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Backlash Grows in Response to Pope's Comment About Islam

  • VOA News

Pope Benedict's repetition of a centuries-old quote that linked Islam with violence has spurred a backlash in countries with large Muslim populations.

Pakistan's parliament unanimously adopted a measure on Friday that says the pope insulted Islam and the Prophet Muhammad.

The Foreign Ministry in Islamabad also on Friday summoned the Vatican's ambassador. The ambassador ,Apostolic Nuncio said he regretted the anguish the comments have caused and stressed that the remarks have been misconstrued.

In a prayer service today, Lebanon's most senior Shi'ite Muslim cleric Grand Ayatollah Mohammed Hussein Fadlallah demanded an apology directly from the pope, and not through Vatican officials.

The head of the Roman Catholic Church made the controversial comments in a speech to academics in Germany on Tuesday. Benedict quoted a 14th century Byzantine emperor as saying the Prophet Muhammad brought "only evil and inhuman things," such as holy war.

Muslim leaders in Turkey, Iraq, Iran, Egypt, the Palestinian territories and elsewhere have denounced the comments, while Muslim worshippers in Cairo and Tehran have staged protests.

The Vatican says Pope Benedict respects Islam and did not intend to offend anyone.

A Vatican official, Monsignor Felix Machado, today urged Muslim scholars to review the pope's address to academics, saying it is clear that he was not attacking Islam.

Pope Benedict is set to visit Turkey in November. Turkey is 99 percent Muslim but has a secular political system.

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