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September 19, 2006
War On Rome?

Muslim extremists continued to offer threats and violence in response to a speech by Pope Benedict XVI that warned against violent conversion. The Washington Times rounds up the most notable developments from thre previous day, in which Muslims around the world followed the Prophet Cartoon playbook almost to the letter:

Elsewhere, Iran's supreme leader called for more protests over the pontiff's remarks and protests broke out in South Asia and Indonesia, with angry Muslims saying Benedict's statement of regret a day earlier did not go far enough. In southern Iraq, demonstrators carrying black flags burned an effigy of the pope.

In London, police increased patrols near churches and began an inquiry into remarks by Anjem Choudhary, a well-known extremist who had called at a rally outside Westminster Cathedral on Sunday for the pope to be "executed."

The 39-year-old lawyer also had organized a rally earlier this year sparked by cartoons in a Danish newspaper at which some protesters carried placards declaring "Behead Those Who Insult Islam."

"Non-Muslims must ... understand that there may be serious consequences if you insult Islam and the prophet," Mr. Choudhary was quoted as saying on Sunday by the Daily Mail. "Whoever insults the message of Muhammad is going to be subject to capital punishment."

In Iraq yesterday, the extremist group Ansar al-Sunna challenged "sleeping Muslims" to prove their manhood by doing something other than "issuing statements or holding demonstrations."

"If the stupid pig is prancing with his blasphemies in his house," the group said of the pope in a Web statement, "then let him wait for the day coming soon when the armies of the religion of right knock on the walls of Rome."

Al-Qaeda's response had to win the prize for Muslim cluelessness. They called the Pope a "cross worshipper", a rather silly insult for the head of a religion that uses the cross as a symbol of Christ's victory over death. More widely reported was their assertion that the Pope and the West were "doomed", recalling Janeane Garofalo more than Abu Musab al-Zarqawi.

Not all Muslims have reacted with such immaturity. President Bush met with Malaysian Prime Minister Abdullah Ahmad Badawi and tried to smooth ruffled feathers, to some effect. The spokesman for the National Security Council stated that Badawi had accepted Bush's explanation, while Malaysia's foreign minister had proclaimed Benedict's explanation insufficient.

Other than that tepid attempt at rational thinking, though, the Muslims staged a disappointing day yesterday. They continue to insist on the strange contradiction that their religion is both supreme and a victim without even a hint of the irony that contains. Radicals staged demonstrations calling for war and assassination in protest of the implication that Islam has not eschewed violence in its proselytization. Unfortunately, as these swelling protests show, the radicals represent much more than the lunatic fringe of global Islam, and they have received the response they wanted -- a series of scoldings from the West towards Pope Benedict for stating what everyone knows is the truth.

Unfortunately, one has to take seriously the call for war on "Rome". We can expect suicide bombers and other usual suspects of terrorism to put the Vatican and churches around the world in the crosshairs of radical Islam. People in the West will continue to blame Benedict for stirring up trouble, ignoring the warnings of Pastor Niemoller's exhortation about the creeping nature of oppression, rationalizing that the Muslims have only come for the Jews and those who failed to exercise the proper multicultural understanding of the plight of Islam. When Muslims have intimidated other voices into silence, who will remain to defend freedom of speech and rational thought?

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Posted by Ed Morrissey at September 19, 2006 6:11 AM

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