Spokesmen for religious organizations, governmental and public structures of Kuwait, Egypt, Algeria, Morocco and other Muslim countries ask for official apologies and explanations from the leadership of the Catholic Church. The leaders of the Muslim countries were deeply concerned with a lecture given by Pope Benedict XVI at a German university.
The Pope delivered a lecture about philosophical and historical differences between Christianity and Islam, as well as about relationship between violence and faith. Speaking about Islam, Benedict XVI referred to remarks from Emperor Manual II Paleologos of Byzantine (the Orthodox Christian empire which had its capital in what is now the city of Istanbul ) regarding the role of this religion.
The quotation from the Byzantine king ran: "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 Pontiff emphasized that it was not his personal opinion, but the words from the Byzantine emperor.
The head of the French Council for Muslim Religion, Dalil Boubakeur, stated commenting on the Pope’s lecture: "We hope that the Church will very quickly... clarify its position so that it does not confuse Islam, which is a revealed religion, with Islamism, which is not a religion but a political ideology.”
The chairman of The Vatican press service, Federico Lombardi, responded to the criticism and said that Benedict XVI respected Islam but could never accept religion-motivated violence. “It certainly wasn’t the intention of the pope to carry out a deep examination of jihad (holy war) and on Muslim thought on it, much less to offend the sensibility of Muslim believers,” said he in a statement.
Haken al-Mutairi, Secretary General of Kuwait's Umma party asked Pope Benedict to immediately apologize "to the Muslim world for his calumnies against the Prophet Muhammed and Islam". The remarks have also drawn fire from Turkey's highest religious authority, reported Agence France-Presse. "The remarks reflect the hatred in his heart. It is a statement full of enmity and grudge," Ali Bardakoglu, the head of Turkey's religious affairs directorate said.
Mutairi estimated the words from Benedict XVI as “highly irresponsible.” He called upon all Arab states to break diplomatic ties with The Vatican until the Pope brings public apologies to Muslim nations for slandering Prophet Muhammad and Islam.
Translated by Dmitry Sudakov