Who’s sorry now?

October 27, 2006

Spot of bother down under over some injudicious remarks made by Sheik Taj Din al-Hilaly. The learned mufti and his entourage have clearly learned a trick or two from Pope Benedict when it comes to the apologies. Both sort of apologised and then tried to make excuses. Their defences sounds remarkably similar:

We were taken out of context
Pope The director of the Vatican press office stated: “Pope Benedict’s remarks about jihad may have been taken out of context. The Pope’s remarks were actually addressed to Western culture, to avoid ‘the contempt for God and the cynicism that considers mockery of the sacred to be an exercise of freedom.’

Mufti: A spokesman for the Lebanese Muslim Association said ‘Well no, obviously those comments have been made but he provided us with an apology, and basically he was taken out of context. Dr Ali said the mufti “was simply trying to make the point that in the fasting month all pleasure is prohibited and we must resist anything sensual”. “He wasn’t talking about rape in any way,” Mr Trad said. Of course he wasn’t. Having read his remarks in translation I can confirm that he was simply giving housewives some practical advice on how to store meat.

We had no intention of being offensive
Pope: The press statement asserts that the Pope had no intention of insulting Islam or Prophet Muhammad.
Mufti: ‘The mufti had no wish to insult woman and doesn’t condone rape’

We were only quoting
Pope: “These in fact were quotations from a medieval text, which do not in any way express my personal thought,” he said in his regular Sunday blessing.

Mufti: Abdul El Ayoubi, of the Lebanese Muslim Association, said al-Hilali was quoting an ancient scholar called al-Rafihi.

We were misunderstood
Pope German Chancellor Angela Merkel also defended the German-born Pope on Friday, saying his critics misunderstood the comments.
Mufti: Mr El Ayoubi: Certain statements made by the Mufti was misrepresented, the mufti was misinterpreted.

We’re sorry for the reaction (not for what we said)
Pope: Pope Benedict has said he was “deeply sorry” for the reactions “to a few passages”
Mufti: “I unreservedly apologise to any woman who is offended by my comments.

It’s all the fault of the media
Pope: The Vatican blames some media for “playing a negative role” in reporting the Pope’s speech and for not considering “the good relations the Catholic Church has” with Muslims
Mufti: “I had only intended to protect women’s honour, something lost in The Australian presentation of my talk.”

Australian Muslims have been quick to chastise the errant cleric. “He needs to be more eloquent”, said a prominent Muslim. If only Muslim clerics would use a few more striking metaphors and elegant turns of phrase, problems like this would never arise.

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