NBC 5: Uneasiness Over Pope's Remarks Felt In Chicago

City’s Muslim Leaders Seek Audience With Cardinal George
CHICAGO — It’s the comment heard around the world, and Pope Benedict XVI’s quote about Muslims is prompting protests and even violence in some areas.

The pope’s remark offended Muslims, and then he apologized. But is that enough? NBC5 asked Chicagoans what they think.

Over the weekend, the pope said he was deeply sorry for any hurt caused by comments in which he quoted a centuries-old text characterizing some of the prophet Mohammed’s teachings as evil and inhuman.

But the controversy hasn’t gone away, and the discomfort extends beyond just the Muslim community, NBC5’s Phil Rogers reported.

Even among Chicago Catholics, there was a feeling on Monday that the pope created a problem he has yet to fully repair.

“The pope had a point that he wanted to make. And I think that he used an ill-advised quote to try to support his case,” one Chicago man said.

“I do think he should do more. And I think he’s a smart enough man that he could do more, and he should have done more to begin with,” a woman told NBC5.

The Mosque Foundation in suburban Bridgeview represents the epicenter of Chicago’s Islamic community. Every week, 5,000 Muslims go there to worship. Many of them expressed continuing concern about the pope’s remarks.

“We are sensitive to such comments, and we are worried if the pope really means what he mentioned in his speech,” Mosque president Mohammed Sahloul said.

Sahloul said he feels violent demonstrations that have erupted worldwide amount to opportunism by splinter factions with agendas of their own.

“Some people who are interested in creating more rift between Muslims and Christians and other faith group will use it to advance their political causes,” Sahloul said.

Many from Muslims in Chicago expressed similar sentiments that the violence is worse than the alleged offense.

“Absolutely. That is a larger insult against the spirit of Islam than any comments the pope could ever make,” said Ahmed Rehab, of the Council on American Islamic Relations.

Both sides were watching for the pope’s general audience on Wednesday to see if he would mention the controversy. Many were looking for further clarification of the pope’s remarks, and maybe a further apology, in the hopes that would make the controversy go away.

“The pope needs to apologize, in a frank manner,” Rehab said.

“I don’t know if it’s a no-win situation, but it’s not pretty,” another Chicagoan said.

An al-Qaida group in Iraq warned on Monday that the war against Christianity and the West will go on until Islam takes over the world, Rogers reported.

Protests have broken out from the Middle East, to South Asia and Indonesia.

Muslim leaders in Chicago said they would like to meet with Cardinal Francis George to get a clarification of the pope’s remarks.

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