[an error occurred while processing this directive]
BBC News
watch One-Minute World News
Last Updated: Monday, 20 February 2006, 23:22 GMT
Pope urges respect in cartoon row
Pope Benedict XVI
The Pope said it was necessary to respect all religions
The Pope has said that it is necessary to respect the world's religions and avoid harming religious sensibilities.

Pope Benedict XVI was speaking after deadly protests in Libya and Nigeria over cartoons satirising the Prophet Muhammad.

But the head of the Catholic Church said that violence could not be justified as a response to offences.

The cartoons have caused anger across the Islamic world and at least 44 people have died in protests.

The images were first published in Danish newspaper Jyllands-Posten. One showed the Prophet Muhammad, whose image is banned in Islam, as a terrorist bomber.

Speaking to the new Moroccan ambassador to the Vatican, Pope Benedict said religious symbols must be respected to promote peace and understanding between different peoples.

"It is necessary and urgent that religions and their symbols are respected, and that believers are not the object of provocations that harm their progress and their religious feelings," he said.

Nigeria - at least 16
Afghanistan - at least 12
Libya - 11
Pakistan - 5

"However, intolerance and violence can never be justified as responses to offences," he warned.

"One can only deplore the actions of those who profit deliberately from the offence caused to religious feelings to foment violence."

His comments came after protests over the cartoons in northern Nigeria on Saturday left at least 16 people dead.

The victims were mostly from the minority Christian community. Eleven churches were torched during the protests and Christian businesses targeted.

On Monday, police in the southern Pakistan province of Sindh arrested 23 people after two churches were burned down by demonstrators.

The BBC is not responsible for the content of external internet sites

Has China's housing bubble burst?
How the world's oldest clove tree defied an empire
Why Royal Ballet principal Sergei Polunin quit


Americas Africa Europe Middle East South Asia Asia Pacific