Disaster Manuel

Few surprises on Radio 4’s 6pm news programme, as British Islamist Anjem Choudary explains why he shouldn’t be prosecuted for calling for the execution of the Pope at a protest at Westminster Cathedral:

We were saying that people should be wary of the fatwa which have already been given, for example against Salman Rushdie, and of course what happened during the cartoon demonstration. So in fact we were saying that people like the Pope and others should know better, and if they make such comments and they have severe consequences then really they have only themselves to blame.

Well, I’m glad he’s clarified that, then.

Meanwhile, the Islamist campaign to whip up violence by taking what the Pope actually said out of context gets an unexpected boost – from the American Family Association’s Agape Press and Christian Zionist Jan Markell:

The founder and director of Minnesota-based Olive Tree Ministries says Pope Benedict should be commended for his recent quotation of a 14th-century Byzantine emperor’s observations about Islam…Jan Markell says she was a bit surprised by Pope Benedict’s candor, which, she notes, “surprises me a little bit because [he] is trying to unite a bunch of religions, including Islam — bring them all together … and he’s really working on Islam to be a part of this.” For the Pope to come out with this statement, the Olive Tree Ministries’ spokeswoman says, “I honestly have to give him some credit for being that blunt”…And now that Pope Benedict has couched Islam in…frank terms, Markell says the Vatican should not yield to the demands of angry Muslims for an apology.

Of course, some have raised the possibility that Benedict was merely saying what he really thinks in a way that was plausibly deniable; such a conspiracy theory can never be proven either way, but in trying to divine the secrets of the Pope’s heart we should at least take some note of the official statement of the Vatican’s Secretary of State, Tarcisio Bertone, which says that

“the Holy Father did not mean, nor does he mean, to make that opinion his own in any way.”

However, demagogues like Markell are opportunists, and misrpresenting Benedict’s stated views can only have the positive result of further inflaming the situation. Markell may dislike the Pope’s efforts at inter-religious dialogue  (or “uniting a bunch of religions”, in her paranoid worldview), but she and Choudary are united in their belief that hatred, fear, and ignorance should be the handmaids of religious revival.