Muslim anger continues despite Pope's apology

18th September 2006, Comments 0 comments

18 September 2006, CAIRO - Pope Benedict's apology Sunday for the offence caused by his recent remarks about Islam appeared Monday to have done little to quell the anger of many Muslims. In Iraq, Shiite Muslims in the southern city of Basra burned German flags and an effigy of the pope in protest over the pontiff's speech, in which he quoted a Byzantine emperor referring to elements of the Muslim faith as "evil and inhuman." Among Islamic intellectuals also, the controversy continued to rage. A commentator

18 September 2006

CAIRO - Pope Benedict's apology Sunday for the offence caused by his recent remarks about Islam appeared Monday to have done little to quell the anger of many Muslims.

In Iraq, Shiite Muslims in the southern city of Basra burned German flags and an effigy of the pope in protest over the pontiff's speech, in which he quoted a Byzantine emperor referring to elements of the Muslim faith as "evil and inhuman."

Among Islamic intellectuals also, the controversy continued to rage.

A commentator with the semi-official Egyptian newspaper al-Ahram spoke of "constant insults being flung at Muslims," which showed that the "Western philosophers of evil had been successful in making Islam the new enemy after the break-up of the former Soviet Union."

During a public address at the German University of Regensburg last week, the pope quoted a 14th century Christian emperor as referring to elements of the Muslim faith as "evil and inhuman."

The speech sparked angry reactions in the Muslim world, prompting Benedict to issue an apology on Sunday.

"I am deeply sorry for the reactions in some countries to a few passages of my address at the University of Regensburg, which were considered offensive to the sensibility of Muslims," the pope said.

"The true meaning of my address in its totality was and is an invitation to frank and sincere dialogue," he added.

The direction of the Oxford Cross-Cultural Research Institute, Sheikh Riad Hanif Nadwi, accused the pope of further insulting Muslims by suggesting they had misunderstood the intent of his speech in Regensburg.

"To suggest that Muslims had misunderstood this complicated philosophical discussion is condescending at best," the sheikh said.

Nadwi also said he considered that the leader of the Roman Catholic Church should be judged according to more stringent standards than Western politicians or authors, who speak about Islam in negative terms.

"The consequences (of his words) are more meaningful, as they are recognized by millions of Christians as infallible," he noted.

In contrast to the torrent of criticism being levelled at Pope Benedict, his predecessor Pope John Paul II was a widely-respected figure in the Arab world.

"The difference between the tolerance which John Paul II expressed, and the tone which his successor has struck, is huge" according to al-Ahram.

"It looks as if the new pope does not desire this friendly cohabitation (propagated by John Paul) with other faiths, particularly with Muslims," said Abdel Bari Atwan, editor-in-chief of the London-based Arab-language newspaper al-Quds al-Arabi.

Arab observers point to John Paul's support for the rights of Palestinians and his visit to a mosque in Damascus in 2001 as gestures that improved relations between the Vatican and the Islamic world, which have been dealt a body blow by Benedict's remarks.

DPA

Subject: German news

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