Tensions are particularly high in Turkey amid concerns over whether the pontiff’s planned visit in November will go-ahead. It would be his first papal trip to a Muslim country. The Turkish President, Tayyip Erdogan, described the pontiff’s speech about Islam as ugly, while religious leaders questioned whether the Pope’s trip should be allowed.
In the West Bank city of Nablus, some took their anger out on churches. At least two buildings were razed by a group claiming it was protesting against the Pope. In Pakistan, thousands took to the streets to demonstrate against what they see as another attack on Islam after a Danish paper last year published a cartoon of the prophet Mohammed.
Elsewhere, the president of Yemen, Ali Abdullah Saleh, became the first head of state to publicly denounce the pontiff. He used a re-election campaign rally to tell voters that Pope Benedict had wronged Islam. There has also been a chorus of condemnation from Arab and Muslim countries meeting at the Non-Aligned Movement Summit in Cuba. Meanwhile, Morocco has withdrawn its ambassador from the Vatican and Egypt is considering similar action.