Photo: Hagai Aharon
MK Ibrahim Sarsur
Photo: Hagai Aharon
Photo: Yaron Brener
Protesters in Jaffa
Photo: Yaron Brener
Arab MK: Pope contributing to culture war
Week after pope's comments, members of Islamic movement demonstrate outside Vatican embassy in Jaffa
Dozens of demonstrators, members of the Islamic movement, gathered Friday afternoon opposite the Vatican embassy in Old Jaffa, in order to protest remarks by Pope Benedict XVI on Islam last week. Demonstrators called out "Allahhuakhbar" and waved green flags, as well as carrying signs which read: "Freedom of expression is not freedom to slander," "don't curse our prophet," "no to crusades and no to bringing back crusade wars," and "no to racism."


The demonstrators were headed by the Islamic Movement's southern branch Knesset Member Sheikh Ibrahim Sarsur. The protest was quiet overall and there were no police in attendance. Members of the embassy were not seen in the vicinity.

'Pope deepened gap between religions' (Photo: Yaron Brener)


Speaking to Ynet, Sarsur said the pope did not apologize to Muslims. "We are asking him, as a representative of a billion Catholics in the world, to take a brave step and clearly say 'I'm sorry and take back my remarks.' His apology has even made the situation worse, even if he tried to say he was only quoting a Byzantine emperor," Sarsur said.


"We the Muslims are the biggest seekers of dialogue in history, but the first thing the pope did was close the Pontifical Council for Interrelgious Dialogue at the Vatican, proving that he was different from his predecessors. His predecessor, Paulus the Second, invested 25 years in dialogue between nations, but this pope has come along and deepened the gap between religions, especially with the Muslims," Sarsur said.


Sarsur went on to condemn the burning of churches in Palestinian territories: "We condemned this, but we don't have to focus the issue on this because they were lone acts, and we should not exaggerate…" he said.


Meanwhile, the Pope has invited representatives of Muslim countries in the Vatican and Islamic figures for a meeting this coming Monday.


First published: 09.22.06, 12:19
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