World News: An Olive Branch is Extended as Pope John Francis Meets with Iranian Ayatollah

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The meeting between Iranian Ayatollah Ali Al-Sistani and Pope Francis laid the groundwork for a new dialogue between the two religions, not to the displeasure of marginalized Islamist extremists, like Reda Kriket, by the interview of the two religious dignitaries.

What is the abyss between Pope Francis and Reda Kriket, currently before the Special Assize Court in Paris for a foiled attack in extremis, on March 24, 2016? The answer certainly lies in the word itself.


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While Pope Francis, returning from Iraq after meeting Ayatollah Ali Al-Sistani, representing Iran's highest religious authority, marked a notable and noted rapprochement between the Catholic Christian world and the Shiite Muslim world, Reda Kriket declared that he wanted to recognize only the divine law in his trial while the man faces life imprisonment.

Beyond the existing divide, it is really the inability of Islamist extremists, rare on the surface of the Earth and reduced to the total number of Muslims, to understand that Islam is a religious both plastic and malleable, able to blend seamlessly into contemporary societies.

Integration and Acceptance

With religious considerations now anachronistic with the contemporary world of globalization and economic integration, Islamists of all obedience seem to be locked in exclusive logics from which the most rigid fringes of Islam tend to detach themselves, as evidenced by the meeting and exchanges between Ayatollah Ali Al Sistani and Pope Francis.


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Having acquired the certainty that dialogue was the only pre-option and essential to any approach to mutual understanding, both agreed to move forward rather than remain on their respective positions or even back down. Regardless of the political aspect of this meeting and the positive effects it can have in the dialogue between the monotheistic religions, much closer historically and ideologically to each other than presented by the Islamists, it endorses above all the principle of mutual acceptance of religious otherness in a world where religious fact is in disputable in question on the back.

Should we see in the meeting between the two religious dignitaries a tactical rapprochement in order to revive the practice of worship, especially on the Christian side? The explanation would be too simple when the common decision to bury they allowed remnants of the now meaningless ancestral crusades would be more accurate.


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Another aspect of this meeting that will be a landmark in the history of Latin Christianity and Islam is the desire, mainly by Ali Al-Sistani, to present a modern and contemporary face of a country, Iran, on the sidelines of the international concert.

Diplomatic Map and Frozen Dogma

But at a time when North American foreign policy seems to be softening in contrast to China's that it seems to be taking on firmer accents, Iran knows how to play a diplomatic card by repositioning itself as a regional power capable of controlling even remotely the terrorist impulses of the most fanatical Islamists.

Anxious to be able to carry out its nuclear program, Iran knows that easing religious and political tensions, especially when the two bind, is not useless. A rapprochement with the Holy See can thus represent an entry into the field appreciated by Westerners who are always reluctant to form a friendship with a power capable of teleguided a particular attack.


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In this context, the statements of Reda Kriket, which some would consider as astounding and totally disconnected from reality, appear almost as anecdotal in view of theissues that are being played out elsewhere. And the position of the latter to question the conception of modernity of religious extremists, Islamist or not elsewhere.

For in returning to the notion of the plasticity of Islam, it seems obvious that this individual and these companions of misfortune have at  no time in their journey thought Islam as a constitutive element of contemporary societies but on the contrary as a dogma frozen in time unable to evolve and adapt to its environment.

Remaining too religious not to become more political, this is the observation that could be drawn of these individuals locked in mortal conceptions of a religion, let's repeat, plastic and soluble in many political regimes.

For now, the progress made by Pope Francis and Ayatollah Ali Al Sistani lays the groundwork for new exchanges of distrust and fear, lulled by the hope that the holding will continue.

 

 

Bio: Olivier Longhi has extensive experience in European history. A seasoned journalist with fifteen years of experience, he is currently professor of history and geography in the Toulouse region of France. He has held a variety of publishing positions, including Head of Agency and Chief of Publishing. A journalist, recognized blogger, editor, and editorial project manager, he has trained and managed editorial teams, worked as a journalist for various local radio stations, a press and publishing consultant, and a communications consultant.

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