The Pope and Muslim Reaction

Monday, September 18, 2006

The Pope and Muslim Reaction

This is getting tedious — specifically, listening to the Vatican and Pope Benedict XVI stammer as they declare how "deeply sorry" they are about reactions in the Muslim world to the pontiff's recent remarks. (The pope had quoted the observations made by a 14th-century Byzantine emperor about the prophet Mohammad.)

I, for one, would like to hear a powerful Muslim cleric from the Middle East say how "deeply sorry" he is that mere words or a cartoon can prompt Muslims to:

* throw firebombs at five churches in the West Bank and Gaza.

* burn a 170-year-old church in the West Bank town of Tul Karem.

* urge their fellow Muslims to assault or kill Christians (including those who had nothing to do with the pope's statement or the Danish-published cartoon).

Sometimes, I get the impression that my fellow liberals (who, like me, are no fan of the pope) are too inclined to take these violent reactions from the Muslim world in stride.

One can think the pope made a dumb or ill-advised remark — I'm not so sure he did — and still be all the more appalled that many Muslim leaders feel violence is an appropriate response to words or images they find offensive.

When was the last time a major Muslim cleric made offensive or hostile remarks about Jews or Christians and then expressed deep "regets" of any kind?

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