The Pope provoked anger after criticising Islam and its concept of jihad on Tuesday during a six-day visit to his native Germany, citing a 14th-century Christian emperor who said that Prophet Muhammad had brought the world "evil and inhuman" things.

A statement issued by the Vatican on Thursday, saying the pope had never meant to offend Islam, failed to resolve the furore.

The Pakistani national assembly, parliament's lower house, unanimously passed a resolution on Friday demanding the Pope retract his remarks "in the interest of harmony among different religions of the world".

"The derogatory remarks of the pope about the philosophy of  jihad and Prophet Muhammad have injured sentiments across the Muslim world and pose the danger of spreading acrimony among the religions," the resolution said.

In Qatar, prominent Muslim scholar shaikh Yusuf al-Qaradawi rejected the Pope's comments and said Islam was a religion of peace and reason.

'Lack of wisdom'

In Indonesia, Din Syamsuddin, the chairman of Muhammadiyah, the country's second largest Islamic organisation, said: "The Pope's statements reflect his lack of wisdom.

 "The language used by the pope sounds like that of his 12th-century counterpart who ordered the Crusades"

Hamid  Ansari,
Indian Muslim leader

"It is obvious from the statements that the Pope doesn't have a correct understanding of Islam."

In Egypt, Muhammad Mahdi Akif, the leader of Egypt's Muslim Brotherhood, called for an apology.

"The remarks do not express correct understanding of Islam and are merely wrong and distorted beliefs being repeated in the West," Akif said in a statement.

Akif said the pontiff's comments "pour oil on the fire and ignite the wrath of the whole Islamic world to prove the claims of enmity of politicians and religious men in the West to whatever is Islamic".

Hamid Ansari, chairman of the Indian National Commission for Minorities, said: "The language used by the Pope sounds like that of his  12th-century counterpart who ordered the Crusades."

'Full of enmity'

Ali Bardakoglu, head of the state-run religious affairs directorate in Turkey, said on Thursday that Pope Benedict XVI was "full of enmity and grudge" against Islam. He opposed the pontiff's planned visit to Turkey in November.

In Kuwait, two high-ranking Islamist officials also called on the pontiff to apologise for his remarks.

Ismail Haniya, the Palestinian prime minister, joined the growing chorus of criticism, saying he had offended Muslims everywhere. He said there will be organised protests later in the day "to express Palestinian anger towards the comments that offended Islam and the Muslims".

Muslim Brotherhood

The Muslim Brotherhood, the Arab world's largest group of political Islamists, demanded an apology and called on the governments of Islamic countries to break relations with the Vatican if he does not make one.

The Pope quoted a 14th century
emperor's remarks on Islam

 

The Jordanian branch of the movement said the remarks would only widen a rift between Muslims and the West and revealed deep hatred towards Muslims.

Sheikh Hamza Mansour, who heads the Shura Council of the Islamic Action Front, Jordan's largest opposition party, said only a personal apology could rectify the "deep insult made by the provocative comments" to over one billion Muslims.
   
In Iraq, the Pope's comments were condemned at Friday prayers by followers of Shia cleric Moqtada al-Sadr. Sheikh Salah al-Ubeidi, one of Sadr's aides, condemned "the offence to Islam and the character of the prophet".
   
Violent protests

"This is the second time such an offence has been give before Ramadan," he said, referring to last year's publication of cartoons in a Danish newspaper that led to violent protests by Muslims around the world.

Father Federico Lombardi, the Vatican spokesman, told Aljazeera on Friday that the pontiff did not intend to harm the feelings of Muslims. He also appealed to the Islamic world to recognise that the controversial remarks were only a "minor part" of the speech.

"The pope intends to develop respect and dialogue toward other religions and cultures particularly Islam," he said.