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Hussam has been a lifelong human rights activist who is passionate about promoting democratic societies, in the US and worldwide, in which all people, including immigrants, workers, minorities, and the poor enjoy freedom, justice, economic justice, respect, and equality. Mr. Ayloush frequently lectures on Islam, media relations, civil rights, hate crimes and international affairs. He has consistently appeared in local, national, and international media. Full biography at: http://hussamayloush.blogspot.com/2006/08/biography-of-hussam-ayloush.html

Monday, September 18, 2006

So what about the Pope's "apology"?

Pope Benedict XVI said during the traditional Angelus blessing from the balcony of his summer residence at Castel Gandolfo outside Rome:

"I am deeply sorry for the reactions in some countries to a few passages of my
address ... which were considered offensive to the sensibility of Muslims"

Was that an apology? Probably not. The Pope was expressing regret that Muslims were offended by his comments, but he was not apologizing for the comments themselves.

So what do we do now? I believe that regardless of how the Pope chooses to address the damage caused by those comments and regardless of his intentions because only God knows about intentions, we should all be focusing on damage control. Muslims should accept the "regrets" from the Pope and forgive. It is a reminder that we still have a long way to eduacte each other about our respective faiths.

We, Muslims and Catholics alike, should look beyond this isolated and unfortunate incident and remember that what brings us together is much greater. The legacy of late Pope John Paul II has helped foster a culture and momentum of friendship, cooperation, and mutual respect between the world's two largest religions. We should not allow for one negative incident to make us forget all the good that has joined us together. We should not let the clouds of anger and mistrust cover our world. We have no choice but to continue working together to promote friendship and cooperation because the other choice is not only ugly, but it is also un-Islamic and un-Christian.

I take the opportunity to voice by utmost disgust and dismay, as a Muslim, with those who chose to express their legitimate disagreement with the Pope through the un-Islamic and immoral acts of violence. Correcting misperceptions about Islam cannot be achieved by killing nuns, attacking churches, or burning effigies. Such acts are in complete contradiction of Islamic teachings and serve nothing but to widen the gap and polarization in our wounded world. We need bridge builders and peacemakers and not people who add fuel to the fire.

Let's learn from the past and focus on a brighter future.

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