Wednesday, November 29, 2006

Allow Me to Join in this Call

I'd like to call upon Muslims and organizations of Muslims to join this call from the Turkish press:
"It is true that Benedict XVI made disagreeable statements about Turkey and Islam. However, the Pope is visiting as our guest..." "no matter what he has said in the past, we have to be supremely hospitable towards Pope Benedict, not only for our own esteem and image but for inter-religious peace as well."
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If we count ourselves as having any loyalty to the faith we claim to, then a guest, anyone who is an official guest in one of our communities, and particularly one who is so honoured by the faith community we believe The Prophet said is the closest to ours, should be an honoured and respected guest.

Now who will stand up and be counted?

So after I said that, someone on a progressive Muslim list I am asked about my use of the word "Ummah" and what responsibility it was of Muslims outside of Turkey to be nice to the Pope while he was visiting that country. My own response to that would have run to something like saying that it was at least as much as some of us felt to protest his famous speech. But then, a nice gent by the name of Akber Choudhry stepped in and said the following--I couldn't have said it better myself:
There are other transnational concepts like 'Ummah' in use today: 'Christendom', 'la Francophonie', 'Western', 'Slavic', etc., so it is not a big deal. We all know what it means :).

One should not forget that Cardinal Ratzinger (before becoming pope) said: Turkey should find its identity in the Islamic world (ummah) and not in Christian Europe (wonder why he did not mention Italy? or France? etc. :).

Also, by your logic, the Pope is just the representative of the Vatican state then?

I had the privilege to visit Istanbul recently, and I would advise anyone to please go visit Turkey, and particular Istanbul, to understand this critical issue at this point in history:
1. Istanbul sits in Europe (on the old Greek province of Thrace). The Ottoman Sultans' seat of government was here.
2. The Ottoman sultan was also 'sultan-i-room' - King of Rome - the Byzantine Empire (the Russian Orthodox became independent due to the conquest of Byzantium by Muslims).
3. The patriarch of the Orthdox Christian Church (technically still head of all Orthodox Christian denominations) sits in Turkey.
4. Turkey has just said, 'enough is enough' on the EU accession talks
5. pan-Islamism fervor is on the rise in Turkey, primarily due to the 50-year failed talks with Europe.

This trip of the pope is very profound. Unity between the Orthodox churches and conciliation with the Catholic Church will make Turkey an aberration in the continuum of Christendom, in which Turkey is just an aberration. On the other hand, Turkey is the wedge that pushes into the EU and divides the Catholic and Slavic communities - with the latter having bitter memories of Turk occupation. The accession of Bulgaria to the EU on 1 January 2007 is symbolic - for if Turkey is not admitted fairly soon, there would be little rational reason for it not to - as Bulgaria (Bulgaristan) was just a poor province of Turkey some time ago, and is still economically inferior to Turkey.

The dilemma is that a rejected Turkey, flexing its muscle sooner or later (20-50 years), might leave NATO and thus be the vanguard of a new Islamic alliance once again pushing into the heart of Europe - a Europe already demographically compromised by Muslim migrants.
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