Us, them and the Crusades

When Pope Benedict XVI recently quoted a 14th-century emperor who claimed that Islam’s singular contribution to the world was the doctrine of spreading religion by violence, Muslim reaction was swift and angry. Amid the uproar, the influential Oxford scholar of Islam Tariq Ramadan observed that embedded in Benedict’s speech was a more subtle and revealing concept, a notion of what it means to be European: “In his speech at Regensburg, the pope attempted to set out a European identity that is Christian by faith and Greek by philosophical reason. But Benedict’s speech implicitly suggested that he believes that Islam . . . is excluded from being European.”

 

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