TEHRAN (AFP) – Iranian hardline newspapers said there were signs of an Israeli-US plot behind remarks by Pope Benedict XVI that linked Islam to violence and created a wave of anger across the Muslim world.
The daily Jomhuri Islami said Israel and the United States — the Islamic republic’s two arch-enemies — could have dictated the comments to distract attention from the resistance of the Shiite militant group Hezbollah to Israel’s offensive on Lebanon.
“The reality is that if we do not consider Pope Benedict XVI to be ignorant of Islam, then his remarks against Islam are a dictat that the Zionists and the Americans have written (for him) and have submitted to him.”
“The American and the Zionist aim is to undermine the glorious triumph of Islam’s children of Lebanese Hezbollah, which annulled the undefeatable legend of the Israeli army and foiled the Satanic and colonialist American plot,” it said.
Fellow hardline daily Kayhan, whose editor-in-chief is appointed by supreme leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei, said there were signs of Israeli inteference aimed at creating conflict between Islam and Christianity.
“There are many signs that show that Pope Benedict XVI’s remarks regarding the great prophet of Islam are a link in a connected chain of a Zionist-American project,” it said.
“The project, which was created and executed by the Zionist minority, aims at creating confrontation between the followers of the two great divine religions.”
In a speech in his native Germany on Tuesday, the pope spoke of a link between Islam and jihad, or “holy war”, and quoted a 14th-century Byzantine emperor who said innovations introduced by the Prophet Mohammed were “evil and inhuman”.
The pope on Saturday apologised for causing any offence to Muslims but did not retract his remarks, arguing they had been misinterpreted.