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Pakistan's Parliament Condemns Pope Benedict XVI

Pakistan's parliament on Friday unanimously adopted a resolution condemning Pope Benedict XVI for making what it called "derogatory" comments about Islam, and seeking an apology from him for hurting the sentiments of Muslims.

The resolution, moved by hardline lawmaker Fazal Karim, was supported by both government and opposition lawmakers in the National Assembly or lower house of parliament.

Chaudhry Ameer Hussain, speaker of the National Assembly, allowed Karim to move the resolution after Karim said the pope had insulted Islam and the Prophet Muhammad, and hurt the sentiments of the entire Muslim world by making "derogatory remarks."

The measure was adopted a day after the Vatican sought to defuse criticism of the pontiff's remarks, when he quoted from a book recounting a conversation between 14th century Byzantine Christian Emperor Manuel Paleologos II and an educated Persian on the truths of Christianity and Islam.

"The emperor ... said, I quote, 'Show me just what Mohammed brought that was new, and there you will find things only evil and inhuman, such as his command to spread by the sword the faith he preached,'" he quoted the emperor as saying.

On Thursday, the Vatican said the pope had not intended to offend Muslim sensibilities with the remarks.

But the Foreign Ministry in Islamabad termed the remarks "regrettable."

"Anyone who describes Islam as a religion as intolerant encourages violence," Foreign Ministry spokeswoman Tasnim Aslam said.

"What he has done is that he has quoted very offensive remarks by some emperor hundreds of years ago," Aslam said on Friday. "It is not helpful (because) we have been trying to bridge the gap, calling for dialogue and understanding between religions."

She said Muslims had a long history of tolerance, adding that when the Catholic kingdom of Spain expelled its Jewish population in 1492 they were welcomed by Muslim nations such as the Turkish Ottoman Empire.