Geopolitical Diary: The Political Fallout from the Pope’s Speech

We have seen the writing on the wall. Excerpted from Stratfor:

The world is about to witness the next wave of Muslim rage against the West.

Addressing an audience at Regensburg University in Germany on Tuesday, Pope Benedict XVI delivered a controversial speech, in which he quoted 14th Century Byzantine Christian Emperor Manuel Paleologos II regarding the issue of jihad: “Show me just what Mohammed brought that was new, and there you will find things only evil and inhuman, such as his command to spread by the sword the faith he preached.”

Muslim leaders from Turkey, Pakistan, Morocco, Kuwait, France and Germany loudly criticized the pope for his remarks and demanded an apology. A Vatican spokesman began the damage-control process Thursday by spreading the message that the Holy See fully intends to carry on Pope John Paul II’s legacy of building bridges between religions and clarifying that Islam was not the focus of the speech.

But the damage has already been done.

While Muslim governments are still issuing official complaints against the pope’s comments on Islam, the message of fury is quickly disseminating to the streets. Public demonstrations have already been organized to follow Friday prayers in Kuwait and Saudi Arabia. These protests are likely to spread rapidly across the Islamic world, particularly in Egypt, Pakistan, Iran, Kashmir, Indonesia, the Philippines and Turkey.

Coming at a time of heightened feelings of religiosity among Muslims in the lead-up to Ramadan, the pope’s remarks are bound to kick up a massive sandstorm — inspiring fiery speeches during Friday prayers on the U.S.-led “war on terror” being the new Crusade against Islam. The size and intensity of protests in different places will, of course, depend upon whatever local issues are currently in play that might distract attention from this issue. Protests might also be limited by a certain degree of “outrage fatigue” in places where Muslims have already been protesting the West for other reasons. But in the eyes of many Muslims now catching wind of the protests, the pope’s speech is far more damning than, for instance, the Danish cartoons depicting the Prophet Mohammed; a religious official of the highest order in the Christian West has publicly called Islam an inferior religion. The context in which the statements were made is certainly debatable, but it does not really matter in the end what the pope said. What matters is how it will play out in the Muslim world.

Read the rest of this article here.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *