Sunday, September 17, 2006

Amar Writes to Qaradawi

Shlomo Amar, the Orthodox Sephardic Chief Rabbi of Israel, has written to al-Jazeera Islamist TV host Yusuf Qaradawi criticizing Pope Benedict XVI's attacks on Muhammad and Islam. While I haven't been in many conversations on the subject, his position seems close to what many conservative Jews are saying on the street. Upon learning of my academic interests, one elderly Orthodox woman was sharply critical of the Pope, saying that, "Whatever differences exist between us and the Arabs, we do not criticize their religion." At the time, I had no idea what had actually been said, as neither she nor another man would repeat it.

Meanwhile, according to news reports, Islamic militants are attacking churches in Palestinian areas:
"The Saturday attacks on four of the 10 churches in the West Bank town of Nablus, and on the Greek Orthodox Church in Gaza City unsettled a relatively peaceful coexistence in the city.

"The assaults began with fire bombings of Nablus' Anglican and Greek Orthodox churches, which left trails of black scorch marks in their wake. At least five firebombs were hurled at the Anglican church, whose door was later set ablaze in a separate attack. Smoke billowed from the church as firefighters put out the flames

"In a phone call to The Associated Press, a group calling itself the 'Lions of Monotheism' claimed responsibility, saying the attacks were meant to protest the pope's remarks about Islam.

"Hours later, four masked gunmen doused the main doors of Nablus' Roman and Greek Catholic churches with lighter fluid, then set them ablaze. They also opened fire on the buildings, pocking their outer walls with bullet holes.

"In Gaza City, militants opened fire from a car at a Greek Orthodox church, hitting the facade. A policeman at the scene said he saw a car escape with armed men inside. Explosive devices were set off at the same Gaza church on Friday, causing minor damage.

"There were no claims of responsibility for the last three attacks. Said Siyam, the interior minister from Hamas, ordered extra protection for churches across the West Bank and Gaza."


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