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Pope Benedict XVIs folly A new crusade or facing the baptist challenge

Hassan Al-Haifi 

Hassan Al-Haifi can be conctced by E-Mail:  (

At the start of the Middle Ages, the Moslem armies were knocking at the gates of Europe and both the Eastern and Western Roman Empires were facing near collapse. Actually, the Western Roman Empire has been replaced by the Roman Catholic Church and the Byzantines were under the strong influence of the Greek Orthodox Church. As both of these churches detected a threat to their sustainability as powerful temporal as well as secular institutions, with the rapid (voluntary) spread of Islam, because the latter did not approve of an institutionalized priesthood of any order (that is why I always reject the title of “Moslem clergy” often used to speak of religious scholars or preachers of Islam), both of these institutions immediately sought to arrange political alliances with the monarchs and grand noble orders that prevailed in Europe then, which still was religiously considered “heathen” by these churches. The bargain that was achieved thus was as follows: the churches would give these despots “heavenly titles” to their thrones and the latter would impose Christianity “by the sword” in both of their manifestations then in their areas of jurisdictions, and the Church would give blessings to the harsh feudal order that kept Europe in the dark for centuries to come until even good Christians saw the mischief in this and decided on a Protestant revolt and eventually the Renaissance. Yes, it was Christianity that was imposed upon the ancestors of most of its faithful today and it was either belief in Jesus or death for them. Even the New World was not to be spared this forced conversions, as the Spaniards and the Portuguese carried out the Inquisition with full vigor among the helpless “Red” Indian populations inhabiting the Americas. For their strong devotion to the Catholic Church, the Pontiff—Alexander VI issued the Papal Bull “Inter caetera”, in 1493 realigning the New World division between Spain and Portugal, both of which literally slaughtered millions of those who rejected this policy of forced conversions. The blood of all these “heathens” included hundreds of thousands of Moslems from the Iberian Peninsula to as far away as the Philippines, which would have been today like Indonesia, Malaysia and the Southern part of Thailand Moslem had it not been for the implementation of the Inquisition in all the domains granted to it by the Pope.

But even before that, we can go back to the papacy of Pope Urban II (Pope from 1088 – 1099). He worked diligently to end the Moslem control of Sicily, in collision with Byzantine Emperor Alexius I Comnenus, who had sent his Ambassador to the Pontiff requesting support against the Moslems in Sicily and Asia Minor. The absence of Islam in Sicily today did not occur by magic but through the forced conversions of the population of the island when the Moslem emirs were driven out. In 1096, the devoted Pope also launched the First Crusade to free Jerusalem from “heathen” Moslem control as he referred to it. When the Crusades took Jerusalem in 1099, they slaughtered some 90,000 people inhabiting the city arranging their heads in pyramid mounds throughout the city (See the History of the Arabs by Anthony Nutting). Throughout the history of the Moslem Empires that prevailed since the death of the Prophet Mohammed (peace of Allah be upon him), Moslem rulers pretty much stuck to the Qur’anic dictate “there is no compulsion in religion”. Needless to say the Holy Book of Allah insists that even differences in religious views are to be “discussed” peacefully with non-Moslems with the idea that people should be led by reason and logical deduction to accept Islamic doctrine. Furthermore, Moslems are compelled to set good example of proper Islamic behavior and practice (which, regrettably, is not the prevailing scene amongst a sizable segment of the Moslem population of the world, by virtue of ignorance or distorted views that have been nurtured by the enemies of Islam amongst some desperate or naïve Moslems). That is how Islam gained its converts in most of the corners of the world where it prevailed. The existence of sizable Christian minorities amidst Moslem dominated areas attests to the tolerance of Islam throughout its history. The continuing spread of Islam, even in the United States with some 20,000 converts a year, is testimony to its dogmatic appeal.

Surely, Pope Benedict the XVI was not oblivious to these historical facts and surely, he is even more insulting when he attributes Moslem anger at his “academic” comments in his homeland, of all places, to “misunderstanding” of his intents. We will further explore the Pope’s statements in the next issue.

Hassan Al-Haifi has been a Yemeni political economist and journalist for more than 20 years.


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