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PA daily op-ed criticizes Catholic and Muslim clergy who commit crimes claiming "divine" knowledge

Op-ed by Hafez Al-Barghouti, regular columnist for Al-Hayat Al-Jadida
“Anyone who allows himself – God forbid! – to take the place of God in Heaven and Earth and to grant Shahada (Martyrdom) to whomever he pleases and refuse to grant it [Shahada] to whomever he pleases, is a sinner. This brings us back to the era of Papal indulgences (i.e., the forgiveness of sins in the Catholic Church) … that were common in the dark periods of Europe, when the priests governed, murdered, tortured and burned whomever they pleased… because the Pope saw himself as God’s substitute who governs in his name, and every priest derived his legitimacy from the Pope. They all deprived people of their rights, possessions and even of their wives in the name of God. Islam differs from other religions in its absence of monks and priests, since the priests have been the cause of destruction and corruption in every society since ancient times. Unfortunately for the Muslims, we [witnessed] the emergence of a stratum of priests: Those who refer to themselves as clerics. They helped the rulers against the people and justified the injustice with [Quranic] verses that were taken out of context, unfounded Hadiths (i.e., sayings and practices attributed to Islam's Prophet Muhammad) and capricious interpretations, tailor-made for the rulers. Possibly, today’s religious plague is the stratum of Muslim priests, who have turned the [Arab] nation into a hotbed of bloodshed… and imposed themselves on the ignorant as religious authorities instead of the verified Quranic and prophetic texts. This created a situation where a person can murder an elderly woman based on a religious ruling from his source of authority, and another can accuse whomever he pleases of heresy.”