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While travelling the other day, I observed the lady next to me reading an American evangelical magazine with page after page of anti-Islam stuff stated in the most childishly hateful manner. More than offended, I was amused and wondered what was the desired goal of this synergy between Zionists, evangelical Christians and some militant governments of the West. Governments that keep warning, almost subliminally, ‘they want to change our way of life, let history judge us’.

I don’t know how the media missed the angle that the current Pope, Benedict XVI, made comments that Turkey did not belong in the European Union and it should look for its identity in the Islamic world. These remarks were made just before he became Pope. It has also been widely known that the Pope wants to take on Islamic fundamentalists on an intellectual level.

Ahead of his trip to Turkey, Benedict XVI was testing the waters. It appears that he wants to play a role in the current world conflict as John Paul II played in the conflict that existed then — the Communist-Western conflict. A secondary purpose could have been to test Turkey’s identity. Another goal is to compete with the American evangelists in the hatred for Muslims. Proselytizing Christian churches, with little disguise, salivate at the possibilities opened up by US military adventures and have followed US troops into Iraq and Afghanistan.

Quoting a Crusades-era Christian emperor without comment was a military retort — not an intellectual one — and it strengthens Islamic militants immeasurably. One can argue that a partially-elected US President who is verbally, if not intellectually, challenged used ‘Crusades’ and ‘evil’. No one can defend the Pope on any of the two counts. The media is spinning it as an over-reaction by Muslims. This time it is not only the usual suspects in the streets, this time it is Muslim intellectuals and governments. The message is very clear – it is a Crusade.

Quoting someone and not expressing one’s rejection of it is agreeing with it. The Pope is an intellectual and knows the proper way of attribution and quoting. For example, if I quote bin Laden or Jerry Falwell or GW Bush in my speech, and then not show my opinion of that quote, I announce my agreement

What if Ayatullah Khamenei or Sistani said the same about Christians, and they have ample proof and quotes also. The New York Times summed up thus: ”The world listens carefully to the words of any Pope. And it is tragic and dangerous when one sows pain, either deliberately or carelessly.’ Another Pope resides in a Muslim country. ‘Any remarks which offend Islam and Muslims are against Christ’s teachings’, said Coptic Pope Shenouda II.

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To its credit, this is the official position of the Catholic Church on Islam:
The position of the Pope concerning Islam is unequivocally that expressed by the conciliar document Nostra Aetate: “The Church regards with esteem also the Muslims. They adore the one God, living and subsisting in Himself; merciful and all-powerful, the Creator of heaven and earth, Who has spoken to men; they take pains to submit wholeheartedly to even His inscrutable decrees, just as Abraham, with whom the faith of Islam takes pleasure in linking itself, submitted to God. Though they do not acknowledge Jesus as God, they revere Him as a prophet. They also honor Mary, His virgin Mother; at times they even call on her with devotion. In addition, they await the day of judgment when God will render their deserts to all those who have been raised up from the dead. Finally, they value the moral life and worship God especially through prayer, almsgiving and fasting” (no. 3).