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Papal apology unnecessary

Letter to the Editor | Tuesday, September 19, 2006

I question whether the Muslim world merited an apology from Pope Benedict for quoting from an ancient Byzantine emperor. After all, Muslim leaders around the world distorted the larger message he sought to communicate. With his speech in Germany, Benedict set out to condemn religiously motivated violence. His unmistakable message was a summons to interreligious dialogue based on reason, respect and reconciliation.

One may wonder if Benedict will demand an apology from the Muslim cleric who compared him to Hitler, a comparison so ludicrous as to be dismissed with the contempt it so richly deserves. Still another Muslim cleric (Sheik Abubakar Hassan Malin), referring to the Pope, was quoted in Sunday’s New York Times as saying: “Whoever offends our Prophet Mohammed should be killed on the spot.” And sure enough, apparently in response to the Sheik’s entreaty, an Italian missionary nun was dutifully killed on the spot in Somalia. Who in the Muslim world will apologize for this atrocity?

One can only wonder why Muslim leaders capable of mobilizing such anger at Benedict for a mere literary lapse seem to mute their voices when confronted with religiously motivated violence in their own backyards. Where are the Muslim voices of outrage against suicide bombers who indiscriminately murder men, women and children, against calls for the destruction of Israel, against radical clerics who preach a religious duty to kill Americans and other “infidels,” against Shiites and Sunnis who butcher each other on the streets of Baghdad and against those Muslims who speak generally in the language of revenge and retribution, all in the name of Allah?

Their silence is deafening.

Donald P. Kommers


Political Science and Law