While many used harsh words to criticize Pope Benedict XVI’s remarks at Regensburg, others went a step further, and took to the streets.
On September 15, about 2,000 Palestinians protested in Gaza City. In Cairo, 100 demonstrators stood outside a mosque and shouted, “Oh Crusaders, oh cowards! Down with the pope!”
On September 16, five churches in the West Bank and Gaza were attacked. At least five firebombs hit an Anglican church in Nablus, and its door was set on fire. A Greek Orthodox church was also firebombed. Later that day, four masked gunmen attacked the city’s Roman Catholic and Greek Catholic churches. The gunmen set the front doors of both buildings on fire and struck both churches with bullets. In Gaza City, militants shot at a Greek Orthodox church. A day earlier, explosive devices were set off at the church, causing minor damage.
On September 17, churches were again vandalized. A 170-year-old church in the West Bank town of Tul Karem was torched, and a smaller church in another town was partly burned.
The same day, several hundred theological students were given the day off to protest in Qum, Iran’s center for religious study.
Also on September 17, outside the Catholic Westminster Cathedral, protesters held placards reading, “Pope Go To Hell.” The protesters displayed other slogans aimed at Christians in general, including “Jesus is the slave of Allah.”
One of the worst incidents also occurred on September 17, when a 65-year-old nun who worked at a pediatrics hospital in Somalia was shot and killed while leaving the hospital.
On September 18, more than 100 people rallied in front of a Vatican Embassy in Jakarta, waving banners that said, “The Pope is building religion on hatred.”
In Islamabad on September 22, protesters held up placards, reading “Terrorist, extremist Pope be hanged!” and “Down with Muslims’ enemies!” Addressing the gathering, a leader of a coalition of six Islamic parties said, “If I get a hold of the pope, I will hang him.”
On October 11, an Orthodox priest’s body was found beheaded in Mosul, Iraq. Relatives of the priest said the group demanded that, in addition to a ransom, the priest’s church condemn Pope Benedict’s remarks.
Protesters couldn’t get their hands on the pope, so they did what they felt was the next best thing. As pictured below, they burned effigies of the pontiff.
photo credit: Associated Press