Thursday, September 14, 2006

Muslim leaders condemn Pope's speech, want apology

World: This could get messy.

CAIRO (Reuters) - Muslim leaders on Thursday condemned Pope Benedict over comments he made about Islam on a visit to Germany and demanded he apologize. The head of the Egyptian-based Muslim Brotherhood called on Islamic countries to threaten to break off relations with the Vatican unless the pontiff withdrew his remarks. A top religious figure in Turkey suggested the pope should reconsider a trip he is planning to Turkey later this year. The Vatican issued a statement to say the Pope had never meant to offend Islam. In his speech at the University of Regensburg on Tuesday, Benedict quoted criticism of Islam and the Prophet Mohammad by 14th century Byzantine Emperor Manuel II Palaeologus, who wrote that everything Mohammad brought was evil and inhuman, "such as his command to spread by the sword the faith he preached." Benedict, who used the terms "jihad" and "holy war," repeatedly quoted Manuel's argument that spreading the faith through violence is unreasonable, adding: "Violence is incompatible with the nature of God and the nature of the soul." The head of the Muslim Brotherhood, Mohamed Mahdi Akef, whose organization is one of the oldest, largest and most influential in the Arab world, said the pope "aroused the anger of the whole Islamic world and strengthened the argument of those who say that the West is hostile to everything Islamic."
The pope speaks out against Islamic terrorists using Islam as the center of their violent movement and this offends "leaders."
In Turkey, the Anatolian state news agency quoted Ali Bardakoglu, the head of Ankara's Directorate General for Religious Affairs, as describing the Pope's words as "extremely regrettable." "I do not see any use in somebody visiting the Islamic world who thinks in this way about the holy prophet of Islam. He should first rid himself of feelings of hate," NTV's Web site quoted Bardakoglu as saying. Bardakoglu, whose directorate controls all imams in Turkey and sends prayer leaders to Turkish communities abroad, recalled atrocities committed by Roman Catholic Crusaders during the Middle Ages in the name of their faith against Orthodox Christians and Jews as well as Muslims. Benedict is due to visit Turkey, an avowedly secular state whose population is predominantly Muslim, in November at the invitation of President Ahmet Necdet Sezer. In Qatar, prominent Muslim scholar Sheikh Youssef al-Qaradawi rejected the Pope's comments and said Islam was a religion of peace and reason. "Muslims have the right to be angry and hurt by these comments from the highest cleric in Christianity," Qaradawi told Al Jazeera television. "We ask the pope to apologize to the Muslim nation for insulting its religion, its Prophet and its beliefs."

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