Monday, March 24, 2008
Fire and Water
Well, the ageing pontiff is under fire again, this time for baptising the outspoken anti Islamic journalist, Magdi Allam at a rather public affair on Easter Sunday in St Peter's Basilica. Allam has never been one for secreting his fire under a hedgerow, which has, predictably, earned him apostate status and consequent death threats, in addition to those from Hamas in 2003. To Western eyes, this is of course mediaeval, barbaric and unnecessary, but to the radical Islamist, the application of Shari'a is as natural as breathing. Allam was a self-confessed Muslim Zionist, an oxymoron of sorts, but subtly identified a hatred of Israel as the root of many of the evils plaguing the Muslim world and describes Israel as 'the paradigm of the right to life.' I rather like that, since it is the antithesis of the trendy leftist chattering classes' view that if only Israel went away, everything would settle down in the Middle East. Ha! The demographics are disturbing. Christian presence in traditionally Biblical landscapes is declining, many finding safer and less hostile havens elsewhere in the world- a second hijra, if you will. Lebanon's Christian majority has dwindled, having almost 70% Muslims, and the population of Bethlehem, once 95% Christian is less than a quarter of that today. I hate to suggest it, but it does rather look as if battle lines are being drawn again.