Caution urged over Pope’s Islam comments

Tehran, Jan 4, IRNA – Pope Francis and his advisers have been urged to exert extra prudence while passing comments on global condemnation of terrorism by Muslim leaders, as such statements could fan Islamphobic tendencies.
  The London-based montly Muslim News in a recent editorial ‘Misguided advice by Pope’ suggested that his recent assertions will ‘send a wrong message to his followers and the rest of the world that Muslims are condoning terrorism by not condemning it’.

‘The role of any religious leader carries immense responsibility. They are a spiritual and moral guide for followers and are generally held in high esteem as an authoritative teacher and the ultimate interpreter of holy scriptures. As a source of inspiration, they can be an example to all as a model to aspire to.’

As the head of the Catholic Church, wrote the publicatio, ‘the Pope is therefore in a unique position as the leader of the largest religious denomination in the world. It is estimated that around a third of the earth’s total population is Christian, of which just over half look towards the Vatican for guidance. The papacy is one of the most enduring institutions and has played a prominent part in world history.’

‘Holding such a mantle for just 18 months, one would have thought that Pope Francis would be particularly careful when talking about other religions. His appointment confers the supreme office of ecclesiastical jurisdiction appertaining to his own faith. Yet like leaders in other fields, no doubt that outside his main remit, there is significant reliance on his advisors.’

According to Muslim News, speaking Italian, Portuguese, French, German, Ukrainian and Piedmontese as well as Latin, the 77-year old Argentinian would be expected to be well versed in semantics of words. ‘But whether it was lost in translation or taken out of context, it seems like he has took it upon himself to advise Muslim leaders on what to do to combat Islamophobia, according to headlines from his press conference on his return from a trip to Turkey.’

‘To help the majority of Muslims, the Pontiff suggested to Turkish President, Tayyip Erdogan, that the onus is on all Muslim leaders to condemn terrorism claimed to be carried out in the name of their religion. The Pope argued that the duty was on Muslim leaders to help stop the Islamophobia by issuing the global condemnation of terrorism.’

In doing so, wrote the weekly, ‘he was falling into the same trap as some Western leaders, who continually insist that groups like al-Qa’ida and ISIS are not politically motivated but led by a distorted interpretation of Islam.’

‘Countries like Britain have concocted the scurrilous idea that Muslims are more susceptible than others to the influence of extremist propaganda and therefore need to be monitored from cradle to grave. Using such labels as Islamists and Jihadists has stereotyped the whole community as would-be terrorist. In turn, the UK Government has put the same emphasis on Muslim leaders to universally condemn such hideous and despicable deeds being carried out in places like Iraq and Syria as if it was needed to differentiate between terrorism and Islam,’ read the editorial.

‘It is not for the Pope to do the bidding of Western states. His trip to Turkey was doubtlessly made to build bridges with other religions. Muslim leaders around the world have already been vociferous in condemning terrorism but they have had little sympathy in facing the wrath of Islamophobia exacerbated by wrong-headed policies and careless words of politicians.’

‘Islamophobia against Muslims is therefore not because they have not condemned terrorism enough. One of the main reasons is because of the comments like the Pope made by accusing Muslims of not condemning terrorism. What this does is send a wrong message to his followers and the rest of the world that Muslims are condoning terrorism by not condemning it,’ cautioned the monthly.



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