A few years ago, Pope Benedict XVI was giving a speech and quoted from a medieval text which referred to the Prophet Muhammad as violent. Middle Eastern Muslims are demanding the Pope apologize for the reference and promised not to regard his visit to the Holy Land as a welcome sight. A banner in Nazareth, the home town of Jesus condemns anyone who insults the Muslim religion or their prophet. Municipal officials refused to indicate if they would remove the banner prior to the Pope’s visit. Some Muslim clerics made clear they would not talk with him while others said they would engage in dialogue provided the Pope expressed his sorrow for the remark. Actually, the purpose of the Pope’s visit is to foster inter-faith relations.
There is something hypocritical about the Pope being compelled to apologize for remarks concerning a medieval comment. Read any Muslim newspaper in the Middle East and one encounters stories that are vicious in hostility toward Jews and Christians. Neither Jews nor Christians have any right to religion in nations like Saudi Arabia which apparently is OK with Muslim leaders who worry about medieval quotes. Visit any bookstore in the Middle East and get an inexpensive copy of Hitler’s books.
Posted in Catholics, Human Rights, Iraq, Islam, Israel, Jordan, Multicultural, Muslims, Religion, Syria, World News
Tagged Middle East, Muslim anger, Palestine, Pope Benedict
The inauguration of Barack Obama as president was met with renewed hope from people in the Middle East as well as with some hesitation as to whether he would adopt an even handed approach to dealing with the Israel-Palestinian conflict. Saleh Al-Mohaisen, a Saudi from Riyadh, said he was “overjoyed” because “I felt he could understand Arab suffering” but also expressed disappointment at Obama’s failure to speak out against the Israel invasion of Gaza. “I love him despite his silence.”
During his inaugural speech, Obama sent a message to the Muslim world saying the US was seeking “a new way forward based on mutual interest and mutual respect” and offered to extend a helping hand to those who are willing “to unclench your fist.” Even while he was speaking a reporter on Al-Jazeera, cut into the live broadcast and said Obama’s word were in “sharp contrast” with those of Bush comments. Diaa Rashwan of the Al-Ahram Center for Political and Strategic Studies in Cairo, said many average people would welcome Obama’s remarks that pointed a finger at those who rule by corruption and persecution since most Arabs believe he is citing the record of many rulers in the Middle East.
Reporters in Iraq found widespread hope the new president would undo the mistakes of Bush. Ali Salam, a store owner, said, “”this is real democracy and the results of the people’s struggle.” Muna Abdul-Razzaq, said bluntly, “We hope that Obama will be more responsible. In Iran, Mahnazi Abbasi, a housewife hoped the two nations would “resume relations and then we will be able to get a US visa and visit there.”
Most probably, high expectations in January may not be present in July after months have passed without resolution of many problems. It will take a desire for compromise on the part of Israel and Arab nations to achieve any sort of peace in the Middle East.
The British, Guardian, reports its informants in the Obama camp suggest there has been extensive discussion within it about the need to open a dialogue with Hamas because the Bush strategy of ignoring reality only results in a policy that has scant reality with what is happening in the Middle East. There is no initial discussion among Obama strategists for recognizing Hamas but there is a belief in the need for low level contacts which will initiate dialogue with Hamas leaders. Richard Haass, who many believe is the choice of Obama for his Middle East envoy, supports discussions with Hamas. There is no doubt Obama recognizes the Bush policy of totally ignoring Hamas has produced absolutely no evidence of success.
The main task of Barack Obama at this point is to prevent the Gaza situation from becoming even more disastrous than the current situation. Obama hopes radical leadership in Hamas will either step aside or allow more realistic leaders to emerge who seek success rather than disaster. The only worse blunders than those made by Israeli leaders are the inept policy of Hamas leadership which seeks martyrdom over success.
Obama throughout the presidential campaign argued for a more even handed approach and one that focused on problem solving rather than on rhetoric.