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Muslim Anger Grows at Pope Speech

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Whoa there infidels! Whoa!

A statement from the Vatican has failed to quell criticism of Pope Benedict XVI from Muslim leaders, after he made a speech about the concept of holy war.

Speaking in Germany, the Pope quoted a 14th Century Christian emperor who said Muhammad had brought the world only “evil and inhuman” things.

.. Stressing that they were not his own words, he quoted Emperor Manual II Paleologos of the Byzantine Empire, the Orthodox Christian empire which had its capital in what is now the Turkish city of Istanbul.

The emperor’s words were: “Show me just what Muhammad brought that was new and there you will find things only evil and inhuman, such as his command to spread by the sword the faith he preached.”

Benedict said “I quote” twice to stress the words were not his and added that violence was “incompatible with the nature of God and the nature of the soul”.

Quote for B.B.C.’s Webiste.

Whilst the Pope has attempted to defend himself against critics by reiterating that he was ‘quoting’ an emperor, that still does not absolve him from the implication behind his choosing this particular quote amongst a multitude of other statements made by a multitude of other emperors, saints and popes.  In this, the Pope, perhaps unwittingly, takes upon himself the role of the spiritual aide and validator of the perspectives of its temporal half – the western powers.

The Divinification of the West and Irrationalism as the Current Cause of Terrorism

To state that ‘violence is incompatible with the nature of God and the nature of the soul’ is not in itself a problem, and is, indeed, laudable enough.  The problem arises, however, due to the juncture of history wherein the Pope makes the statement and whom it is in reference to - that is, in the face of the consequences and aftermath of western action and inaction in, amongst others, the Middle East, and not prior to or in the course of it, and in reference to Muslim militants and not western ones.  In other words, the Pope has failed to forward such a statement in the face of the millions who have died due to western/national/capitalist enterprises. 

Via this ‘oversight’, on the one hand, he tacitly validates the first, and thus ‘divine’, right of the west to a monopoly of violence and offensive and self-aggrandizing action, whilst simplistically reducing the subsequent (some would say ‘retaliatory’) actions of militants of non-western and UN-unrecognised origin to that instigated by a cause none other than the worst and irrational of human propensities.  By this, the allegedly ‘Holy’ Father detracts the attentions of the masses from the fact that the worst and irrational of human propensities and actions are themselves, oftentimes, not without an external, and in this context, western cause.

In other words, he performs a catholic style transposition and contemporarisation of the concept of ‘the devil’ onto ‘the terrorist’.  The devil does what he does because he is the devil and one does not need to look for causes.  The same is implied in the case of the ‘terrorist’ – as it once was in the case of the ‘savage’ encountered by the western colonialists.  It is in his nature to do what he does and we need not trouble ourselves to look for scientifically verifiable causes.  Nothing is addressed other than her/his use of violence.  No prior and external cause is alluded to.

This fits well with the western/ised tendency to absolve themselves of antecedent complicity in the actions of the ‘terrorists’ on a daily basis via, amongst others, the arbitrary, self-serving and erroneous use of the words, ‘terror’/‘terrorists’/‘terrorism’, which serves to locate the first and sole cause of the ‘terror’ they are subjected to within the ‘terrorist’ rather than the historical causes and context that inevitably produces her/him. 

The Pope, in this case, adds the spiritual half to this temporal and western effort at self-absolution.  In this, the Pope yet again follows in the historical traditions of Pope Leo III and those after him in anointing, and thus, validating, the self-aggrandizing (capitalist) enterprise of the leaders of the western/ised world. They are accorded ‘divinity’.  This immediately and logically turns all defensive or retaliatory actions into offensive ones simply because the ‘divine’ can do no wrong.

Therefore any opposition on our part can be construed to be nothing less than ‘immature’, ‘uncivilised’, or using the colloquialisms of our times, simply ‘terroristic’.  By such an ‘oversight’ the Pope sanitises the actions of the west.  If ‘Good’ – the Catholic Church as one of the beacons of Morality – fails to call Evil to task, Evil ceases to be Evil and becomes either a Good or a necessary Evil.  This is how the global mass is directed to interpret the crises of our times.  All western actions are either ‘good’ or ‘necessary evils’.  By promoting such notions, the Holy ‘Catholic’ Church becomes little more than a consort of the global bourgeoiscratic and nationalistic system. 

Mu’hammad and Islaam as the First Cause of Terrorism

An additional reduction and redirection of our appreciation of the extraneous factors that have contributed to the development and evolution of the so called ‘terrorist’, along with its recontextualisation within irrationalism, is the Pope’s attempt to help us ‘make sense’ of the current crises (‘terrorism’) by directing our attention to its first cause – the actions  and message of Mu’hammad.  Mu’hammad  is forwarded as the prototypical ‘terrorist’ in ‘spreading the faith by the sword’.

By linking this with the current idea of the Jihaad, the Pope renders the link between the Jihaad waged by transnational militants and the self-defensive/self-preservational instinct activated by western actions, tenuous.  In other words, he recontextualises it by implying that Jihaadists have no other reason to do what they do other than the reason that had allegedly motivated Mu’hammad’s actions – spreading the faith and expanding their dominion.

Thus, again, it is implied, the policies, actions and inactions of the west with regards to the Middle East have nothing to do with the actions of the transnational militants.  In other words, if one wants to know why ‘terrorists’ do what they do, look at the actions and intentions of their prophet, Mu’hammad.  The west is thus, implicitly and indirectly, granted Papal Absolution. 

Whilst it is true that the actions of Mu’hammad does not invalidate the use of violence – as opposed to, say, Christ’s refusal to allow Peter to defend him by the sword in the Garden of Gethsemane when the Romans had come to arrest him – the Pope ignores, or is unaware, that it is not the glorification of violence that spurs the transnational militant but real, past and present actions of the west that has led to much death and destruction amongst the yet-to-be-recognised transnational Nation of Muslims.

The perhaps ‘Holy’, but most certainly ‘Perspectivally-challenged’ Father, has failed to realise that the main difference between the Jihaadist and the Nationalist is that the former cries out the name of God, whilst the latter, the name of her/his country.  But they both do it, as far as they are concerned, for their respective peoples.

A war conducted under the banner of the nation-state is as ‘holy’ to its soldiers as one conducted in the name of Allaah.  To single out the Jihaadists in his speech on the evils of violence and holy wars is to exhibit an abject ignorance of this fact and being bereft of that modicum of objectivity and catholic-style universality required to recognise it.

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Last Updated on Tuesday, 16 January 2007 12:59  

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