Among the reactions to the death of Pope John Paul II in the West, that of the liberal elite was the exception. The liberal press has said, in effect, “We’re sorry the pope is dead, but he opposed communism, abortion, contraception, euthanasia, etc., etc.” However, the vast majority of the people in the West are simply mourning the passing of a profoundly important and popular spiritual leader. Protestants and Catholics, and even Jews and Christians, are united in their appreciation for the accomplishments of the late pope.
What is interesting is the reaction of the Islamic world to the passing of the pope. Yesterday al-Jazeera, in an article entitled “World unites in mourning Pope’s death”, reported:
World leaders and commoners [sic] have come together in expressing their grief and admiration for Pope John Paul II, who died on Saturday night.
|People from every continent and of many faiths found something in the life of the Pope to praise – be it his inspiration for the resistance to Communism in his Polish homeland, support for better relations with Muslims and Jews, or championing the cause of the poor.|
It also reports the reaction of different Islamic countries and factions:
|In Bosnia, the Muslim member of the multi-ethnic Bosnian presidency, Sulejman Tihic, lauded him as a man who was “one of the most important personalities of the 20th century and worked for peace and tolerance among different religions”.|
|Palestinian leader Mahmud Abbas said the Pope would be remembered “as a distinguished religious figure, who devoted his life to defending the values of peace, freedom and equality”.|
|Palestinian groups Hamas and Islamic Jihad also expressed their sorrow.|
Perhaps the Palestinians remember the times when the pope expressed opposition to various Israeli policies.
Today the Gulf Daily News (“the voice of Bahrain”) posted the article “Torchbearer for peace and morality”:
|LONDON: The world mourned Pope John Paul II, hailing him as a torchbearer for peace and moral certainty and a force in the fall of the Iron Curtain – albeit one who imposed an unbending rule on his own vast flock.|
The view of the pope “imposing an unbending rule” in the style of an Arab autocrat, as if he were the Saddam Hussein of Christendom, must be projection of the part of the Bahraini reporter.
In the Indian media we find different perspectives on the Islamic reaction. The Times of India has posted the story “Taliban militia sing praise”:
Afghanistan’s ousted Taliban militia on Sunday acknowledged the Pope’s peace-making efforts, but insisted other Roman Catholics were the ‘enemies of Islam’. The hardline Islamists, responding to Pope John Paul II’s death on Saturday, called for his successor to help stop what they called the ‘torture’ of Muslims worldwide.
|“The Pope’s moderation and his voice for peace is noticeable, but the other followers of the Roman Catholic religion are enemies of Islam,” Taliban spokesman Abdul Latif Hakimi told the Pakistan-based private Afghan Islamic Press (AIP) from an undisclosed location. “Christians should take the right path and stop torturing others and fill the void of Pope with a person who could show them the path of deliverance.”|
So Pope John Paul was out of step with his huge flock, who are the enemies of Islam. Evidently the pope broke ranks with the rest of the Crusaders and stopped the centuries-old practice of “torturing others”.
One hopes that Mr. Hakimi’s “undisclosed location” is not the same one that Vice President Cheney so famously occupies.
The most extreme reactions came from the hardcore Islamists. The Indian website Sify News has posted the article “Arab media coverage of pope’s death angers Islamists”:
Radical Islamists however, who advocate the expulsion of non-Muslims from Islamic countries, have been using Islamist websites to vent their anger at Arab television stations for according the pope such importance.
|One such user lashed out at Al-Jazeera, saying viewers were “annoyed” with extensive reports eulogising the pope, who the user described as an “old tyrant”.|
|“What is mortifying is that this hooligan channel pretends (to defend) Islam,” added the user, who wrote under the name Muhib al-Salihine on the Islamic News Network, a site often used by Islamist militants operating in Iraq.|
|“What is more humiliating – I think that it was Al-Arabiya channel – is that the imam of a mosque… praised the memory (of the pope),” said Seri Eddine le Libyen on the same site.|
|“I have started to hate Al-Jazeera for the multiplicity of information on the grieving” for the pope, said another user.|
Apparently the hooligans at al-Jazeera have been brainwashed into supporting the infidels, and are now the enemies of all true Muslims. We await with dread the dispatching of suicide bombers to the offices of Al-Jazeera, and the capture and beheading of its correspondents.