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Monday, November 15, 2004

Islam is the new communism: Pell

Here's the grab from the ABC website

Australia's top Catholic is again embroiled in controversy, this time over a speech in which he suggested Islam was the new communism. Cardinal George Pell, the Archbishop of Sydney, told the Acton Institute for the Study of Religion and Liberty in the United States, that secular democracy encourages an intolerance of religion. In that vacuum, he says, some in the West may turn to Islam like many turned to communism last century.

This is what they actually have of Pell - just a scrap, really:

The small but growing conversion of native Westerners within Western
societies to Islam carries the suggestion that Islam may provide in the 21st
century, the attraction that communism provided in the 20th, both for those that
are alienated and embittered on the one hand and for those who seek order or
justice on the other. The past century provided examples enough of how the
emptiness within secular democracy can be filled with darkness by political
substitutes for religion.

The ABC throws in a few comments by Keysar Trad, the spokesman for the honorary Mufti of Australia, and Professor Gary Bouma is an Anglican Minister and Sociologist at Monash University (also the UNESCO Chair in Intercultural and Inter-religious Relations, Asia Pacific).

Both don't seem to get what Pell is saying. Both latch onto the fact that the Commies are godless, the Muslims ain't, so Pell has got it wrong. They think that Pell is discussing a false analogy, and they fail to see what he means.

Pell, of course is addressing those members of democracy who feel "revolutionary" - both the oppressed and those who seek freedom for them. Communism, and its left-wing christian offshoot, liberation theology, also appeals to those who feel oppressed or those who seek a righting of social wrongs. Islam offers the same.

In its militant, "Mecca" form (as Phil Jensen so rightly puts it), Islam offers the opportunity to bring all under the banner of Allah - a religious politico-social revolution if you will. Sharia law and all that. And in its compliant "Medina" form (hat tip to Phil again), where Muslims are in the minority, it is a strong voice for justice and tolerance - of Muslims, of course.

Read your Koran - both aspects are there. What the critics fail to see is what is staring them in the face the whole time. The very nature of Islam has these two aspects, and Pell has identified them both.

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