Tuesday, February 07, 2006

The Lord who didn't bark in the night

The website of the Islamic Society of North America is showing the text of a joint statement by "prominent New York City Imam and Chairman of the multi-faith Cordoba Initiative, Feisal Abdul Rauf" and the former Archbishop of Canterbury, Lord Carey of Clifton. It's worth showing this in full:

In our capacity as Muslim and Christian leaders committed to bridging the divides that separate our communities, and as members of the C-100 Coalition of the World Economic Forum, we are saddened and appalled by the cartoons, and the irresponsible actions of papers in Denmark in publishing them. Moreover, we view their subsequent republishing in various other European newspapers as gratuitous and insensitive.

While we recognize the importance of free speech and agree that religions should not be privileged in this regard, the publishing of such insulting cartoons is expectedly being seen by many around the world as an affront to a world faith. This only deepens the suspicion between the West and the Muslim world. At a time when the need for understanding has never been greater, it is sad to see some participate in willful fomentation while others tirelessly advocate for mutual respect and compassion.

In the aftermath of the commotion, we call for calm and peace, as it is firmly our belief that such actions only further prove the need to deepen the dialogue between our faiths and cultures.
(emphasis added)

Carey is the retired Archbishop. But retirement hasn't kept him out of public life. For example, in March 2004 (according to the Sydney Morning Herald) he
launched a trenchant attack on Islamic culture, saying it was authoritarian, inflexible and under-achieving.

The Australian newspaper continued:
In a speech that will upset sensitive relations between the faiths, he denounced moderate Muslims for failing unequivocally to condemn the "evil" of suicide bombers.

He attacked the "glaring absence" of democracy in Muslim countries, suggested that they had contributed little of major significance to world culture for centuries and criticised the Islamic faith.
He urged Europeans and Americans to resist claims that Islamic states were morally, spiritually and culturally superior.

"Although we owe much to Islam handing on to the West many of the treasures of Greek thought, the beginnings of calculus, Aristotelian thought during the period known in the West as 'the dark ages', it is sad to relate that no great invention has come for many hundred years from Muslim countries," he said.
Dr Carey said that moderate Muslims must "resist strongly" the taking over of Islam by radical activists "and to express strongly, on behalf of the many millions of their co-religionists, their abhorrence of violence done in the name of Allah.
"During my time as archbishop, this was my constant refrain: that the welcome we have given to Muslims in the West, with the accompanying freedom to worship freely and build their mosques, should be reciprocated in Muslim lands," he said.

And in October 2005 he changed tack slightly. According to The Telegraph:
Muslims and members of other religions should get used to being mocked, the former Archbishop of Canterbury said yesterday.

Lord Carey of Clifton said he passionately believed it was good for members of a religion to have their faith criticised on certain occasions.
Lord Carey said he wanted to live in a society where people were sensitive to the feelings of others.

"But in being sensitive, what we mustn't do is create a society in which certain stories are not told," Lord Carey told a news conference.
following the publication of Salman Rushdie's book Satanic Verses, Muslim groups came to him asking him to support their campaign against the novel.

"They were very offended by Satanic Verses but I said you are living in a country and civilisation where we are quite used to this," he said.

"They say: 'Why as a Christian don't you condemn the Life of Brian?' I said: 'I love the film and I think it is good for religion to be knocked, to be criticised, to be challenged because we have done a lot of damage in the past'.

"We know religion is a force for good but I don't want to control a writer not to criticise me, because I may need that criticism.

"The Church of England is a broad church, we are used to being mocked. I do believe passionately in this."

In what's turning out to be a shameful week for the Anglican Church, Carey's turnabout here, his moral failure to defend artists whose lives are under threat, is contemptible. He joins the growing list of public figures who are demonstrating that, in order to get the establishment on your side, all you have to do is be exceedingly violent.

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