Cesare Mazzolari, Bishop of Rumbek, Sudan, is unusually forthright among Catholic bishops about the challenge of radical Islam. From Chiesa, with thanks to Nicolei:
Q. – Do you convert many Muslims?
A. – “Absolutely not. Getting close to Islamic people is like giving them the death penalty Those that convert freely are forced to flee. Yet they end up being caught and punished, anyway, thousands of kilometers away.”
Q. – Are there Catholics who convert to Islam?
A. – “Yes, unfortunately. Pushed by hunger, at least 3 million have headed north and have had to profess the shahada, the public profession of Muslim faith, in order to find jobs. These converts are then fire-branded, literally being stamped on their sides like cows so as to distinguish them from infidels.” …
Q. – Is the God of Christians the same as the Allah of Muslim?
A. – “No way! Where would the concept of the Trinity fit in? And Christ is certainly not the greatest of their prophets.” …
Q. – Is it exaggerated when people talk about a clash of civilizations, as between the West and Islam?
A. – “No. This is just the beginning. The Church has defeated communism, but is just starting to understand its next challenge – Islamism, which is much worse. The Holy Father has not been able to take up this challenge due to his old age. But the next pope will find himself having to face it. The answer does not lie in thinking ‘we’re right and they’re wrong’. We boast about a Christian tradition which in actual fact we don’t live out. Yet Muslims are constant in practicing their faith, having a way of proselytizing superior to our own. When they teach you to say ‘sukran’ (thank you), for them this is missionary activity, since Arab is the language of the Koran.”
Q. – And yet some of your fellow bishops in Italy have allowed chapels to be used as mosques.
A. – “It will be the Muslims who convert us, not the other way around. Wherever they settle down, sooner or later they end up becoming a leading political force. The Italians are intent on welcoming them in an easy-going manner. But soon they’ll realize that the Muslims have taken advantage of their good-natured spirit, allowing ten times more to arrive than what was originally permitted. They are much more clever than we are. They knock my schools down and you leave your church doors wide open for them. If someone is a thief, you don’t give them a room in your apartment, because sooner or later you’ll find all your furniture gone.”
Q. – Recent statistics say that only 20% of Muslims in Italy respect the Koran’s teachings, just as only 20% of Catholics go to Mass every Sunday. Hence they are Muslims, but in name only.
A. – “But their Islamic culture remains. Religion is only a part of their civilization. No one can erase their belonging to the umma, the community of Muslim believers.”
Q. – Does it make sense to export our democracy in agricultural and sheep-herding societies that make no distinction between religion and politics?
A. – “No. This is idiotic. Islamic people base their decisions only and exclusively on the umma. They don’t even know what individual rights are. It’s absurd to teach them the first amendment of the American Constitution, which says Congress can make no law to prohibit freedom of worship or to limit freedom of speech or the press. They have absolutely no comprehension of this.”
Q. – Is the shariah in full effect in Sudan?
A. – “The fundamentalist government sustains it will only apply it to Islamic citizens. No one knows what will happen to an accused Christian, since the legal right to an attorney doesn’t exist there”.
Q. – Roberto Hamza Piccardo, secretary to the Union of Islamic Communities in Italy, told me the scourging that occurs in Sudan is merely symbolic, since “the flogger holds the Koran under his arm to ease up on the force of his lashings”.
A. – “I met this man. If you stand around listening to him, he’ll tell you another thousand lies just like this one.”
Q. – But even St. Benedict approved of floggings for “evil, stubborn, haughty and disobedient men.”
A. – “He didn’t become a saint for this, but despite this. These are little things associated with great men.”
Q. – Piccardo told me that some parts of the shariah enforced in Sudan, like the cutting off of hands, represent “the extremely rare cruel acts of local mafia bosses persecuting helpless people.”
A. – “It’s not true. It is the state that applies Koranic law most often. It cuts the hands and feet off of even non-Muslims and arrests them without evidence.”
Q. – Piccardo also told me that the Sudanese Islamist leader Hassan Al Turabi, “the famous jurist”, was against applying the death penalty, as the Koran would prescribe, against apostates – that is, Muslims who convert to other faiths.
A. – “Al Turabi is the cleverest person in the world. He’s extremely intelligent, he’s an attorney, and he speaks English and French better than English and French men themselves. He has a sly, forked tongue. He’s always succeeds in getting what he wants from you. I’ll give you a concrete example. It is stated in the English version of the Sudanese Constitution that Islam is the state religion and that other faiths are tolerated. However in the Arab version, there is not a trace of such a guarantee.”
Q. – Yet last November Al Turabi went to congratulate Gabriel Zubeir Wako, the archbishop of Khartoum, the first and freshly appointed cardinal. Even you have been in Sudan for 23 years and no one has ever laid a hand on you.
A. – “You should note that my hair has turned white. The greatest punishment Arabs can inflict is oppression, a sense of falsity. If they can fool you, they do it with will all their might. They are proud of their ability to trick you, to behave like liars and compliment you. Al Turabi will take Bush for a ride, wherever and whenever he wants. And he could do much worse things. I, rather than being tricked and playing the fool, prefer being slapped in the face. Muslims fill you with fear, they keep you in a permanent state of uncertainty. It’s a continuous psychological affliction, worse than torture.”
Q. – Is there slavery in Sudan?
A. – “The government authorities swear there isn’t. They went to say so at the United Nations, in Geneva. And yet my missions are full of former slaves. In 1990 I freed 150 of them personally, paying less than I would have for a full-breed dog: 50 dollars for females, 100 for males. I never did this again, since I realized that it could turn into a vicious circle, as they are then used as shepherds or sent to serve wealthy Arab families in Khartoum. And they force them to go to Koranic schools.” …