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Sunday 12 April 2015

   

We should support the Pope’s crusade against Islamism

People of all religions and non-believers must unite to protect persecuted Christians


Pope Francis leaves at the end of his weekly general audience, in St. Peter's Square, at the Vatican

What about the crusades?” is one of those witless questions that left-wing Islamist fellow-travellers ask if you enquire why they’re not getting upset about the persecution of Christians in the Middle East. “And the Inquisition?”

Mention that we’re talking about now rather than about then and you’ll get dark murmurings about bigots who refuse to vote for gay marriage or make a gay-wedding cake.

I then say that although I would dance at my gay friends’ weddings, I think it’s perfectly possible to believe that marriage should be heterosexual and refuse to say otherwise on a cake and be a good person. Such a position is not reasonably to be compared with hurling gays off the top of tall buildings. At which stage they call you a bigot and blame Islamism on Tony Blair and George Bush and go off to compose more tweets demanding boycotts of Israeli goods and Christian bakers.

Islamism is not reactive: it’s aggressive. It’s an ideology that threatens all of us, of all religions and none. And if the Western world doesn’t face up to that, we’ll have a lot more to worry about than cake.
Which is why I was delighted to see the Archbishop of Canterbury, the Pope, Ayaan Hirsi Ali and Shaykh Umar Al-Qadri of Blanchardstown addressing the issue of the persecution of Christians.

In case — what with water charges and all — you haven’t noticed, Islamists are on the rampage in many parts of the world and Christians are being murdered or driven out of the Middle East. Isil, like Boko Haram, Al-Shabaab, Al-Qaeda and all the other murderous Islamist nutters, have one aim: they want to impose the rule of Allah on us all by whatever means they choose. And we say little about it because we’re afraid of being beheaded or of hurting Muslims’ feelings.

Things are so serious that the Archbishop of Canterbury, who has mostly been going on about welfare cuts, got it together on Easter Sunday to lament the “many martyrs in the last year.” His recommendation was that Christians should support persecuted communities with “love and goodness and generosity.”

Fortunately, Pope Francis — who promises a punch to anyone who insults his mother — believes in a rather more muscular Christianity. He’s already upset the Turks by using the ‘g’ word about their ethnic cleansing of Armenian Catholics a century ago. Last weekend he denounced “complicit silence” about the targeting of Christians and called for “concrete participation and tangible help in defence and protection of our brothers and our sisters, who are persecuted, exiled, slain, beheaded, solely for being Christians.”

He hoped, he said, that “the international community doesn’t stand mute and inert before such unacceptable crimes, which constitute a worrisome erosion of the most elementary human rights.”
Back home, there’s the usual deafening silence from most Muslim clerics and right-on opinion formers, but Shaykh Umar Al-Qadri of the Al-Mustafa Islamic Centre in Blanchardstown is doing his best. Last week he spoke about Mohammed’s convenant with Sinai monks, which was intended to apply to all Christians and which not only denounced any kind of persecution but called for Muslims to fight against it. His answer was more interfaith meetings and the education of followers.

Fair play to the Shaykh: we could do with more like him. He’s a brave man who honestly admitted after the Charlie Hebdo massacre that the “problem of extremism among Muslims” has nothing to do with the US or the Jews but is the result of Muslim extremists hijacking Islam.

But let’s not pussy-foot around. Like the Old Testament, the Koran has no shortage of nasty bits, including about a hundred verses that call for violent jihad against unbelievers. And this is where Ayaan Hirsi Ali comes in, with her new book: Heretic: Why Islam Needs a Reformation Now. She’s calling for Muslims to accept that humans, not Allah, wrote the Koran, that life before death is at least as important as life after it, that man-made law should be substituted for Sharia, that persecuting those accused of insulting Mohammed is wrong and that rather than calling for jihad, Muslims should call for peace.

I doubt if the Pope is going to mobilise the Swiss Guard to go and fight for persecuted Christians, but he’s absolutely right that the international community has to face up to Islamist evil. Our rulers need to stop bleating about Islam being a religion of peace. “That was unIslamic”, they and Muslim apologists tell us, when some new act of obscene violence is carried out in Allah’s name.

Er, no. Only if you’re being selective. The beheaders have plenty of doctrinal justifications to call on.
Christianity was reformed when Christians accepted that sacred texts were not absolutely sacrosanct and modernised itself in the light of new circumstances, new ideas and robust debate. It was a rocky road, but it ended in a good place morally. Unfortunately, it’s now under threat from Western spinelessness and Islamist zealotry.

It’s going to take more than turning the other cheek. This atheist is with the Pope. There’s nothing wrong with a crusade against evil, and Islamist evil is what all decent people — Muslim or not — must tackle before it’s too late.

Ruth Dudley Edwards

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