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[ALC] ARGENTINA - The declarations from the Pope and their sequels

From Worldwide Faith News <>
Date Fri, 29 Sep 2006 10:43:07 -0700

Viernes 29 de septiembre del 2006 | Correio-e: |Editora: Claudia Florentin

ARGENTINA - The declarations from the Pope and their sequels

By Eduardo Luis Gallo Rojo, for ALC

BUENOS AIRES, 20 September (ALC) Six months after the Muhammad cartoon controversy, we now witness a repetition of the sequence "disqualifying remarks ? humiliation ? retaliation", only this time the source of the problem was a negative comment about Islam, voiced by the Pope at a conference apparently devoted to settle some issues with Protestant theology.

Just like in the previous event, reactions have included attacks against churches and the murder of Christians. A significant portion of the press interprets these events as originating from touchy Muslim sensitivity, even more susceptible now that troops and/or arms from Christian countries are being deployed in Palestina, Afghanistan, Irak and Lebanon.

Although the Pope's comments have deserved all sorts of responses, for those who take a closer look at the Middle-East conflict and its political process, the hypothesis mentioned ? one which interprets politics in the light of political pronouncements, and not political speeches in the light of politics ? does not sound convincing. Indeed, the rhetoric of "hurt sensitivity" cannot be understood outside the framework of escalating hostility against Christian minorities in the Middle-East, Asia and Africa on the part of violent Muslim groups, a reality that is just beginning to be reflected upon, though admittedly in a timid and isolated fashion, by the European press.

The politics of victimisation

The unfortunate comments from the Pope have certainly not contributed to the problem, but neither are they the real problem. Anti-Christians hostility in these regions has existed before this incident and feeds on a rhetoric of victimisation that manipulates real or imaginary emotional wounds in order to spur violence. Victimisation works here as a ploy ripe for abuse: assuming the status of victims as self-justification and thereby claiming a blank check ? be it discursive, political or juridical ? which allows the use of violence with impunity. The rhetorics of victimisation are not new by any means (nor are they exclusive to violent Muslim groups), and are often found in the pattern of persecutions, lynchings and retaliations, for they serve the purpose of cloaking abuse and blaming the victims for the violence they suffer. The rhetoric of victimisation is reinforced by denial, which amounts to a psychological shield that prevents the abuser from seeing the victim as such.

Is dialogue the solution?

Are the Pope's declarations the main hindrance to Muslims and Christians living together?

Or are they instead an opportunity to bring out anew the justification for the systematic abuse against Christians carried out by a small but powerful sector of Islam? If so, will the Christian-Islam dialogue have the courage to address the issue?

Undoubtedly, peace among Muslims and Christians will have to come through dialogue, but only if this dialogue is bold enough to call on honest and genuine sectors of Islam to address this issue head-on.

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