PROTESTS AGAINST Pope Benedict’s comments on Prophet Mohammed turned rowdy in Uttar Pradesh today with a church being attacked in Allahabad.
There were also protests in Kanpur and Allahabad, where a group of people led by a former Samajwadi Party corporator assembled in front of the All Saints Cathedral and burnt the Pope’s effigy. They hurled stones at the church before being dispersed by police.
In Kanpur, Muslim leaders staged a dharna at the Yateem Khana crossing.
Mohammed Suleman of the Muslim League condemned the Pope’s comments and said leaders of any religion had no right to pass remarks against other faiths.
The Nationalist Communist Party (NCP) organised a protest march and burnt the Pope’s effigy. RCP president and All India Muslim Women’s Personal Law Board chairperson Ahaista Amber, who led the march, warned the Pope’s remarks could spark protests across the world.
Amber also submitted a memorandum addressed to President A P J Abdul Kalam through the DM, urging the Central Government to exert pressure on the Pope to apologise. She said his remarks were aimed at hurting the sentiments of crores of Muslims across the world.
The Pope had on Wednesday quoted a Byzantine scholar to attack Islam’s concept of Holy War Leading Islamic scholar Maulana Mufti Abul Irfan Mohammad Naimul Haleem Qadri too condemned the Pope’s utterances, saying his remarks were “highly objectionable”.
In a statement issued in Lucknow, Qadri alleged Western countries had hatched a conspiracy and launched a disinformation campaign against Islam and Muslims to divert the world’s attention from their expansionist designs against certain sovereign Muslim countries.
The Pope’s recent speech in Germany, he said, “was part of a meticulously planned propaganda against Islam and Prophet Mohammad to create hate and mistrust against Muslims”.
Islam stands for peace, universal brotherhood and harmony and such “anti-Islamic designs” would not succeed, Maulana Qadri said adding Muslims all over the country should lodge their protest in a peaceful manner. He also urged the Union Government to convey feelings of the Muslims to the Vatican.
The minority cell of the BJP too condemned the pontiff’s statement. The convenor of the cell, Tanveer Haider Usmani, told PTI in Kanpur that the feelings of Muslims had been hurt by his comments.