The historical Synod of Bishops for the Middle East – previous post here – has been addressed by two Muslim scholars and frankly they are both guilty of spinning an unrealistically harmonious picture of Muslim – Christian relations in the Middle East.
First up was Muhammad al-Sammak, Sunni adviser to the chief mufti of Lebanon, whom is quoted as saying: (Taken from Catholic Herald)
Islam promotes respect for Christians and Jews and the whole region will suffer if they depart.
…..“new and accidental phenomenon” of Christians being targeted because of their faith is dangerous, and not just for Christians.
Next up Iranian Ayatollah Ayatollah Seyed Mostafa Mohaghegh Ahmadabadi:
…the Koran’s view of Christian-Muslim relations is one of “friendship, respect and mutual understanding,”
In Iran and most other Muslim countries, he said, “Christians live side by side and in peace with their Muslim brothers. They enjoy all the legal rights like other citizens and perform their religious practices freely.”
While some still think converts should be punished, he said the “golden rule” of Islam is that “there is no compulsion in religion, that’s what the Koran says”.
I’m sorry to be so cynical but this is subterfuge.
The National Catholic Register held an interview with Ayatollah Mohaghegh which you can read here.
Jihad Watch have also picked up on this and have a scathing post which is worth a read.
By way of contrast and a little more authenticity, Clerical Whispers notes the following comments from an address made to the Synod by two Syrian Bishops:
….the blossoming number of Catholic-Muslim dialogue projects has not and may never lead to real understanding.
……formal Catholic-Muslim dialogues are “difficult and often ineffective,” partially because the Quran tells Muslims they belong to “the only true and complete religion.”
Muslims, he said, come “to dialogue with a sense of superiority and with the certitude of being victorious.”
In addition, the archbishop said, “The Quran allows the Muslim to hide the truth from the Christian and to speak and act contrary to how he thinks and believes.”
Islam does not recognize the equality of men and women and does not recognize the right of religious freedom.
Bishop Flavien Melki, also a member of the Syrian curia in Lebanon, said that at a time when “fundamentalism is becoming more entrenched in the region,” the idea that dialogue could lead to Muslims accepting secular democracy “seems to be in the domain of utopia.”
“Must we wait for the disappearance of Christians in the Middle East to raise our voices and speak up with force” to call for “liberty, equality and justice for these religious minorities?” Bishop Melki asked.
The bishop said Middle East Christians need the support of the international community to press for the reform of Islamic regimes in the region.
That’s a bit nearer the mark.