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Hindu-Jewish Leadership Summit: Israel Chief Rabbi Praises BJP Hardliner

Here’s one I missed earlier, from the Jerusalem Post in February:

Chief Ashkenazi Rabbi Yona Metzger and other leading rabbis from around the world signed a declaration Tuesday with leading Hindu leaders in New Delhi that denounces terrorism and violence…The resolution was signed during a summit organized by the World Council of Religious Leaders.

The “World Council of Religious Leaders” is a UN-affiliated body, and does not appear to be connected with the various “summits” of religious leaders which I have blogged in past months (here and here). Among those present was David Rosen of the American Jewish Committee, who said that

“Although, Muslim extremism was not singled out, it was at the forefront of many participants’ minds”.

The Hindu leaders stressed the monotheism of Hinduism, and according to Metzger

“They told me that both Judaism and Hinduism were the mothers from which all other religions suckled. But sometimes the offspring bite the breast that feeds them…The Hindu leaders told us that idolatry was not a part of Hindu faith but that many followers continued to harbor idolatrous practices”.

Or, in other words, many Hindus may in fact be polytheists, but they don’t count. Metzger also met some Muslim leaders, as reported by the Common Ground News Service:

At the same time a rare and significant meeting took place between the Jewish delegation, which included the Ashkenazi Chief Rabbi of Israel, Yona Metzger, and senior members of India’s Islamic community led by the President of the All India Organisation of Imams of Mosques, Moulana Jameel Ahmed Ilyasi.

Meanwhile, the Organiser gives some further details about Metzger’s Hindu friends – and this is where the alarm bells start going off:

Chief Rabbi of Israel Yona Metzger made a touching reference to the lasting contribution made by the BJP leader L.K. Advani in furthering the friendship and co-operation between India and Israel. The Chief Rabbi, the highly regarded Jewish pontiff, was lavish in his praise for India’s Leader of Opposition, as he was speaking at a dinner hosted at the Prithviraj Road residence of the BJP leader.

…Shri Bawa Jain, secretary general of World Council of Religious Leaders (WCORL), that organised the three-day Hindu-Jewish Leadership Summit said the conference would not have been possible but for the help of the Leader of Opposition. He recalled the sterling leadership qualities of the BJP leader and his tireless endeavour towards unity of religions, interfaith dialogue and peace among faiths.

In a just-posted article, Mark Marqusee ponders the significance of this:

In the 1980s, Advani launched and led the “Rath yatra”, a provocative nation-wide tour aimed at mobilizing support for replacing the five hundred year old Babri Mosque in Ayodhya, north India, with a Ram Temple. The upshot was the violent demolition of the mosque in December 1992 by Hindu fanatics, an act of communal aggression which led to riots across the country and the loss of 2000 lives.

Advani had visited the besieged mosque on the very day of its demolition. Along with other leaders of the Hindu right, he was charged by police with making “inflammatory speeches to spread communal hatred”. The legal case against him, reopened in 2005, is still pending.

As Home Minister in the BJP-led government of 1998-2004, Advani was complicit in the anti-Muslim pogrom in Gujarat in 2002 which took the lives of 2,500 Muslims and left at least 150,000 homeless.

Just last week, the BJP was in trouble over an election campaign CD which promoted anti-Muslim communalism (the transcript is here).

And, to return to the Organiser article, it seems that “interfaith dialogue and peace among faiths” means, as expected, a united front against a common enemy:

Shri Advani, in his brief welcome speech, emphasised the great Indian tradition of equal respect to all faiths. He said, the distortion of Indian secularism had reached a stage where, secularism has come to mean a state eschewing religion. The language of religion has a significant role in shaping the character of the state. It is not a state without religion, but a state that respects all religions, that is at the essence of secularism. The distortion and intolerance to religion have come because of the spell of Marxism on Indian political leadership, he said.

The full text of the Hindu-Jewish statement can be seen here; it includes a section against proselytising:

Neither seeks to proselytise, nor undermine or replace in any way the religious identities of other faith communities. They expect other faith communities to respect their religious identities and commitments, and condemn all activities that go against the sanctity of this mutual respect.

Marqusee wonders where this leaves the Bnei Menashe issue; this Indian tribe converted to Christianity many years ago, and from that developed a “Lost Tribe of Israel” and Judaic identity. A number of members have gone through formal conversions to Orthodox Judaism, and are now resident in Israel, although the practice has been suspended to avoid tensions with India. We might also add that Metzger’s predecessor, Meir Lau, converted 90 Peruvians to Judaism in a fast-track two-week process in 2002, in order to provide residents for a West Bank settlement.

Of course, this is actually also a “common front” issue: this time, against Christian missionaries. Some Jewish and Israeli groups have called for a ban on Christians seeking Jewish converts, putting pressure on the Israeli-Christian Zionist alliance. At the same time, India has introduced anti-conversion laws – originally at the instigation of the BJP, although more recently the Congress Party has jumped on the bandwagon.

(Hat tip: Jews Sans Frontieres)

Sharia Warning on Iraqi Kurdistan

The Guardian‘s Comment is Free carries a piece by Houzan Mahmoud on a worrying development in Iraqi Kurdistan:

Around seven months ago, a draft constitution for the Kurdistan region was made available for discussion, suggestions and amendments. Article seven of this proposed constitution states: This constitution stresses the identification of the majority of Kurdish people as Muslims; thus the Islamic sharia law will be considered as one of the major sources for legislation making.

…Along with five others, I launched a campaign to bring together all those who believe in secularism, and who therefore demand the removal of Article seven, to fight this reactionary clause, which would allow the Islamists to use official state law to justify their crimes against the women of Kurdistan.

…The media attention given to our campaign panicked the Islamists, and just few days after our visit to parliament they launched a counter-campaign. They have announced their intention to “campaign to retain the Islamic identity of the Kurdish people”. They have started to propagate the nonsense claim, via their various media outlets, that we want to impose secularism and forcibly deny people any right to express their identity as Muslims.

A year ago I blogged on a report concerning the evangelical Iraqi General (and sometime National Security Advisor) Georges Sada, who claimed that all was well in Kurdistan, and also that “hundreds” of people were converting to Christianity. I noted then that he appeared to be ignoring some disturbing counter-evidence. Christian Zionist Mike Evans was also recently in the area, which he declared to be the “greatest success story in all of Iraq”. The bar, though, is somewhat low…

(Hat tip: World War 4 Report)

New Company Announces Jesus Figurine Range

Figures.com (“All the toy and action figure news all the time”) carries an interview with Eric Dyson, founder of Fishermen Inc:

Fishermen, Inc. is hoping to harness people’s recognition of this holy and historic icon when it introduces a new series of figurines based on various interpretations of Jesus.

Dyson explains:

The message behind all of our “I Am” figurines is that whatever your path in life, Jesus can be an inspiration for you. The figurines are for anyone who can appreciate these modern-day interpretations of Jesus in (their) lives today…The figurines are not to be worshiped or used for worship. Like a cross hanging from your neck or a “WWJD” bracelet on your wrist, these collectibles are personal reminders of your own beliefs or inspirations…We selected these initial 11 modern-day realities in trying to represent a wide cross-section of lifestyles…There is nothing disrespectful or irreverent about what we have done.

A Businesswire press release adds:

The “I Am Freedom” figure showcases a jean-clad Jesus aboard a Chopper, complete with long raked handlebars, his long robe flying out from behind him. The “I Am Victory” model has Jesus mid-bicycle kick in a soccer uniform, his cleats pointing skyward. In a more thoughtful vein, “I Am Peace” shows Jesus in camouflage military fatigues, holding a dove in his outstretched hand, while “I Am Hope” simply portrays Jesus in shabby clothing, holding a sign with the all-too omnipresent, “Will Work 4 Food.”

…Rounding out the set are “I Am Strength,” with Jesus aboard a bucking bull, cowboy hat in hand; “I Am Faith,” featuring Jesus scrambling with a football; “I Am Spirit” has Him shooting a curl while surfing; “I Am Youth” has a skateboarding Jesus riding a rail; and lastly “I Am Life” shows a rock-climbing Jesus hanging from a cliff.

Apparently, requests are coming in for a rock-star figurine…

I blogged on the 2004 “Herobuilders” Jesus action figure here.

Charismatic Christian Outburst at Entebbe Airport

Extraordinary scenes at Entebbe Airport are described in the Kampala New Vision:

WHO is Pastor Pius Muwanguzi? That is the question that was eating away at everyone’s mind last Friday when the man of God entered the arrival lounge at Entebbe Airport.

…What was astounding was that all the people who rushed to meet Muwanguzi collapsed and fell by the way side as he moved.

The report says that Muwanguzi was returning from a visit to Mt Sinai (described as being in Israel), where he had replenished his spiritual powers:

The pastor, known for his out-of-this- world miracles, drove off his new Jeep Cherokee estimated at over sh180m [=$101,000]. Following him was his Toyota Land Cruiser with tinted windows.

On-line details about Muwanguzi and his Namulanda-based Holy Fire Ministries are scarce; several past reports in a local language (presumably Luganda) are gathered on this rather curious blog. However, from a recent report by Richard Kavuma in the Uganda Observer we can see that Muwanguzi – better known as William Muwanguzi rather than “Pius” – is a controversial figure:

According to Pastor Moses Male, Executive Director of Arising for Christ ministries, many churches are involved in selling prayers for all sorts of needs including getting cured of terminal illnesses like AIDS.

…Male named the pastors whose churches are involved in this trade as including William Muwanguzi of Holy Fire Ministries at Namulanda, Pastor Sembera of Cineplex Lunch Hour, and Augustine Yiga or Revival Christian Church at Kawaala.

A visit to these churches all but confirmed Male’s claims.

…Envelopes were also the order of the day at Pastor Muwanguzi’s Church, an iron-roof shelter nailed on eucalyptus poles, at Namulanda. One churchgoer told The Weekly Observer that if one wants to see the pastor privately, the fee was Shs 50,000 [=$29]. Those who are counselled as a group pay Shs 10,000 each.

…A female assistant who had been friendly became hostile, on learning that I was a journalist. She literally called the security guard to throw me out.

“You will get into trouble for nothing. Do you want to lose your camera and notes? We have many askaris [i.e. “soldiers”, presumably security guards in this context] behind there,” the woman said. “I am not threatening you. I know your agenda. If you think you are going to do research behind curtains, it won’t work.”

This discussion of Muwanguzi appears in the context of the prosperity gospel; as it happens, the BBC World Service has just broadcast a documentary on the phenomenon on the other side of the continent, in Ghana. It can be heard here. I blogged on some recent woes for the movement last month.

US Abstinence Groups Target Africa

As a highly-critical federal report on “Abstinence Only” sex education is released, the Baptist Press co-incidentally reports on how the movement intends to influence Africa:

True Love Waits International will expand its abstinence-until-marriage message in six African countries, utilizing $950,000 in donor gifts.

…Since its introduction in Uganda 13 years ago, True Love Waits has been a catalyst for bringing people together to address the AIDS problem and spread the message of biblical purity to schools, youth groups and communities. In the years that followed, Uganda’s HIV/AIDS infection rate dropped from 30 percent to about 6 percent of the country’s 25 million people.

…Based on methodologies developed in Uganda, True Love Waits will establish an ongoing relationship with a key national champion in each African country who, in turn, will build a hierarchy of teams within the country.

The role of US abstinence groups in Africa is a subject that I’ve blogged on before, and I revisit some of my findings today at Talk to Action.

Buddhist Nationalists Flex Muscles in Thailand

Several months after a military coup, and with continuing communal violence involving the country’s Muslims in the south of the country, Thailand is pondering calls to make Buddhism the official religion of the country. ThaisNews reports (link added):

The Secretary-General of the Buddhism Protection Center of Thailand, Phra Tepvisutthikawee, wants the Constitution Drafting Committee (CDC) to state Buddhism as the national religion in the new charter.

The Buddhism Protection Center of Thailand joined the Network of Buddhist Organizations in front of the Parliament on Apr 8, calling for the CDC to declare Buddhism as the national religion in the constitutional draft.

According to al-Jazeera, Tepvisutthikawee claims to have “more than a million signatures of support”:

“If we all believe the constitution is the highest law in the country, what appears in the law should be the highest too,” he told Al Jazeera.

“We put the matter of the country and the king in the law, so we must put the matter of religion too.”

The Buddhism Protection Center has been undertaking such protests for a while. This 2002 report records a previous dispute:

About 3,000 monks, novices, nuns and lay followers from Buddhist organisations staged a rally in front of Parliament yesterday to demand the establishment of a ministry for Buddhism.

Dolsawat Chatmethi, a representative of the Buddhism Protection Centre of Thailand and Council of Buddhist Organisations of Thailand, said the protestors would rally for three days If their call was still ignored, they might prolong the demonstration.

The government has refused to set up a Buddhism ministry on grounds that it would be seen as discrimination against other religions.

The BPCT also clashed with the now-deposed Prime Minister Thaksin in 2004, over a golf course on temple-owned property:

The government yesterday indicated it would exclude temple property from its controversial land management bill. However, Buddhist communities, who have opposed the bill, are planning to push ahead with a major street protest against the legislation.

…Critics said the bill would give the government increased powers in relation to the use of temple land, opening the way for possible abuse. Buddhist monks, academics and religious scholars have been up in arms about the bill largely as a result of the Alpine Golf Club scandal. The luxurious golf course and club house, owned by Prime Minister Thaksin Shinawatra’s business empire, was built on a piece of land donated to a temple thanks to dubious regulatory changes introduced by the Interior Ministry. Key leaders of groups opposed to the bill plan to rally thousands in protest outside Parliament today. The protest was expected to go ahead despite the government’s apparent retreat. “We are still not convinced by assurances given by officials, including the prime minister himself,” said Phra Rajakavi, secretary-general of the Thailand Buddhism Protection Centre…

Not everyone, however, is impressed by the latest demands, and the Australian Broadcasting Corporation (which, by the way, has excellent radio coverage of religion) has some background (links added):

[BO] HILL: Sulak Sivaraksa is a Thai intellectual and social commentator based in Bangkok. He is against the move to indoctrinate Buddhism in the Thai constitution, because he fears it will encourage discrimination like it has elsewhere.

SIVARAKSA: As you can see, in Sri Lanka, the Sinhala claim to be Buddhist – they regard the Tamils, Christian, Hindu as the enemy which is very dangerous. In our country we have about five million Muslims in the South that feel they are deprived of many basic rights already. If we made Buddhism national religion, so we end up they are nothing, they are nobody -we have a crisis in the South already. Why should we add salt to the wound?

HILL: The majority of Buddhists practice Theravada Buddhism, imported from Sri Lanka and India over 700 years ago. In a recent editorial in Bangkok newspaper, The Nation, special adviser to the World Conference of Religions for Peace, Mettanando Bhikkhu, expressed concern about the archaic form of hierarchy and education in Thailand’s Buddhist clergy. He says Thai monks study a form of Buddha’s teachings that endorse the status quo, making social progress difficult. Sulak Sivaraksa agrees that the clergy’s call for a place in the constitution would be a backwards step, and goes against the core of their own religion.

Mettanando Bhikkhu believes that Thaksin’s use of Buddhism was a factor in the coup. Writing last September, he blasted a particular temple that offered Thaksin unqualified support in return for legal assistance and access to television:

I believe that the Thai Rak Thai Party and Phra Dhammakaya Temple make a perfect couple. The only difference between them is that one is a political party and the other a Buddhist monastery…According to the law of karma as promoted by the temple, Thaksin Shinawatra was hailed as the ideal lay Buddhist, who had been blessed by the merit of his past lives and was endowed with a great many virtues.

…General Sonthi Boonyaratglin said that last week’s coup was triggered by the deep divisions in Thai society. There is little doubt that the unholy alliance between Phra Dhammakaya Temple and Thai Rak Thai has contributed in no small part to this polarisation.

In November, he complained about rival Buddhist groups vying for power:

Most lay Buddhists in Thailand are now confused and feel a sense of hopelessness over the ongoing conflict. The better educated are more concerned that such infighting is eroding the faith of the public. According to the teaching of the Buddha, monks should not covet political power, and feudal hierarchy has no place in Buddhist monasticism.

…There is a huge defect in the Ecclesiastical Law, which is written to impose a feudalistic structure of administration on top of the Sangha and which deprives all nuns and lay Buddhists of the right to get involved. Sadly, Thailand is the only Buddhist country where the study of the Tipitaka, or the canonical literature of Buddhism, is not included in any of the nine levels of monastic education. Buddhism has survived and flourished for over 2,000 years in many countries without support from governments. What Thailand needs is not another amendment of the law but a radical reform to revive the longforgotten spirit of the teaching of the Lord Buddha.

I blogged on the unfortunate consequences of one Thai monk’s ignorance of Buddhist doctrine here.

(Hat tips: World War 4 Report; American Buddhist Net)

Name variations: Phrathep Visuthikavee; Phra Thepvisutthakavi

Jailing of Serb Paramilitaries Recalls Church Role

Four Serbian paramilitaries have been jailed following the discovery of a video of a massacre:

The four Serbs found guilty Tuesday were seen in a video that surfaced in June 2005 when it was shown at the war crimes trial of Milosevic before the U.N. tribunal for the former Yugoslavia.

…But the footage, widely broadcast in Serbia as well as in Bosnia, shocked some Serbians who were in denial about the wartime atrocities committed by the Serb forces.

When the video first came to light, there was some controversy over the involvement of a Serbian Orthodox priest, who blessed the paramilitaries. A report by the Helsinki Committee for Human Rights seems to have the most detail about this in English:

…That video recording amply indicates ties between the Serb Interior Ministry and Srebrenica massacre, and also presence of the Serb Orthodox Church and its support to those fighters. Namily the ininitial scene [sic] is the one in which Father Gavrilo, head of monastery Privina Glava, around 8 o’clock in the morning blesses the Skorpioni group with the following words: “Brothers, we are facing a revival of Turkish belligerence, they want Serb sacred places. Please help your faithful army to prevail over our enemies.” After the airing of the video recording, Monk Gavrilo stated: “I don’t repent for blessing members of the paramilitary unit Skorpioni, for I did not bless the crime they have committed.” He went on to note: “I blessed our people and our flag to make it known that the Orthodox faith is equal to a Christ-loving, justice-loving and calm-loving practice, and to prevent any confusion or veering towards the evil in their minds.” In his mind “the crime was committed probably because they lost control or because they grew very embittered. But even the foregoing does not justify that crime. But at the same time we should not forget even worse crimes committed against the Serb children.

Sociologist of religion Mirko Djordjevic was unimpressed, as reported here:

…”The silence of the Serbian Orthodox Church on the case of Father Gavrilo doesn’t surprise me, there was a precedent in a similar incident in the recent past. You will remember Father Filaret who, in 1995, was photographed on a tank and, far from being reprimanded, he was promoted,” said Djordjevic. It is worth noting also, that the Serbian Orthodox Church supported Milosevic’s War in Kosovo[Kosova] as well. The head of the Serbian Church,Patriarch Pavle, praised Milosevic during the war as well as issuing statements in support of the Armies action in Kosova[Kosovo].

I blogged on more recent efforts by the Serbian Orthodox Church on behalf of Kosovo – which have involved contacts with US evangelists and Rick Santorum – here.

US Christian Zionist Evangelist Visits Iraq

Christian Zionist evangelist Mike Evans has a new book on the way: The Final Move Beyond Iraq. Evans has featured on this blog before: among other things, he is of the opinion that God killed Franklin D Roosevelt for making a deal with Saudi Arabia in 1945.

Evans has recently been roaming Iraq and talking to Kurdish leaders; his impressions have been posted at this website. Given that Evans is a best-selling and influential author, and that he does enjoy contacts with various intelligence and political sources (he boasts of having advised Reagan’s staff), it’s worth keeping an eye on what he has to say, whatever one’s opinion of it:

High-level Iraqi intelligence leaders have told me that [a plan to kill Grand Ayatollah Ali-Sistani] was an operation by Iran and coordinated with the Mahdi Army under the leadership of Sheikh Moqtada al-Sadr in an attempt to drive the last nail in President George Bush’s coffin. The plan was to kill al-Sistani, since he was a moderate, and blame it on the Sunnis.

…Iraqi intelligence officials tell me that [WMDs] were shipped to Syria. They also readily tell me that Saddam’s top leaders smuggled billions into Syria and are now working with Iran to defeat the Great Satan (America) in Iraq.

[Adnan Mufti, Speaker of the House of Kurdistan] placed a letter in my hands to deliver to President Bush and Vice President Dick Cheney. He said, “I sent it through diplomatic channels via the U.S. Ambassador, but did not hear back.” I promised I would do my best to get it into the hands of the President.

…My first meeting today at 9:00 AM was in the State House with the Minister of State, Karim Sinjari. I had two more high-level intelligence meetings with Iraqi diplomatic leaders. I cannot attribute a quote from them for security reasons. I do not want an Iranian agent to put a bullet in their heads…I was told that Iranian agents by the tens of thousands are everywhere in Iraq, and that Iranian proxies number in the hundreds of thousands.

…Karim further opined, “Saudi Arabia is so convinced that Iran is coming, they are building a 400-mile wall at the cost of $13 billion to keep them out. Saudi is panicking because 50 percent of their population is Shiite, and the oil region is in the Shiite area of Saudi. They know a nuclear Iran could mean their end. They pray that the U.S. or Israel will stop them.” I have been told that over 500,000 Shiite “missionaries” are gathered in Saudi Arabia with one goal…convert Sunnis.

…I was stunned to learn that Iranians are buying property in Iraq and pouring a fortune into the fundamentalist mosques. Most who escaped to Iran during Saddam’s regime are back in Iraq and strongly support Iran.

…I am certain that if the U.S. provided the tools for the Iraqi Kurds to fight the war and simply controlled the skies and provided back-up, U.S. deaths would drop and victory would come in time. The liberal media, however, will have to be put into press pools and monitored; they are doing more to undermine a victory in Iraq than the enemy.

Evans’s latest book will be published by an imprint of Strang Communications. Strang also publishes a couple of other authors I have looked at on this blog: John Hagee and David Brog. Also, I blogged on claims of large-scale conversions to Christianity in Iraqi Kurdistan here.

Somerfield Overeggs Easter Awareness Effort

From Christian Today:

A survey published by supermarket chain Somerfield has shown that many youngsters in the UK do not know what Easter signifies.

Somerfield’s survey, which was conducted as part of a marketing campaign, found that one-in-six 16 to 24-year-olds know nothing about Good Friday, the commemoration of Jesus’ crucifixion.

Alas, however, Somerfield’s somewhat unexpected foray into the sociology of religion has come unstuck. From the Times:

A supermarket chain got itself into a huge muddle over the meaning of Easter yesterday in its attempt to sell more chocolate eggs.

“Brits are set to spend a massive £520 million on Easter eggs this year — but many young people don’t even know what Easter’s all about,” said the press release from Somerfield after a survey.

It then went on to claim that the tradition of giving Easter eggs was to celebrate the “birth” of Christ. An amended version changed this to the “rebirth” of Christ. Finally a third press release accepted Church teaching that Easter celebrated the resurrection of Christ.

…Pete Williams, head of PR at Somerfield, said: “We spoke to the Church of England press office, who suggested we use the word resurrection, in keeping with the Church’s teaching. We were happy to do that.”

One consequence has been a mocking article in the Guardian, which would be fair enough had not a 2004 Holy Week Guardian report (now amended, but I blogged it at the time) told us that the Church of the Nativity in Bethlehem is believed to be site of “Jesus Christ’s final resting place”.

The Gaddafi Code

Theological ruminations from the Brotherly Leader and Guide of the Revolution:

LIBYAN leader Colonel Muammar Gaddafi believes it was not Jesus who was crucified at Easter, “but someone who resembled him”.

In a bewildering speech at a mass prayer meeting in Niger, Col. Gaddafi also said it was a mistake to believe that Christianity was a universal faith alongside Islam.

Well, it’s only “bewildering” if you don’t know the Koran:

And for claiming that they killed the Messiah, Jesus, son of Mary, the messenger of GOD. In fact, they never killed him, they never crucified him – they were made to think that they did. All factions who are disputing in this matter are full of doubt concerning this issue. They possess no knowledge; they only conjecture. For certain, they never killed him. [4:157]

The story is also famously found in the Second Treatise of the Great Seth, an ancient Gnostic text:

They struck me with the reed; it was another, Simon, who bore the cross on his shoulder. I was another upon Whom they placed the crown of thorns. But I was rejoicing in the height over all the wealth of the archons and the offspring of their error, of their empty glory. And I was laughing at their ignorance.

But back to the Colonel:

“It is a mistake that another religion exists alongside Islam. There is only one religion which is Islam after Mohammed,” he said in the sermon.

“All those believers who do not follow Islam are losers,” he added.

The “prayer meeting” was an international conference held to coincide with the birthday of Muhammad, and it provided an opportunity for Gaddafi to position himself as a leader of African Islam: among other things, he used the occasion to mediate between some Ugandan Muslim groups. He also attacked a rival force for Islam in Africa; IslamOnline reports:

Gaddafi, who has been entrenching his influence in Africa over the past few years, launched a diatribe at Wahabis in Saudi Arabia.

He accused them of obliterating the tombs of the Prophet and his companions under the pretext to protecting Islam from superstitions.

Gaddafi also called for a “second Fatimid state” for Africa, and distanced himself further from the Arab world.

Outside observers, however, are less than impressed. Martyn Drakard writes from Kampala that

Colonel Gaddafi is wrong about Christianity in Africa. Libya is trying to win converts to Islam through grants to Islamic communities for mosques and schools. Less than one kilometer from where I sit, perched on Old Kampala Hill, is one of the most beautiful mosques in Africa, started by Idi Amin and completed recently with Libyan money. But Christian conversions are on the increase in Africa, and Gaddafi’s provocative sermons will have little effect. It will require more than impressive buildings to bring about the mass conversions he is so confident will come to pass.

One Christian writer accuses Gaddafi of being irresponsible:

…These were bewildering remarks given the religious tensions in which the world is engulfed. The world has recently witnessed a series of protests because of the “irresponsible and blasphemous” remarks against Islam and the Prophet Mohamed. Such events raised a consciousness that religious ethnocentrism is one of the greatest challenges of the 21st century and religious leaders ought to be responsible.