French Muslim Leader on Papacy: “religions have to feel committed to the same values”

That’s what it has come to: leftarded SPIEGEL journaillie seeks the approval of EUrabia’s Muselmanic headbanger in chief for the new Pontiff. The new Pope needs to be more submissive, says Boubakeur, and should not adhere to “misleading interpretations” of Islam. Did leftist dimbulbs ever bother to ask the Pope whether he approves of the Islamic invasion and the  thousands of halal butchers they call clerics?

‘A New Beginning Is Necessary’

Dalil Boubakeur is one of France’s most prominent Muslims. In a SPIEGEL ONLINE interview, he discusses what retiring Pope Benedict XVI did wrong in bridging the Muslim-Catholic divide and how the two religions need to make a fresh start at interfaith dialogue.

Dalil Boubakeur is in his office at the Grand Mosque in Paris, where he has poured mint tea. The mosque is an imposing example of Muslim architecture, not far from the Seine, and was built in 1926 to recognize the colonial Muslim troops who had fought for France during World War I.

Boubakeur, who knows Latin and is as well-versed in the history of the Catholic Church as he is in the Koran, is an admirer of Germany, which he got to know after World War II. “I love its regions, its literature and its history,” Boubakeur says. He apologizes for his somewhat rusty German. “I don’t have much of an opportunity to speak it,” he said. “The last time was with Pope Benedict.”


Muslim cleric at Al-Azhar warns: “The new pope must not attack Islam”

In other words, the new pope must not speak the truth about jihad and Islamic supremacism — or else. The papacy of Benedict XVI offered numerous illustrations of this. “Muslims Seek Dialogue With Next Pope,” by Harvey Morris for the New York Times, March 1, via Jihad Watch


 Dalil Boubakeur, 73, was born in Algeria and is the rector of the Muslim Institute at the Grand Mosque of Paris. A physician, Boubakeur studied in Egypt, Tunisia, Ireland and France. Boubakeur has often gained attention in the past for his liberal views. He has spoken out against burkas and has called on Muslims to make more efforts to integrate into European societies.

SPIEGEL ONLINE: Your excellency, Pope Benedict XVI is stepping down on February 28. What do you wish for from the future pontiff?Boubakeur: A reversal. Christianity under Pope Benedict XVI started becoming more doctrinaire. He was not able to understand Muslims. He had no direct experience with Islam, and he found nothing positive to say about our beliefs.

SPIEGEL ONLINE: You met Benedict XVI during his visit to Paris in 2008. What impression did he make on you during your personal discussions?

Boubakeur: Benedict was shy, reserved, very much the result of a traditional, strict upbringing — friendly, but always keeping a distance.

SPIEGEL ONLINE: At the World Youth Day in Cologne in 2005, only a few months after he was elected, the pope said that inter-religious dialogue between Christians and Muslims shouldn’t be an optional extra. Were his words followed by actions?

Boubakeur: No, not at all. They turned out to be empty words, a fact which I have deeply regretted. And his speech in September 2006 at the University of Regensburg only deepened my disappointment.

SPIEGEL ONLINE: In that speech, Benedict quoted the Byzantine Emperor Manuel II Palaiologos, saying: “Show me just what Muhammad brought that was new and there you will find things only bad and inhuman, such as his command to spread by the sword the faith he preached.” What did you think at that time?

Boubakeur: I knew that it was a lecture in front of students and professors, so he was sending an educational message. But the appearance was shaped by an outdated approach to the relationship between Christianity and Islam.

SPIEGEL ONLINE: It resulted in uproar in the Muslim world, protests in Arab countries and attacks on Christians in the Middle East.

Boubakeur: Understandably. The decisions of the Second Vatican Council for inter-religious dialogue seemed to have been forgotten, and we are back to the relationship that has been described as the “Muslim-Christian polemic.” To me, it seemed like a return to those early days when the Christian Church judged Islam to be heresy.

SPIEGEL ONLINE: Have any bitter feelings remained?

Boubakeur: It was wrong to remind people of the conflicts between Christianity and Islam, of these terrible confrontations that lasted for centuries. In doing so, Benedict made room for a dogmatic, misleading interpretation.

SPIEGEL ONLINE: Criticism has to be allowed. The pope had reminded people of religious freedom when Christians in Arab countries were being discriminated against and persecuted.

Boubakeur: Correct. But sometimes this espousal came with an undercurrent of Islamophobia, when the criticism was made using terms that were otherwise disseminated by opponents of Islam. Benedict XVI repeated what he was told, but without personal sympathy. Where was the talk of brotherhood?

SPIEGEL ONLINE: Has the German pope been more of an inspector of theological purity than a shepherd?

Boubakeur: Benedict XVI was undoubtedly profoundly influenced by his work as prefect of the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith, an office he held before his election (to the papacy) in Rome. That was his role, his function, his mission.

SPIEGEL ONLINE: One of your many publications is entitled “The Shock of Religions: Jews, Christians, Muslims — is Coexistence Possible?” In the book, from 2004, you answered the question positively. And today?

Boubakeur: Still the same answer. But it requires that, in order to coexist in a society, religions have to feel committed to the same values. It is only when no single belief exclusively receives preferential treatment that the conditions exist for a true democracy and conflict-free coexistence. So, with a new pope, one would hope to have a fresh start for dialogue between the religions.

The interview was conducted by Stefan Simons in Paris.

One thought on “French Muslim Leader on Papacy: “religions have to feel committed to the same values””

  1. Spencer: The Muslim Letter to the Pope

    Jihad Watch column at Human Events:

    The Vatican responded Friday to the open letter sent at the end of Ramadan by 138 Muslim scholars to Pope Benedict XVI and a wide array of other Christian leaders. The response was somewhat deflating, given the mainstream media’s enthusiasm over the Muslim letter — an enthusiasm which the senders must have anticipated. Noting the Muslim scholars’ declaration that “the future of the world depends on peace between Muslims and Christians,” the Telegraph‘s headline was typical of the coverage: “Muslim scholars’ olive branch to Christians.” Reuters burbled about an “Unprecedented Muslim call for peace with Christians.” But was it really?
    This week’s response from Cardinal Jean-Louis Tauran, the President of the Vatican’s Pontifical Council for Interreligious Dialogue, hardly seemed sporting. Tauran observed that the possibility of serious dialogue between Muslims and Christians was limited by the traditional Islamic understanding of the Muslim holy book: “Muslims,” he said, “do not accept that one can discuss the Koran in depth, because they say it was written by dictation from God. With such an absolute interpretation, it is difficult to discuss the contents of faith.”

    Tauran went on to call for reciprocity between the treatment of Christians in Islamic lands and the treatment of Muslims in the West, decrying the fact that Muslims are permitted to build mosques freely in Europe, but Christians face difficulties or outright bans when trying to build churches in Muslim lands. “In a dialogue among believers, it is fundamental to say what is good for one is good for the other.”
    But that presumes an equality of religions, and that one can admit the legitimacy of the other. And that is the element missing from the proposed debate.

    On the basis of the letter alone, it’s surprising that there has ever been conflict between Muslims and Christians, or Muslims and anyone. The scholars say: “in obedience to the Holy Qur’an, we as Muslims invite Christians to come together with us on the basis of what is common to us, which is also what is most essential to our faith and practice: the Two Commandments of love.” Yet the “Two Commandments of love” were nowhere in evidence last August when an Egyptian convert from Islam to Christianity was sentenced to death by Islamic clerics. “The Two Commandments of love” have not saved Christians in Baghdad, where Islamic gangs knocked on doors in Christian neighborhoods, demanding payment of the jizya tax specified for non-Muslims by the Qur’an (9:29). Nor is Iraq the only problem area: in Egypt, Coptic Christians have suffered discrimination and harassment for centuries, and their plight is increasing. In Pakistan a prominent Catholic priest said in August 2007 that Christians are frequently denied equality of rights with Muslims and subjected to various forms of discrimination.

    The persecution of Christians is the primary indication of the letter’s inadequacy as the basis for any real dialogue between Muslims and Christians. Genuine dialogue must focus, or at least be cognizant of, the reality of what separates the two parties. Nothing can be resolved, no genuine peace or harmony attained, except on the basis of confronting those differences.

    While saying they want to build on common ground, the Muslim scholars (amid copious Qur’an quotes) never mention Qur’an 5:17, which says that those who believe in the divinity of Christ are unbelievers, or 4:171, which says that Jesus was not crucified, or 9:30, which says that those who believe that Jesus is the Son of God are accursed, or 9:29, which mandates warfare against and the subjugation of Jews and Christians. It seems reasonable to suggest that verses like these would need to be addressed in some way, even if only to give them some benign interpretation, if there is to be any true and honest dialogue.

    The media enthusiasm for this letter is, at best, premature. We may hope that Muslim scholars will someday address Muslim persecution of Christians and offer a non-literal interpretation of the Christianophobic passages in the Qur’an. Then there will be a basis for genuine dialogue. But they haven’t done it yet.

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