Muslims Call for Dialogue in Response to Pope’s Remarks on Islam


Posted Sep 16, 2006      •Permalink      • Printer-Friendly Version
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(Los Angeles - 9/16/06)—Yesterday, the Muslim Public Affairs Council today reached out to American Catholic leaders urging them to convene a dialogue between Catholic and Muslim leaders in response to comments this week by Pope Benedict XVI in which he quoted a 14th century Byzantine emperor who said that Islam brought “only things evil and inhuman”. The remarks were followed by a wave of denunciations across the Muslim world.

In a letter to Cardinal Roger Mahoney of the Los Angeles Archdioces, MPAC Executive Director Salam Al-Marayati and Senior Advisor Dr. Maher Hathout, stressed the need for the Vatican and Catholic leaders to clarify and explain the remarks. The letter states in part:

“In this spirit of dialogue and understanding that we continue to further, we would like to call for a meeting and dialogue regarding the recent comments made by Pope Benedict XVI. We do not want to allow for those individuals who call for divisiveness at such volatile times to speak on behalf of our communities. We pray that our continued dialogue will bear fruit and that this issue will be clarified in the most appropriate manner.”

SEE: “The First Casualty of the Pope’s Islam Speech” (TIME, 9/15/06),8599,1535432-1,00.html

MPAC representatives appeared on national news program yesterday to respond to the Pope’s remarks.

SEE: “Should Pope Apologize?” feat. National Director Ahmed Younis (MSNBC’s “Tucker”, 9/15/06)
Under “More Tucker Carlson”, click on “Video: Should Pope apologize?” to view video.

SEE: “Pope vs. Muslims” feat. Communications Director Edina Lekovic (Fox News’ “O’Reilly Factor”, 9/15/06) Click “Video” then select “Pope vs. Muslims” to view video.

In the remarks made during a speech in Germany on Tuesday, the Pope quoted a 14th century Byzantine emperor who described core Islamic figures and concepts in absolute and destructive terms.

“The emperor comes to speak about the issue of jihad, holy war,” the Pope said. “He said, I quote, ‘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 Vatican said the Pope did not intend the remarks to offend anyone. However, two months ahead his first trip to a Muslim nation - Turkey - the remarks require consideration because they are the first instance in which the new Pope has addressed Islam. While he reportedly intended to explore the differences between Islam and Christianity, and the risk of faith-based violence, citing a poor selection that reflects a hostile Crusade-era paradigm rather than the pioneering legacy of the late Pope John Paul II and the modern Vatican.

“We cannot afford further religious tensions at a moment when extremists on all sides can exploit such incidents with devastating results,” said Communications Director Edina Lekovic. “We hope that the statements attributed to Pope Benedict will not compromise the fruitful relationship between Catholics and Muslims in the U.S.”

The revelation of the Quran and Islam ushered in the introduction of vast contributions to the field of education, science, philosophy and scholarship. The first five revealed verses of the Quran led to the great scientific revolution pioneered by Muslims. The Prophet Muhammad re-introduced the principles of the one human family, gender equality, the acknowledgement of other religions, the celebration of diversity, and a binding social contract between rulers and the people they were supposed to serve.

Founded in 1988, MPAC is a public policy and service agency working for the civil rights of American Muslims, for the integration of Islam into American pluralism, and for a positive, constructive relationship between American Muslims and their representatives.