In a similar, peace-loving, tolerance-promoting vein, official Palestinian Authority Television, controlled by the 'moderate' Mahmoud Abbas' Fatah organization, went to air this past Friday (22nd September 2006) with coverage of the Friday sermon delivered to the faithful by Hamas religious leader, Osama Al-Mazini. The sermon calls the Pope "criminal and arrogant," "ignorant and stupid," and warns him that his punishment awaits. Allah, the preacher thundered, does not necessarily punish the wicked immediately, but waits "until a day when eyes will stare (in terror)."
"The second message is for the criminal Benedict the 16th, the Vatican Pope. For this ignorant and stupid Pope, who has no one to attack besides Islam and the Prophet [Muhammad], may the Creator have mercy on him and protect him. He [the Pope] characterized Islam as a cruel religion, and characterized Muhammad, may the Creator have mercy on him and protect him, as a cruel man, spilling blood, who strove to kill. This hostile Pope refuses to apologize to Muslims; and, instead of apologizing he blames the Muslims for not understanding, thereby adding crime upon crime. This arrogant Pope sees the Muslims as too inferior that he should apologize to them. To this arrogant Pope - criminal and arrogant - this message is from Allah the Elevated and the Exalted, as it was said: 'Think not that Allah is unaware of what the wicked do. He but gives them a respite until a day when eyes will stare (in terror).' [Sura14:42]"BBC World meanwhile leads this evening's news bulletins with a story headed: "Pope stresses respect for Muslims".
Pope Benedict XVI has expressed "total and profound respect" for the Muslim faith, as he attempts to defuse a row between Islam and the Catholic Church. He made the remarks in a meeting with envoys from the Muslim world, weeks after a speech in Germany prompted an angry reaction by some Muslims... In the space of just half an hour, the pontiff made a brief speech to envoys before greeting them individually, but there was no general discussion. Muslim leaders had been demanding an unequivocal apology from the Pope for his words. Ambassadors from 21 countries and a representative from the Arab League attended, as well as Islamic representatives in Italy... "I would like today to stress my total and profound respect for all Muslims," the Pope said in the speech. He called for "sincere and respectful dialogue", adding that Christians and Muslims alike must reject all forms of violence and respect religious liberty. Correspondents say the latter was a reference to restrictions on the church's activity in some Muslim countries. "Since the beginning of my pontificate I have had occasion to express my wish to continue to establish bridges of friendship with believers of all religions, showing particularly my appreciation in the belief in dialogue between Muslims and Christians... The inter-religious and inter-cultural dialogue between Christians and Muslims is, in effect, a vital necessity, on which a large part of our future depends."Far be it from us to criticize the Vatican's foreign relations strategy, but if we were Catholics, we would be cringing with embarrassment and purple with humiliation.
But in a BBC interview, the ambassador of Indonesia, the world's largest Muslim nation, pointed out that the Pope had not referred directly to the speech which sparked the controversy. "We had hoped that there would have been a dialogue, but that was not the case," Bambang Prayitno said. "There was no dialogue between the Pope and the guests... In general, we were actually a bit surprised that the meeting was a short one and just like that."
...The [Pope's offending 14th Century] quote says: "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 Pope said his real intention had been to "explain that religion and violence do not go together, but religion and reason do".