Pope urged to postpone his Middle East trip

April 20th, 2009 - 8:40 am ICT by IANS  

Amman, April 20 (DPA) Jordan’s influential Muslim Brotherhood movement has urged Pope Benedict XVI to postpone his planned Middle East visit next month and to apologize for statements that the group considers “injurious” to Islam.
“We hope that the Vatican will take a decision to postpone the visit until certain issues are cleared,” Muslim Brotherhood official spokesman Jamil Abu Bakr said in a statement Sunday.

“The pope’s visit to the region should reflect collaboration of Muslims and Christians throughout history, but sticking to provocative attitudes will not serve this message.”

The head of the Roman Catholic Church is due to arrive May 8 in Jordan for a four-day visit to be followed by stops in Israel and the Palestinian territories.

Abu Bakr urged the pontiff to “apologize to Muslims for his remarks against Islam and the Prophet Muhammad.”

“Ignoring Muslims’ sentiments by Pope Benedict XVI will only block the healing of wounds his statements caused,” he said without specifying the statements made previously by the Pope against Muslims.

During a 2006 lecture at the University of Regensburg in Germany, where he once taught theology, Benedict quoted a 14th-century Byzantine emperor, one of the last Christian rulers before the fall of Constantinople to the Muslim Ottoman Empire: “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 quote sparked an uproar in the Muslim world, and Benedict later apologized for giving any offense in a historical lecture that he said was meant to encourage mutually respectful dialogue with Muslims. He emphasised that the offensive words were not his own.

Abu Bakr expressed Islamists’ objection to the pope’s scheduled visit to the Holocaust memorial in Israel, saying the visit “will take place only a short time after the Zionist entity killed hundreds of Palestinian children, women and old men in the Gaza Strip”. “We ask if the Pope of the Vatican will visit Gaza to explore how humanity is being violated, or this does not deserve his visit?”

An estimated 1,300 Palestinians died during a 22-day conflict in December and January between Israel and the Palestinian militant movement Hamas, which rule Gaza.

During his trip to Jordan, Benedict is scheduled to visit a mosque in Amman and meet with a number of prominent Muslim scholars.

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