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Passion Islam I October 2008 ORLD NEWSW I 13
Muhammad tops most
popular name in Brussels
Muhammad, the name of the Prophet, Flanders in the north and the French-
was the most popular name for new-born speaking Wallonia in the south, with
boys in Brussels in 2007, according to a Brussels an officially bilingual island in
report released by the Belgian statistics Flanders. Since World War II the country
office. has seen large-scale immigration,
The boys’ names Amin (sixth most especially from North Africa, with Brussels
popular), Ayub and Mehdi (seventh), and the port town of Antwerp attracting the
and the girls’ names Aya (third), Yasmine bulk of the arrivals, DPA reported. That
(fourth) and Salma (seventh) also made division was reflected in children’s names,
the top ten in a further confirmation with Milan and Wout (boys) and Lotte and
approach. Belgium is now home to boys
of the European Union capital’s multi- Emma (girls) pre-eminent in
called Arafat, Euro, Jazz and Okay, and
culturalism. Muhammad was also the Flanders, and Nathan, Lucas, Lea and
girls called Alaska, Cozmo, Marvelous
seventh most popular name nationwide, Clara most popular in Wallonia.
and Elf. They look set to start school
beating traditional Belgian names such as Lina and Sarah were the most popular
alongside the boys Harley-Davidson and
Mathis (ninth) and Hugo (tenth) - although girls’ names in Brussels, with Adam second
Mel-Gibson and the girls India-Summer,
it lagged well behind the most popular only to Muhammad among boys’ names.
Bambi and Winter. And spare a thought
names: Nathan, Lucas and Noah. But perhaps most striking were the one-
for one young lady who might face
Belgian society is deeply divided off names given to children by parents
considerable confusion in later life. She is
between the Dutch-speaking region of apparently wearying of the traditional
a little girl called Man.
Pope calls for more
open interfaith talks
The Roman Catholic Church wants to “One must follow closely the various Cardinal Jean-Louis Tauran said
pursue inter-religious dialogues that initiatives that are undertaken, so as discussing theology with Muslims was
discuss theological differences openly to discern which ones favor reciprocal impossible because they do not analyze
and to avoid polite meetings that simply knowledge and respect as well as the the Quran critically, a comment that
lead nowhere, Pope Benedict said. promotion of dialogue, and so as to avoid prompted Muslim scholars to say he did
Visiting the Lourdes shrine in those which lead to impasses,” he said. not understand Islam. “Tauran made it
southwestern France, he told French “I believe it is good to begin by listening, sound like the Vatican was not interested
bishops that interfaith dialogue was a vital then moving on to theological discussion, in theological dialogue, but the Pope has
necessity in a globalized world but not all so as to arrive finally at witness and now put it back in play,” said one French
efforts at it were worthwhile. Inter-religious proclamation of the faith itself.” priest who asked not to be named. At
meetings have multiplied in recent years, Inter-religious contacts have grown in the a July meeting with “Common Word”
especially between Christians and 40 years since the Second Vatican Council scholars, evangelical Protestants were
Muslims. In November, Benedict will meet (1962-1965) opened the Catholic Church- unsure they would be able to proclaim
Islamic scholars promoting dialogue to the world’s largest-to dialogue with other their faith in Jesus to a hall half-filled with
overcome misunderstandings between faiths. Muslims-a condition they, like Benedict,
the world’s two largest faiths. But many Christian-Muslim efforts put on any serious dialogue.
Custodian of the Two Holy Mosques hardly get beyond polite conversation. The This can be tricky, because both
King Abdullah bin Abdul Aziz of Saudi September 11 attacks in the United States Christianity and Islam are missionary
Arabia has launched a parallel initiative prompted renewed efforts for mutual religions dedicated to preaching their
and hosted a large interfaith meeting in understanding, but Benedict’s 2006 message around the world. This
Madrid in July, which was attended by Regensburg speech implying Islam was competition for souls, especially in Africa
Muslims, Jews and Christians, including violent and irrational convinced Muslim and Asia, leads to tension and sometimes
the Vatican’s top official for dialogue with intellectuals that more work was needed. violence. By the time the conference at
Islam. “Goodwill is not enough,” Benedict Last October, 138 Muslim scholars urged Yale University in the United States had
said, a reference to the many efforts in Christian leaders to discuss what they said ended, senior evangelical leaders said
recent decades-especially with Muslims- was the common belief of both faiths that both they and the Muslim participants
that have not produced much progress in love of God and neighbor is the path to had spoken openly about their differing
overcoming tensions because participants salvation, The Peninsula daily reported. beliefs and that the dialogue was worth
usually avoided the most difficult issues. The Vatican’s top official on Islam pursuing.
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