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Last Updated: Saturday, 16 September 2006, 11:04 GMT 12:04 UK
Apology call over Pope's comments
Baroness Uddin
Baroness Uddin called the Pope's remarks "irresponsible"
British Muslim leaders have joined the growing calls for Pope Benedict XVI to clarify his comments on holy war.

Labour peer Baroness Uddin called for an apology from the pontiff, calling his words "throwaway" and "irrelevant".

The Muslim Council of Britain (MCB) is to write an official letter asking the Pope to clarify his comments.

The Vatican said the Pope did not mean to offend Muslims when he repeated a quote saying Muhammad brought to the world only "evil and inhuman" things.

'Irresponsible analysis'

Meanwhile the UK's highest-ranking Muslim police officer, Chief Superintendent Ali Dizaei, has called for calm.

Protests would be unnecessary and play into the hands of those who claimed that Islam stifled free speech, he added.

Baroness Uddin said: "I am worried about the current climate which licenses this type of irresponsible analysis of religion.

"If he did not mean it he should not have said it."

She added: "I hope that we are just going to demand of our politicians that Pope Benedict make some apology."

Controversial speech

The pontiff delivered his speech - which explored the differences between Islam and Christianity, and the relationship between violence and faith - at Regensburg University.

In it, he quoted Emperor Manuel II Paleologos of the Byzantine Empire - the Orthodox Christian empire which had its capital in what is now the Turkish city of Istanbul.

Stressing that the words were the emperor's and not his own he said: "Show me just what Muhammad brought that was new and there you will find things only evil and inhuman, such as his command to spread by the sword the faith he preached."

MCB secretary general Mohammed Abdul Bari said the emperor's views about Islam were "ill informed"," bigoted" and caused "dismay and hurt" to Muslims.

The British Muslim News newspaper has called for the Pope to apologise and "withdraw the insulting remarks".

Former Archbishop of Canterbury Lord Carey said it should not be assumed the quoted words of the emperor represented "the Pope's beliefs about Islam today".

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