Egyptian highest religious authority Al-Azhar has requested the Vatican to present official apologies on Christian crusades carried out against Muslims seven centuries ago.
Sheikh Fawzi Zafzaf, President of the Interfaith Dialogue Committee of Al-Azhar, said during a press conference that his committee has sent a request to the Pope last February, demanding an official apology on Christian crusades against the Muslim world, following the example of the Jews.
The principle of demanding apology from the Vatican germinated following Pope Jean Paul II’s visit to Syria and Egypt a few years ago, and the apologies the Catholic Church presented to the Jewish and some other Christian doctrines, explained Sheikh Zafzaf. “Al-Azhar is only asking for a similar treatment,” he added.
The Vatican’s ambassador to Egypt has abstained from commenting, saying that Al-Azhar’s request is now being considered by the Holy See.
Charles at LGF notes that Al-Azhar, the most respected authority in Sunni Islam, has praised suicide bombing and stated that Islamic states have a religious obligation to acquire nuclear weapons.
And yes, like TigerHawk, I want to see an apology from Al-Azhar for the 450 years of unanswered Islamic aggression and expansion that obliterated the ancient Christian communities of the Middle East and North Africa, and to which the Crusades were a late and paltry defensive reaction.
But the Crusades have grown into a myth that little resembles reality. One hostile emailer, who represented himself as a professor of divinity in Scotland (and may well be, the level of politicized ignorance in the universities being what it is these days) just today asserted to me that the “whole pretence behind [the Crusades] was to slaughter the un-Christian savages in the East.” He also claimed that “2.5 million (approx) Muslim people were slaughtered during the Holy Crusades of the 11th century.”
This is absurd, and not just because the Crusades had just barely begun by the end of the eleventh century (the first one was called in 1095 and didn’t get going until 1099). But the Crusades were not waged to “slaughter un-Christian savages,” and it would not have been possible for the Crusaders to kill 2.5 million people (all in 1099, I guess). I suppose this “professor” would have us think that the Connecticut Yankee showed up in the County of Edessa with a few state-of-the-art 20th century Nazi crematoria. (Estimates of deaths in the Crusades more realistically peg them at about 650,000 on each side — for the entire period between 1095 and 1291).
Anyway, by bothering the Pope, Al-Azhar is just trying to perpetuate this nonsense. It is, after all, politically useful — as my addled Scots friend indicates. As it happens, I am these days working on a new book, The Politically Incorrect Guide to Islam and the Crusades, which should be out from Regnery in a few months. In it, I’ll do my best to clear away this propaganda and tell what really happened.