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.
Muslims protest in India (Photo: AP)
"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," Muslim Brotherhood Deputy Leader Mohammed Habib told Reuters.
The Grand Imam of the Al – Azhar University in Cairo, Sheikh Muhammad Sayyid Tantawi said the pope’s statements stem from complete ignorance regarding all that is related to Islam.
Other religious leaders throughout the Muslim world, including Iran, also slammed the pope.
The spiritual leader of Lebanon's Sunnis, the Grand Mufti Sheik Mohammed Rashid Kabbani, said the pope's remarks emanated either from "Ignorance and lack of knowledge or were deliberately intended to distort Islam."
"Reason is the substance of Islam and its teachings ... Islam prohibited violence in human life. Anyone who wants the truth (about Islam) must take it from Islam's holy book, the Koran, rather than from a dialogue or excerpts," he said.
Meanwhile in Lebanon, prominent Shiite leader Muhammad Hassan said Hizbullah failed to prove during the recent war that it is capable of preventing Israel from attacking the country.
In an interview with Al-Sharq al-Awsat Hassan said “the resistance, despite the strong military resolve and the heroic acts of its warriors, it did not prove to be a deterrent against such technologically-supreme aggression and an aggressive air force. This deterrence was only successful on the ground.”
The anti-Syrian "March 14 Forces" said in response to claims made by Hizbullah Chief Hassan Nasrallah that the group had repeatedly ‘stabbed Lebanon in the back’ that Hizbullah has launched a political battle that has resulted in a major split.
Nasrallah’s political advisor Hussein Halil said “their (March 14 Forces) culture is similar to Israeli demands. We want to protect this land from foreign patrons.”
Tensions in Lebanon are mounting ahead of the next UN report on the assassination of former Prime Minister Rafik Hariri.
In an interview with UPI, Former Syrian Vice President Abdel Halim Khaddam reiterated his claim that Syrian President Bashar Assad is to blame for the murder. Asked why Assad was absent from the summit of Non-Aligned Movement nations in Cuba, Khaddam said “Bashar can’t sleep at night. He is very fearful regarding the internal situation and is afraid to leave the country for fear he may not be able to return.”