Pope Mideast Trip: Jordan's Muslim Brotherhood Demands Apology For Prophet Muhammad Remarks

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AMMAN, Jordan — Jordan's powerful Muslim Brotherhood on Tuesday demanded Pope Benedict XVI apologize ahead of his Mideast tour for his previous remarks about the Prophet Muhammad that many Muslims interpreted as insulting their faith.

The controversy centers on a speech the pope made in September 2006 about Islam and violence in which he quoted a Medieval text that characterized some of the teachings of Muhammad as "evil and inhuman," particularly "his command to spread by the sword the faith."

"The pope insulted Islam and deeply hurt our feelings back in 2006 and he must apologize now to clear the air with Muslims worldwide," said Brotherhood spokesman Jamil Abu-Bakr. "We expect a written or verbal apology now or right before he visits Jordan."

The pope said in 2006 that he was "deeply sorry" over the reaction to his speech and the passage he quoted did not reflect his own opinion.

But Abu-Bakr said the pope's previous remarks were "insufficient" and a "clear public apology is required" before his May 8-15 tour of the region that will also take him to Israel and the Palestinian territories.

The Muslim Brotherhood is Jordan's largest opposition group. Although it commands a small bloc in parliament, it wields considerable sway, especially among poor Jordanians.

During his four-day stay in Jordan, Benedict is scheduled to meet with Muslim religious leaders at Amman's largest mosque _ his second visit to a Muslim place of worship since becoming pope in 2005.

Abu-Bakr said the Brotherhood has not yet received an invitation to attend the meeting but declined to say if the group would attend if the pope did not meet their apology request.

"We'll review and assess our participation depending on the prevailing situation at the time," he said.