The Vatican pope’s statements made Tuesday in Germany on Islam is snowballing into a new crisis a la Danish Cartoons.
Mahdi Akef of the Muslim Brothers condemned the pope’s statements and requested an official apology. Dozens of demonstrators, mainly from the Islamist-leaning Labor Party, demonstrated at Al-Azhar Mosque today requesting an apology, and calling for banning the pope from entering Arab and Muslim countries till he retracts his remarks.
According to Al-Jazeera, Sheikh Youssef Qaradawi denounced the Vatican pope’s remarks, and so did Pope Shenouda of Egypt who distanced the Coptic church from any similar views.
Sheikh of Al-Azhar, on the other hand, hasn’t made a statement yet.
Statements of condemnation are coming from different parts of the Islamic World, with Pakistani parliament condemning the statement, senior clerics in Iran and Lebanon and Saudi have also made angry statements, and so did moderate Islamist activists.
I seriously think the pope’s statements were stupid, out of context, presenting a serious PR damage to his institution. There should be an official apology, in addition to showing more wisdom in picking his words in the future. And it’s those medieval-like statements that radical Islamists love to hear to confirm their (and the Christian far right’s) views on the “clash of civilizations” shit.
UPDATE: The Vatican issued an apology, that was rejected by the MB and others, amid disturbing reports about attacks against churches in the West Bank and Iraq:
Pope apologizes for Islam remarks
Pope Benedict has said he is sorry for offending Muslims in a speech this week in which he implicitly linked Islam and violence.
The Vatican issued a statement on Saturday saying the pope hoped Muslims would understand the “true sense” of his words.
The statement, issued by Cardinal Tarcisio Bertone, the Vatican secretary of state, said the pope was “extremely upset” that parts of his speech “were able to sound offensive to the sensibilities of Muslim believers.”
Bertone added that the comments, which led to protests across the globe, had been interpreted in a way “that does not at all correspond to his intentions”.
“The pope is unequivocally in favor of dialogue between religions and cultures,” he said.
Egypt’s Muslim Brotherhood, however, said the pope’s apology did not go far enough.
“We want a personal apology [from the pope]. We feel that he has committed a grave error against us and that this mistake will only be removed through a personal apology,” Mohammed Habib, the deputy leader of the organization, said.
“Has he presented a personal apology for statements by which he clearly is convinced? No,” he said.
The pope made remarks in a speech on Tuesday at a German university, in which he quoted from a medieval text which said “Show me just what Muhammad brought that was new, and there you will find things only evil and inhuman, such as his command to spread by the sword the faith he preached”.
The comments sparked angry protests from the Muslim community.
Demonstrations against the pope were witnessed in the Palestinian territories, Pakistan, India, Egypt and elsewhere.
On Friday thousands marched in the Gaza Strip on Friday waving the green flags of Hamas and chanting praises to “God and his prophet”.
Ismail Haniya, the Palestinian prime minister, criticized the pope’s comments, saying: “These remarks go against the truth and touch the heart of our faith”.
Two churches in the West Bank and several Christian institutions in Gaza were bombed, causing damage but no casualties.
Leading politicians and several prominent Christian and Muslim leaders also criticized the remarks.
Recep Tayyip Erdogan, the Turkish prime minister, called on Saturday for the pope to apologize for his “unfortunate, ugly” remarks on Islam.
The Iraqi government has also called for calm after a church in Basra was reportedly attacked.
Sheikh Abubukar Hassan Malin, a hardline cleric linked to Somalia’s powerful Islamist group the Islamic Courts Group, called for Muslims to hunt down and kill the pope for his remarks.
“We call on all Islamic communities across the world to take revenge on the baseless critic called the pope,” he was quoted by AFP news agency as saying.