SAUDI KING AND HIS GIFT FOR THE POPE
We all heard how the King of Saudi Arabia visited the pope this past week and that the Pope expressed his grief over the discrimination of Christian minorities in Muslim lands. But what most of us do not know is that the two exchanged gifts--Pope Benedict XVI gave the Saudi monarch an old painting of the Vatican while the king's gift to the pontiff was a sword.
From newyorksun.com: "As a gift from from a leading Islamic fundamentalist nation, a sword is about as clear a symbol of intolerance as there can be; and indeed, swords are used for public decapitations in Saudi Arabia on Fridays. The U.S. State Department's yearly human rights report cites Saudi Arabia for bigotry toward non-Muslims, including "harassment, abuse, and even killings at the hands of the Muttawa (religious police)."
"The newspaper L'Osservatore Romano said the Vatican hoped the meeting with the Saudi king would produce a frank dialogue on Christian worship — in Saudi kingdom and in the wider Arab world, where Christians' basic rights to practice their religion have been curtailed by Islamist terror of the same brand preached and practiced in Saudi Arabia. The pope pleaded for equal treatment for Christians as is granted to millions of Muslims in the West.
"Abdullah, for his part, insisted on a joint statement that supports a just solution for the Middle East crisis — which is Morse code for Saudi Arabia's desire to see a Hamas-style Islamic state take over Israel. The Saudis also asked for a resumption of the Muslim-Christian dialogue that this pope ended as he came to office, noting that the discussion had turned into a monologue on Islam's supremacy."
"In short, nothing happened in what was billed as the first encounter of the head of the Catholic church and the leader of an Islamic fundamentalist nation. "...Paradoxically, even as the king made his push for more love inside the Vatican, his creed prohibits diplomatic relations with the Holy See. A Vatican embassy in Saudi Arabia cannot be allowed, as it would raise a cross. Expatriate Christians are not even allowed to wear one, hold a private church service in their homes, or retain bibles, all of which are confiscated at the border.
"Clearly, Benedict consented to pseudo-dialogue to soothe millions of moderate Muslims angered by his 2006 prescient remarks linking Islam to violence. In reality, it is far more incumbent upon those moderates to stand up to their fundamentalist preachers and Islamist radicals and the flood of Saudi money funding both.
Abdullah had visited the Vatican twice before, as crown prince and deputy prime minister. The next time he returns, it might be best to leave the sword behind.