Muslim Brotherhood says meeting attempt to avoid apology
CASTELGANDOLFO, Italy: Pope Benedict told Muslim envoys on Monday that Christian and Muslim believers must reject violence, in an audience meant to defuse anger at his use of quotes saying Islam was spread by the sword. The Pope expressed his esteem and profound respect for members of the Islamic faith in a meeting with diplomatic envoys from some 20 Muslim countries plus the leaders of Italy s own Muslim community at his summer residence, Castelgandolfo. Christians and Muslims must learn to work together … in order to guard against all forms of intolerance and to oppose all manifestations of violence, said the 79-year-old Pope. It was the fourth time he had tried to make amends to Muslims, without actually apologizing directly, for a speech at a university in his native Germany on Sept. 12.
Egypt s opposition Muslim Brotherhood said Monday that Pope Benedict XVI s meeting with Muslim envoys to the Vatican was another way of avoiding an apology.
This is another attempt to avoid the issue of apology, Mohammed Habib, a senior member of the Islamist group, told AFP.
When we asked for an apology, we asked for a clear and honest one. We asked for an academic discussion to discuss the speech, Habib said. When you quote something like that, you must analyze it and either show objection or agreement with these comments, he said. The Egyptian press has harshly criticized the pope who was seen to apologize for the reaction to his comments rather than apologize for the comments directly. The leader of more than 1 billion Roman Catholics has expressed regret at the response to his quoting 14th-century Byzantine Emperor Manuel II Palaeologus, who said the Prophet Mohammed commanded his followers to spread by the sword the faith he preached. The Pope said Christians and Muslims had to learn from the past and work for a better future. I sincerely pray that the relations of trust which have developed between Christians and Muslims over several years, will not only continue, but will develop further in a spirit of sincere and respectful dialogue …, he said. Iraqi ambassador Albert Edward Ismail Yelda also said he was satisfied with the speech. I pray to almighty God the crisis will be behind us, he told reporters. We need to sit together – Muslims, Christians, Jews and the rest of the world, the rest of religions, in order to find common ground for peaceful coexistence. The Pope has said his intention in using the quote in Germany two weeks ago was to explain that religion and violence do not go together but that religion and reason do. His speech to Muslim envoys, delivered in French but also immediately made available by the Vatican in Arabic, made repeated references to the need for dialogue between faiths. Mario Scialoja, an adviser to the Italian section of the World Muslim League who attended the audience, told Reuters afterwards he thought it was a very good and warm speech. He recalled the differences but expressed his willingness to continue in a cordial and fruitful dialogue, said Scialoja, who added that he had not been expecting another apology. The envoys invited included those from major Muslim countries such as Indonesia, Egypt, Pakistan, Turkey, Iran and Iraq, plus the Arab League. Thousands of Muslims demonstrated against the Pope after last Friday s prayers at mosques around the world, but the anger and the size of the protests appear to be diminishing. The Pope is facing the toughest international crisis since his election in April 2005, and the vehemence of some reactions has raised doubts about a planned trip to Turkey in November. Mehmet Ali Agca, the Turk who tried to kill Pope John Paul II in 1981, warned Benedict not to travel to Turkey, saying his life would be at risk. Agencies