Hundreds of Iranians on Sunday demonstrated in this religious city and the country's Islamic schools closed down to protest and condemn Pope Benedict XVI for comments he made on Islam and holy war.
Hardline cleric Ahmad Khatami compared the pope and US President George W. Bush, saying the two were "united in order to repeat the Crusades."
"If the pope does not apologize, Muslims' anger will continue until he becomes remorseful. He should go to clerics and sit and learn about Islam," he told the crowd in Qom, the capital of Shiite Muslims in Iran.
During a speech last week in Germany, the pope, quoting from an obscure Medieval text, cited the words of a Byzantine emperor who characterized some of the teachings of Islam's Prophet Muhammad as "evil and inhuman."