The Basilica of Saint Peter has recently seen the inauguration of Cardinal Joseph Ratzinger as Pope Benedict XVI, the 265th Pope of the Roman Catholic Church and sovereign of Vatican City 16 days after the funeral of Pope John Paul II.
Usāmah Haykal reports on the phenomenon of Islamophobia and the image of Islām in the West.
Yesterday Germany marked the anniversary of the anti-Jewish pogrom, known as the
Crystal Night, with the inauguration of Europe’s largest synagogue in the heart of
the German city of Munich.
Views of Muslim scholars differ over whether to accept the so-called "apology" of Pope Benedict for the remarks he made about Islam a few weeks ago. Nearly 38 Muslim scholars and leaders sent a letter to the pope to indicate their appreciation of the pope’s expression of regret and his affirmation that the words of the Byzantine emperor he had quoted did not reflect his personal opinion. The senders stressed the need for sincere and honest dialogue to further mutual understanding and respect between the two religions. Although he was said to be amongst the signatories of the letter, the grand muftī, Shaykh ‘Alī Jum‘ah, said that he did not accept any apology from the pope, whom, the muftī said, did not actually apologize.
The author gives an overview of Pope Benedict’s life and how he distinguished himself in the past as a powerful but controversial conservative factor in the Vatican.
The review considers a meeting between Pope Benedict XVI and the
ambassadors of Muslim
and Arab nations to the Holy See, in which the pontiff affirmed his respect for all
Islam, and called for continuing the Muslim-Christian dialogue. He described this as of
vital importance for
avoiding any future tensions.
Many questions raised during the six sessions of a conference on the Arab world held at the German Bundestag (parliament) were answered but more had been left pending. The answered ones deal with what Europeans want from the Arab world and what the Arabs want from Europe.
The German authorities took decisive measures against hard-line groups active on German territories. Police raids and searches in several German provinces and cities in unison resulted in the arrest of 22 Islamist activists, amongst which were five women.