February 13, 2007 Special Dispatch No. 1460

Iraqi Reformist 'Abd Al-Khaliq Hussein: A Hands-On Lesson in Tolerance for Muslims, From Pope Benedict

February 13, 2007
Iraq | Special Dispatch No. 1460

In a December 20, 2006 article titled "A Hands-On Lesson in Tolerance for Muslims, From Pope Benedict," posted on the liberal website Elaph, Iraqi reformist columnist 'Abd Al-Khaliq Hussein ridiculed Muslims who had responded to Pope Benedict XVI's statements on the role of violence in the spread of Islam with threats and violence of their own. In his article, he also set out the Arab and Muslim world's human rights violations and discrimination against religious minorities, and held up Europe and the Pope himself as examples of true religious tolerance.

The following are excerpts from the article: [1]

"Islamic Countries Are… the Greatest Crematorium for Books and the Greatest Slaughterhouse for Freethinkers in History"

"Political Islamists raise a huge hubbub, saying that Islam is a religion of tolerance, but at the same time they threaten to decapitate anyone who directs the least bit of criticism at them - even if it is just a question, or a doubt concerning religious thought, or the writing of an article, or the publishing of a book… to the point where fatwas are issued that make it licit to kill the asker of the question or the writer [of the article].

"For this reason, the Islamic countries are considered the greatest crematorium for books and the greatest slaughterhouse for freethinkers in history, and we see that the majority of freethinkers in Arab and Islamic countries are either expatriates or have chosen to keep silent in order to remain safe.

"A few months ago, Pope Benedict XVI cited, in a lecture before academics at a German university, what a 14th century emperor had said about the Muslims' reliance on the sword in spreading Islam, and that it was better to employ the mind and persuasion instead of force in spreading a religion. [In saying this, the Pope] angered the political Islamists and Islamic sheikhs, who demanded that he kneel down and apologize! As usual, they resorted to instigating riots in the streets, and there were attacks on Christians in Islamic countries… and churches were burned"…

"How Can the Threat of Decapitation Go Hand in Hand with a Spirit of Tolerance?"

"To give just one example of these protests, a demonstration was held in London to protest against the Pope and to defend [the claim] of the tolerance of Islam. The strange thing was that among the slogans that were heard at this demonstration was the threat to decapitate anyone who doubts Islam's tolerance… How can the threat of decapitation go hand in hand with a spirit of tolerance?

"In addition, a sign was raised on which a threat to Europe was written: 'Europe, you will pay. Your 9/11 is on its way!!'… These people are among those who fled their Islamic countries because of the oppression they suffered at the hands of their Islamic governments, and who found a safe haven, honor, bread, and freedom in the 'infidel' countries of Europe - which they are threatening with another 9/11. And the 'infidel' Europeans bear all this with true tolerance, and not with [merely] the claim [of tolerance] like the Islamists. The question is: Can Christians in any Islamic country demonstrate in demand of their rights?"

"I Don't Know Why… the Muslim Brotherhood Deny the Role of the Sword and Violence in Spreading Islam"

"I don't know why these people - especially the Muslim Brotherhood - deny the role of the sword and violence in the spreading of Islam. Arab-Islamic history is full of wars and raids… The Supreme Leader of the Islamic Republic of Iran, Ali Khamenei, never delivers the Friday sermon without holding a rifle, which has replaced the sword. Likewise, the logo of the Muslim Brotherhood in Egypt has a picture of the Koran and two crossed swords, as is clearly seen in the following picture:

We see under the sword hilts the slogan 'Make Ready,' which is the beginning of the Koranic verse [8:60]: 'Make ready for them whatever you can of force and horses of war with which to frighten Allah's enemies and yours […]' Terrorists rely on this text when they kill innocent people for the sole reason of their being of another religion.

"I think that these people [i.e. the Muslim Brotherhood], by associating the Koran with the sword and making this into their logo, have done damage to Islam, whether knowingly or unknowingly. It is well known that commercial advertising relies on psychology to sell any given product, in that they associate the commodity with something enticing to the human soul in a way that excites basic instincts, like the sexual [instinct]. They use a picture of a beautiful half-naked girl, for example, in order to sell the product, and so on. And on the other hand, if they want to launch a negative campaign against a competitor or anything else, they try to give it a bad image, and they distribute images of it with something disgusting or terrifying that drives away the viewer… This is what is called in psychology 'advertisement by association'…

"We know that the sword terrifies people, as it is a means of killing used in violent battles in order to behead people. When the sword is associated with the Koran and with the threat [inherent] in the slogan 'Make Ready,' this yields a result opposite [to what is desired], to the point where when we see a Koran, we are reminded of the sword and violence and beheadings, and we are terrified. In this I think that the Muslims have twice done damage to their religion. First, when they associate the sword with the Koran in their logos, and again when they contradict themselves and deny the role of the sword in spreading Islam, and deal violently with the world instead of showing a spirit of tolerance."

"Why is it that Christians and Jews and Members of all Religions Other than Islam Can Criticize Their Religious Leaders and Raise Questions… Without Provoking any Tumult or Violence?"

"Let us return to the role of tolerance in Islam and in other religions. The question that arises is: Why is it that Christians and Jews and members of all religions other than Islam can criticize their religious leaders and raise questions about anything and everything, and raise doubts concerning some of the concepts in their beliefs, without provoking any tumult or violence against those asking the questions or raising the doubts, and without their being punished? The Muslims are the only ones who raise a storm when any criticism or question is directed at an issue concerning their religion, while [at the same time] insisting that freedom of religion and belief is guaranteed in Islam and in Islamic countries.

"The latest thing I read on this issue was an article by Dr. Ahmad Al-Baghdadi on the Aafaq website [] titled 'Defending the Religion through Ignorance' [2] … The author noted the intention of 'the Kuwaiti Ministry of Education to omit Article 18 of the International Declaration of Human Rights from the human rights curriculum for high school students, since it stipulates that every individual has freedom of thought, which includes the freedom to change one's religion and beliefs. The head of the technical council for the curriculum and professor of law… Rashid Al-'Anzi said that the reason why Article 18 of the [Declaration of] Human Rights will no longer be taught is that it is contrary to the Islamic shari'a, saying that we [in Kuwait] are a conservative Islamic society, in which we must instill religious, Islamic beliefs in accordance with the Islamic shari'a, and thus this article is not in keeping with how we want the students to be.'… But the Islamists are tolerant, and woe to whoever doubts their tolerance and their devotion to freedom!

"Islamists… are Emptying [Iraq] of Christians and Mandeans… And There is No Doubt" that Allah "Will Reward Them for These Abominable Acts, with Paradise and Virgins"

"A friend in Egypt sent me a photocopy of a letter by [Egyptian] MP 'Ismat Al-Sadat addressed to the head of the Egyptian Parliament, in which he demanded [that the parliament] invite the prime minister and question him concerning sectarian discrimination against the Copts - who are the original Egyptians. [Palestinian journalist] Dr. Ahmad Abu Matar did well to publish the photocopy of this letter in his article on this scandal, titled 'This Is Happening in Egypt!' [3] The letter reads: 'Concerning the matter of the Faisal Islamic Bank's preventing Coptic investors from buying its stock and speculating in its funds - which is [a form of] sectarian classification of Egyptians, etc.' In other words, the aforementioned bank made a decision to prevent Copts from exercising their right of investment in their [own] country like the rest of Egyptian citizens, for no reason other than that they are Copts. This is blatant and unequivocal sectarian discrimination.

"The problem is that no sooner do we point out the tribulations of Coptic Christians in Egypt than we are flooded with a torrent of responses and letters of disapproval from Islamists who deny that there is any sectarian discrimination against Copts in Egypt. The same thing recurs when [we] defend any oppressed minority in the Arab countries. This is another example of political Islam's lack of tolerance for people of other religions.

"In the Gulf states, Christians and people of any other religion except Islam are not allowed to build churches or houses of worship, or even to bring in the New Testament or any holy book other than the Koran; [these books] are confiscated at the airport if [the authorities] come across them. By Allah, where is the tolerance, oh Muslims devoted to Islam's [good] reputation?

"As for Iraq… the Islamists - the Sunni and Shi'ite Taliban - have been emptying [Iraq] of the Christians and the Mandeans, who are among the original residents of Iraq and the builders of its first civilization - just like the previous regimes emptied Iraq of the Jews. There is no doubt that all of this is being done in the name of Allah and Islam, and that they will merit Allah's satisfaction, and that he will reward them for these abominable acts with Paradise and virgins.

During his Visit to Turkey, the Pope "Taught a Hands-On Lesson in Rapprochement Among Religions, Civilizations, And Cultures"

"Pope Benedict XVI, in his recent visit to Turkey, taught a hands-on lesson in Christian tolerance for Muslims… The Pope did not go back on his promise to visit, despite the threats he received - [which came] even from the Turkish prisoner [Mehmet Ali Agca], who attempted to assassinate Pope John Paul II in the 1980s, and who warned [Pope Benedict] in a special letter that Islamists in Turkey were planning to assassinate him, and advised him to cancel his trip to save his life.

"But the Pope risked his life and made the visit despite the dangers. The Pope taught a hands-on lesson in rapprochement among religions, civilizations, and cultures. He also gave an inspiring hands-on lesson in religious tolerance when he visited the Blue Mosque in Istanbul… and prayed with Muslims while facing Mecca. The Mufti of Istanbul, Mustafa Cagrici, said that the Pope's salat [prayer] at the Blue Mosque was 'more meaningful than the offering of apologies… It was a wonderful harbinger on his part, through which he sent a message to the Muslims'…

"This is religious tolerance, oh Muslims. Do you have sufficient courage and humility to do the same? Or will you give this a Bedouin interpretation, and say that this initiative is a sign of the Pope's weakness and a sign of the Muslims' victory over 'malicious Crusaderism?'

"A friend who is an enlightened Islamist wrote me a letter on this occasion, in which he said: 'I think that the Pope taught the Muslims a profound lesson in morals and how to treat others. It would be better if Al-Qaradhawi would play such a role, instead of stirring up the Muslim public against the Pope - especially after the Pope apologized to the entire world, an apology which Al-Qaradhawi refused to accept at the time… (The Pope) proved that he is possessed of lofty morals and a religion that does not recognize [the use of] slaughter, flaying, and dismemberment.'

"When will Muslims be governed by rationality and wisdom, and by the essence of true Islam in the interpretation of religious texts in their historical context and in accordance with the current era, so as to live in peace with the world? Is anybody listening?"


[1], December 20, 2006.

[2], December 16, 2006.

[3], December 17, 2006,

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