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Pope's Jihad Remarks Anger Muslims

Pope Benedict XVI (file photo) (AFP) September 14, 2006 -- Pope Benedict XVI has been sharply criticized by Muslims for a recent lecture in which he appeared to link Islam with violence.

The head of the French Council for the Muslim Religion, Dalil Boubakeur, said his group hopes that the Catholic Church will clarify its position so that it does not confuse Islam with Islamism, which he said is not a religion but a political ideology.

Other Muslim leaders asked the pope to apologize for his remarks.

The pope's remarks were not directly critical of Islam, but he cited a Byzantine emperor's criticism of the Prophet Muhammad and the concept of jihad (holy war).

Among those who asked the pope to apologize were Turkey's highest Islamic authority, Ali Bardokoglu, as well as religious and political figures from Kuwait.

The Vatican has issued a statement in which it states that the pontiff had no intention of offending "the sensitivity of the Muslim faithful."

(AFP, dpa, AP)

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