What the Pope Said
The conflict between Islam and Christianity is over 1400 years old. The list of injustices is in my opinion equal. While it is normal among Western Seculars to lament the intolerance of Christians the reality is that Islam and Christianity have both committed heinous acts of violence and neither has a perfect record.
Having said this Islam and Muslims seem to have a problem with critique. It is ok to criticize Christians and their beliefs but if one dares to criticize Islam or the "prophet"
there are riots and violence perpetrated by Imams and Mullah's. This is a double standard that cannot go unchallenged.
We in the West are perhaps too secular, as a Catholic I lament our society's move away from its Christian roots but I do not think there is any argument about the Enlightenment in the West and the fact that Church and State should be separate and that the human person is sacred regardless of their beliefs. Most Muslims do not believe this as a fact. In Islam the state and Mosque are never separate. In Rome they are building Europe's largest mosque in Saudi Arabia Christian guest workers from Eithopia are beaten with wire because they possessed a Bible in their private rooms.
Pope Benedict used a quote from a Byzantine Emperor in is talk. The Byzantine's fought Islam as they destroyed the culture and religion of Asia Minor and the Byzantine's spent 1400 years protecting Europe from Islam. This is why his use of this quote was inflamatory because the Byzantine's were honest about a conflict with Islam.
The line about whatever new the Muhammad brought into monotheism was evil was perhaps impolitic but it seems we are not to have a chance to have vigorous debate with Islam and this is a problem for the world. Islam does not have the right to opt out of the 21st Century.
In the end it is time to take sides. The facts are that the West, the culture of Rome, Greece, Christianity, the Reformation, Enlightenment, Industrial Revolution, Modernism and Postmodernism is not morally equivilent to Wahabism, Iranian Fundamentalism or the Muslim Brotherhood. The West has a great and a better history that has made the West freer stronger and more open.We in the West should not compromise our principles especially the right to criticize any religion. We in the West should never allow anyone to take away Descarte from us Cogito Ergo Sum.