Muslim leaders demand Pope apology
Palestinian Prime Minister Ismail Haniyeh Friday joined the growing chorus of criticism in the Islamic world against Pope Benedict XVI, saying he had offended Muslims everywhere.
Haniyeh, speaking to reporters after Friday prayers in Gaza, said there will be organized protests later in the day "to express Palestinian anger toward the comments that offended Islam and the Muslims."
Lebanon's most senior Shiite Muslim cleric on Friday also denounced Pope Benedict XVI's recent remarks about Jihad, and demanded the Pope personally apologize for insulting Islam.
"We do not accept the apology through Vatican channels ... and ask him [Benedict] to offer a personal apology - not through his officials - to Muslims for this false reading [of Islam]," Grand Ayatollah Mohammed Hussein Fadlallah told worshippers in his Friday prayers sermon.
"We call on the Pope to carry out a scientific and fastidious reading of Islam. We do not want him to succumb to the propaganda of the enemy led by Judaism and imperialism against Islam," Fadlallah said, according to the AP.
Fadlallah said he condemns "and protests in the strongest terms" the Pope's comments, "particularly his quoting without any occasion of the words of the emperor in which he insults Prophet Mohammed."
Lebanese Prime Minister Fuad Saniora instructed Lebanon's ambassador to the Vatican, Naji Abi Assi, to visit the Vatican Foreign Ministry to seek clarifications on the pontiff's comments, a Lebanese government official said Friday.
Some 100 worshippers demonstrated after Friday prayers at Egypt's Al-Azhar mosque, chanting "Oh Crusaders, oh cowards! Down with the Pope!"
In Turkey, Salih Kapusuz, deputy leader of Turkish Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan's Islamic-rooted party, said Friday that Benedict's words were either "the result of pitiful ignorance" about Islam and its prophet, or worse, a deliberate distortion of the truths.
"He has a dark mentality that comes from the darkness of the Middle Ages. He is a poor thing that has not benefited from the spirit of reform in the Christian world," Kapusuz told Turkish state media. "It looks like an effort to revive the mentality of the Crusades."
"Benedict, the author of such unfortunate and insolent remarks, is going down in history for his words," he said. "He is going down in history in the same category as leaders such as Hitler and Mussolini."