Vatican seeks to soothe Muslim fury over remarks

19th September 2006, Comments 0 comments

19 September 2006, BERLIN - The Vatican is to make efforts to defuse tensions caused by Pope Benedict XVI's remarks on Islam during his recent visit to his homeland of Germany.

19 September 2006

BERLIN - The Vatican is to make efforts to defuse tensions caused by Pope Benedict XVI's remarks on Islam during his recent visit to his homeland of Germany.

The Pope's diplomatic adviser, Cardinal Tarcisio Bertone, said in an interview with the Italian daily Corriere della Sera that the Vatican would contact Muslim countries to clarify Benedict XVI's position on Islam.

Papal envoys would try to clarify the real meaning of the Pope's speech to political and religious groups in those countries, highlighting previously-ignored parts of the Pope's controversial speech in an attempt to provide a fuller picture of the Pope's intended message.

In the speech, which was given at the University of Regensburg in Germany, the Pope quoted a 14th-century Christian emperor who described some aspects of Islam as "evil and inhuman".

The Pope said in remarks on the controversy on Sunday that he is "deeply sorry" about the reactions to his speech in some Muslim countries. However the statement has not been considered a satisfactory apology by all Muslims.

Meanwhile world leaders have continued to comment on the pontiff's controversial remarks.

US president George W. Bush discussed the issue after a meeting Monday with the Malaysian prime minister Abdullah Ahmad Badawi.

Dennis Wilder, senior director for East Asian affairs for the National Security Council, was quoted by the news agency AP as saying that Bush "noted that the pope had made some apologies for his remarks" and "believed that the pope was sincere in those remarks".

Badawi has however demanded that Benedict retract his remarks. Malaysia has a large Muslim population.

Meanwhile the mufti of Jerusalem, Mohammed Hussein, said on Tuesday that the Pope should offer a clear apology for his remarks, telling reporters that he found the Pope's statement on Sunday "insufficient."

He also urged Palestinians to cease their attacks on churches, which he called an "angry reaction". He condemned the attacks, saying that all places of worship are "protected clearly" by Islam. However he said that he holds the Pope responsible for the violence.

Seven Catholic churches in Gaza and the West Bank have been attacked as a result of Benedict's speech. No injuries were reported.

The Iranian president Mahmoud Ahmadinejad appeared to downplay the Pope's remarks on Monday during a visit to Venezuela.

"We respect the Pope and all of those who are interested in peace and justice," he said, in remarks quoted by the Aljazeera news network.

Earlier on Monday, Iran's supreme leader, Ayatollah Ali Khamenei, had said the Pope's speech was part of a "crusade" against Muslims.

Reactions among Muslims in Germany to the controversial speech have been muted. The Central Council of Muslims in Germany has welcomed the Pope's apology and encouraged leaders in the Muslim world to make efforts to soothe Muslim anger.

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Subject: German news, Pope Benedict XVI, Islam

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