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قديم 18-09-2006
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تاريخ التّسجيل: Jan 2005
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SPIEGEL INTERVIEW WITH CARDINAL WALTER KASPER "Islam is a Different Culture"

SPIEGEL INTERVIEW WITH CARDINAL WALTER KASPER
"Islam is a Different Culture"


Cardinal Walter Kasper, the Catholic Church's ecumenical representative, discusses the Vatican's relations with Muslims and the furor over the pope's recent remarks.

SPIEGEL: Cardinal, are you surprised by the intense reaction of Muslims worldwide to the pope's speech in Regensburg?

Kasper: Because the Christian faith constitutes a voluntary personal act, the pope has every right to address the justifiable concerns of the Enlightenment: the concept of universal human rights, religious freedom and the distinction between religion and politics. After all, the Catholic Church is a world church and more of a global player today than ever before.

SPIEGEL: Which means that conflicts with other religions are apparently inevitable.

Kasper: The conflict with Islam has, after all, existed throughout European history, which is what the pope was pointing out. The encounter with Islam now seems to be entering a new phase. Many have called it a 'clash of civilizations.' But this phrase must be handled with great care to prevent it from becoming a self-fulfilling prophecy. The alternative to conflict is called dialogue. This is the option the churches choose, and it's also what the pope favors. We want a peaceful difference of opinion, which, of course, is based on reciprocity. But one shouldn't harbor any illusions over the difficulties this involves.

SPIEGEL: Why is dialogue with Islam so difficult for the Catholic Church?

Kasper: There is no such thing as one Islam. The Koran is ambiguous and Islam is not a monolithic entity. The distinction between radical Islam and moderate Muslims is important, as are the differences between Sunnis and Shiites, and between militant and mystical Islam. Islam in the Arab world coexists with Indonesian, Pakistani and Turkish Islam. There is limited solidarity, even within the Arab world. Muslims living among us (in Germany) haven't managed to build an organization that represents all Muslims. Such an organization could protect us against irrational fantasies driven by fear, fantasies that completely demonize Islam. But it is difficult, under the current circumstances, to find representative counterparts to talk with.

SPIEGEL: Do you think a dialogue on equal footing is possible?

Kasper: One cannot be naïve when engaging in this dialogue. Islam undoubtedly deserves respect. It has some things in common with Christianity, such as Abraham as a common progenitor, and the belief in only one God. But Islam developed in opposition to orthodox Christianity from the very start, and it considers itself superior to Christianity. So far, it has only been tolerant in places where it is in the minority. Where it is the majority religion, Islam does not recognize religious freedom, at least not as we understand it. Islam is a different culture. This doesn't mean that it's an inferior culture, but it is a culture that has yet to connect with the positive sides of our modern Western culture: religious freedom, human rights and equal rights for women. These shortcomings are one reason so many Muslims feel such frustration that often turns into hatred and violence against the West, which is despised as being godless and decadent. Suicide attacks are the actions of losers who have nothing left to lose. In this case, Islam serves as a mask, a cover for desperation and nihilism, but not for religion.

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