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Regensburg lecture/Protests, attacks and threats

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Part of the series on the
Regensburg lecture
Pope Benedictus XVI january,20 2006 (17)
'Lecture by
Pope Benedict XVI'
Pope Benedict XVI's lecture
Initial reactions
Subsequent Vatican statements
Open letters from top Muslim clerics
Protests, attacks and threats
Controversial Statements about Qur'an Chapter 2
Assessment of the lecture's purpose
Article discussion

Protests, attacks and threats

Security was discreetly stepped up around and inside the Vatican City, because of concerns about the possibility of acts of violence.[1] Thousands of people took part in many protests.[2]

At least five churches were attacked by Palestinians in the West Bank and Gaza. In the West Bank city of Nablus, firebombings left black scorch marks on the walls and windows of the city's Anglican and Greek Orthodox churches. At least five firebombs hit the Anglican church and its door was later set ablaze. A group called the Lions of Monotheism who said they were carried out to protest the pope's speech.[3]

Later that day, four masked gunmen doused the main doors of Nablus' Roman and Greek Catholic churches with lighter fluid, then set them afire. They also opened fire on the buildings, striking both with bullets. In Gaza City, militants opened fire from a car at a Greek Orthodox church, striking the facade. Explosive devices were set off at the same Gaza church on Friday, causing minor damage. There were no claims of responsibility for the last three attacks.[4][5]

Several organizations, such as Al-Qaeda and the Mujahideen Shura Council threatened in a joint statement: "you and the West are doomed as you can see from the defeat in Iraq, Afghanistan, Chechnya, and elsewhere. ... We will break up the cross, spill the liquor and impose the jizya tax, then the only thing acceptable is a conversion (to Islam) or (being killed by) the sword. ... God enable us to slit their throats, and make their money and descendants the bounty of the Mujahideen."[6][7]

Employees of Ankara's Diyanet İşleri Başkanlığı (Presidency of Religious Affairs), the state body that organizes Muslim worship in Turkey, asked the authorities on September 19 to open legal proceedings against Pope Benedict XVI and to arrest him when he visits the country in November 2006. They said the Pontiff had violated Turkish laws upholding freedom of belief and thought by "insulting" Islam and the Prophet Muhammad.[8]

Outside Westminster Cathedral, on 18 September2006, around a hundred protestors held banners which included calls for the Pope's execution, "Pope go to Hell" and "Jesus is the slave of Allah", "Islam will conquer Rome," and "May Allah curse the Pope." [9][10]

The Lashkar-e-Taiba in Pakistan has issued a fatwā asking the Muslim community to kill Pope Benedict for his "blasphemous statement" about Mohammad.[11]

Nun killed

On 17 September 2006, two Somali gunmen shot and killed a 65 year-old Italian nun, Sister Leonella Scogbati, working at the Austrian-run children's hospital in the city of Mogadishu, with her Somali bodyguard.[12] A senior Somali Islamist, speaking on condition of anonymity, said: "There is a very high possibility the people who killed her were angered by the Catholic Pope's recent comments against Islam"; anyway, he offered no specific evidence for that motive [13].

Sheikh Mukhtar Robow, member of the Islamic Courts Union, said there was a "concrete possibility" that the murder of the nun was "a reprisal for the Pope’s remarks on Islam".[14] However, several humanitarian workers and Christian volunteers have already been murdered by Islamic gunmen in Somalia lately, including Italian bishop Salvatore Colombo shot dead during celebrating mass in Mogadishu in 1989 [15], Graziella Fumagalli, an Italian medical doctor, killed in 1995 in the anti-TBC Center she was running [16]; Annalena Tonelli assassinated in 2003 in a unique relief center in Borama, after 33 years of service to the poorest [17], and Dick and Enid Eyeington[18] in 2003.

Attacks on Christians in Iraq

In Iraq, the flags of Germany, Israel, and the United States, and Christian crosses and effigies of Pope Benedict were burned in Basra.[19]

Iraq has one of the largest Christian minorities in the Middle East, where Assyrians number about 1 million. Since the Pope's comments, several churches have been bombed; however, many were being bombed since before the Pope's comments starting with the US invasion in 2003 in the power vacuum created by the fall of Saddam Hussein. A previously unknown Baghdad-based group, Kataab Ashbal Al Islam Al Salafi (Islamic Salafist Boy Scout Battalions) threatened to kill all Christians in Iraq if the Pope does not apologize to Muhammad within three days.[20] Christian Leaders in Iraq have asked their parishioners not to leave their homes, after two Christians were stabbed and killed in Baghdad.[21]

There have been reports of writing in church doors stating "If the Pope does not apologise, we will bomb all churches, kill more Christians and steal their property and money." [22]

The Iraqi militia Jaish al-Mujahedin (Holy Warriors' Army) announced its intention to "destroy their cross in the heart of Rome… and to hit the Vatican."[23]

Despite the Pope's comments dying down in the media, attacks on Assyrian Christians continued and on 9 October, Islamic extremist group kidnapped priest Paulos Iskander. The relatives of a Christian priest who was beheaded 3 days later in Mosul, have said that his Muslim captors had demanded his church condemn the pope's recent comments about Islam and pay a $350,000 ransom.[24]



  1. "Vatican braces for Muslim anger" BBC, 15 September 2006
  2. "Egyptian Muslims stage demonstration against Pope remarks" People's Daily Online 16 September 2006
  3. "Report: Rome tightens pope's security after fury over Islam remarks", Haaretz, 16 September 2006
  4. "Five churches bombed and attacked" Associated Press 16 September 2006
  5. Pope Protesters Firebomb 4 West Bank Churches, Open Fire at Fifth
  6. Cite error: Invalid <ref> tag; no text was provided for refs named autogenerated1
  7. "Iranian leader urges more papal protests". Yahoo! News. 2006-09-18. http://news.yahoo.com/s/ap/20060919/ap_on_re_mi_ea/muslims_pope. 
  8. "Turk workers urge pope's arrest" CNN, 19 September 2006]
  9. The Pope must die, says Muslim
  10. Just outside Westminster Cathedral today...
  11. LET issues fatwa to kill the pope. International terrorism monitor, paper no.133, by B.Raman. 2 October 2006
  12. "Gunmen Slay Italian Nun", AFP, 17 September 2006
  13. "Nun's death may be linked to Pope: Somali Islamist", Reuters
  14. "Nun shot dead as Pope fails to calm militant Muslims", Timesonline, 18 September 2006
  15. http://www.atma-o-jibon.org/italiano4/rit_bellaspiga5.htm
  16. http://www.highbeam.com/doc/1P2-17894764.html
  17. http://www.awdalnews.com/wmview.php?ArtID=3854
  18. http://www.somalilandtimes.net/200/028.shtml
  19. In pictures: Fresh anti-Pope protests, BBC News
  20. "Christian Killed in Iraq in Response to Pope's Speech: Islamic Website", Assyrian International News Agency, 16 September 2006
  21. "Second Assyrian Christian Killed in Retaliation for Pope's Remarks", Assyrian International News Agency, 17 September 2006
  22. Violence against Christians grows in Iraq, Ekklesia, 29 September 2006
  23. "Vatikan verschärft Sicherheitsvorkehrungen", Der Spiegel, 16 September 2006 (German)
  24. Iraq priest "killed over pope speech", Aljazeera.net, 12 October 2006

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