Wednesday, September 20, 2006

Reference to Violence Sparks Violent Protests

Muslims reaction to Pope Benedict’s quotation of a 14th century text which described Muhammed’s teachings as inhuman and violent has been heated and at times violent.

"The Pope's sentiments are part of the wrong misinterpretation against Islam by America, Israel, Britain and Russia," Sheikh Nur Barud, a senior Somali cleric said. "They insult the Muslim world, kill Muslims in Iraq, Afghanistan and Palestine, their leader is (U.S. President George W.) Bush and the Pope is part of it."

Meanwhile offended and misinterpreted Muslims took to the streets, burning an effigy of the pope, and setting fire to churches in the region. The death of a 65 year-old Italian nun, Sister Leonella, has also been linked to the protests. Leonella was shot while working at a children’s hospital in Somalia.

“We are tired of Western oppression. We are tired of being misreprestented by Western leaders like George Bush, the Pope is involved too,” said Uzair Ahmed before joining an incensed mass of 18-35 year-old men dancing around an burning effigy of the pope.
After protests like this broke out across the region the pope quickly issued an unsatisfactory apology.

In Turkey, which the pope is due to visit in November, the state minister, Mehmet Aydin, said: "You either have to say, ‘I'm sorry' in a proper way, or not say it at all. Are you sorry for saying such a thing or because of its consequences?" The influential Muslim Brotherhood in Egypt initially greeted the pope's words as "sufficient" before later saying that it was not "a clear apology that can satisfy Muslims."

Al Quada in Iraq was less diplomatic. "We say to the servant of the cross (the Pope): Wait for defeat... We say to infidels and tyrants: Wait for what will afflict you. We will smash the cross... Islam or death," the Mujahideen consultative council said.

Iraq's parliament also rejected Benedict's explanation of his remarks, saying it was insufficiently clear. The parliament "demands the pope take practical steps to restore respect to the Islamic world and its religion, and a clear-cut apology for what he said," lawmakers said in a statement read at a press conference.

A previously unknown and now misinterpreted Islamic group calling itself "The Army of Guidance" pledged Tuesday to strike at Christian targets in the Gaza Strip in retaliation for the remarks. "Every place relevant to Christians will be a target," said a statement from the group. "This will be until the accursed infidel, the Vatican, apologizes to Muslims."While denouncing violence, the pope said he hopes the killing "becomes the seed of hope to construct authentic brotherhood among peoples in the mutual respect for the

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