Pope compared to Hitler and Mussolini over Islam remarks

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The Independent Online

Turkey's ruling Islamic-rooted party joined a wave of criticism of Pope Benedict XVI today, saying he would go down in history in the same league as leaders like Hitler and Mussolini for remarks he made on Islam.

The comments by Salih Kapusuz, a deputy leader of Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan's party, came a day after Turkey's top cleric asked Benedict to take back recent remarks, escalating tensions before the pontiff's November visit.

The Pope made his remarks on Islam in a speech in which he quoted from a book recounting a conversation between 14th century Byzantine Christian Emperor Manuel Paleologos II and an educated Persian on the truths of Christianity and Islam.

"The emperor comes to speak about the issue of jihad, holy war," the Pope said.

"He said, I quote, 'Show me just what Mohammed brought that was new, and there you will find things only evil and inhuman, such as his command to spread by the sword the faith he preached,"' he quoted the emperor as saying.

Benedict added, "I quote," twice before pronouncing the phrases on Islam and described them as "brusque," while neither explicitly agreeing with nor repudiating them.

Kapusuz told the state-owned Anatolia news agency that Benedict's remarks looked "like an effort to revive the mentality of the Crusades".

"Benedict, the author of such unfortunate and insolent remarks is going down in history for his words. However ... he is going down in history in the same category as leaders such as Hitler and Mussolini," he said.

His comments came despite the Vatican defending the Pope saying that the Pontiff wanted to promote respect and dialogue toward other religions.

Earlier today, Pakistan's parliament unanimously adopted a resolution condemning Pope Benedict XVI for making what it called "derogatory" comments about Islam.

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