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Pope Benedict apologizes to Muslims


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In Tuesday's speech the Pope quoted a 14th Century Christian emperor who said the Prophet Muhammad had brought the world only "evil and inhuman" things. The comment created angry protests among the Muslim community. Today, Vatican secretary of state Tarcisio Bertone issued a statement that quotes "The Holy Father is very sorry that some passages of his speech may have sounded offensive to the sensibilities of Muslim believers". Bertone added that the Pope is sorry that his statements had been badly interpreted.


Various street demonstrations have been held in Pakistan, India, Turkey and Gaza in the past days. Moreover, some leading religious leaders and politicians have criticised the remarks. Some rejected the pope's statement, claiming that it did not go far enough (Egypt's Muslim Brotherhood).


Mohamed Mahdi Akef, who was convicted of leading the Muslim Brotherhood, asked Islamic nations to break off relations with the Vatican, until the Pope apologises for his statements. He said, "The Pope has aroused the anger of the whole Islamic world and strengthened the argument of those who say that the West is hostile to everything Islamic." He also said, "The remarks do not express correct understanding of Islam and are merely wrong and distorted beliefs being repeated in the West" and that the comments "pour oil on the fire and ignite the wrath of the whole Islamic world to prove the claims of [hatred] of politicians and religious men in the West to whatever is Islamic".


In reference to the Pope's plan to visit to Turkey in November, Ali Bardakoğlu, head of Turkey's Religious Affairs Directorate, "I do not think any good will come from a visit to the Muslim world by a person who has such ideas about Islam's prophet. He should first of all replace the grudge in his heart with moral values and respect for others.”


The Pakistani parliament unanimously passed a resolution saying, “This House demands that the Pope should retract his remarks in the interest of harmony between religions.” "The derogatory remarks of the Pope about the philosophy of jihad and Prophet Mohammed have injured sentiments across the Muslim world and pose the danger of spreading [bitterness] among the religions.”


Din Syamsuddin, the chairman of Muhammadiyah, Indonesia's second largest Islamic organisation, said: "The Pope's statements reflect his lack of wisdom." "It is obvious from the statements that the Pope doesn't have a correct understanding of Islam."


Hamid Ansari, chairman of the Indian National Commission for Minorities said, "The language used by the Pope sounds like that of his 12th-century counterpart who ordered the crusades."


During a brief interview of Prince Rehman Manjee in Chicago, IL, he is quoted saying, "The pontif is not a God or a super being, he is clearly a human being and is allowed to make mistakes, he would however do well to remember God will judge his mistakes the same as the rest of ours. If he truely has contempt for the Muslim world and his beliefs are in conflict with the official position of the church, then a simple statement should be made to that effect."


In Qatar, prominent Muslim scholar shaikh Youssef al-Qaradawi discounted The Pope's comments and said that Islam was a religion of peace and reason.


In Islam, the word "Jihad" itself has a variety of meanings depending upon context and interpretation; ranging from any inner spiritual struggle to openly religious warfare.

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