Friday, September 22, 2006

Muslic Cleric says Pope Should be Crucified

From the Agence France-Presse ... Pakistanis protest, cleric says Pope should be crucified. In full ...
Hundreds of Pakistani Islamists held street protests to condemn Pope Benedict XVI for remarks they regard as anti-Islamic, with one leader saying the pontiff should be crucified.

Demonstrators Friday poured out of mosques after the main weekly Muslim prayers in Pakistan's largest city Karachi, the eastern city of Lahore, the capital Islamabad and other urban centres.

"If the pope comes here we will hang him on the Cross," Hafiz Hussain Ahmed, a senior leader of Pakistan's main alliance of radical parties, told around 200 noisy demonstrators in Islamabad.

The alliance, called the Muttahida Majlis-e-Amal or United Action Front, forms part of the parliamentary opposition and is often heavily involved in street protests in mostly Muslim Pakistan.

Ahmed also said the pope had joined US President George W. Bush's "crusade" against Muslims, referring to Christians who fought against Muslims from the 11th through the 13th centuries.

In Karachi police said at least 100 hardliners shouted slogans demanding an apology from the pope and criticising the United States.

"Religious leaders like the pope should not use (US President George W.) Bush's tone," Merajul Huda, Karachi chief of the hardline Jamaat-i-Islami party, told the rally.

Witnesses said more than 300 people chanted slogans against the pope outside an Islamic school in the central city of Multan. Dozens more massed in Lahore.

Prayer leaders also condemned the pope during Friday sermons around the country.

Anger has gripped the Muslim world since the pope quoted a 14th-century Byzantine emperor who said innovations introduced by the Prophet Mohammed were "evil and inhuman."

The pontiff later said he was "deeply sorry" for the outrage triggered by his speech early this month at a German university, and that the passages quoted by him did not express his personal opinion.

A gathering of hundreds of fundamentalists in Lahore on Thursday said Pope Benedict should be removed from his position for his "blasphemous" comments.

The Pakistani parliament has also condemned the pope's comments and the foreign ministry summoned the Vatican's envoy in Islamabad last week to lodge a protest.