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Last Updated: Saturday, 16 September 2006, 10:18 GMT 11:18 UK
Muslim press anger over Pope
Muslims at a rally to condemn the Pope's remarks, Islamabad, Pakistan
The Vatican has stressed that the Pope meant no offence to Muslims

The furore over Pope Benedict's remarks about Islam and violence prompts some Arabic papers to demand an immediate apology.

Newspapers in many Muslim countries query the reasons behind his controversial reference, at this particular moment, to a medieval Christian text attacking Islam.

Some English-language newspapers in Saudi Arabia and Turkey offer a more conciliatory tone and urge Muslims not to inflame the situation.


The Pope's allegations were even more offensive than the anti-prophet Danish cartoons because they came from a Christian religious authority, who is supposed to have a high degree of knowledge and consciousness, and preaches tolerance among religions...

It is true that the Vatican hastened to clarify the statements saying these remarks were not intentional and the Pope was only quoting the Byzantine emperor... However, this clarification does not make the insult and harm less serious, nor does it lessen the Pope's direct responsibility...

Pope Benedict XVI should apologise to Muslims for this affront and the apology should come directly from him, not from one of his spokesmen.


We say people like the Pope should not get involved in such provocation without reason. This statement is a warning of serious danger in the future. In this situation, if Muslims fail to unite for protection of their religion and natural resources, they will face serious repercussions.


If the new Pope's manners remain the same, the Catholic church will be subject to upheavals that it has never seen before... It is up to the wise men in the Catholic church to rectify the stance and make a prompt apology in order to resolve a hot issue.


The Christian cleric forgets, and perhaps he prefers to forget about the atrocities that took place over the past centuries in the name and in defence of Christianity. All those acts from the crusades to the US attack on Iraq have been committed by those who hide their motives behind the curtains of holy religious values.


It is said in history that in 1094 the main reason for the crusades was not necessarily holy motives but the greed of Italian tradesmen and merchants who wanted to access the Middle East market and rule those east Mediterranean ports. Is it unreasonable to look behind the scenes for a motive in the Pope's remarks?


Was it a priority for the Pope to voice his thoughts about Islam while Catholics expect him to open up the major issues that the church faces in the future? A church that is threatened by the lasting crisis of vocations and harassed into starting reforms about priestly celibacy, abortion, and other issues left on the back burner after the death of John Paul II?...

Is it Benedict XVI's design to stoke antagonisms, favour a war of religions, and, at the end, a clash of civilisations that would send all of humanity back to square one? Many will not fail to say that by letting himself engage in an incendiary diatribe against Islam, Benedict XVI missed a fine occasion to be silent. The words that he said would then not have exceeded his thinking.


The Pope surely knows that thousands of people worldwide - Christians and non-Christians alike - are converting to Islam. To take the United States itself as a case in point, statistical reports show that 20,000 Americans, including many highly-educated individuals, have converted to the Islamic faith every year since 9/11...Have all these people been bullied into embracing Islam "by the sword"? And, if so, who has been playing the bully?


It is true that Catholicism over the centuries has had an uneasy relationship with Islam, as it has with Judaism and Protestantism. But in recent years, especially under the reign of John Paul II, the relations between the Vatican and the Muslim world have improved considerably through interfaith dialogue. It would indeed be unfortunate if Pope Benedict XVI's comments this week...signal a departure from his late predecessor's interfaith vision. Similarly, it would be unfortunate if the Muslim world over-reacts to this faux pas in a wave of emotion, or worse, as we saw with some of the responses to deeply offensive anti-Islamic cartoons earlier this year...

Perhaps the best response is for the Muslim world to rise above the occasion. Those who are calling for the cancellation of the Pope's visit to Turkey in November this year - his first official visit to a Muslim country - are simply misguided and wrong...In a post-9/11 world, the terminology of faith has unfortunately regressed on all sides.


We fully agree with religious affairs directorate chief, Ali Bardakoglu, that the remarks of the Pope were "extraordinarily worrying, saddening and unfortunate" and could offend any Muslim anywhere around the globe. But we just disagree with this vendetta-like approach of continuing to abuse the Pope after his spokesman made a statement saying that he respected Islam and did not intend to offend Muslims but just wanted to express his opposition to violence in religion...The example cited by the Pope was wrong, all right. But for God's sake, as rational people we must try to read in between the lines of the subsequent Vatican statement as well and realise how sorry the head of the Catholic Church is about the mess he created. We have more than sufficient tensions between cultures. We should try to avoid a new one.

BBC Monitoring selects and translates news from radio, television, press, news agencies and the internet from 150 countries in more than 70 languages. It is based in Caversham, UK, and has several bureaux abroad.

Key excerpts: The Pope's speech
15 Sep 06 |  Europe
Vatican braces for Muslim anger
15 Sep 06 |  Europe
In pictures: Muslim anger at Pope
15 Sep 06 |  In Pictures
Pope Benedict XVI and Islam
15 Sep 06 |  Europe

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