Pope Benedict XVI to meet Muslim ambassadors

22nd September 2006, Comments 0 comments

22 September 2006, VATICAN CITY - Pope Benedict XVI is to meet the ambassadors to the Holy See of predominantly- Muslim countries in an act of reconciliation following his controversial remarks on Islam, the Vatican said Friday, confirming reports in the Italian media. The meeting was scheduled to take place on Monday in the pope's summer residence of Castel Gandolfo, in the hills south of Rome. The head of Rome's main mosque and other Muslim religious leaders were also expected to attend, Italian Muslim o

22 September 2006

VATICAN CITY - Pope Benedict XVI is to meet the ambassadors to the Holy See of predominantly- Muslim countries in an act of reconciliation following his controversial remarks on Islam, the Vatican said Friday, confirming reports in the Italian media.

The meeting was scheduled to take place on Monday in the pope's summer residence of Castel Gandolfo, in the hills south of Rome.

The head of Rome's main mosque and other Muslim religious leaders were also expected to attend, Italian Muslim officials said.

The move is part of a diplomatic offensive launched by the Vatican in the aftermath of a speech by Benedict that has sparked angry reactions in the Islamic world.

The pope has said he was sorry that his speech at a German university last week, in which he quoted a 14th-century Christian emperor as referring to elements of Islam as "evil and inhuman", may have offended Muslims.

Despite his apology and his insistence that he had been "misunderstood", protests are continuing in several Islamic countries.

Hundreds of people staged on Friday in Tehran renewed demonstrations against the Pope's remarks.

The demonstration was held after the Friday prayer ceremony which was held in downtown Tehran by former president Akbar Hashemi- Rafsanjani.

Rafsanjani said that although "Mr. Pope" has already clarified that his speech on Islam was just quoting history and not meant to insult world Muslims, "still it was a bad thing to happen."

Friday's demonstration was organised by the Islamic Propagation Office and aimed at "exposing the fury and hatred" of Iranian Muslims over what Iran calls the pope's "anti-Islamic" remarks, but according to local press sources, demonstrators were warned not to use any slogans against the pope himself.

Rafsanjani, who still plays an influential role on Iran's political scene as head of the arbitration body, the Expediency Council, said that in the middle of global efforts for enabling dialogue among religions, the pope's remarks triggered renewed religious tensions.

"The remarkable thing, however, is that the ordinary Muslim people started the protests, the governments (protests) came later, and this shows that the Muslims have realised their power and are ready to defend their religion and sanctities," the cleric said.

During his stay in New York, Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad indicated he was satisfied with the pope's apology, but urged him to speak more cautiously in future, warning that his remarks on Islam could lead to war.

Iran's Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei said last week that the pope's remarks were part of an "American-Zionist conspiracy" against Islam and in line with the "crusade" mentioned by US President George W Bush after the September 11, 2001 attacks.

On Thursday, thousands of angry Palestinians gathered in central Ramallah to demonstrate against the Pope's remarks.

DPA with Expatica

Subject: German news

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