This is a picture of an Anglican church hit by a firebomb in the West Bank city of Nablus, Saturday Sept.16, 2006. Palestinians wielding guns, firebombs and lighter fluid attacked four churches in the West Bank town of Nablus on Saturday, while gunmen opened fire at a fifth in Gaza, following remarks by Pope Benedict XVI that many Muslims view as disparaging.
That's what the AP said about that picture.
Apparently (according to the AP), in a talk rejecting any religious motivation for violence, Benedict cited the words of a Byzantine emperor who characterized some of the teachings of the Prophet Muhammad as "evil and inhuman," particularly "his command to spread by the sword the faith."
The pope did not agree or disagree with what the emperor had said. He was trying to say that violence in the name of religion is always wrong--evil and inhuman.
Several Muslim groups took great offence at the idea that their religion was said to be violent. They felt that characterizing their religion as spreading the Muslim faith through evil and inhuman violence was a horrible thing to say.
Some of them expressed their displeasure at this mischaracterization of their religion by attacking churches and trying to burn them to the ground. Another group expressed their displease by addressing a letter to "you dog of Rome" and threatening to "shake your thrones and break your crosses in your home."
OK, so most Muslims are good, nice, peace loving people. They want to have nothing to do with burning churches of killing people in the name of god. I'm sure that this is true. But, does anyone else see the irony here?
Of course, I wouldn't want my religion judged on the basis of Pat Robertson or abortion clinic bombers either. So, I guess we're all in pretty much the same boat.
On this perhaps both Christians and Muslims can agree: it sucks to have crazy people in your religion.