Pope Benedict XVI is "arrogant," "stupid," and "criminal," and will be judged by Allah on the day "when eyes will stare in terror," declared a sermon delivered this past weekend on Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas' state-run television station.
The sermon coincided with a cartoon also published this weekend in an official Hamas-run daily newspaper in which the pontiff is depicted holding a swastika while wearing a scarf of American and Danish flags.
The pope has been drawing fire from Muslims worldwide for remarks he made earlier this month concerning Islam.
"To this arrogant Pope – criminal and arrogant – this message is from Allah the Elevated and the Exalted, as it was said: 'Think not that Allah is unaware of what the wicked do. He but gives them a respite until a day when eyes will stare (in terror),'" stated Gaza preacher Osama Al-Mazini in a sermon broadcast by the official television station of Abbas' Fatah party.
"For this ignorant and stupid pope, who has no one to attack besides Islam and the prophet (Muhammad) ... (the pope) characterized Islam as a cruel religion and characterized Muhammad, may the Creator have mercy on him and protect him, as a cruel man, spilling blood, who strove to kill," Al-Mazini said in the sermon, which was translated by Palestinian Media Watch.
The Palestinian media was responding to a speech in which the 79-year-old pope quoted 14th century Byzantine emperor Manuel II Paleologus, who wrote, "Show me just what Muhammad brought that was new, and there you will find things only evil and inhuman, such as his command to spread by the sword the faith he preached."
The pontiff last week said he was "deeply sorry" for the reaction to his comments and later explained the emperor's words did not reflect how he himself felt. He said the intent of his remarks was to call for a dialogue on the role of religions in modern life.
Pope meets with Muslim leaders
Benedict XVI met today with a group of Muslim leaders in a bid to calm anger that has spilled over into international Muslim protests. The envoys invited to the Vatican included leaders from major Muslim countries such as Indonesia, Egypt, Pakistan, Turkey, Iran and Iraq, and from the Arab League.
During today's meeting, the pope expressed his "esteem and profound respect" for members of the Islamic faith.
He spoke of the need for "authentic dialogue" between faiths and condemned violence.
"(We must) guard against all forms of intolerance and oppose all manifestations of violence," said the pope.
End to anger?
Iraq's ambassador to the Holy See, Albert Edward Ismail Yelda, expressed his hope the pope's speech today will suffice to end the anger ignited by his original remarks.
Mario Scialoja, an adviser to the Italian section of the World Muslim League who attended the audience with Benedict, told reporters afterwards he thought it was a "very good and warm speech."
Still, Mehmet Ali Agca, the Turk who tried to kill Pope John Paul II in 1981, warned Benedict not to travel to Turkey, stating his life would be at risk.
Immediately following the pope's original remarks on Sept. 12, Palestinians wielding guns and firebombs attacked five churches in the West Bank and Gaza Strip, including Anglican and Greek Orthodox churches in the north Samaria city of Nablus and a Greek Orthodox church in Gaza City. A group calling itself the "Lions of Monotheism" claimed responsibility for the church attacks, saying the violence was carried out to protest the pope's remarks.
Reprinted with permission of WorldNetDaily