March 30, 2004


On March 25, 2004, Lord George Carey, the former Archbishop of Canterburty, gave a lecture in Rome entitled "Christianity and Islam: Collision or Convergence?" The address is a relatively mild affair which calls for ecumenicalism, denounces Israel for the killing of the Hamas leader Sheik Yassin (something with which I don't agree at all -- someone who declares war on a country, who heads an organization that as one its war aims intends to kill that country's children, elderly, mothers and so on is by definition a combatant and a legitimate target), assures us that Islam is a great faith which condemns violence against innocents, and so on. It's a remarkably unremarkable piece, but it provoked some controversy. Thinking Anglican has a nice roundup of the complaints, in which one Iqbal Sacranie, secretary general of the Muslim Council Britain, charged, "Frankly, one is dismayed by the comments. One is surprised to find Lord Carey recycling the same old religious prejudice in the 21st century."

I found out about the speech from, where one commentator had criticism not for Carey, but for Sacranie:

I found the quick predictable reaction of the Muslim Council of Britain totally ignorant and insulting. Rather than welcome Archbishop’s radical reasonable ideas as an opportunity to start a real debate about Islam and Muslim societies and the problems of political despotism, social enslavement, scientific backwardness and ideological impotence which these societies suffer from, let alone the disease of terrorism and massacre of innocent civilians which they export to many parts of the world, secretary general of the Muslim Council of Britain ironically accused Lord Carey of “recycling the same old religious prejudice in the 21 century.” He added, “ We would suggest that, rather than hectoring Muslims, Lord Carey’s skills would be more usefully employed in halting the drift away from Christianity in Europe.”

I have not seen the whole statement by the MCB. But I would like to comment on the above.

1. It is MCB that recycles old seventh-century ideas about Islam while John Carey calls for challenging these outdated ideas for the sake of modernising Islam itself.

2. Anyone who knows John [actually George -- the author gets the first name right on the first reference--ideofact] Carey realises that he does not need Mr Sacranie’s patronising and advice to tackle the modern issues and problems of Christianity. Unlike of medieval Islamic scholars he has been on the forefront of debating and opening up of many controversial issues.

3. To accept a faith or drift away from it must, in this age, be based on tolerance and opening up to variety of ideas and diversity of issues not to base religion on blind faith, fatalistic illusions and despotic rules that do not accept change and modernisation and which are used by both despotic rulers and hypocritical patriarchal males to impose a semi-slavery system on women and ensure everlasting rule for dictators and male chauvinists at the expense of maintaining backward societies which are in this globalised world are not only a menace to themselves but to the whole civilised world too.

Those comments come from Kamal Mirawdeli, a Kurdish freelance journalist, who promises to expound more on this in a later piece.

Posted by Ideofact at March 30, 2004 11:49 PM