Samir Khalil Samir, an Egyptian Jesuit, reports on the Muslim reaction to Pope Benedict’s Regensburg speech:
At least 99% of those who protested have not even read the speech as yet. Yesterday [Sept. 29] I took part in a broadcast on Iranian television with two imams, a Palestinian Sunni and an Iranian Shiite. They all told me they had read the speech in Arabic two days after it was given. But this was not true: the translation into Arabic was prepared only eight days later, by a friend who put it on his private site. When I tried to explain the meaning of the entire text, they kept quoting the famous phrase of Manuel II Paleologus, like a script.
What I find most disturbing about that quote is perhaps not the fact that so many Muslims haven’t actually read the speech. I have the general impression that general levels of literacy and access to accurate, unbiased, uncensored information are much lower in the Muslim world than in the West. What bothers me is that the imams (i. e., religious leaders, i. e., people who should be better educated and better informed) would claim to have read the speech in Arabic when they couldn’t possibly have read the official text. That means either (a) they relied on unofficial, inaccurate translations, or (b) they lied. The whole “Islam is a religion of peace” line is more than a little suspect, and now it looks like some imams aren’t much on truthfulness either.