Pope's Comments Offend Local Muslims

By: Autria Godfrey
By: Autria Godfrey

September 18, 2006

The effects of his comments regarding the Islamic founder, Muhammad have sparked outrage world-wide. The latest incident was the murder of an Italian nun and her bodyguard in Somalia Sunday and was believed to be linked to Muslim backlash. Those in the Muslim community here say that as a religious leader, he should have known better.

Remarks made by Pope Benedict during his visit to Germany stirred intense feelings in the Islamic world. Although he was quoting a 14th century emperor, the statements regarding the prophet Muhammad ignited a backlash in the Middle East and with Muslims here in Charlottesville.

"He knows the truth, he reads Bibles and most of them, they know a lot of things about the Qur'an so he knows, that's why he made us mad," Abu Bakari Shaibu of the Charlottesville Mosque said.

In the statements, the Pope referred to the Islamic founder's teachings as "inhumane and evil," remarks Muslims said he knows were incorrect.

"Those reading the Bible, they know there's nothing negative to say about any prophet. From Muhammad to Adam, from Adam to Muhammad, there's nothing to say negative about any prophet," Shaibu continued.

During the apology Sunday, he admitted he "was deeply sorry for the reaction in some countries" and that the statements did not reflect his own views.

Despite the peace offering, students staged protests and Catholic churches were set fire in the Middle East, reactions seen as a setback for those promoting the Muslim faith.

"I think it's wrong, because that's what the Qur'an says, it doesn't say we should take somebody's life or burn houses or churches because of another leader," Shaibu said.

Despite issuing the apology, Pope Benedict never retracted his statements or acknowledged they were wrong. Regardless, those of the Muslim faith in Charlottesville said, because of their beliefs, they take his apology and forgive him.

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