JERUSALEM – Pope Benedict XVI’s apologies for worldwide reaction to his remarks about Islam and his invitation today for Muslim leaders to meet with him next week are “mere diplomatic acts” and prove the pontiff does not really regret his words, a prominent Gaza Strip preacher told WND.
Sheik Abu Saqer, leader of Gaza’s Jihadia Salafiya Islamic outreach movement, which seeks to make secular Muslims more religious, called for holy war against the pope.
He said Christian leaders such as Benedict are “afraid” because they realize Islam is Allah’s favorite religion and they are going to hell unless they convert. The Gaza preacher declared the “green flag of Muhammad” would soon be raised over the Vatican.
“We did not need the words of the pope in order to understand that this is a Crusader war against Islam and it is our holy duty to fight all those who support the pope, who follow him and who did not condemn what this small racist had to say,” said Abu Saqer, speaking to WND from the southern Gaza city of Khan Yunis.
“The day will soon come when the green flag of La Illah Illah Allah (There is no god but Allah) and Muhammad Rasul Allah (Muhammad is the Prophet of Allah) will be raised upon the Vatican and all around the world and on the fortresses of those who want to destroy Islam, because they know that this religion obliges them to face the truth that Islam is Allah’s favorite religion. And until they join Islam, hell is their last station,” Abu Saqer said.
The Gaza imam was responding to a speech last week in which the 79-year-old pope quoted Byzantine emperor Manuel II Paleologus, who wrote, “Show me just what Muhammad brought that was new, and there you will find things only evil and inhuman, such as his command to spread by the sword the faith he preached.”
The pontiff last Sunday said he was “deeply sorry” for the reaction to his comments and said Wednesday the emperor’s words did not reflect how he himself felt. He said the intent of his remarks were to call for a dialogue on the role of religions in modern life.
The Vatican this morning reportedly invited ambassadors from Muslim nations to meet the pope Monday in a bid to calm anger that has spilled over into international Muslim protests.
Last weekend, Palestinians wielding guns and firebombs attacked five churches in the West Bank and Gaza Strip, including Anglican and Greek Orthodox churches in the north Samaria city of Nablus and a Greek Orthodox church in Gaza City. A group calling itself the “Lions of Monotheism” claimed responsibility for the church attacks, saying they were carried out to protest the pope’s remarks.
Abu Saqer said he rejected the pope’s stated apologies.
“He did not apologize. He said everything but an apology, which proves these are diplomatic acts and not a feeling of being sorry.”
Abu Saqer claimed he did not condone violence. He blamed the pope for recent anti-Christian attacks in the Palestinian territories.
“We are deeply sorry for these acts that we condemn,” he said. “But I am sorry that this little racist did not think of the consequences upon the Christians in the Arab world when he insulted our prophet. It is an open war – the Muslims against all the others.”
Asked to respond directly to Paleologus’ observations about Muhammad and Islam, Abu Saqer replied, “About your stupid question about our contribution to civilization, did not you read about who were the pioneers in medicine, in mathematics, in astronomy? Did not you hear about Averroes and others?
“I am not reading poetry, I am saying the truth. Islam, it is not the source of violence. Who is occupying by force and violence Iraq and Afghanistan? Who is occupying Palestine? Who occupied for years the black people and turned them into slaves while one of the first leaders of Islam was the black Bilal Ibn Rabah?”
Continued Abu Saqer: “Violence is a result of lack of faith. See the Western society and culture. See what free sex brings to your Western world and then see the family cell in Islam. Even our problems in Islam come when some parts of the Islamic population want to imitate your way of life.”
The Gaza preacher said the pope and the Christian world are “panicking” because they realize “who is winning.”
“See how Islam is progressing and gaining more and more members and see the moral crisis in the West. See today the support of Islam in the Arab and Muslim world and how Islam is gaining more and more adherents in Europe and even in the United States and you understand that Islam is the future and that this dwarf pope was wrong. But I can sympathize with him. He is frustrated because he understands where things are heading.”