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Muslims protest Pope's statements on Prophet

Jama Masjid's Imam Bhukhari said that the Pope's statement was a deliberate attempt to hurt the sentiments of Muslims.

india Updated: Sep 15, 2006 20:21 IST

Imam Ahmed Bukhari of the Jama Masjid on Friday demanded an apology from Pope Benedict XVI for his comments on Prophet Mohammed as protests by Muslims against the pontiff erupted in the national capital, Srinagar and other places.

Addressing the Friday congregation at the Jama Masjid, Bhukhari said, "The Pope's statement was a deliberate attempt to hurt the sentiments of Muslims around the world at a time when they are targeted in the name of terrorism.

"He should apologise to the Muslims of the world," Bukhari said. "What the Pope said is absolutely wrong, Prophet Mohammed only preached love and peace."

Scores of slogan-shouting people joined a protest after the Friday prayers at the Jama Masjid in New Delhi.

There were also demonstrations in Srinagar, Lucknow and Varanasi, where Muslims joined protest marches and shouted slogans against the pontiff.

In Srinagar, police used batons to disperse protestors and took nearly a dozen activists of the hardline faction of the Hurriyat Conference into preventive custody.

The Pope had on Wednesday quoted a Byzantine scholar to attack Islam's concept of holy war. The Vatican has said the pontiff did not intend to offend Muslim sensibilities with his remarks but Islamic clerics have asked him to apologise.

Imam Bukhari appealed to Muslims across the country to protest the Pope's "anti-Muslim" statement till he apologises.

The Shahi Imam of Fatehpuri mosque in Old Delhi, Mufti Mohammed Mukarram Ahmed Sahib, said Mohammed was a "merciful and kind person and a saviour of humanity" and accused the Pope of "encouraging ant-Islamic feelings which are propagated by Israel, the US and England."