Pope Benedict and holy war

Daniel Johnson“Yesterday, the pope insisted that he did not agree with Manuel. But it is clear that he sympathized with this monarch of a doomed Christian civilization enough to use him as a mouthpiece through which he could pose his own implicit questions to Islam. Does the Muslim understanding of Allah allow rational debate about the morality of violence, given that the doctrine of jihad is a central pillar of Islam? If Allah is above reason, might violent jihad, including terrorism, be not merely justifiable but obligatory, as many Muslim scholars argue?

“By now, the answer to these questions is clear: churches firebombed in the West Bank and Gaza, a nun murdered in Somalia. Such persecution is, alas, routine in many Muslim lands, and Catholics are not the only victims. But it is clear that Muslim leaders – even those of ‘pro-Western’ countries such as Turkey or Pakistan – are not yet ready for the ‘frank’ dialogue proposed by the pope. By pointing out that violence is a part of medieval Islam, not a ‘distortion’, as Western liberals like to think, Benedict has touched a raw nerve.

“No, this pope is not naïve. It is our liberal, theologically illiterate politicians who are naïve. We are already at war – a holy war, which we may lose.”

Daniel Johnson in the New York Sun, 18 September 2006