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    Monday, May 08, 2006

    Pell on Islam; response?.. Pell is "ill-informed"


    Cardinal George Pell, the archbishop of Sydney, told an audience of Catholic business leaders in Florida he believed it was vital to read the Koran, "because the challenge of Islam will be with us for the remainder of our lives."

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    "In my own reading of the Koran, I began to note down invocations to violence," he said. "There are so many of them, however, that I abandoned this exercise after 50 or 60 or 70 pages."

    "Considered strictly on its own terms, Islam is not a tolerant religion, and its capacity for far-reaching renovation is severely limited," Pell said. He added, however, that the human factor could also play a mitigating or exacerbating role, and he compared the situations in Indonesia and Pakistan.

    Muslims believe Allah revealed the Koran directly to Mohammed through the angel Gabriel (Jibril) over a 23-year period and that as such it is sacrosanct.

    Pell pointed out that death threats and violence are frequently directed against Islamic scholars who question the Koran's divine origin, with hard-line leaders rejecting any call for critical consideration of the text.

    "The predominant grammatical form in which jihad is used in the Koran carries the sense of fighting or waging war," Pell said.

    It was legitimate to ask "our Islamic partners in dialogue" for their views on these matters."Do they believe that the peaceful suras of the Koran are abrogated by the verses of the sword?" he asked."

    Is the program of [Islamic] military expansion ... to be resumed when possible?"

    "Do they believe that democratic majorities of Muslims in Europe would impose shari'a law? Can we discuss Islamic history and even the hermeneutical problems around the origins of the Koran without threats of violence?"

    Islamic representatives called the remarks disappointing and negative, warning they would merely reinforce differences among communities in Australia.

    Keysar Trad of the Islamic Friendship Association of Australia said the comments were "ill-informed," and called the speech "an off-the-cuff dismissal of the teachings of one of the world's great religions."

    Pell responded to the criticism with a brief statement, saying suggestions that he was misinformed on Islam were "smokescreens to distract, to divert attention rather than address basic issues which need to be discussed."

    "Islamic terrorists are not a figment of anyone's imagination and the history of relations with Islam is full of conflict."

    "teachings of one of the world's great religions"? Great in the sense of
    "great numbers" perhaps. Otherwise I still question who the heck that angel was
    that whispered all these secret things to Mohatmet. A spirit I would not care to
    be whispered to by.

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