Pope Benedict XVI declared Friday in the Vatican that the Muslim world must accept human rights and the freedom of religion as the Catholic Church had been forced to do in the past. “The Muslim world is posed today with an urgent task, quite similar to the one that was posed to Christians at the beginning of the Enlightenment,” declared the pope in his end-of-year speech. Believers, he said, should “oppose a dictatorship of positivist reason that excludes God from the public life,” even while welcoming “the real victories of the Enlightenment regarding human rights and most notably the freedom of religious belief and practice.” Three months after the crisis provoked by his Ratisbonne speech, and three weeks after his trip to Turkey, Pope Benedict declared himself “in solidarity with all those who, based in their Islamic religious conviction, combat violence and work for a synergy between faith and reason, between religion and freedom.”

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