Christians appeared to turn the other cheek to banners proclaiming “Allah has no son” that Muslims hoisted in Jesus Christ's own hometown in an apparent slap at the most basic belief of Christianity.
But the blogosphere is ablaze with reactions to the controversial banners in Nazareth, Israel.
The banners — one is in English and the other, in Arabic — were unfurled Christmas Eve in a plaza in front of the Basilica of the Annunciation, according to CNSNEWS.com. They cite a verse from the Quran (112:1-4) contradicting the New Testament proclamation that Jesus is the “only begotten” of God, CNS.com reported.
That verse, as quoted on the banners: “In the name of Allah, the most beneficent, the most merciful, Say (O Muhammad): He is Allah, (the) One and Only. Allah, the Eternal, the Absolute. He begetteth not, nor was begotten, and there is none like unto him.”
Nazareth Mayor Ramiz Jaraisy downplayed the idea that the banners aimed to provoke Christians, but he did question their posting in front of the Nazareth landmark, CNS.com reported.
“I don’t think that it’s provocative against anyone,” CNS.com quoted Jaraisy as saying. “My point of view [is] that it’s not the right place to put it and it’s not the right way to do that.”
On the other hand, Jaraisy told CNS.com that he would not remove the banners because he didn’t want to provide some fundamentalist Islamic groups with the opportunity to promote their cause through a confrontation.
Nazareth, in northern Israel, is the largest Arab city in the country, as well as being home to one of the highest number of Christians in Israel. Jesus was born in Bethlehem but grew up in Nazareth.
Christian and Muslim inhabitants of Nazareth respect each other, the Christian-born Jaraisy told CNS.com, citing his being mayor as proof that they get along. He has been elected mayor three times, even though 70 percent of the city’s 60,000 residents are Muslim, CNS.com reported.
Reader reactions posted on the CNS.com site included one lashing back and one using it to make a theological distinction: “Once again, we have a people or group of people, who claim to be devoted to a religion of peace, while appearing devoted to a religion of turmoil. Though not stated, the operative word here is persecution. Granted, there are Christians who are equally adept at persecuting their fellow man. However, there is a group of followers within Islam who have taken their beliefs to a new level of hatred. If they are so certain of their convictions, why do they care what anyone else thinks or believes? Religion for such groups is not a path to heaven or peace as this not what they seek. Their beliefs are a means and method to look down upon and persecute others. . . . Though their lips may say God, their actions most certainly confess otherwise.” “Allah has no son? No problem,” commented a reader whose Web name included ‘pilgrim.’ “Christians have never claimed that Allah has a son, but do claim and believe that Yahweh (the God of the Bible) does. So there's really no conflict there at all. Muslims are free to believe Allah is childless. Allah and Yahweh are not the same; two entirely different claims about God-hood and two entirely different sets of beliefs flowing from that.”
Banners inflame bloggers
The Nazarene mayor may have chosen a benign response to the banners, but bloggers have not. Their comments (the printable ones) include the following: Blogger Don Singleton says, in part: “The more I hear about Islam, the more I think the Angel that appeared to Mohammad was not Gabriel, but Lucifer (Satan) in disguise, or from one of his other fallen angels, and that the Koran did not come from God, but from Satan.”
And: “People don't worry about offending Christians. But post a sign that offends Muslims, and all Hell breaks loose . . . If it was not intended to be provocative, then why not add another sign quoting John 3:16: ‘For God so loved the world that he gave his one and only Son, that whoever believes in him shall not perish but have eternal life.’” “What will the banner say on ramalamadingdong????? Yeah, just what I thought.” “Burn in hell you garlic breath b******s.” “The problem with belief is that anyone can believe whatever they wish. Thus, as Christians, we can freely celebrate the season while Muslim wannabes can only try to hijack the season.”
JBlog Central, a clearinghouse for Jewish blogs, observes: “As Iran's Thug-In-Chief prepares his 'convert to Islam' Christmas message to Britain, Muslims in Nazareth are greeting pilgrims with their own brand of Christmas cheer.”
And one commentator generated a souvenir idea: “The Christian tourists should be wearing T-shirts saying, ‘There is only one God! God the Father, God the Son, God the Holy Spirit, I know no other.’”
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