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Jihadists threaten Pope: "We swear that we will destroy your cross in the heart of Rome ...and that your Vatican will be attacked"

September 16, 2006

MIM: Muslim outrage over the Pope's quote of a medieval emperor about Islam being spread by the sword has galvanised both Shiite and Sunni and even secularists to take up the sword and threaten the Pope and the Vatican with death and retaliation.

Muslims are threatening revenge and demanding an apology that the Pope has equated Islam with violence.

Muslim clerics have challenged the Pope to a debate, with one proclaiming he would 'convert to Christianity' if the Pope will come out as the winner.

According to the article below an Iraqi group calling themselves Jaish Al Muhajideen announced that "We swear we will destroy your cross in the heart of Rome...and that your Vatican will be attacked".

The security at the Pope's residence has been stepped up and Italian soldiers in Afghanistan, Iraq and Lebanon were placed on alert.

17.09.2006 01:06 Drohungen gegen Papst Benedikt XVI.
Foto: APA

Trotz des Einlenkens aus dem Vatikan haben sich die Wogen um die umstrittenen Islam-Äußerungen des Papstes nicht geglättet. Nach Drohungen gegen Benedikt XVI. werden nun die Sicherheitsvorkehrungen für das Angelusgebet am Sonntag verschärft. Das berichtet "Spiegel Online". Die bewaffnete irakische Gruppe, Jaich al-Mujahedin, hatte im Internet mit einem Anschlag auf den Vatikan gedroht.

Mit direktem Bezug auf Rom und den Vatikan heißt es in der Erklärung, deren Echtheit bisher nicht geklärt werden konnte: "Wir schwören, dass wir ihr Kreuz im Herzen von Rom zerstören werden (...) und dass ihr Vatikan getroffen wird". Die Gruppe hatte in der Vergangenheit für zahlreiche Anschläge gegen irakische und US-Truppen im Irak die Verantwortung übernommen.

Für das sonntägliche Gebet würden Personen auf der Sommerresidenz Castel Gandolfo schärfer kontrolliert, hieß es in einem Bericht des italienischen Fernsehens. Gefährdet seien auch italienische Soldaten, die unter anderem im Irak, in Afghanistan und im Libanon stationiert sind.

Am Samstag hatte der Vatikan eine Erklärung verbreitet, wonach der Papst seine Wortwahl bedauere. Staatssekretär Tarcisio Bertone, der Außenminister des Vatikan, erklärte: Der Papst sei "sehr bestürzt", dass Teile seiner Rede so geklungen haben könnten, dass sie die Gefühle gläubiger Muslime verletzten. Diese Passagen seien "so interpretiert worden, wie es nicht der Absicht" der Papstes entspreche.

Der Wille des Papstes zum Dialog zwischen den Religionen und Kulturen sei unmissverständlich, hieß es weiter. Benedikt XVI. betone seine Hochachtung für Gläubige des Islam. Anlass der Kritik waren von Benedikt zitierte Aussagen eines byzantinischen Kaisers, denen zufolge der Prophet Mohammed "nur Schlechtes und Inhumanes" in die Welt gebracht habe.

Quelle: APA


MIM: The Jihadist website Kavkaz published further threats.

Thousands rally against pope speech Publication time: 16 September 2006, 18:09

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 favour 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 organisation, said.

"Has he presented a personal apology for statements by which he clearly is convinced? No," he said.

On Saturday Morocco also recalled its ambassador to the Vatican following the pope's "offensive remarks".

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, criticised 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 criticised the remarks.

Recep Tayyip Erdogan, the Turkish prime minister, called on Saturday for the pope to apologise 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.

Several thousand Muslims have held demonstrations around the world in protest against comments made by Pope Benedict about Islam.

About 2,000 Palestinians protestors marched in the Gaza Strip on Friday waving the green flags of Hamas and chanting praises to "God and his prophet".

Palestinian prime minister Ismail Haniya criticised the pope's comments, saying: "These remarks go against the truth and touch the heart of our faith.

"The pope should revise his comments and stop attacking Islam, which is the religion of more than 1.5 billion people."

Aljazeera's correspondent in the Palestinian territories reported that two churches in the West Bank city of Nablus were hit by firebombs early on Saturday.

The bombs targeted a Roman Catholic church that was under construction, and an Anglican church, causing minor damage to the outside walls and windows of the two churches.

In Gaza City, four small makeshift bombs exploded at a youth centre run by the city's oldest Christian church, breaking doors and shattering glass but causing no casualties. The Greek Orthodox church itself was undamaged.

In the first reaction from a top Christian leader, Coptic Pope Shenouda III, the head of Egypt's Coptic Orthodox Church, said in remarks published on Saturday that "any remarks which offend Islam and Muslims are against the teachings of Christ".

"Christianity and Christ's teachings instruct us not to hurt others, either in their convictions or their ideas, or any of their symbols - religious symbols," Shenouda was quoted as saying by Al-Ahram newspaper.

Also in Egypt, about 100 worshippers demonstrated after Friday prayers at the country's prominent al-Azhar mosque in Cairo, chanting: "Oh Crusaders, oh cowards! Down with the pope!"

One worshipper said: "These Christians are all infidels. Benedict himself is an infidel and a blind man. Doesn't he see that the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan and other places were waged by Christians?"

Hundreds of Egyptian riot police surrounded the mosque, preventing protesters from spilling over into the streets.

In Pakistan, groups held rallies and chanted anti-pope slogans in the capital, Islamabad, and other major cities including Karachi, Quetta, Peshawar and Multan.

Pakistan's foreign ministry summoned the Vatican's ambassador to express regret over the remarks and parliament passed a resolution condemning the comments.

In the US, the Council on American-Islamic Relations, which calls itself the largest Islamic civil liberties group in America, said: "The proper response to the pope's inaccurate and divisive remarks is for Muslims and Catholics worldwide to increase dialogue and outreach efforts aimed at building better relations between Christianity and Islam."

During a speech on Tuesday at a German university, the pope quoted from a book recounting a conversation between 14th century Byzantine Christian emperor Manuel Paleologos II and a Persian scholar on the truths of Christianity and Islam.

"The emperor comes to speak about the issue of jihad, holy war," the pope said.

"He said, I quote, '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'."

Benedict did not explicitly agree with the words nor repudiate them, but went on to say that "violence is incompatible with the nature of God and the nature of the soul".

The Vatican said the pope did not intend the remarks to be offensive, but sought to draw attention to the incompatibility of faith and violence.

But Lebanon's most senior Shia Muslim cleric, Grand Ayatollah Muhammad Hussein Fadlallah, told worshippers in his Friday prayers sermon: "We do not accept the apology through Vatican channels ... and ask him [the pope] to offer a personal apology - not through his officials - to Muslims for this false reading."

Abdullah Ahmad Badawi, the Malaysian prime minister and chairman of the 56-nation Organisation of the Islamic Conference, said: "The pope must not take lightly the spread of outrage that has been created. The Vatican must now take full responsibility over the matter and carry out the necessary steps to rectify the mistake."

Analysts' view

But some analysts, such as the Reverend Robert Taft, a specialist in Islamic affairs at Rome's Pontifical Oriental Institute, said it was unlikely that the pope miscalculated how some Muslims would receive his speech.

Analysts said the Catholic leader's speech was a sign that he intends to carry on with his strong defence of the values of the Christian West rather than compromise for the sake of building bonds with Islam.

John Voll, director of the Centre for Muslim-Christian Understanding at Georgetown University in Washington, said the speech suggested deep dismay over the conditions of Christians in the Muslim world.

"This reflects the intention of Pope Benedict to distinguish himself from his predecessor on his approach to interfaith dialogue ... it means more reciprocity," said Voll.

As the chief watchdog on Roman Catholic doctrine for his predecessor, Pope John Paul II, Benedict - the former Cardinal Joseph Ratzinger - had little role in shaping the Vatican's contact with Islam and other faiths.

Some say his deep theological scholarship leaves him ill-equipped to deal with Islam at a time when suspicions and tensions dominate relations between the West and Muslim world.

The Reverend Khalil Samir, a Vatican envoy for interfaith links in Lebanon, said: "They went to the speech expecting to meet Pope Benedict, but instead they met Professor Ratzinger."

Aljazeera and Agencies

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