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» 09/25/2006
IRAQ - VATICAN
Radical Muslims against pope: two churches attacked in Mosul and Baghdad

Muslim militias have forced Christians to pin up posters condemning the words of Benedict XVI in Regensburg. But religious leaders, including al Sistani, have expressed their friendship with the Apostolic Nunciature. And the representative of the Iraqi Shiite leader would like to meet the pope.



Baghdad (AsiaNews) – The start of the month of Ramadan in Iraq was marked by violence but also by significant openness by al Sistani towards the Vatican. Yesterday, two churches, one in Baghdad and another in Mosul, were struck. Recently, the country has seen an escalation of attacks against Christians, thought by some to be the reaction of radical Muslims to the speech of the pope in Regensburg. However, religious leaders, among them al Sistani, have shown solidarity and understanding towards the Vatican. Moreover, the representative of the highest religious exponent of Iraqi Shiites has expressed the desire to be able to visit the Pope.

Yesterday morning at 11.15am local time, armed men attacked the Chaldean Church of the Holy Spirit in Mosul, firing at least 80 shots on the building. "Thank God there was no Mass at the time," one member of the community told AsiaNews, "so no one was killed or injured, there was just some damage done to the eastern part of the building and a few broken windows."

The atmosphere in the city is very tense. Recently, Muslim militias threatened the Catholic bishop and priests that unless they publicly condemned the address of the pope at the University of Regensburg within 72 hours, Christians would be killed and churches burned down. In recent years, some churches, shrines and even the bishop's house were the target of terrorist attacks. For fear of further attacks, the bishop had posters put up to say that "neither Iraqi Christians nor the pope want to destroy ties with Muslims".

Defying the prevailing atmosphere of terror, last night, Chaldean Catholics left their homes to participate in Vespers Mass in the very church that had been attacked. "Our faith is a challenge to violence. The militias fear us because our faith is stronger than their bullets," a Christian told AsiaNews.

Yesterday morning in Baghdad, two bombs went off outside the Assyrian Orthodox Church of St Mary in the central neighbourhood of Karrada. The attackers put a bomb under the parish priest's car. The blast, that took place at 9.30am, drew many people, including some from the parish. Immediately afterwards another bomb went off close by, injuring many people and killing a watchman of the church.

Some think these bombs targeted Christians in the wake of the controversy surrounding the pope's speech in Regensburg. But in recent days, Orthodox communities distanced themselves from the words of the pope, putting up posters outside their churches expressing their disagreement with him. Some Catholic figures said the attack on St Mary's Church was much more likely a vendetta based on ethnic-religious motives: the Assyrian Orthodox Patriarch recently visited communities in Kurdistan and probably the bombs were meant to be a threat by Sunni or Shiite militias against such ties with Kurds.

The lecture of Benedict XVI in Regensburg was misunderstood by the media as being an attack on Islam. Although the pope explained the true meaning of his words several times over, bitter and threatening criticisms continue to come from many sectors of Islam. In Iraq, it is fundamentalist and political Muslim splinter groups that are reacting violently to the pope's address. Recently, the Secretary of the Nunciature in Baghdad, Mgr Thomas Halim Abib, met religious representatives of Islam and offered them an Arabic translation of the words of the pope, so Muslim leaders would be able to understand the true meaning of what was said. Muslim religious leaders undertake the task of informing their communities. Mgr Thomas told AsiaNews that in these days, the official representative of the Grand Ayatollah al Sistani, the undisputed leader of Shiite Islam in Iraq, visited the Vatican Nunciature twice to express friendship and solidarity. The representative of al Sistani accepted the explanations rendered by the Nunciature and spread them among all Iraqi Shiite communities, expressing respect for the Holy See "that has always been close to the Iraqi people". The representative of the grand ayatollah also said he wished to go to Rome to visit Pope Benedict XVI.


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See also
08/17/2004 VATICAN - IRAQ
Nuncio in Baghdad: A positive response from Moqtada, but his intentions are not clear
09/28/2006 VATICAN - UN
Mgr Lajolo: Pope against religious violence and exclusion of God in the west
01/09/2008 VATICAN-ISLAM
Benedict XVI's improbable dialogue with 138 Muslim scholars
by Samir Khalil Samir, sj
09/18/2006 Vatican - islam
The Pope and eastern and western terrorism
by Bernardo Cervellera
10/14/2006 ISLAM – VATICAN
Muslim leaders: "We accept pope's explanations"
VATICAN - GERMANY
Pope: Faith and reason to escape violence and suicide of Enlightenment
VATICAN – ISLAM
The Pope's speech: lending Islam a helping hand to avoid a downward spiral
INDIA
Controversy about Pope and Islam useless, open to manipulation
VATICAN
Pope worried only about the "religious motivation of violence"
TURKEY – VATICAN
Pope's remarks misused by Islamo-nationalists, vicar apostolic says
TURKEY -VATICAN
Islamic nationalists in Turkey protest against visit of Benedict XVI
islam - vatican
Benedict XVI's words spark calls for apologies and requests for clarification in theIslamic world
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Card.Toppo: "Face Islamic protests with truth, courage and prayer"
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Two churches struck in Nablus as Muslim countries criticize pope
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Pope is sorry, reaffirms esteem for Islam and rejection of violence
TURKEY – VATICAN
Pope's trip at risk as Turkey becomes less secular
VATICAN – ISLAM
Pope "truly sorry" for Muslim reactions but did not offend
ISLAM – VATICAN
Amid criticism and violence the first balanced views about the Pope's speech appear
IRAN - VATICAN
Not all Teheran behind ayatollahs in anti-pope criticism
INDIA
A great sign of peace from the Pope, say Indian Muslim leaders
PAKISTAN
Pope only wants inter-faith harmony, Pakistani bishops say
TURKEY – VATICAN
Turkish bishops confirm trip of Benedict XVI will go ahead
LEBANON
Moderate voices in Lebanon urge people to read what the Pope actually said
Vatican - islam
The Pope and eastern and western terrorism
ISLAM – VATICAN
Pope's explanations not good enough for radical Islam
ISLAM – ISRAEL
What the Christian Pope thinks about Islam matters to the Muslim world
PALESTINE - VATICAN
Armed guards in Bethlehem churches, but Christians are on pope's side
ISLAM – VATICAN
More calls for dialogue in a Muslim world angered by Pope
SYRIA – VATICAN
Syria's Grand Mufti says Pope's explanation "more than enough"
PAKISTAN – VATICAN
In Pakistan Christians and Muslims study Pope's speech together
PHILIPPINES – ISLAM
Sincere faith and dialogue are the only ways to peace between Christians and Muslims
VATICAN-ISLAM
Pope: I was misunderstood about Islam, may my words become an opportunity for dialogue
LEBANON – VATICAN
Rise above controversy about pope, say Lebanese bishops on day for peace
IRAN - VATICAN
Ahmadinejad proclaims respect for pope but Iran has strange anti-Catholic coalition
VATICAN – ISLAM
Pope to meet ambassadors from Muslim countries
VATICAN
Pope: Sr Leonella Sgorbati, an authentic Christian witness
BANGLADESH – VATICAN
Bangladeshi bishops defend a misunderstood Pope
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Pope with ambassadors: much praise and some "buts" from Muslim world
PHILIPPINES
Manila: Muslim MP urges understanding, not criticism, of pope
VATICAN – ISLAM
Pope: dialogue between Muslims and Christians "a vital necessity"

Editor's choices
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"Adopt a Christian from Mosul" to respond directly to Iraq's emergencyAsiaNews is launching a fundraiser to support Christians targeted by the Islamic State, thus responding to a request by the Patriarch of Baghdad and Pope Francis's urgent appeal "to guarantee all necessary assistance - especially the most urgently needed aid - to the great multitude of people who have been driven from their homes, whose fate depends entirely on the solidarity of others." More than 100,000 people have been forced to flee their homes leaving everything behind and now have nothing to live on. To help them, five euros a day are enough. The funds raised will be sent to the Patriarchate of Baghdad, which will distribute them according to the needs of each family.
CHINA - VATICAN
Wenzhou bishop and priests slam government's campaign against crosses and churches in Zhejiang
by Eugenia ZhangFor Mgr Vincent Zhu Weifang, from the official Church, the campaign of destruction is increasing social instability. It is real persecution against the Christian faith. The bishop apologises for failing to intervene sooner. He was hoping that the campaign would end quickly. Catholics and Protestants suffer injuries as they attempt to defend their sacred buildings. For priests in Wenzhou, the campaign is unfair and touches buildings that have all the right papers. Such "stupid acts" by the government are undermining social harmony.

Dossier
by Giulio Aleni / (a cura di) Gianni Criveller
pp. 176
by Lazzarotto Angelo S.
pp. 528
by Bernardo Cervellera
pp. 240
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