Pope Benedict XVI, during a speech in Germany, at a university where he used to teach, quoted a 14th-century Byzantine Christian emperor: "He said, I quote, '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.' . . . Violence is incompatible with the nature of God and the nature of the soul. 'God,' the emperor says, 'is not pleased by blood -- and not acting reasonably is contrary to God's nature. Faith is born of the soul, not the body. Whoever would lead someone to faith needs the ability to speak well and to reason properly, without violence and threats.'" And, the pontiff even condemned violent jihad, or "holy war."
Note that the pope, in a very lengthy speech critical of the growing secularization of the West, devoted only three paragraphs to the subject of jihad. Moreover, the pope repeatedly said that those words were not his own. And later, the Vatican said the pope intended only to spark dialogue, and that the emperor's words in no way reflected the thoughts of the pope himself.
How did some adherents to the religion of peace react?
Angry riots, death threats, burning of the pope in effigy, and demands for an apology.
Somali Muslims shot an Italian nun who worked in a Somali hospital. They shot her four times in the back as she left the hospital, and as she lay dying on the ground, she muttered in Italian to her killers, "I forgive, I forgive."
Firebombs were hurled at seven churches during one weekend in the West Bank and Gaza Strip. One group demanded a televised apology, or they would blow up all of Gaza's churches.
As usual, the Council on American-Islamic Relations, a "moderate" pro-Arab organization, condemned the pope's words, but not the violent reaction to them.
The deputy leader of the Turkish prime minister's party said, "He is going down in history in the same category as leaders such as Hitler and Mussolini."
Al Qaeda in Iraq issued this death threat, "You infidels and despots, we will continue our jihad and never stop until God avails us to chop your necks and raise the fluttering banner of monotheism when God's rule is established governing all people and nations. . . . [The cross-worshipper pope] and the West are doomed. . . . We will break up the cross, spill the liquor and impose the jizya [non-Muslim] tax, then the only thing acceptable is a conversion [to Islam] or [being killed by] the sword."
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