John Hustings is a regular visitor to ConservativeHome.
"The Pope made a big mistake, didn't
he?" This was Gavin Esler's opening question to a panel of journalists
on BBC NEWS 24's 'DateLine London' this week. It is one of many examples
of one-sideness in the media coverage of the "Pope crisis".
It is especially true when you read the full text of the Pope's speech
(see link), which is actually rather mild and not at all how the media
have presented it. I wonder how many of the commentariat so enthusiastically
condemning the Pope for his indelicacy have bothered to read his speech
and observe the extent to which he has been misrepresented.
Inevitably, whenever Islam enters the
news as it did this week, discussion seems to centre around two things:
how persecuted Muslims feel, due to foreign policy, media demonisation,
public hostility and so on; and whether Islam is or is not a violent
religion. I am writing this article to argue that the whole focus of
such discussion has been misplaced, and that it would be more productive
to view the whole issue from a different persepective.
We keep being told that we must understand Islam. There are many critics of Islam who tell us we must understand that it is an aggressive violent religion, and we should read the Koran to discover that. Similarly, there are those (including Islamic clergy) who insist that Islam is a religion of peace and we should read the Koran to discover that. I have no time to read the Koran, and do not feel predisposed to do so. Moreover, I see no reason why I, or anyone else, should have to. But besides that, I really don't see how it would help with matters. I have some experience with Christian theology and am aware of the way in which discussion can get easily locked into fixedly opposing sides, which never come to any agreement, and so can easily become a maze for the uninitiated to get lost within. This is a situation that seems to me exactly what radical Islamists would most want.