Published: 00:00 GMT Daylight Time - Tuesday 19 September 2006
Christians in Muslim world are attacked in violent reaction to Pope's remarks
The well organised expressions of rage across the Muslim word in response to a quotation about jihad cited by Pope Benedict XVI last Tuesday 12th September prove once again that there are aspects of Islam which are intrinsically linked to violence.
Various Muslim leaders have called for demonstrations and protests, including the influential cleric Yusuf al-Qaradawi, who has called for a "day of rational anger" and has also warned Muslims not to attack churches. Sadly, however, indigenous Christians and expatriate Christian workers have already become victims in the outburst of Muslim anger against the pope. The perpetrators of these attacks have shown the truth of the very allegation they loudly reject and protest against. Following are some of the violent incidents linked to Muslim anger about the pope's remarks.
In Gaza a 1,425 year-old church was repeatedly hit by homemade explosives on Friday15 September. On Saturday 16 September attackers hurled firebombs and opened fire at four churches in the West Bank (two of them in Nablus). On Sunday 17 September 2006 another two churches in the West Bank were attacked: a stone church in Tulkarm built 170 years ago was torched before dawn and a church in Tubas was attacked with firebombs and partially burned. A group claiming responsibility for the attacks called itself the "Lions of Monotheism" and said it was protesting against the pope's words.
In Somalia a prominent Mogadishu cleric, Sheikh Abulbakar Hassan Malin during Friday prayers on 15 September called on Muslims to "hunt down" and kill then pope for his remarks: "Whoever offends our Prophet Mohammed should be killed on the spot by the nearest Muslim". One day later, on Saturday 16 September 2006 an Italian nun was shot dead in a hospital in Mogadishu. Gunmen entered the SOS hospital and shot the nun before escaping. The nun, in her 70s, was one of the longest-serving members of the Catholic church in Mogadishu.
In Basra a bomb exploded on Friday 15 September in front of a church in the Al-Ashhar neighbourhood when the guard opened the church door. The guard was mercifully not hurt. This incident is thought to be linked to the pope's remarks because of the date on which it occurred.