Pope Benedict's Islam Speech in Regensberg:
Muslims have been greatly offended by references made about Islam in a speech that PopeBenedict XVI delivered on September 12 at the University of Regensberg entitled "Faith, Reasonand the University
Memories and Reflections" Muslims were insulted by the speech'smisrepresentation of Islam as a religion that is spread through violence.The Vatican defended the speech claiming that the Pope was merely quoting the words ofByzantine Emperor Manuel II Paleologus from a medieval ****. In the Vatican's official statementof 16 September, it reads: "As for the opinion of the Byzantine emperor Manuel II Paleologuswhich he quoted during his Regensburg talk, the Holy Father did not mean, nor does he mean, tomake that opinion his own in any way."In the Pope's subsequent apology, he apologizes for the reaction that Muslims had to his speechand affirms that the views of Emperor Manuel II do not reflect his own, saying: "At this time, I wishalso to add that I am deeply sorry for the reactions in some countries to a few passages of myaddress at the University of Regensburg, which were considered offensive to the sensibility ofMuslims. These in fact were a quotation from a medieval ****, which do not in any way expressmy personal thought."
However, many Muslims do not consider thisexplanation and apology to be sufficient. For onething, it only addresses the quotation formEmperor Manuel II, though themisrepresentations of Islam contained in thespeech are not limited to that quote. Also, hisapology is merely for the Muslim's reaction andnot for any fault in the speech itself.
To understand this better, we need to look carefully at the key paragraphs of the speech
paragraphs three and four
and clarify what about them Muslims find offensive:Here is paragraph three of that speech:In the seventh conversation edited by Professor Khoury, the emperor touches on the theme of theholy war. The emperor must have known that surah 2, 256 reads: "There is no compulsion inreligion". According to the experts, this is one of the suras of the early period, when Mohammedwas still powerless and under threat. But naturally the emperor also knew the instructions,developed later and recorded in the Qur'an, concerning holy war. Without descending to details,such as the difference in treatment accorded to those who have the "Book" and the "infidels", headdresses his interlocutor with a startling brusqueness on the central question about therelationship between religion and violence in general, saying: "Show me just what Mohammedbrought that was new, and there you will find things only evil and inhuman, such as his commandto spread by the sword the faith he preached". The emperor, after having expressed himself soforcefully, goes on to explain in detail the reasons why spreading the faith through violence issomething unreasonable. Violence is incompatible with the nature of God and the nature of thesoul. "God", he says, "is not pleased by blood - and not acting reasonably is contrary to God'snature. Faith is born of the soul, not the body. Whoever would lead someone to faith needs theability to speak well and to reason properly, without violence and threats... To convince areasonable soul, one does not need a strong arm, or weapons of any kind, or any other means ofthreatening a person with death...".