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Last Updated: Sunday, 17 September 2006, 13:58 GMT 14:58 UK
Muslim body welcomes Pope apology
Pope Benedict XVI
The speech was delivered at Regensburg University
The Muslim Council of Britain (MCB) has welcomed Pope Benedict XVI's apology for comments he made earlier in the week about Islam.

Islamic groups called for an apology after the Pope quoted a 14th Century emperor's views the Prophet Muhammad was "evil and inhuman" in a speech.

On Sunday he appeared at his residence at Castel Gandolfo outside Rome to say he did not share those views.

An MCB spokesman said: "We certainly welcome the Pope clarifying that."

Now the Pope has made that clear, we hope things will calm down
Inayat Bunglawala, Muslim Council of Britain

Stressing that they were not his own words, the Pope quoted Emperor Manuel II Paleologos saying: "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 spokesman Inayat Bunglawala said: "All the while we've been asking the Pope to make it clear he did not share the views of the Christian emperor, which he had in his address at Regensburg University."

He said there was confusion over the inclusion of the words "because the Pope used the passage without ever qualifying it". The incident has sparked anger from some Muslims.

Mr Bunglawala said: "Now the Pope has made that clear, we hope things will calm down. It is exactly what we wanted to hear.

Ajmal Masroor
Ajmal Masroor said the Pope should declare all world religions equal

"A man in his position ought to be building bridges between communities."

Ajmal Masroor of the Islamic Society of Britain told BBC News: "What we want him to say... is world religions are all equal, we need to work together to create a peaceful and inclusive society."

Mr Masroor said Islam was "very ready" for the Pope's call for "frank and sincere dialogue" between the religions.

'Bridge-building'

On Saturday, an earlier apology from the Pope was described as "a good first step" in "recognising the hurt he caused", but MCB said they were "not sure whether this is enough of an apology".

Labour peer Baroness Uddin had urged the pontiff to use his next Mass to say something "bridge-building".

Although she welcomed the apology, the baroness said the Pope needed to make a gesture towards building a "good interfaith relationship with the Muslim world".

In the speech at Regensburg, the German-born Pope explored the historical and philosophical differences between Islam and Christianity, and the relationship between violence and faith.




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