The Pope and Jihad Holy War
- The West that jihadists now terrorize has allowed itself to be weakened. A combination of political correctness, fear of giving offense, fear of combat, and a reluctance to upset illusory stability has led to an incredible series of opportunities for the jihadists.
- We have dropped our guard and turned away. Not because we have no security forces. We do. But because we often are not looking at the right things: the texts and sermons that prefigure radicalisation.
- “[T]he Noble Quran appoints the Muslims as guardians over humanity in its minority, and grants them the rights of suzerainty and dominion over the world in order to carry out this sublime commission. … We have come to the conclusion that it is our duty to establish sovereignty over the world and to guide all of humanity to the sound precepts of Islam and to its teachings…” — Hassan al-Banna, founder of the Muslim Brotherhood.
On the morning of July 26, a priest serving mass, an elderly man of 85, Father Jacques Hamel,was butchered before his altar by one of two knife-wielding devotees of the Islamic State. His killer slit his throat and might very well have proceeded to behead him, as is the wont of many jihadi executioners. The followers of a faith that honours murderers as martyrs (shuhada’) created a martyr for quite another faith.
In both Greek and Arabic, the terms “martyr” and shahid mean exactly the same thing: “a witness”. Father Hamel was the latest in a long line of Christian martyrs who have been slain by men of violence, supposedly in order to attest to the sole truth of their faith. Many Muslim martyrs have died in much that way, but even more have given their lives while waging war (jihad) to conquer territories for Islam.
The flag of the Islamic State reads “la ilaha illa’llah, Muhammadun rasulu’llah“. The words mean: “There is no God but God; Muhammad is the prophet of God”. Those two phrases are known as the shahada, the bearing of witness. You see it everywhere today, now in Syria, then again in France or the UK. But shahada also means martyrdom. And martyrdom while committing violence is what the killers of an innocent man of God achieved on that day when armed police found them and shot them dead outside the church they had desecrated.
On the following day, the head of the Catholic Church, Pope Francis, issued a statement on the event, and for a moment it seemed that he had finally got things right. He said the world was now at war. Decades after the war started, here was a religious leader and statesman who seemed to have awakened to the fact that Western countries have been unwillingly and ineffectively failing to wage a war against Islamic radicalism. Or perhaps it is more accurate to say that Islamic radicalism has been waging a war with us.
But then he blew it. What he then said was:
“It’s war, we don’t have to be afraid to say this … a war of interests, for money, resources. I am not speaking of a war of religions. Religions don’t want war. The others want war.”
What? Is slaughtering a priest at his altar linked to “interests, money, resources”? Were the killers driven by a longing for social justice, for more money, for access to greater resources? Did they think the violent death of a harmless priest would bring them any of that? They had not gone to steal any of the valuable altar table objects, the censers, the candlesticks, the crucifix, the monstrance. The killers had been shouting “Allahu akbar”, literally “God is greater” (than everything, especially, to Muslims, the supposedly non-monotheistic Christian Trinity and the Church). As we know only too well, “Allahu akbar” is a religious phrase that Muslims use often. It is the beginning of the call to prayer, the adhan, repeated six times, five times a day, preceded and followed by the shahada. It has been ringing in Western ears every time Muslims in Europe and North America carry out attacks or as a prelude to a suicide attack. It is precisely because Muslims believe that their God (named in Arabic as Allah) is superior to all other gods, because to them Islam is the greatest of all religions and lastly, because Islam is destined to conquer the world either by conversion or through violence.
What did Pope Francis mean when he said “Religions don’t want war. The others want war”? This is a man with access to endless colleges of scholars, to academics worldwide, to specialists in Islam and the Middle East. It is simply not true. To begin with, who are these “others”? Non-religious people? Atheists? Agnostics? Protestants?
In order to win a war, you have to be able to identify your enemy, understand his motives, figure out just what drives his soldiers to risk their lives in battle, know for what cause mothers and wives should send their sons and husbands to fight, knowing they may never return. Ignore all that, invent false motives for the enemy, or fail to know his ultimate aims, and you will lose. “If you know the enemy and know yourself you need not fear the results of a hundred battles”, said the great Chinese general, Sun Tzu, in his Art of War.
A day after that remark, the Pope sadly compounded his ignorance. A report in a Catholic magazine, Crux, stated that:
The pope said that in every religion there are violent people, “a small group of fundamentalists,” including in Catholicism.
“When fundamentalism goes as far as murdering … you can murder with your tongue and also with the knife,” he said.
“I believe that it’s not fair to identify Islam with violence. It’s not fair and it’s not true,” he continued, adding that he has had a long conversation with the Grand Imam of Al-Azhar, the Cairo-based Islamic university often described as the Vatican of the Sunni world.
“I know how they think. They look for peace, encounter,” he said. [Author’s italics]
Unfortunately, it is clear that the Pope (along with hundreds of politicians and religious leaders in the West, although
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