Pontiff: These Words were a quotation, they don't express my personal thought.
By JERUSALEM POST STAFF
Egypt's Muslim Brotherhood retracted their acceptance of Pope Benedict XVI's apology, issued earlier Sunday just hours before the group ackowledged the apology as "sufficient."
"[The Pope's apology] is not a detailed apology, and because of this we call on the Pope to offer a detailed apology which will put a definitive end to the confusion," the the group's second in command, Mahmoud Habib said on Sunday.
Previously, Habib, said "We see the Pope's latest statement as a retraction of his previous statements."
"We see it as a sufficient apology, even though we would like the Pope to give a picture of his position on and vision of Islam."
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"While anger over the pope's (Regensburg) remarks is necessary, it shouldn't last long because while he is the head of the Catholic Church in the world, many Europeans are not following (the church) so what he said won't influence them," Head of the Muslim Brotherhood Mohammed Mahdi Akef told The Associated Press in Cairo on Sunday.
"Our relations with Christians should remain good, civilized and cooperative," said the leader of Egypt's largest Islamic political group.
And in an unusual step, the Vatican's press office released translations in English and French of the pope personally saying Sunday he was sorry about the flap. The pope's Sunday remarks, delivered in Italian, typically are not translated by the Vatican.
Benedict said Sunday that he was "deeply sorry" about the angry reaction sparked by his speech about Islam and holy war and said the text did not reflect his personal opinion.
"These (words) were in fact a quotation from a Medieval text which do not in any way express my personal thought," Benedict told pilgrims at his summer palace outside Rome. He noted that the Vatican secretary of state on Saturday had issued a statement trying to explain his words which he delivered Tuesday in a speech during a pilgrimage in his native Germany.
"I hope that this serves to appease hearts and to clarify the true meaning of my address, which in its totality was and is an invitation to frank and sincere dialogue, with great mutual respect."
In Turkey, the pope's "apology" was also seen as insufficient. State Minister Mehmet Aydin said the pope seemed to be saying he was sorry for the outrage but not necessarily the remarks themselves.
"You either have to say this 'I'm sorry' in a proper way or not say it at all," he told reporters in Istanbul. "Are you sorry for saying such a thing or because of its consequences?"
Nonetheless, Turkey did not plan to cancel the Pope's upcoming visit to the country.
Hardline cleric Ahmad Khatami compared the pope to 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 a crowd of demonstrators in the holy city of Qom.
Meanwhile, two more West Bank churches were set afire early Sunday as a wave of Muslim anger over Benedict's comments grew throughout the Palestinian areas.
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In Tulkarm, a stone church built 170 years ago was torched before dawn and its entire inside was destroyed, local Christian officials said. In the village of Tubas, a small church was attacked with firebombs and partially burned, Christians said. Neither church is Catholic, the officials said.
On Saturday, Muslims hurled firebombs and opened fire at five churches in the West Bank and Gaza Strip to protest the Pope's comments, sparking concerns of a rift between Palestinian Muslims and Christians.
Christians are believed to number about 50,000 people in the West Bank, Gaza Strip and East Jerusalem, about two percent of the total Palestinian population. Relations are generally good and the Palestinian Authority has made considerable efforts to ensure their political representation, though tensions periodically flare up.
In Tulkarm, church official Daoud Firoba said Palestinian security had guarded the Greek Orthodox church until midnight, but then left. The entire inside of the sanctuary was burned, including furniture and an ornate wooden door, Firoba said. Books that are 500 years old survived, he said.
"This hurts my heart, this is against my God and my religion," Firoba said. "But I think that those who burned it don't understand that we are Palestinians and we are not related."
The church is used by three Christian families left in Tulkarm, Firoba said.
In the small village of Tubas, Christian resident Michel Sayer said that he smelled smoke at three in the morning.
"I came and saw the church was on fire and immediately we put it out," Sayer said. "We found two firebombs outside that were not thrown in and three inside that had been thrown."
About 100 Christians live in Tubas, Sayer said.
Jerusalem's Latin Patriarch, Michel Sabbah, planned to visit the city of Nablus in an effort to repair Christian-Muslim relations later Sunday. Sabbah is the top Roman Catholic cleric in the Holy Land.
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