National Nine News - Australia
Islamic leaders denounce Pope's remarks
Friday Sep 15, 2006
AP - Islamic leaders in the Middle East denounced Pope Benedict XVI's recent remarks about Islam and demanded an apology.
"The remarks do not express correct understanding of Islam and are merely wrong and distorted beliefs being repeated in the West," said Mohammed Mahdi Akef, the leader of Egypt's Muslim Brotherhood, in a written statement.
Akef said he was "astonished that such remarks come from someone who sits on top of the Catholic church which has its influence on the public opinion in the West," according to the statement.
The pope made his remarks on Islam during a speech in Germany on Tuesday in which he quoted from a book recounting a conversation between 14th century Byzantine Christian Emperor Manuel Paleologos II and an educated Persian on the truths of Christianity and Islam.
"The emperor comes to speak about the issue of jihad, holy war," the pope said.
"He said, I quote, 'Show me just what Mohammed 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,' the pope quoted the emperor as saying.
Benedict made it clear he was quoting someone else's words and did not specify whether he agreed with them, but called them "brusque". A Vatican spokesman said Benedict was not characterising Islam as inevitably violent.
The 57 nation Organisation of the Islamic Conference, based in Jiddah, Saudi Arabia also said it regretted "the pope's quote and for the other falsifications that offended the Islamic tenant."
"The OIC hopes that this sudden campaign does not reflect a new trend for the Vatican policy toward the Islamic religion ... and it expects the Vatican to express its real vision of Islam," the organisation said in a written statement.
Akef, meanwhile, called on the pope to study Islam in a fair way and far from extremism and to "apologise for these remarks which agitate enmity among the followers of religions and threaten world peace".
The Muslim Brotherhood, an Islamic-based political party that is formally banned but usually tolerated by the Egyptian government, won nearly 20 per cent of the legislature's seats in last year's elections, making it the largest opposition bloc.
Akef urged Islamic governments and civil societies to denounce the remarks and to sever relations with the Vatican if the pope did not apologise.
"At a time wise men in the world call for opening channels of dialogue between the West and the Islamic World to serve general human issues, the pope's remarks come to pour oil on the fire and ignite the wrath of the whole Islamic World to prove the claims of enmity of politicians and religious men in the West to whatever is Islamic," he said.
Militant Islamic websites also unleashed a scathing campaign against the pope. The extremist cleric Hamed al-Ali called the pope "Benedict, the cursed worshipper of the cross" in a very long article arguing that Islam is the right religion.
Another website said "it seems that the man (Benedict) has realised the danger of Islam through the large numbers of Christians who are converting to Islam".
Herald-Sun - Australia
Pope lashes evil of jihad
September 14, 2006
POPE Benedict has hit out at Islam and its concept of holy war during a visit to his Bavarian homeland.
The thinly veiled attack on extremist Islam's justification for terrorism came during a theological lecture to staff and students at the University of Regensburg, where the former Joseph Ratzinger taught theology in the 1970s.
Using the words, "jihad" and "holy war", the Pope quoted criticisms of the prophet Mohammed by a 14th century Byzantine Christian emperor, Manuel II, during a debate with a learned Persian.
"Show me just what Mohammed 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," Benedict quoted the emperor as saying.
"The emperor goes on to explain in detail the reasons why spreading the faith through violence is something unreasonable," the Pope said.
"Violence is incompatible with the nature of God and the nature of the soul," he added.
But in reiterating his concerns about a modern world "deaf" to God, he warned that other religious cultures saw the West's exclusion of God "as an attack on their most profound convictions".
"A reason which is deaf to the divine and which relegates religion into the realm of subcultures is incapable of entering into the dialogue of cultures," he said.
Though the section of the lecture dealing with Islam was relatively short, its inclusion made his address at Regensburg the most political of the German pope's six-day visit.
Presiding later over an ecumenical prayer meeting with Orthodox Christian and Protestant leaders, the Pope led prayers for the success of discussions with other churches aimed at uniting Christians.
At an earlier giant open-air mass attended by some 250,000 pilgrims, the Pope urged them to stand up for their beliefs in the face of the "hatred and fanaticism" tarnishing religion.
"Today, when we have learned to recognise the pathologies and life-threatening diseases associated with religion and reason, and the ways that God's image can be destroyed by hatred and fanaticism, it is important to state clearly the God in whom we believe," the Pope said.
"Only this God saves us from being afraid of the world and from anxiety before the emptiness of life."