By IOL Staff
CAIRO — Prominent Muslim scholar Sheikh Yusuf Al-Qaradawi has called on Muslims worldwide to hold a day of “peaceful” anger next Friday to protest the offensive remarks made by Pope Benedict VXI, saying that the pontiff’s expression of sorrow for the crisis still fell far short of an apology.
“I urge Muslims to take to the streets on the last Friday in the month of Shaban, to express their anger in a peaceful and rational manner,” Qaradawi, chairman of the International Union for Muslim Scholars (IUMS), told Al-Jazeera’s Al-Shari`ah and Life program late on Sunday, September 17.
“Muslims should be wise in their anger,” he stressed, warning against attacking churches, individuals or property.
The prominent scholar regretted that some Christian places of worship had been attacked over the past few days.
“It is unfortunate that such a mistake was made by a man who represents one of the largest denominations in Christianity,” Qaradawi said.
“It is unfortunate as well that the pope insulted a great religion whose followers are up to one billion people.”
Pope Benedict had come under mounting pressure from Muslim leaders worldwide to retract his remarks made in Germany last week in which he quoted claims by 14th century Byzantine Emperor Manuel II Palaeologus that Prophet Muhammad (peace and blessings be upon him) brought only evil and inhuman, “such as his command to spread by the sword the faith he preached.”
The comments had triggered widespread condemnation from Muslim scholars, religious authorities, high-level officials, inter-faith experts and Egypt’s Christians.
People across the Muslim world have taken to the streets in protests reminiscent of those that erupted after a Danish newspaper printed cartoons that lampooned Prophet Muhammad a year ago.
Sheikh Qaradawi considered the pope’s assertion on Sunday that Muslims have misunderstood him as another “insult.”
“Now he says that Muslims do not understand the true sense of his words. But he must bear in mind that when the speech is utterly clear then good intentions do not matter.
“He, in effect, stopped short of apologizing and the real apology is to retract his remarks, which should be omitted from the lecture,” he gave in the Germany University of Regensburg on Tuesday.
Qaradawi said the pope’s remarks came to entrench offensive statements made by US President George W. Bush last month that America was at war with “Islamist fascists.”
The pope’s remarks “gave an international cover for what Bush is doing,” Qaradawi insisted.
Bush said in August that the foiled London terror plot confirmed that America was at war with “Islamic fascists,” seizing the opportunity to defend his controversial anti-terror record and make political gains.
The pope’s expression of regret on Sunday has been welcomed by some Muslim groups in Britain, Germany and India.
Malaysia, however, said Sunday that it is not satisfied with the statements, insisting on a full apology.
“Muslims have all this while felt oppressed and the statement by the pope saying he is sorry about the angry reaction is inadequate to calm the anger, more so because he is the highest leader of the Vatican,” said Foreign Minister Syed Hamid Albar.
The pontiff must retract his statement as he only stated he was “deeply sorry” about the negative reaction, Syed Hamid said from Cuba, where he was attending a Non-Aligned Movement summit.
Pope Shenouda of Alexandria and Patriarch of Saint Marc Diocese on Sunday censured the Vatican pope, saying he should have taken into consideration a Muslim backlash over his remarks that hurt the sensibilities of one billion Muslims.
“I don’t know for sure the real motives behind Benedict’s remarks,” Shenouda told a press conference in the Orthodox Cathedral in Cario’s Al-Abasiy district.
“But the pope, a German, might have been responding to a proposal by a German minister who called for teaching Islam at state schools,” he said.
Pope Shenouda said the Vatican pontiff should have mentioned in his lecture as well the response of the Persian intellectual to Emperor Manuel II Palaeologus.
“I hope that such remarks would not undermine inter-faith dialogue,” Shenouda said. “Christianity does teach love and respect of the other.”
The pope of Alexandria stressed that Pope Benedict needed to redress the harm done by his remarks.
“He knows exactly what he needs to do.”
Father Youhana Qilta, the deputy patriarch of Egypt’s Catholics on Saturday, September 16, blamed Pope Benedict XVI’s anti-Islam jibe to his poor knowledge of Islam and Muslims, warning that the “surprising” remarks could play into the hands of extremists.