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Muslim Reciprocity
Posted by: Dale Franks on Tuesday, September 19, 2006

John Allen writes in the New York Times about Pope Benedict's desire to engage the Muslim world on a dialogue about tolerance.
The new pope is tougher both on terrorism and on what the Vatican calls “reciprocity” — the demand that Islamic states grant the same rights and freedoms to Christians and other religious minorities that Muslims receive in the West. When Benedict said in his apology on Sunday that he wants a “frank and sincere dialogue,” the word “frank” was not an accident. He wants dialogue with teeth.
In most frank dialogues, the worst one can expect is a bit of shouting and name-calling. Obviously, in criticizing Islam, the stakes tend to be much higher.

In fact, it reminds me of a recent trend in law enforcement. In the not too distant past, if you got into dispute with someone, you could expect to get involved in a fist fight. Nowadays, if you "diss" someone, the first response is to simply shoot you. Offering disrespect to a gang member—even inadvertently— is now worth your life. Similarly, the Islamic world reminds me of nothing so much as a teenage gang-banger writ large.

This is just as large a problem in international relations as it is for inner-city dwellers.

In many cases, the response—and indeed, much of the commentary on the Pope's recent remarks—has been to specify that any criticism must be carried on only in ways that Muslims find acceptable. Predictably, rather than encouraging Muslims to respond in a secular manner, this has emboldened them to reject criticism with more and more force.

In turn, this has led many to reconsider the effectiveness of appeasement as a strategy in dealing with the Muslim world.
Desire for a more muscular stance, however, has been building among Catholics around the world for some time. In part, it has been driven by persecution of Christians in the Islamic world, like the murder of an Italian missionary, the Rev. Andrea Santoro, in Trabzon, Turkey, in February. A 16-year-old Turk fired two bullets into Father Santoro, shouting “God is great.” But perhaps the greatest driving force has been the frustrations over reciprocity. To take one oft-cited example, while Saudis contributed tens of millions of dollars to build Europe’s largest mosque in Rome, Christians cannot build churches in Saudi Arabia. Priests in Saudi Arabia cannot leave oil-industry compounds or embassy grounds without fear of reprisals from the mutawa, the religious police. The bishop of the region recently described the situation as “reminiscent of the catacombs.”
It seems to me that we often attempt to speak to the Muslim world in terms of "rights" a mind-set that is almost exclusive to Western thought. Frankly, the Muslim world doesn't have a shared concept of rights similar to those we have in the West. Islam has any number of obligations. Non-Muslims may be granted some level of tolerance. But the idea of generalized rights—including the right to reject Islam—is hardly to be found anywhere in Muslim thought.

Oh, sure, you can probably find some 11-century writing by some imam that seems to gush with tolerance. But, who cares? It has as much relevance to today as the principle of cuius regio, eius religio1 has to the West today in determining what religion you are allowed to follow.

As of now, the Muslim world has no interest in reciprocity of rights. They demand absolute respect for their beliefs, while simultaneously rejecting any suggestion that they have an obligation to extend similar respect towards non-Muslims.

That doesn't give one much hope for a successful dialogue.
1 (Who rules, his religion) A principle negotiated between Catholics and Protestants in Europe during the 100 years war, under which the inhabitants of a district were considered Protestants or Catholics based on the religion of the ruler.
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Previous Comments to this Post 

I don’t share your cynicism.

I’ve seen more Muslims on TV in the past few days who want to embrace this dialogue than I have seen in any recent year.

On the other hand, the Times went out of it’s way to demand even more apologies, so I see them as part of the problem. I even saw a Trenton Star Ledger where they made fools of themselves saying that this was what the critic of Benedict had predicted.

I still fully expecting someone to say that Benedict’s "rush to judgment" has gotten him in trouble. A 500 year "rush to judgment".

I got news for some of these newspapers .. if the Pope isn’t going to speak on matters of religion, then nobody is going to speak. I know they (the newspapers) would be just fine with that, but .. who appointed them Pope ? The Pope is going to act like a Pope, and this Pope isn’t going to hide.

The question at hand is whether Islam can resolve a conflict within Islam, that is spilling out to those who have not accepted it. The conflict comes from the relationship between religion and violence. A religion of peace can’t be advocating violence as a path to God. Likewise, advocating violence as a path to belief, doesn’t create belief, only fear. Without true belief, there is no religion, only convenience.

So there is a conflict within Islam. This is a conflict that Islam must solve, not the Pope, but Islam seems incapable of trying, let alone actually solving this conflict. It might be possible for mere humans to resolve the concept of "death and paradise" within the realm of "defense of Islam," but it will take true "enlightenment" from Allah to justify "death and paradise" in the furtherance of belief. So far, this "enlightenment" seems lacking.

The Pope’s mission is to put the full "light of God," the same God of Abraham that Islam embraces, on this problem that affects his "flock."

Now it’s time for the imams to show that Allah has enlighten them, else they be shown to be "unenlightened" or, worse, the agents of Satan.
Written By: Neo
URL: http://
The Pope is going to act like a Pope, and this Pope isn’t going to hide.
Lots of people are still pissed off at him for being so darned Catholic. The nerve!
Written By: Pablo
URL: http://
The ruler determining the religion was the principle laid down just prior (I think) to the 30 years’ war, not during the 100 years’ war.
Written By: Rollory
URL: http://
I’ve seen more Muslims on TV in the past few days who want to embrace this dialogue than I have seen in any recent year.
Let’s recall, shall we, that Arifat made the same noises as the oens you point out. You may recall how that turned out.... the dialogue stage he had no problem with. It was the actionable items he couldn’t... or wouldn’t... master.

Written By: Bithead

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