Dad29 links to a statement by local Muslim leader Othman Atta criticizing the Pope's recent remarks as contributing to the "discredited and false, yet persistent belief among many in the West that Islam is a faith that preaches violence ...." Atta says that the Pope gives aid and comfort to those who would use an "infinitesimally small group of extremists to define an entire faith tradition."
All religious traditions can be - and have been - abused. While our modern conception of the Crusades as simply wars of aggression is, at best, incomplete, they certainly came to involve (if they did not from the out set) perversions of Christianity. The Inquisition was not entirely a religious phenomenon, but it too is impossible to reconcile with Christianity's foundational texts.
Some people argue that Islam lends itself - even explicitly calls for - the spread of the faith by violence. Mr. Atta obviously does not think so and, assuming (as I do) that he is sincere, there is little to be gained from arguing with him about what Islam means to him and those he worships with. If he has settled upon a peaceful Islam, that's wonderful.
The problem for the rest of us is that it doesn't much look like those who adhere to a nastier version of the faith are am "infinitesimally small group." While I guess the number of people who have actually committed terrorist acts could be characterized as very small (although not "infinitesimally"), the number who support them does not seem to be. The numbers rioting after publication of the Danish cartoons does not seen to be. The number who live under Sharia law does not seem to be.
What Mr. Atta ought to understand is that the biggest threat to Muslims in the US and Europe is not the innate chauvinism of Christians, Jews and secularists, but the outrages perpetrated in the name of his faith. People can ignore what they see for only so long. If Muslims seek tolerance for Islam, they are going to have far more vocal and active in their own intolerance for - call it what you want - Islamist terror, Islamic Fascism or Those Guys.
This is so without regard to whether the Koran "really" can be read to support violence. The threat posed by some acting in the name of Islam is intolerable and that lack of tolerance will inevitably come to include Islam generally unless the oft-posited but seldom heard from moderate Muslims become very proactive in opposing their more bloodthirsty co-religionists.
This may be unfair, but its inevitable and it will happen no matter how careful we are about not using "mean" terms like Islamic Fascism that call a thing what it is. People figure it out.