A new slip of the tongue on Crusades?!

A new slip of the tongue on Crusades?!

By Fr. Rif'at Bader

In 2001, after the September 11 events, the then-US President George Bush said: “It is a ‘crusade’ on terrorism.” After several protests on the term, he said:”The word 'crusade' is a slip of the tongue.” Some reactions said: “He used the term ‘crusade’ which no longer means a religious war. It merely means a “campaign” designed for the welfare of humanity." The crux of the issue is that it has remained a disputable issue. Yet, some electronic websites still use the term “the 10th Crusade” which emerged this time from Washington.

After 16 years, US President Barak Obama does not find words depicting the massacres being committed by groups of extremism, bigotry and deformation of religion other than “crusades and inquisition." This depiction has triggered protests in the United States and abroad as well as by political and religious sides simultaneously.

US president erred by making this comparison because the crimes committed nowadays have never ever been recorded in history, among which is the crime committed against Jordan’s hero martyr Muaz Kasasbeh during which the most sophisticated technical and media tools were used to unveil one of the grisly crimes in history. Reverting to what foments the sentiments of the followers of religions, we can say that this will definitely further “arouse” tension, deform religion, as well as undermine initiatives of dialogue and harmony among the followers of religions.

The war which Obama refers to did not have this nomenclature. It was rather called "Wars of the Franks'' which mainly aimed at benefiting from the East's imports and at attaining ambitions relevant to maritime and commercial benefits. They also aimed at getting rid of the control of their masters, as well as of the ramifications of draught and of making gains they failed to bring about in their own countries. What can be added to this is that they had the desire to travel and exit their restricted areas as they were attracted by the charm of the East. The highlight of the issue is that those who staged the wars at that time—despite the fact that they decorated their attires with the cross as a distinctive mark--did not use any religious texts to justify the crimes they committed. Thus, the comparison drawn is invalid.

As for the Inquisition, "the memory should be cleared" of this misunderstanding, since the crimes committed by civil authorities at that time were tantamount to death penalty with the occasional knowledge and consent of the Church. They were not an application of holy texts by the Church that had the right to impose sanctions, not necessarily death penalty, on the heretics and those who followed a heresy which claims there are two gods, namely white and black (the devil).

What concerns us here is not to provide an honest historical explanation, but to wonder why the US president did breathe life into the nomenclature of those wars. Furthermore, if we want to provide explanations to those wars then let it not be through the eyes of the past, but rather through the eyes of the present at a time when the Church calls on its believers to forget about the past and to assiduously strive to cement mutual understandingly between Muslims and Christians, so that they can jointly upgrade and protect social justice, peace, and freedom for all the people.

The second "slip of the tongue" by a US president is unjustifiable, as there is a vast difference between yesterday and today. We do not want to mention "the Cross", and provoke religious sentiments. The bells that rang, the candles that were lit, and the prayers held this week throughout the world provide cogent evidence of denouncing all forms of terrorism.

Tue, 02/17/2015 - 13:43
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