Published: 00:00 GMT Daylight Time - Friday 22 September 2006
The context of the Pope's speech
The Muslim world was already uproar in response to a quotation about jihad cited by Pope Benedict XVI on 12th September. There have been attacks against Christians in the Palestinian territories, Somalia and Iraq. See other article - [Link]
There have also been many verbal protests. The Islamic cleric Yusuf al-Qaradawi, a so-called moderate who had justified violence in the past, called for today 22nd September to be a "day of rational anger" across the world and warned Muslims not to attack churches. Sadly his warning against violence does not seem to have been heeded.
Meanwhile, certain Muslim leaders and groups have issued further statements showing a violent intent. The Ansar al-Sunna group in Iraq called the Pope a "stupid pig" and a "blasphemer", and urged Muslims to do more than just protest. Al-Qaeda in Iraq publicly threatened Christians saying, "We will destroy the cross - then all that will be accepted will be conversion or the sword (death). May God enable us to slit their throats, and make their money and descendants the bounty of the mujahideen (those who engage in jihad)."
Barnabas Fund's International Director, Dr Patrick Sookhdeo commented,
"Muslims are always saying that Islam is a religion of peace. But many Christians in the Muslim world know differently. For them, Islam has been and remains a religion which metes out violence. Otherwise, why should Islam's followers attack and destroy them so often? Muslims must have the courage now to address this part of their faith and stop these attacks on Christians."