Muslim Leaders Criticize Pope's Comments on Islam

September 14, 2006

Source: The New York Times

On September 14, 2006 The New York Times reported, "As Pope Benedict XVI arrived back home from Germany, Muslim leaders strongly criticized a speech he gave on his trip that used unflattering language about Islam. Some of the strongest words came from Turkey, possibly putting in jeopardy Benedict’s scheduled visit there in November. 'I do not think any good will come from the visit to the Muslim world of a person who has such ideas about Islam’s prophet,' Ali Bardakoglu, a cleric who is head of the Turkish government’s directorate of religious affairs, said in a television interview there. 'He should first of all replace the grudge in his heart with moral values and respect for the other.' Muslim leaders in Pakistan, Morocco and Kuwait, in addition to some in Germany and France, also criticized the pope’s remarks, with many demanding an apology or clarification. The extent of any anger about the speech may become clearer on Friday, the Muslim day of prayer in which grievances are often vented publicly. As the criticisms gathered force, the Vatican worked quickly to quell a potentially damaging confrontation with Muslims. It issued a statement saying that the church seeks to 'cultivate an attitude of respect and dialogue toward other religions and cultures and obviously also toward Islam'... Benedict’s remarks came on Tuesday, when he delivered a major address — which some church experts say was a defining speech of his pontificate — saying that the West, and specifically Europe, had become so beholden to reason that it had closed God out of public life, science and academia."