"It is true that the idea of conquest is inherent in the soul of Islam. However, it is also possible to interpret the objective in Matthew’s Gospel, where Jesus sends his disciples to all nations, in terms of the same idea of conquest."
"May all of our brothers and sisters on this continent, like the good Samaritan, come to your [Syrian refugees and migrants on the island of Lesbos] aid in the spirit of fraternity, solidarity and respect for human dignity."
"Yes, Europe has Christian roots and it is Christianity’s responsibility to water those roots. [But] this must be done in a spirit of service [not ultra-nationalism]."
"When I hear talk of the Christian roots of Europe, I sometimes dread the tone, which can seem triumphalist or even vengeful. It then takes on colonialist overtones."
"In Brussels, the terrorists were Belgians, children of migrants, but they grew up in a ghetto. In London, the new mayor took his oath of office in a cathedral and will undoubtedly meet the Queen. This illustrates the need for Europe to rediscover its capacity to integrate."
"I don’t like to talk about Islamic violence, because every day, when I read the newspaper, I see violence."
"When fundamentalism goes as far as murdering … you can murder with your tongue and also with the knife."
"I believe that it’s not fair to identify Islam with violence. It’s not fair and it’s not true. I know how they think. They look for peace, encounter."
"[European youth, many have been left] with no ideals, no work, that end in the hands of drugs and alcohol, and then go over there [abroad] and enlist."
"It’s a fundamentalist group that calls itself ISIS, but it can’t be said, it’s not true, and it’s not fair, that Islam is terrorist."
"As long as the god of money is at the center of the global economy and not the human person, man and woman, this is the first terrorism. [A] terrorism at the bases [against the whole of humanity]…."
"[Pope Francis is] a man of peace[and] a man who respects other religions and shows consideration for their followers."
"Here I would like to say that the issue must not be presented as persecution of Christians in the East, but on the contrary there are more Muslim than Christian victims, and we all suffer this catastrophe together."
Sheik Ahmed el-Tayyib, Grand Imam of Al-Azhar Mosque
|Sheik Ahmed el-Tayyib, right, Grand Imam of Al-Azhar Mosque, shakes hands with Pope Francis during a private audience in the Apostolic Palace, at the Vatican, Monday, May 23, 2016. (L'Osservatore Romano/Pool photo via AP)|
It is understood, needless to say, that within the Muslim world itself, there are countless victims of violence. Islam is not only at war with the world of non-Muslims for the affront they represent to Islam of refusing to accept that Allah is the only and absolute ruler of the universe and the world we inhabit, but Muslims adhering to the wrong sect of Islam, like the Ahmadiyya considered heretic and an offense to Allah are persecuted as well. Does that exonerate Islam?
None of which points to Islam as a religion of peace. Attacks against Westerners, against infidels, Jews and Christians, Hindus and Buddhists -- all of which predated Islam as world religions -- take place because daily prayers in most mosques wherever they are located across the world conclude with an imprecation against unbelievers, and Muslims are enjoined by their imams and mullahs to take up jihad in the name of the Prophet Mohammad who showed them the way to conquest.
Whereas Pope Francis's predecessor, Pope Benedict ventured into the minefield of Islam's violent roots of conquest, Pope Francis has chosen to sidestep the issue, and in fact, to deny that Islam is a violent religion based on conquest meant to destroy all other religions, to finally see Islam in complete and totalitarian theistic domination of the globe. His placatory denials, refusals to utter such damning phrases as "Islamic terrorism" or "violent jihad", linking Islam with the cult of violence and death betray him as either naive or clueless or devious.
Citing the vital necessity of religious tolerance and to emphaze what Christianity and Islam have in common is to play a game of submission to a fantasy which world events amply demonstrate is false. The commonly heard "Allahu Akbar" signals an intent to embark upon a venture that is geared to cause vicious harm to purported enemies of Islam who must pay with their lives for conspiring to defy the Prophet's declaration that the world must surrender to his 'one true god' whom he created out of the writing of the Old Testament of Judaism.
There is a metaphor at play here, and a very troubling one, of a Christendom that has faltered, one that the faithful have abandoned, one where in a French church a priest of aged repute set out to conduct mass to a sparse audience of five elderly faithful; two parishioners, three nuns, and himself. This is a church in undeniable decline, though it counts among its faithful the largest demographic worldwide, active now in the developing world, in its death throes in Europe.
And into Europe has come a deluge of Muslims carrying Islam with them in a different kind of jihad, the one of patience and demographics, the second most-populous religion in the world and the only one that is on a steady growth trajectory. A wizened old priest murdered by two young Frenchmen of Islamic origin obeying the call to jihad, in service to Islamic State whose grasping tentacles have re-invigorated jihad and enlisted the interest of young jihadists across the globe.
Yet Pope Francis declares that it is not religion, and certainly not Islam, the religion of peace that motivates these ardent martyrs-in-waiting, but the wretched effects of an underclass, a poverty-stricken world of benighted ignorance which those capitalists whose wealth surpasses those of the countries the underprivileged come from to flood Europe and North America, that is at fault. A fault that dialogue and interfaith communalism can correct.
We must, in the face of Islamist exceptionalism and its inexorably entitled drive to violent conquest, exhibit compassion and understanding, not defence, and the unforgivable denial of the peaceful nature of Islam.