Letter:Ancient cruelties

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The Independent Online
Sir: P J Stewart (letters, 14 August) misses the point. The issue is not the rationale behind the growth of empires but the question of innocence. Both Christianity and Islam perpetrated cruelties on their conquered and subject people to varying degrees and at various times. Robert Fisk's shy visitor who wanted the Pope to apologise for the Crusades was not wrong to suggest it, but it would be salutary for all sides to confess to past depredations and utter a sincere "mea maxima culpa". We could then get on with a constructive dialogue about, amongst other things, peace in the Middle East and non-aggressive co-existence between our different and valued cultures.

However, given Islam's current perception of itself as a victim and only a victim in its encounter with Christianity, Judaism and Zionism this seems unlikely to happen - to everyone's lasting loss.

JOHN D NORMAN

London W3

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