Abdul El Ayoubi, from the Lebanese Muslim Association that administers the Lakemba mosque where besieged Muslim cleric Sheik Taj al-Din al-Hilali is based, says the Sheik believes his comments have been misinterpreted in the same way the Pope was misunderstood in a sermon on Islam, AAP reports.

Perhaps he should read the comments on the Pope row by Edward Skidelsky in Prospect magazine:

One has to feel sorry for the Pope. He cannot open his mouth without giving offence to groups only too eager to take it. What’s more, the offence is shared by many members of Europe’s secular intelligentsia, who have no particular sympathy for radical Islam but are outraged that the head of a Christian church should be so “insensitive” as to voice a preference for his own faith. Things have come to a strange pass when even the Vicar of Christ is required to genuflect before the altar of cultural relativism.

There are some good reflections on multiculturalism and religion up on the Butterflies and Wheels website:

When we think of multiculturalism we tend to think of an educated internationalist outlook: a broad modern palate able to appreciate foods, wines, books, music and art from around the world. We also tend to include religion on that list; but that is a mistake.

Religion is in another category than food, clothes and wine. It is a system of ideas in its own right, and, what is more, it is a system of ideas that stands in absolute opposition to the multicultural principle. Religion is about narrowing options: reducing the amount of reading, reducing the number of competing thoughts, channelling everything towards the one book, the one way, the one lord… A repressive idea is hiding behind a liberal idea and we are blithely stamping it and passing it along.

This error can be expressed as a syllogism:

  • multiculturalism is educated and enlightened,
  • religion is classed as multiculturalism,
  • therefore religion is educated and enlightened.

And there’s something else to remember, too. The religion the Pope leads is unequivocal about its teachings on abortion – but it scarcely celebrates people who, thanks to their commitment to those views, kill abortionists or the people in their employ.

That’s one teaching of the infidel Hilali’s flock – and their cultural relativist fellow travellers – need to consider.