes additions to text on Islam] ]

Open letters from top Muslim clerics

On October 12, 2006, 38 top Muslim scholars and clerics, including the Grand Mufti of Egypt, Russia, Bosnia, Croatia, Kosovo, Turkey, Uzbekistan and Oman, as well as clerics and academics from the Middle East, Asia, North Africa, Europe and North America, published an Open Letter to the Pope. [cite web
last = H.E. Ambassador Dr. Akbar Ahmed "et al"
first =
authorlink =
coauthors =
title = Vatican Report written and signed by leading muslim scholars and leaders in response to pope benedict xvi’s remarks on islam at the regensburg lecture on september 12, 2006
work = Islamica Magazine
publisher = Center for Inter-Civilizational Dialogue Inc
date = 2006
url = http://www.islamicamagazine.com/issue18/openletter18_lowres.pdf
format = PDF
doi =
accessdate = 2008-01-07
( [http://www.islamicamagazine.com/media/pdf/open/b/openletter-8238DA.pdf Copy of letter without large images] )
] All the eight schools of thought and jurisprudence in Islam are represented by the signatories. The 38 signatories to the letter declare that they accept the Pope's "personal expression of sorrow and assurance that the controversial quote did not reflect his personal opinion" and responded to some of the main substantive issues raised in the Pope's treatment of a debate between the medieval Emperor Manuel II Paleologus and an “educated Persian,” including reason and faith; forced conversion; “jihad” vs. “holy war”; and the relationship between Christianity and Islam. [cite web|url=http://news.bbc.co.uk/2/hi/europe/6050156.stm |title=Muslim clerics reach out to Pope |date=2006-10-14 |publisher=BBC]

The open letters also provided a surprising answer to Manuel II Paleologus' question, "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." It is:

On October 11, 2007, one year after the release of the open letter to the Pope, a larger group of 138 Muslim scholars, clerics and intellectuals sent another open letter, titled "A Common Word Between Us and You", to Pope Benedict and the leaders of other Christian denominations. This letter emphasized that Christians and Muslims worship the same God, and share many values, including living in peace with one's neighbors. [cite news |title=Muslim scholars reach out to Pope |url=http://news.bbc.co.uk/2/hi/europe/7038992.stm |publisher=BBC News |date=2007-10-11 |accessdate=2007-10-11 ]

Protests, attacks and threats

Security has been discreetly stepped up around and inside the Vatican City, because of concerns about the possibility of acts of violence. [ [http://news.bbc.co.uk/2/hi/europe/5350882.stm "Vatican braces for Muslim anger"] "BBC", 15 September 2006] Thousands of people took part in many protests. [ [http://english.people.com.cn/200609/16/eng20060916_303423.html "Egyptian Muslims stage demonstration against Pope remarks"] "People's Daily Online" 16 September, 2006]

In the West Bank city of Nablus, a Greek Orthodox and an Anglican Church were fire-bombed by a group called the Lions of Monotheism who said they were carried out to protest the pope's speech. [ [http://www.haaretz.com/hasen/spages/763199.html "Report: Rome tightens pope's security after fury over Islam remarks"] , "Haaretz", 16 September 2006] A Greek Orthodox church was also attacked in Gaza City. [ [http://news.yahoo.com/s/ap/20060916/ap_on_re_eu/pope_muslims "Five churches bombed and attacked"] "Associated Press" 16 September 2006] Amira Hass has suggested that the attacks may have been carried out by agents provocateurs, possibly the Shin Bet. [cite news|url=http://www.haaretz.com/hasen/spages/765101.html|title=In the name of security, but not for its sake|publisher=Haaretz]

Several organizations, such as Al-Qaeda and the Mujahideen Shura Council threatened in a joint statement: "you and the West are doomed as you can see from the defeat in Iraq, Afghanistan, Chechnya, and elsewhere. ... We will break up the cross, spill the liquor and impose the "jizya" tax, then the only thing acceptable is a conversion (to Islam) or (being killed by) the sword. ... God enable us to slit their throats, and make their money and descendants the bounty of the Mujahideen." [cite news|url= http://news.yahoo.com/s/ap/20060919/ap_on_re_mi_ea/muslims_pope |title=Iranian leader urges more papal protests |date=2006-09-18 |publisher=Yahoo! News]

Employees of Ankara's Diyanet İşleri Başkanlığı, the state body that organizes Muslim worship in Turkey, asked the authorities on September 19th to open legal proceedings against Pope Benedict XVI and to arrest him when he visits the country in November 2006. They said the Pontiff had violated Turkish laws upholding freedom of belief and thought by "insulting" Islam and the Prophet Muhammad. [ [http://www.cnn.com/2006/WORLD/europe/09/19/pope.turks.reut/index.html " Turk workers urge pope's arrest" "CNN", 19 September 2006] ]

Outside Westminster Cathedral, on September 18th 2006, around a hundred protestors held banners which included calls for the Pope's execution, "Pope go to Hell" and "Jesus is the slave of Allah", "Islam will conquer Rome," and "May Allah curse the Pope." [ [http://www.dailymail.co.uk/pages/live/articles/news/news.html?in_article_id=405622&in_page_id=1770 The Pope must die, says Muslim] ] [ [http://catholiclondoner.blogspot.com/2006/09/very-rushed-post.html Just outside Westminster Cathedral today...] ]

The Lashkar-e-Toiba in Pakistan has issued a Fatwa asking the Muslim community to kill Pope Benedict for his "blasphemous statement" about the Prophet Mohammad. [ [http://www.saag.org/papers20/paper1974.html LET issues fatwa to kill the pope. International terrorism monitor, paper no.133, by B.Raman. 2 October 2006] ]

Nun killed

On 17 September 2006 two Somali gunmen shot and killed a 65 year-old Italian nun, Sister Leonella Scogbati, working at the Austrian-run children's hospital in the city of Mogadishu, with her Somali bodyguard. [ [http://news.yahoo.com/s/afp/20060917/wl_afp/somaliaunrest_060917121503 "Gunmen Slay Italian Nun"] , "AFP", 17 September 2006] A senior Somali Islamist, speaking on condition of anonymity, said: "There is a very high possibility the people who killed her were angered by the Catholic Pope's recent comments against Islam"; however, he offered no specific evidence for that motive [ [http://news.yahoo.com/s/nm/20060917/wl_nm/somalia_italian_pope_dc_1 "Nun's death may be linked to Pope: Somali Islamist"] , Reuters] . Sheikh Mukhtar Robow, member of the Supreme Islamic Courts Council, said there was a "concrete possibility" that the murder of the nun was "a reprisal for the Pope’s remarks on Islam". [ [http://www.timesonline.co.uk/article/0,,13509-2362945,00.html "Nun shot dead as Pope fails to calm militant Muslims"] , Timesonline 18 September 2006] Somali Islamist officials vowed to punish the killers, and two men have been arrested. [ [http://archive.gulfnews.com/articles/06/09/19/10068611.html "Somalia Islamists vow to punish nun's killers"] , gulfnews 19 September 2006]

Attacks on Christians in Iraq

In Iraq, the flags of Germany, Israel, and the United States, and Christian crosses and effigies of Pope Benedict were burned in Basra. [ [http://news.bbc.co.uk/1/hi/in_pictures/5357174.stm In pictures: Fresh anti-Pope protests] , BBC News]

Iraq has one of the largest Christian minority in the middle east, where Assyrians number about 1 million. Since the Pope's comments, several churches have been bombed. A previously unknown Baghdad-based group, Kataab Ashbal Al Islam Al Salafi (Islamic Salafist Boy Scout Battalions) threatened to kill all Christians in Iraq if the Pope does not apologize to Muhammad within three days. [ [http://www.aina.org/news/20060916154058.htm "Christian Killed in Iraq in Response to Pope's Speech: Islamic Website"] , "Assyrian International News Agency", 16 September 2006] Christian Leaders in Iraq have asked their parishioners not to leave their homes, after two Christians were stabbed and killed in Baghdad. [ [http://www.aina.org/news/20060917014616.htm "Second Assyrian Christian Killed in Retaliation for Pope's Remarks"] , "Assyrian International News Agency", 17 September 2006]

There have been reports of writing in church doors stating "If the Pope does not apologise, we will bomb all churches, kill more Christians and steal their property and money." [http://www.ekklesia.co.uk/content/news_syndication/article_060929iraq.shtml Violence against Christians grows in Iraq, Ekklesia, 29 September 2006] ]

The Iraqi militia Jaish al-Mujahedin (Holy Warriors' Army) announced its intention to "destroy their cross in the heart of Rome… and to hit the Vatican." [ [http://www.spiegel.de/politik/ausland/0,1518,437461,00.html "Vatikan verschärft Sicherheitsvorkehrungen"] , "Der Spiegel", 16 September 2006 de icon]

Despite the Pope's comments dying down in the media, attacks on Assyrian Christians continued and on October 9, Islamic extremist group kidnapped priest Paulos Iskander. The relatives of a Christian priest who was beheaded 3 days later in Mosul, have said that his Muslim captors had demanded his church condemn the pope's recent comments about Islam and pay a $350,000 ransom. [ [http://english.aljazeera.net/NR/exeres/986D3437-8801-4AE2-91C1-860A42D5EB68.htm Iraq priest "killed over pope speech"] , Aljazeera.net, 12 October 2006]

= Controversial Statements about Qur'an Chapter 2 = Another point of controversy, widely covered in Arab media [ [http://www.asharqalawsat.com/leader.asp?section=3&issue=10166&article=384904&search=%E3%C7%E4%E6%ED%E1&state=true The other side of the coin. What's after the Pope's lecture? By Saifuddin Tajuddin. Al Sharq Al Awsat, 28 September 2006] (in Arabic)] [ [http://www.asharqalawsat.com/leader.asp?section=3&issue=10164&article=384567&search=%E3%C7%E4%E6%ED%E1&state=true The Pope and his speech. From infallibility to naïve simplification…!, by Atallah Muhajirani, Al Sharq Al Awsat, 26 September 2006] (in Arabic)] [ [http://www.asharqalawsat.com/leader.asp?section=3&issue=10162&article=384158&search=%E3%C7%E4%E6%ED%E1&state=true The challenge of Vatican's leader, by Al Sadiq Al Mahdi, Al Sharq Al Awsat, 24 September 2006] (in Arabic)] [ [http://www.asharqalawsat.com/leader.asp?section=3&issue=10160&article=383984&search=%E3%C7%E4%E6%ED%E1&state=true The Pope, the Emperor and the Persian sage, by Amir Tahiri, Al Sharq Al Awsat, 22 September 2006] (in Arabic)] , but much less so in Western media [ [http://www.timesonline.co.uk/article/0,,251-2360087.html Serious errors of both fact and judgment, by Ruth Gledhill, The Times, 16 September 2006] ] , was the Pope's assessment that Surah (i.e. Chapter) 2 in the Qur'an, which includes the verse "There is no compulsion in religion", was "one of the suras of the early period, when Mohamed was still powerless and under threat", and that instructions "concerning holy war" had come later."

Many scholars of Islam have taken this as a classification of the sura as stemming from the earlier Meccan period and have shown the Pope to be mistaken by pointing out that Surah 2 was revealed in various stages and that this verse was revealed after the Prophet Muhammad's hijra from Mecca, during his period of stay in Madinah and hence is from the Madinan period which was the final stage of the revelation of the Qur'an when the Muslims were becoming numerous and increasingly powerful and safe from the immediate dangers that had overshadowed them for 13 years in Mecca. The scholars also point out that the Pope failed to mention that even if this verse was revealed when the Muslims were weak, they could have easily abrogated it with another verse which gave them permission to forcefully convert people once they finally conquered Mecca; this, however, did not happen. [ [http://www.elcorresponsal.com/modules.php?name=ElCorresponsal_Articulos&file=articulo&req_sectionid=1&req_articleid=1681 Lapsus ratisbonæ, by Pablo Tornielli] . (Spanish)] .

= Assessment of the lecture's purpose = In contrast to the Jyllands-Posten Muhammad cartoons controversy - which is now deemed a precursor to the controversy over the Pope's lecture - the media focus was not on the issues of free speech or injured religious sensitivities. Underlying the widely talked about question of whether or not the Pope should apologize, and whether or not his subsequent statements even constituded an apology, several competing and separate interpretations of his intentions have been proffered. These are, broadly and in no particular order:
* The lecture was claimed by many Catholic apologists to not be directed at Islam at all and the incendiary passages were purely circumstantial to the lecture's real intention, which was to counter the demotion of theology in the university environment in particular and of faith in a society plagued by postmodern relativism & irrationality in general. [ However, observers note that the Pope (who is opposed to letting in the militantly secular country of Turkey in the E.U.) insisted on keeping such comments in his speech even after his handlers advised him against it. According to Israeli analyst Uri Averny, this "quote serves exactly the requirements of .... George Bush II. He, too, wants to unite the Christian world against the mainly Muslim "Axis of Evil". Moreover, the Turks are again knocking on the doors of Europe, this time peacefully. It is well known that the Pope supports the forces that object to the entry of Turkey into the European Union." From Faith, Adding a Blunt Footnote on Jihad'] , "New York Times", 13 September 2006] ] [ [http://www.jpost.com/servlet/Satellite?cid=1157913654774&pagename=JPost%2FJPArticle%2FShowFull 'Benedict XVI's background is theological, not diplomatic'] , "Jerusalem Post", 18 September 2006] ] [ [http://www.latimes.com/news/opinion/la-oe-weigel20sep20,0,3015856.story?coll=la-opinion-rightrail 'The Pope Was Right'] , "Los Angeles Times", 20 September 2006] ]

*Pope Benedict's lecture was a "calculated risk," a move designed to win the hearts of the Christians of the Eastern Orthodox Church who are surrounded by Muslims and whom Pope Benedict would be visiting in November, 2006. Given what he sees as close theological affinities between these two churches and other personal characteristics specific to Pope Benedict (traditional liturgy; criticism of scientific interpretation of scripture), "some form of reunion is not only feasible; from Benedict's point of view, it is highly desirable." [ [http://www.iht.com/articles/2006/09/29/opinion/edberwick.php " Sailing to Byzantium"] , "International Herald Tribune", 29 September 2006] [ [http://www.dw-world.de/dw/article/0,2144,2187656,00.html "Calculated Risk"] , "Deutsche Welle", 27 September 2006]

* Pope Benedict's lecture portends a parting from the Vatican's previous policies on dialogue with Islam, away from promoting harmony at all costs towards more reciprocity; that is, he wants the Muslim world opened up for Christian missions in the same way that Europe is open to Muslims and conversion out of Islam to be a legal or social possibility. In this view, according to the Pope, the position of Christians in Muslim-majority countries must be improved. However, observers state that Europe is not run by the principles of Christianity but from the principles of liberal secularism which can be traced to the Enlightenmet which was a movement born out of a rejection of Church rule. Thus European countries must allow all people regardless of religion the ability to build places of worship due to the secular nature of European constitutions. One must also be aware that most Muslim countries are ruled by secular dictatorships. However, Islam expressly prohibited any persecution of the "peoples of the book". In Islamic society, a special place was reserved for Jews and Christians. They did not enjoy completely all the rights of Muslims, but they neither had to fufill any obligations (such as zakat and military service) that Muslims had to fufill. They had to pay a special poll-tax, but were exempted from paying the zakat and in joining in military service--a quid pro quo that was quite acceptable to many Christians and Jews under Islamic rule. [ [http://observer.guardian.co.uk/world/story/0,,1874274,00.html 'Pope Benedict's long mission to confront radical Islam'] , "The Guardian", 17 September 2006] ]


ee also

*Jyllands-Posten Muhammad cartoons controversy
*Aslim Taslam
*Lars Vilks Muhammad drawings controversy
*Schall, James V. "The Regensburg Lecture." St. Augustine's Press, 2007. [176 page book by Catholic political philosopher.]

External links

* [http://www.vatican.va/holy_father/benedict_xvi/speeches/2006/september/documents/hf_ben-xvi_spe_20060912_university-regensburg_en.html Official English translation of the Regensburg lecture]
* [http://news.bbc.co.uk/1/shared/bsp/hi/pdfs/15_09_06_pope.pdf The lecture in pdf format]
* [http://www.vatican.va/holy_father/benedict_xvi/speeches/2006/september/documents/hf_ben-xvi_spe_20060912_university-regensburg_ge.html Original German text of the Regensburg lecture]
* [http://www.horeb.org/xyz/podcast/papstbesuch/2006-09-12_Vortrag_Uni_Regensburg.mp3 Audio recording of the Regensburg lecture (mp3)] (German)
* [ Declaration by the Vatican issued on 16 September] (Italian and English)
* [http://www.zaman.com/?bl=international&alt=&hn=36854 Interview with Theodore Khoury, the author of the book Benedict cited]

Islamic responses

* [http://www.islamicamagazine.com/letter/ Open Letter to the Pope] By 38 top Muslim scholars, replying to the points raised in the Pope's lecture
* [http://www.acommonword.com/index.php?lang=en A Common Word Between Us and You] By 138 prominent Muslim clerics, scholars and intellectuals, urging greater understanding between Muslims and Christians, and emphasizing common ground between the two faiths
* [http://www.asianews.it/index.php?l=en&art=10577&geo=&theme=8&size=Analysis of the Letter of 138 Muslim scholars] by Samir Khalil Samir, S.J., at AsiaNews.it

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