Rome hosts Vatican-Muslim summit
Muslim and Vatican officials are holding historic talks in Rome to establish a better inter-faith dialogue and defuse any future tensions.
The speech provoked Muslim outrage and triggered violent protests.
It also prompted leading Muslim scholars to launch an appeal to the Pope for greater theological dialogue, called the Common Word.
The manifesto now has more than 250 signatories.
Muslim leaders say protests against the Pope’s speech – and also the publication of cartoons of the Prophet Muhammad in a Danish newspaper in 2005 – might have been avoided if Christian and Muslim leaders had spoken out together against such violence.
Muslims, who now number about 1.3 billion, recently overtook the number of Catholics worldwide for the first time.
While interfaith dialogue can be a positive approach, we think it should not be used to try and curtail free speech — such as that referred to in the above article.
For one thing, Muslims must accept the fact that Islam does not — and will not — rule the world, and thus Muslims can not expect that everyone observes Muslim sensitivities. For another, Pope Benedict XVI in his speech spoke out against fanaticism, and in doing so quoted a third party’s writings regarding the Islam’s history of violence (a history, might we add, that to this day continues).
The cartoons published by a Danish newspaper may have been offensive to Muslims — but that does not excuse the violent protests Muslims organized against them throughout the world. Shouting death threaths, burning flags, murdering people, destroying property and otherwise acting like primitive barbarians actually shows the world that Islam is a destructive religion.
As one ex-Muslims says, Muslims should protest terrorism — not cartoons.
Other than that, Muslims have long got away with the publication of anti-Semitic cartoons and hate-filled children’s programs. This went on long before a small group of Muslims deliberate fanned the flames of protest over the Danish Mohammed cartoons.
It is no secret that the world is outraged by the track record of violence committed throughout the world in the name of Islam. If Muslims want dialogue, fine. But if they want change, the place to start is in their own backyard.
Aside from dealing with Islam-inspired terrorism, Muslims must also learn to observe basic human rights — including the right for people to convert to another religion.
Muslim converts to Christianity ask religious experts at Vatican meeting for religious freedom
Rome (AsiaNews) — A group of 144 Christians, including 77 Muslims who converted to Christianity, have launched an appeal to Muslim and Catholics scholars who are currently meeting in the Vatican not to forget Christian minorities and new Christian converts living in Islamic countries.
The petitioners, Catholic, Orthodox and Protestants from North Africa and the Middle Eat, want the meeting in the Vatican to agree to the following points:
1. that Islamic law does not apply to non-Muslims;
2. that dhimmi (or second class) status be abolished;
3. that the right to change religion be recognised as a fundamental right.
The appeal that was sent to AsiaNews was also published on an Algerian Christian site, Notre Dame de Kabylie (in French).
Those who signed the appeal are happy for the steps taken in the last few years and for the Letter signed by 128 Muslim scholars which many see as a sign that “Islam is not anti-Christian.”
Earlier coverage of the Christian-Muslim dialogue:
Vatican to launch Muslim-Christian dialogue
Twenty-four Muslim leaders and scholars led by Mustafa Ceric, the Grand Mufti of Bosnia, tomorrow open three days of talks in the Vatican with the same number of Roman Catholic officials, led by Cardinal Jean-Louis Tauran, head of the Pontifical Council for Interreligious Dialogue.
The talks, entitled “Love of God, Love of Neighbour”, follow an initiative for interfaith dialogue, “The Common Word”, signed by over 200 Muslim leaders a year ago in the wake of violent protests in the Islamic world over cartoons lampooning the Prophet Mohammad originally published in Danish newspapers.
The idea of an encounter in Rome between representatives of the two faiths also stemmed from Pope Benedict XVI’s controversial speech at Regensburg University, his alma mater, two years ago, in which he appeared to suggest in an address on faith and reason that Islam was inherently violent and irrational by quoting a Byzantine emperor to that effect.
The Pope said he had been misunderstood. He later visited Turkey, a secular but predominantly Muslim nation, and prayed alongside the local mufti at the Blue Mosque in Istanbul.
Ibrahim Kalin, the Turkish scholar who teaches Islamic studies in Washington and acts as spokesman for the Muslim delegation to Rome, said the two sides needed to develop “a crisis reaction mechanism” to deal jointly with any future tensions or “misunderstandings”.
Pope Benedict, who will address the Rome gathering, is expected to deplore prejudice against Muslim minorities and immigrants in Europe while also calling on Muslims to help defend Christian minorities persecuted or endangered in the Middle East, including Iraq.
Cardinal Tauran has also called for “reciprocity”, with Christians allowed to worship in churches in Muslim nations just as Muslims in the West have the right to worship in mosques.
The Anglican Communion has also actively promoted Christian-Muslim dialogue. Last month Dr Rowan Williams, the Archbishop of Canterbury, and Ali Gomaa, the Grand Mufti of Egypt, agreed to strengthen links between Western and Muslim universities at a meeting at Lambeth Palace following an interfaith conference at Cambridge University.
First-ever Catholic-Muslim forum to open at Vatican
The Muslim side is led by the mufti of Bosnia, Mustafa Ceric, whose spokesman Yahya Pallavicini told AFP the delegates “represent no state and no ideological tendency.”
The delegation includes Swiss intellectual Tariq Ramadan, an outspoken and controversial Muslim figure in Europe, along with Aref Ali Nayed of the Islamic Centre of Strategic Studies in Amman, Jordan, and Iranian ayatollah Seyyed Mustafa Manegheg Damad.
Several women in the delegation include Ingrid Mary Mattson, a professor of Islamic studies at the Hartford (Connecticut) Seminary in the United States.
“Now that the shock waves touched off by Pope Benedict XVI’s remarks … have subsided, the overall consequences have proven more positive than negative,” Ramadan commented in the British daily The Guardian’s online edition.
The Regensburg lecture sparked days of sometimes violent protests in Muslim countries, prompting the pontiff to say that he was “deeply sorry” for any offence and to attribute Muslim anger to an “unfortunate misunderstanding.”
The closed-door discussions at the Vatican will focus Tuesday on “God’s love” and Wednesday on “loving your neighbour,” a theme that touches on two Vatican priorities, human rights and religious freedom.
The Vatican is however cautious over opening a purely theological dialogue, with Tauran telling La Croix: “We’ll see … how far we can go together.”
Muslims and Christians differ in their concept of God, and follow “different paths to reach this God,” said Tauran, the Roman Catholic Church’s pointman for dialogue with Islam.
Muslims and Christians do not just follow “different paths,” but also worship different Gods. While Islam fashioned its god after the God of the Bible, the God of Islam is incompatible with the God of Christianity.
See Also: Islam-Christian peace talks in Rome, by Ruth Gledhill, religion correspondent at The Times.