Conservative Christians Express Little Sympathy For Muslims’ Outrage

WASHINGTON – Many conservative Christians have long regarded the media as enemy territory, where traditional values are at best misunderstood and often mocked. So you might think they would relate sympathetically to Muslim outrage over the Danish cartoons depicting the prophet Muhammad with a bomb in his turban. That outrage has sparked violent protests throughout the Islamic world. But concerns about the goals of radical Islamic leaders, a sense that a double standard pervades the Muslim media and a general distaste for organized violence have overridden any empathy most Christian conservatives might feel for angry Muslims. “Unfortunately, the protesters are hinting that the cartoonist might have been right,” said the Rev. Ted Haggard, president of the National Association of Evangelicals. “They’re killing fellow Muslims and destroying property. Maybe the radical protests are validating the cartoon instead of proving that cartoon wrong.” No Christian leader ever espoused violence to retaliate against Piss Christ, the controversial 1989 artwork — a photograph of a crucifix submerged in urine — by Andres Serrano, even though that riled many Christians, noted Gary Bauer, president of American Values and a longtime leader among religious conservatives. “I understand why any religious person would get upset if they think their faith is disparaged in a drawing or a cartoon,” Bauer said. “But… how can (the cartoons) engender a greater emotional reaction than the daily bombings and attacks by groups claiming to do them in the name of Allah? “It doesn’t look like a call for respect,” Bauer concluded of the Muslims’ protests. “It looks like a call for submission.” Indeed, many evangelical Christians see militant Islam replacing communism as the greatest global threat, said Allen Hertzke, professor of political science and director of religious studies at the University of Oklahoma. “They see this phenomenon as part of an orchestrated effort by what they call Islamo-fascists to take over the Islamic world,” Hertzke said. Then there’s the apparent double standard for acceptable religious satire in Muslim media, especially regarding Jews. Jews are routinely lambasted and stereotyped in the Muslim media. Hertzke recalled a Syrian TV program shown in Jordan that depicted Jews using the blood of children to make matzo. A recent cartoon on a Muslim group’s Web site showed Adolf Hitler in bed with Anne Frank, a teenage Jewish martyr during World War II, saying, “Write this one in your diary, Anne.” “Many evangelicals have very positive views toward Jews, and evangelicals support Israel,” said John Green, a professor at the University of Akron who specializes in religion and politics. “And it’s interesting that in the protests of these cartoons, the language quickly turned anti-Semitic and anti-Israel. That sends up a red flag for evangelical Christians.” Christian conservatives also generally echo the views of the Bush administration, which condemned the Muslim violence but backed off early criticisms of the cartoons themselves. President Bush pointed out that such are the vagaries of life with a free press. “The appreciation of pluralism is something that every religious group has to grow in,” Haggard of the evangelicals’ group said. “We evangelicals struggle with this issue every time we send one of our kids off to college. But we think pluralism is a high value…. Radical Muslim extremists have to grasp that pluralism is a fact of life for all cultures. We’re into a new world.”

Ramadan in Melilla

By Emma Ross-Thomas MELILLA, Spain (Reuters) – It’s Ramadan in Spain’s North African enclave of Melilla and as tempers fray, a group of shopkeepers argue about how Spanish they are. “I am a Spanish Berber,” one fasting shopkeeper shouts in Spanish, repeating it in the Berber language Tamazight. Mimon Mohamed Amar shouts back: “Come on, all of us Muslims have family in Morocco … we all migrated from Morocco.” Melilla, nestling on Morocco’s northeast coast, has been Spanish since the late 15th century but Morocco claims it, along with Spain’s other enclave of Ceuta. Insecurities about Melilla’s status as a Spanish city or colony — never far from the surface — have re-emerged in recent weeks amid an immigration crisis in the city and residents in both enclaves held pro-Spanish demonstrations last week. “The Melillans will fight however we can so that it is not surrendered,” said 56-year-old health worker Maria Dolores Gongora. The hundreds of African migrants who have tried to enter Europe by storming the enclave’s heavily guarded razor-wire border have a limited impact on the city as they are regularly flown to the mainland but the crisis has sparked tensions between Melilla and Madrid and between the enclave and Morocco. Several local and national newspapers have suggested Morocco was turning a blind eye to African migrants crossing the razor-wire border fence in order to put pressure on Spain to ditch the enclaves — Europe’s only land borders with Africa. “Our southern neighbor is using these thousands of desperate people as a tool … so that we do not forget that they want Ceuta and Melilla for themselves,” an editorial in a Melilla newspaper said. A piece in a nationalist Moroccan newspaper fueled that by saying Spain could rid itself of the immigration problem by leaving the continent. Morocco has since reinforced police and military units around the enclaves, arresting hundreds of migrants. Moroccan troops killed six Africans who were trying to get into Melilla last Wednesday. Some Melilla residents — a large proportion of whom have relatives in the army or civil guard police — said they felt abandoned by the Socialist central government which was not doing enough to stop the migrants clambering over the fences. They also felt Prime Minister Jose Luis Rodriguez Zapatero did not feel strongly enough about keeping Melilla Spanish. “The new (Socialists) I think aren’t very keen. They make a lot of agreements with the Moroccans, they talk a lot with the Moroccans,” said a 46-year-old civil servant who gave his name only as Antonio. Melillans were angered by press reports Zapatero failed to answer a question on Melilla’s sovereignty at a news conference with his Moroccan counterpart and he was forced last week to state his commitment to the territory staying Spanish. The city is home to Muslims, Christians, Jews and Hindus who are broadly united in wanting the city to be Spanish. Like Britain’s colony Gibraltar off Spain’s southern coast, the enclave is much richer than the surrounding area. It is full of civil servants who earn more than their mainland counterparts. Melilla enjoys low taxes and swathes of the population live off border trade. “I don’t want Morocco to take over Ceuta and Melilla, it would mean ruin,” Mohamed Dris, a 70-year-old shopkeeper, said. “Ceuta and Melilla are Morocco’s, of course they are, but Spain has taken them and I don’t want Morocco to ruin everything.” Many of the Muslims in Melilla, like the shopkeeper who declined to give his name, are Berbers, a group traditionally repressed in Morocco and therefore less keen on Moroccan rule. “This is Spain, whoever wants it to be Moroccan can go off to Morocco,” said the shopkeeper, who sells Moroccan gifts, clothes and ornaments. Multicultural Model? Just over half the residents are of Christian descent but the Muslim community is growing faster. Of the 90 births in the city in July, 63 were to families with Muslim surnames, a National Statistics Institute official said. Residents say Melilla — where veiled women are a common sight and minarets dot the skyline amid the traditional Spanish architecture — is a model of tolerant multi-culturalism. “We get on famously. We have Jewish friends and we have dinner with them and Muslim friends who have parties we all go to,” Gongora said. Some Muslim residents are less sure of the Christians’ tolerance and residents of Spanish descent, while denying accusations they are racist to their Muslim neighbours, feel uneasy about becoming the minority. Antonio Sanchez says that when that happens, the Christians will abandon Melilla. “We will have to leave here … the mayor will be Moorish, the councillors will be Moorish, this will be Moorish.”

Immigrazione/Pera: Aveva Ragione Biffi, Far Entrare Solo Cristiani

Cardinal Biffi proposed to make a law only allowing Christians to immigrate to Italy. The President of the Senate, Marcello Pera plans to support it. {(Article continues below in Italian)} Roma, 29 dic. (Apcom) – Il cardinale Biffi, che propose di far entrare in Italia solo immigrati provenienti da paesi di religione cristiana “fu molto lungimirante e bisognerebbe chiedergli scusa per la pigrizia che non ci spinse ad ascoltarlo. Egli segnal_ un problema poi completamente rimosso”. A sostenerlo _ il presidente del Senato, Marcello Pera, in un’intervista concessa a Famiglia Cristiana. Quanto ai rapporti con l’Islam, Pera afferma che “intanto occorre stabilire che non si pu_ predicare la tolleranza senza la reciprocit_. Ci_ deve essere chiaro e detto con fermezza da parte della Chiesa cattolica, perch_ la tolleranza senza reciprocit_ _ una resa. Non auspico barriere contro i musulmani — agguinge — ma una rinascita dell’identit_ forte come ha detto il cardinale Camillo Ruini, perch_ altrimenti la presenza musulmana prima o poi diverr_ un’invasione”.

Prayers And Fears Of Madrid’s Muslims

By Dominic Bailey Muslims in Spain are worried. Exactly who was behind the Madrid train bombings is still not certain but three of the five being questioned are Moroccan, one of whom is reported to be linked to attacks in Casablanca last year. There is a large Moroccan immigrant community in Spain and many fear reprisals against their families, businesses and places of worship. Islamic leaders in Spain were quick to denounce the 11 March Madrid attacks, even though the finger of blame was initially pointed at Basque separatists Eta. At least eight Muslims were among the 200 people killed and more than 40 among the hundreds of injured. But talk of al-Qaeda links has again muddied the perception of Islam and made ordinary Muslims feel insecure in the land they have happily made their home. Rumours of repercussions The white stone and marble Cultural Islamic Centre and mosque stands out against the backdrop of high-rise flats along the M-30 motorway out of Madrid. For a Muslim to kill a person unjustly is to kill everyone. There is no justification to kill Inside it is a cool oasis of serenity that echoes with the imam’s call to prayer. But the number of prayer times has been reduced and entrance to regular visitors is restricted. The centre’s secretary, Mohamad Saleh, says the safety precautions are necessary. “We are worried about the repercussions that there may be against Muslims,” he said. After 11 September eggs were thrown at the mosque and some Muslims were sacked from their jobs simply because of their religion. There are already reports of abuse on the street, Arab businesses having windows broken and rumours of demonstrations outside the mosque being planned. Moorish memories “We felt for the victims, the same as everyone, this sort of desperate terrorism affects all areas,” said Mr Saleh. “But people shouldn’t punish a religion or country because of who commits a crime. If a Christian kills, are all Christians blamed? Are the Basques blamed if ETA attack? Moroccans in Spain Moroccans are the largest immigrant group in Spain In 2003 there were 333,000, 20% of all legal immigrants The number of illegal immigrants is unknown Thousands cross the eight-mile Straits of Gibraltar every year on rafts or small boats In 2003 24,146 people were repatriated to Morocco Many work as cleaners, farm labourers or building workers Polls show that Moroccans are Spain’s least-liked immigrants “These people are terrorists and terrorists are criminals wherever they are from. “They cannot have real faith or know God. For a Muslim to kill a person unjustly is to kill everyone. There is no justification to kill.” A banner reading “No to terrorism. Solidarity and condolences to the victims and their families” hangs under the arch of the centre’s entrance. There are about 500,000 Muslims in Madrid and on Fridays between 1,500 and 2,000 faithful pray at the mosque. Most are from Morocco, Algeria and other Arab states. Spain has a long, if bloody, history with its Arab neighbours to the south. Many Arabic dishes, words and architecture survive in modern Spain, remnants from the Moorish conquest of the peninsula which ended in 1492. ‘Good people’ But now, many immigrants who have made the country their second home don’t feel safe. A 46-year-old Algerian, who would not give his name, said there had been threats and people were afraid. “Here in Madrid there is a mix of everyone, Jews, Muslims, Christians – it is like a big family and we all have our way of life.” “I feel one of the people here and feel for them but I don’t like the way they now look at us in the street,” he said. “A friend of my wife’s came home pale and frightened the other day after a group of kids threatened her, shouting ‘Dirty disgusting Moors’.” But he said the Spanish were genuinely good people and hopefully would move on with their lives. Moroccan immigrant Rabii, 26, playing draughts with bits of cardboard outside the mosque, said it still had to be proved that al-Qaeda was to blame. “The people coming over here are not here for jihad, they are coming here to find a better future. But now we can’t go to the mosque and they are stopping us praying.” A greater concern for him was that the difficult task of finding a job would be made harder after the attacks. After the pain, peace Businessman Ahmed Jbari, 53, from Tangiers, says the adverse reactions are down to ignorance. “Here in Madrid there is a mix of everyone, Jews, Muslims, Christians – it is like a big family and we all have our way of life. “But people who break the windows should be blamed, not others. Here 29 pay for what one has done.” Moroccan street-seller Abdellate Fechaaui, 30, was among the hundreds of Muslims who joined the march of millions against terrorism after the Madrid attacks. Abdellate and his colleagues had one message for the Spanish people and the bombers: “We are with the Spanish people and are feeling the same pain as everyone. We want peace.”