Muslims demand papal apology for crusades
The world's highest Sunni Muslim authority has demanded an official apology
from the pope for the medieval Christian crusades.
Sheikh Fawzi Zafzaf, president of the Interfaith Dialogue Committee of Al-Azhar University in Cairo, said his panel sent the request to the Vatican in February, the Morocco Times reported.
The demand arose from Pope John Paul II's apologies to the Jewish people and
his visits to Syria and Egypt a few years ago, Zafzaf said
While many Christians have expressed remorse for the crusades, some scholars insist the common characterization of zealous imperialists attacking peaceful Muslims is wrong.
Thomas F. Madden, author of "A Concise History of the Crusades," contends the Crusades "were in every way a defensive war." "They were the West's belated response to the Muslim conquest of fully two-thirds of the Christian world," he wrote in a National Review column. "While the Arabs were busy in the seventh through the tenth centuries winning an opulent and sophisticated empire, Europe was defending itself against outside invaders and then digging
out from the mess they left behind.
Only in the eleventh century were Europeans able to take much notice of the East. " Madden said the event that led to the crusades was the Turkish conquest of most of Christian Asia Minor, modern Turkey.
This isn't as surprising as it may at first appear. Al-Azhar's Islamic Ruling Committee has been the orgin of several controversial statements including the charge that suicide bombers are "martyrs" under Islamic law and the declaration that the acquisition of nuclear weapons is a religious obligation for Islamic states.