09/26/2006, 00.00
Send to a friend

Pope with ambassadors: much praise and some "buts" from Muslim world

In general, newspapers underlined the will to dialogue and respect for Islam. But a few still insist on apologies and recall the Crusades.

Beirut (AsiaNews) – Overall, the Muslim media has been positive in its evaluation of yesterday's meeting between Benedict XVI and the envoys of 20 Muslim majority countries that have diplomatic ties with the Vatican, and with Italian Muslim representatives. Many agencies quoted the Iraqi ambassador Albert Yelda, who said: "It is time to put what happened behind us and build bridges among all the civilizations", and "the pope emphasized his profound respect to all the Muslims around the world. It was what we expected, it was what we had." Several, like Jordan's Al Ghad ran headlines saying "Pope affirms respect for Islam". The Lebanese L'Orient Le Jour also quoted Mohammad Nour Dachan, chairman of the Union of Islamic Communities in Italy, as saying "the pope made a very clear and brilliant speech. Dialogue continues." The same newspaper cited the Iranian charge d'affaires, Ahmad Fahima, who said he found the meeting "fruitful" and Miroslav Palameta, ambassador of Bosnia-Herzegovina, who described it as "useful".

The Kuwaiti agency KUNA shared the view of its ambassador, Ibrahim Abdulkreem al-Ibrahim, who was present at Castel Gandolfo yesterday. He said: "The meeting reflected the Pope's good intentions towards Islam" and that he had given a message to spread understanding and harmony among all religions and faiths.

In the Emirates, Gulf News said "controversy closed", adding that this was the view of many who attended the meeting with Benedict XVI, which unfolded in a "cordial" atmosphere.

Other newspapers, like the Saudi Arab News, covered negative feedback too. The Saudi newspaper noted the opinion of Riyad Nadwi, director of the Oxford Cross Cultural Research Institute, who said: "I think we now need to accept his apology for his blunder but not his explanation i.e. that we misunderstood his comments. If we are to protect ourselves from such future attacks, we must maintain this distinction in our minds. If not, a time will come when an attempt would be made to justify such comments in the spirit of 'frank dialogue.' I have seen it before, where the progression is one from a call for 'sincere dialogue' to 'genuine dialogue' and then a slippage into 'frank dialogue' by which time the audiences are prepared to accept criticisms of all sorts including disrespect for the Qur'an and the character of the Prophet." The article added: "The purpose of dialogue is to establish peace and create tolerance for one another. It The apology of the pope is accepted... and we thank him for it."

Pakistani newspapers also gave the meeting ample coverage. The most widely read, the Daily Times, ran a headline saying: "Pope says Christians and Muslims should reject violence."

The Lebanese Daily Star reported the assessment of Egypt's Muslim Brothers who, through Mohammad Habib, claimed the pope's speech was "another attempt to avoid the issue of apology". He said: "When we asked for an apology, we asked for a clear and honest one." They were also quoted by Al Jazeera that launched a survey to find out what Muslim opinion is. The Daily Star has also asked for people's views, while many readers of Islamonline, one of the most popular websites in the Muslim world, posted questions about the entire polemic that unfolded after the pope's speech in Regensburg. Islamonline has a whole dossier entitled "A pope in crisis" and in its summing up of yesterday's meeting, it highlights the dissatisfaction of Mohamed Selim el-Awwa, Secretary-General of the International Union for Muslim Scholars (IUMS), which brings together prominent Sunni and Shiite scholars from across the world. El Awwa announced the breaking off of dialogue with the Vatican and said "the meeting did not bring about anything new". The scholar demanded that the controversial quotes be dropped from the text of the lecture, when it is published as an official Vatican document.

The site also reported the stand of the Muslim Brothers and the decision of the Egyptian Al-Azhar University – the most renowned Sunni cultural institute in the world – to refuse a papal invitation to visit the Vatican and a proposal to invite Benedict XVI to deliver a lecture on Islam, insisting on a "clear-cut apology".

"Pope Benedict XVI's folly" was the title of an editorial in Yemer Times that recalled the Crusades, the conquest of the Americas, the Inquisition and the killing by Christians of thousands of Muslims in Spain, Portugal and the Philippines, who had "voluntarily" converted.

Send to a friend
Printable version
See also
Pope talks about the Middle East, the Holy Land and the food crisis with Bush
Only respecting the human person can peace be promoted, says Pope
Pope: I was misunderstood about Islam, may my words become an opportunity for dialogue
Muslims in Pakistan: "We respect pope; his speech was used"
Armed guards in Bethlehem churches, but Christians are on pope's side


Subscribe to Asia News updates or change your preferences

Subscribe now
“L’Asia: ecco il nostro comune compito per il terzo millennio!” - Giovanni Paolo II, da “Alzatevi, andiamo”