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A possible interesting result of a policy demanding reciprocity

Reader comment on item: The Vatican Confronts Islam

Submitted by J. Keen Holland (United States), Jul 5, 2006 at 12:54

While I join Dr. Pipes in saluting the Vatican's long overdue efforts to promote reciprocity between Muslim nations' dealings with their Christian minorities and Christian nations' dealings with their Muslim minorities, I do not have such high hopes for positive results. Indulgence of extremist tendencies, although it has a certain "tiger by the tail" element of danger, seems to have become an essential part of the delicate balance by which many leaders of Muslim countries remain in power. A weakening of that indulgence might well re-direct the frustrations of the masses in the direction of their rulers.

Faced with a choice between remaining in power and being invited to the right parties in Rome, New York and Geneva, one need hardly guess at the result. I fully expect that demands for reciprocity, even from a united set of western powerrs, would be met with howls of interference in the internal affairs of the Muslim nations. And this they may do with safety because for the west tolerance is a valued idea which we are not prepared to abandon. And, even if we abandoned it selectively only with regard to Muslims (something I find almost unthinkable), I doubt that it would move the hearts of either the political or religious leaders of the Muslim nations. It would only provide further confirmation to their constituents that the west is their enemy. By all means, demand reciprocity. It is the right thing to do; whether judged in terms of justice or honor we in the west should consider no other course. But we should be prepared for very modest positive results, if any at all.

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