UK Muslims demand death of Pope
The demonstrators held placards saying: 'Pope, Go to Hell’, ‘Trinity of Evil’, ‘Western Crusade against Islam’. Choudary insisted, however, that while he would support the death penalty for the Pope, his intent was for a ‘peaceful demonstration’. He qualified this with: ‘But there may be people in Italy or other parts of the world who will carry that out. I think that warning needs to be understood by all people who want to insult Islam and the Prophet.’
In addition, in Iraq, the Mujahideen's Army has threatened to ‘smash the crosses in the house of the dog from Rome’. In Kuwait, an important website called for violent retribution against Catholics. In Somalia, the religious leader Abubukar Hassan Malin urged Muslims to ‘hunt down’ the pope and kill him ‘on the spot’. In India, a leading imam, Syed Ahmed Bukhari, called on Muslims to ‘respond in a manner which forces the pope to apologise’. A top Al-Qaeda figure announced that ‘the infidelity and tyranny of the pope will only be stopped by a major attack’. In Gaza, the ‘RedState’ blog carried the ironic heading: ‘Pope implies Islam a violent religion… Muslims bomb churches’.
This round of Muslim outrage, violence, and murder has a routine element to it. There were similar reactions in 1989 to Salman Rushdie's novel The Satanic Verses; in 1997, when the US Supreme Court did not take down a representation of Muhammad; in 2002 when Jerry Falwell called Muhammed a terrorist); in 2005, over the alleged ill treatment by the US military of the Qur’an; and in February 2006 over the Danish cartoons.
Yet the Vatican insists that the Pope did not intend to give ‘an interpretation of Islam as violent’. Cranmer doubts that His Holiness ever intended to cause offence on a scale that might cause a nun to get shot, but he was certainly issuing a pointed (if coded) message, to those who have ears, about Iran’s nuclear ambitions, and indirectly reiterated his desire to keep Turkey out of the EU. The latter, of course, puts him at loggerheads with the official UK policy of both the Labour and Conservative parties. Cranmer awaits a Government minister (or member of the Shadow Cabinet) who will challenge Papal policy on this.