Muslims, Angered Pope Said Violent, Riot and Threaten Murder, War
Pope Benedict’s statements about Islam’s violent history, which I dismissed Friday as the pope being Catholic, have, ironically, sparked violence and threats of more violence.
Rioting yesterday caused substantial property damage but, thankfully, no reports of injuries.
Palestinians wielding guns and firebombs attacked five churches in the West Bank and Gaza on Saturday, following remarks by Pope Benedict that angered many Muslims. No injuries were reported in the attacks, which left church doors charred and walls pockmarked with bullet holes and scorched by firebombs. Churches of various denominations were targeted.
Relations between Palestinian Muslims and Christians are generally peaceful, and the attacks on the churches sparked concern that tensions would heighten. “The atmosphere is charged already, and the wise should not accept such acts,” Rev. Yousef Saada, a Greek Catholic priest in Nablus, said Saturday.
Ayman Daraghmeh, a legislator from the ruling Islamic militant Hamas group, denounced the attacks. Dozens of police took up position around churches in Nablus to protect the holy sites.
Firebombings left black scorch marks on the walls and windows of Nablus’ Anglican and Greek Orthodox churches. At least five firebombs hit the Anglican church and its door was later set ablaze. Smoke billowed from the church as firefighters put out the flames
The good news is that the violence was contained and is being condemned by responsible leaders. Still, it took months for the furor over the Danish cartoons to escalate to mayhem.
A Somali sheikh has called for Benedict to be hunted down and killed.
A HARDLINE cleric linked to Somalia’s powerful Islamist movement has called for Muslims to “hunt down” and kill Pope Benedict XVI for his controversial comments about Islam. Sheikh Abubukar Hassan Malin urged Muslims to find the pontiff and punish him for insulting the Prophet Mohammed and Allah in a speech that he said was as offensive as author Salman Rushdie’s novel The Satanic Verses. “We urge you Muslims wherever you are to hunt down the Pope for his barbaric statements as you have pursued Salman Rushdie, the enemy of Allah who offended our religion,” he said in Friday evening prayers. Whoever offends our Prophet Mohammed should be killed on the spot by the nearest Muslim,” Malin, a prominent cleric in the Somali capital, told worshippers at a mosque in southern Mogadishu. “We call on all Islamic Communities across the world to take revenge on the baseless critic called the pope,” he said.
Reached by telephone on Saturday, Malin confirmed making the remarks that were echoed in less strident form by other senior clerics in the Supreme Islamic Council of Somalia (SICS). Another SICS executive member, Sheikh Ahmed Abdullahi, vented similar anger at the pope’s “barbarous criticism” but stopped short of calling for his murder. “He must apologise because he has offended the most honorable person who ever lived in the world,” Abdullahi said.
Muslim intellectuals are comparing the pope to Hitler and bin Laden and say his remarks could lead to war.
The recent remarks made by Pope Benedict XVI on Islam are threatening to ignite the entire Muslim world. Op-Eds published in the Arab newspapers slammed the pope even after the Vatican’s apology.
The most extreme opinion was voiced by Hani Pahas in the London-based Arabic-language daily newspaper Al-Hayat, who wrote “the pope’s comments may lead to war; we fear that the pope’s statements may lead to a war that we, Muslims and Christians alike, are trying to prevent through dialogue between East and West.
Hussein Shabakshy wrote in an article published by the London-based Arabic-language newspaper al-Sharq al-Awsat “It is clear that such remarks only contribute to the fueling of the fire raging between Islam and the West. There is no difference between Osama bin Laden and Ayman al-Zawahiri speaking from their caves in Tora Bora and the stage of an important Christian saint. Both parties contribute to the world verbal weapons for mass destruction.” “The pope’s latest statement cannot be considered a slip of the tongue or a comic bit from a TV show; the situatio0n here is different, and his remarks are indicative of an important and highly symbolic stance toward the religion (Islam) and the prophet of about a billion and-a-half Muslims,” he said. “These are ignorant comments previously made by Adolf Hitler, who spoke of a supreme white race against all the other races, especially the African race.
Egypt’s Muslim Brotherhood said a Vatican statement on Saturday saying Pope Benedict was sorry for upsetting Muslims with his comments on Islam did not go far enough.
The former Joseph Ratzinger is a distinguished scholar and intellectual who had to know that what he was saying would create this sort of reaction. After all, twelve cartoons published in an obscure Danish newspaper generated weeks of rioting and murder not so long ago. Considered remarks from the most visible and powerful figure in Christendom that questioned the foundation of Islam were surely not going to be taken lightly.
Then again, the reaction rather proves his point.
UPDATE: Now the pope’s security has been beefed up.