Pope condemned by world Islamic leaders

Palestinian security officers patrol past the Latin Patriarchate in the West Bank town of Nablus Monday. The Associated Press

Palestinian security officers patrol past the Latin Patriarchate in the West Bank town of Nablus Monday. The Associated Press

By The Associated Press

CAIRO, Egypt – Al-Qaida in Iraq warned Pope Benedict XVI on Monday that its war against Christianity and the West will go on until Islam takes over the world, and Iran’s supreme leader called for more protests over the pontiff’s remarks on Islam.

Protests broke out in South Asia and Indonesia, with angry Muslims saying Benedict’s statement of regret a day earlier did not go far enough. In southern Iraq, demonstrators carrying black flags burned an effigy of the pope.

Islamic leaders around the world issued more condemnations of the pope’s comments, but some moderates in the Middle East appeared to be trying to put a damper on the outrage, fearing it could spiral into attacks on Christians in the region.

On Sunday, Benedict said he was “deeply sorry” for any hurt caused by his comments in a speech last week, in which he quoted a medieval text characterizing some of the Prophet Muhammad’s teachings as “evil and inhuman” and calling Islam a religion spread by the sword.

Benedict said the remarks came from a text that didn’t reflect his own opinion, but he did not retract what he said.

On Monday the Vatican ordered papal representatives around the world to meet with leaders of Muslim countries to explain the pope’s point of view and full context of his speech.

Roman Catholic leaders stepped forward to defend the pontiff.

At an Italian bishops’ conference, Cardinal Camillo Ruini underlined the bishops’ “total closeness and solidarity to the pope” and said they deplored interpretations of the pope’s comments “which attribute to the Holy Father … errors that he has not committed and aim at attacking his person and his ministry.”