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Pope remarks promote inter-religious discord: Leader
Tehran Times Political Desk
TEHRAN - Supreme Leader of the Islamic Revolution Ayatollah Seyyed Ali Khamenei said here on Monday that Pope Benedict XVI’s offensive remarks were part of a U.S.-Israeli conspiracy to create a conflict between religions.
Ayatollah Khamenei stated that the comments were part of the same conspiracy that started with the U.S. invasion of Iraq, which was devised by great powers intent on creating crises between religions to "pursue their evil objectives".
"Leaders of the global arrogance have already defined the links of the chain in this U.S.-Zionist project by attacking Iraq," he observed at a meeting with members of a committee responsible for promoting prayer.
"The issue of the insulting cartoons and the remarks of some U.S. politicians about Islam are different links in the chain of conspiracy to begin a crusade, and the Pope's remarks are the latest link in this chain," he added.
In a speech in Germany on Tuesday, the Pope spoke of the link between Islam and jihad and quoted a 14th century Byzantine emperor who equated the propagation of Islam with violence.
“Islamic jihad is not imposing one’s ideas on others. Rather, it is a liberation campaign pitting nations against the powers that enslave people,” the Leader said.
The Pope's comments, which unleashed a wave of anger in the Islamic world, came after caricatures published in a Danish newspaper last year deemed insulting to the Prophet Muhammad (S) set off deadly protests.
“The most important aims of such remarks are to help create a religious crisis, pit the followers of different religions against each other, and prevent cooperation between nations and the followers of divine religions,” the Leader continued.
The global bullying powers view their survival as dependent on creating religious crises, and the Pope’s remarks have helped them, he said.
He went on to say that the United States is trying to sow discord between Muslims and Christians, tarnish the image of Muslim minorities in the West, and suppress Islamic countries under the pretext of their alleged support of terrorism.
“In this case, the Great Satan is playing a key role. Everyone should realize that attacks and objections should be directed at those who benefit from the Pope’s unfair remarks,” Ayatollah Khamenei said.
“These remarks came as a surprise from a high-ranking Christian official and are very regrettable,” he added.
Elsewhere in his address, Ayatollah Khamenei said that all information dissemination tools should be used to promote the culture of prayer in Iran.
He called prayer the main pillar of individual and public piety and a vital element of a religious society.
The Leader also called on all governmental bodies to join hands to promote prayer and enlighten the people about the importance of praying.