MILITANT ISLAM: A WAKE-UP CALL FOR
CATHOLICS AND THE WEST
by Fr. Paul Stenhouse, M.S.C., Ph.D.
Over past weeks, two unprecedented signs of hope involving militant Islam and the West, and two events that give cause for concern, have gone almost unnoticed. They barely created a blip on the screens of the well-oiled media machines that are minting money from the daily updates they provide on terrorist atrocities, suicide bombings, kidnappings and general mayhem for readers of newspapers, and for TV viewers around the world.
The first sign of hope was a Security Council resolution that supported the full independence, sovereignty and territorial integrity of Lebanon, and called on Syria to withdraw all its armed forces from Lebanon. US Ambassador to the UN John G. Danforth explained: ‘We have called on the Security Council to … support the Lebanese people in their ability to make their own national decisions, free at long last from outside coercion and dictate’. 1 The long-suffering people of Lebanon, Christians and Muslims alike, and Lebanon-watchers generally, have been waiting almost 30 years to see the Syrian lion called to heel. It remains to be seen whether the young lion - Bashar al-Assad - proves more compliant than his late tricky father, Hafiz al-Assad.
The second sign of hope was given by the US State Department that designated Saudi Arabia as a ‘country of particular concern under the International Religious Freedom Act for particularly severe violations of religious freedom’. The State Department report identified the victims of Saudi oppression as Baha’is, Christians, Jews, Mandaeans and Sufi Muslims. 2 It remains to be seen whether this isolated flash of reality-politics will usher in a new era of realism in US relations with the corrupt Saudi regime whose Wahhabism has spawned much of the terror and hatred of the West that has plagued the world not just since September 11, 2001 but since the 18th century.
The first cause for concern involved calls by Spanish Muslims for Cordova Cathedral to be ‘returned’ to them as a Mosque. Father Samir Khalil, a Professor at St Joseph’s University in Beirut and the Pontifical Institute for Oriental Studies in Rome commented that the support given to this call by certain Spanish government members showed ‘how much Europe had lost its identity’. He went on, ‘many Spanish Muslims have the idea of re-conquering Europe’. None of the Spanish Muslims seemed aware that before Cordova Cathedral was turned into a Mosque in 750 AD by Yusuf bin Abd al-Rahman al-Fihri, it had been the Church of San Vicente. Spanish Catholics, unlike their English counterparts, managed to regain possession of confiscated Churches. Politically correct bluster should be met by them with cold facts, not crass acquiescence in historical gobbledegook.
The second cause for concern was an article 3 by John Christopher Hughes Davies who writes under the name of Christie Davies. The article begins by suggesting that there is no need to fear a violent conflict in Britain between Islamists and the non-Islamic population. Most Muslims living here, writes Davies, are just as concerned as their nominally Christian neighbours about health, education, employment, their children, home ownership, superannuation and retirement in comfort. They are not going to put these at risk, nor do they feel any great animosity towards their Christian neighbours with whom they must deal on a day-to-day basis.
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