In a public speech made shortly after the quote first appeared in Muslim press, Manuel II apologized to the Islamic community that besieged his controversial "Byzantine entity," the term used to describe the Greek-speaking Roman Empire of the Middle Ages, centered at its capital in Constantinople (now Istanbul).
"I hope," said Manuel II, who was also known as a writer, poet and theologian, "that my apology will appease hearts and clarify the true meaning of my address, which was an invitation to a rational dialogue, with great mutual respect."
"In my seventh dialogue with an imaginary Islamic scholar," the learned Byzantine ruler continued as he evaded occasional critical arrows flying from the surrounding hordes, "I referred to the Koran's teachings about spreading the faith by the sword. And this, I said, could not come from God because violence is the opposite of reason, and God himself cannot act contrary to reason. But your passionate criticism has proven to me that there is, indeed, nothing evil or inhuman in spreading the faith by violent means, and that beheadings of non-believers and terrorizing communities in the name of religion are all signs of perfectly rational behavior and wonderful mental health."
"Taking quotes out of context is similarly a magnificent example of a reasonable dialogue from which we all should learn," Manuel II said, adding that the recent slaughters of thousands of his Christian subjects by the Muslim sword were the result of his own blindness to the true peaceful nature of Islam.
"We can only hope that their sacrifice will help build real fraternity among us," he said, "so that all Muslims and Christians can learn to live with reciprocal respect of everyone's religious convictions, and that some 600 years from now conflicts and misunderstandings like this would be a thing of the past."
A group of Muslim scholars demonstrate passages in the Koran showing that the "Byzantine entity" has no right to exist.
But many Muslims perceived the Emperor's emphasis on "rational" as unhelpful. Demonstrations, threats and calls to violence continued throughout the Muslim world, as protesters demanded that the Byzantine ruler be punished by strict Islamic Shariah law for implying that Muslims cannot respond to criticism rationally, but only with demonstrations, threats and violence.
Angry Ottoman activists burned a number of ancient Greek churches and publicly beheaded residents in several Byzantine towns, converting the less stubborn survivors to Islam to the cheers and applause of prominent Muslim clerics who gathered for the occasion.
European leaders, who had recently declined Manuel's personal pleas for help against the invading Muslim armies, responded to the controversy by warning the Byzantine ruler about the danger of confusing Islam with a militant movement that masks itself as religion.
"We must avoid everything that increases tension between people or religions," said the King of France in an open letter to Manuel II (cc the Ottoman Court). "Islam is a religion of peace, and there is a need to be on constant alert against marginal provocations that are meant to turn this issue into a global crisis.
"In conclusion, it should be noted that the "Byzantine entity" lasted for only 62 more years, falling to the Ottoman Turks in 1453, thus ending the 1100-year-old controversy about its right to exist next to Muslim lands. Its capital Constantinople was renamed into Istanbul, its churches were converted to mosques, the country changed its name to Turkey, and its residents lost their language, cultural identity, and religion to Muslim Turks.
No wonder that today some of the of the Pope's use of the Byzantine quote is coming from Turkey - whose people suffered the most from bigoted remarks of the erstwhile Byzantine ruler.
Watch our video that puts old Manuel's quote back into its original context.
But there's a difference - the people conquered by the Muslim Turks were not hunters-gatherers walking around in loin cloths. They were, perhaps, the most culturally advanced civilization of the time, heirs to both Greece and Rome. The Turks forcefully converted the population to Islam - and continued to exterminate the unconverted ones up until 1915. Now, if they let the Pope's veiled hint at that fact go unpunished, what terrible thing he can do next - quote survivors of the genocide of Armenian, Greek, and Assyrian Christians committed by Muslims of the Ottoman Empire? That would really be insulting to Islam!
Byzantine is important because it covered the entire Mediterranean Middle East immediately before the Muslim conquests - including what's now Israel and Palestine. It's why there are so many Christian enclaves remaining in what's known as the "original" Muslim land. With all the wars and coups and conspiracies and changes of power, Byzantine was still a benevolent empire that benefited its citizens, promoting the growth of culture and commerce. The "achievements" of the Muslim civilization are mostly the things they had found already in place in the conquered lands of the Eastern Roman Empire (as well as Assyria, Persia, etc). I bet you never hear about that inconvenient fact. The general impression is that the Muslims had originally expanded over some desert shitholes, so who cares? In fact, those shitholes of today used to be advanced cultures that didn't survive the caring indulgence of the religion of peace and submission. Just ask any surviving Byzantine!
Least we forget - the one common element causing all problems is the sulfur-spewing GW Rove-Bushler and the flea-infested lap dog capitalist-USA.
Now - when our global leaders Hugo and Makhmood have arrived to finally unite with Jimmi, Billary, Howie, George, Cindee, DNC, move on dot org, world-workers party, academia and all of us to fight from within -we must depart the latte-cafe and ivory towers to slay the the Great Shaytan once and for all and usher in the dawning of the global dry-flush-toilete progressive-submissive islamo ham-free village!
(Sorry, social policy)
Pope Benedict XVI in the service of George W. Bush
By Uri Avner
09/24/06 "Information Clearing House" -- -- Since the days when Roman emperors threw Christians to the lions, the relations between the emperors and the heads of the church have undergone many changes.
Uri Avnery is an Israeli author and activist. He is the head of the Israeli peace movement, "Gush Shalom".
Comrade Freedom (if that's your real condition)
The Party censor-on-duty has shortened the posted article to 2% of its original length. In the future, if you want to post someone else's story, please post one or two paragraphs and a link to the source.
The Party gives you blanket permission to browse that site free of charge for more dynamic maps as long as you intend to use them for proper indoctrination.
BCE to CE to MTE to LE--life eternal.