And they are worried with good reason. The Pope certainly isn’t leading a new Crusade, but Rome is nevertheless the apple of the jihadist eye. One of the most influential Muslim clerics in the world, Sheikh al-Qaradawi, said this a few years ago:
The friends of the Prophet heard that two cities would be conquered by Islam, Romiyya and Constantinople, and the Prophet said that ‘Hirqil [i.e. Constantinople] would be conquered first.’ Romiyya is Rome, the capital of Italy, and Constantinople was the capital of the state of Byzantine Rome, which today is Istanbul. He said that Hirqil which is Constantinople, would be conquered first and this is what happened”¦All right, Constantinople was conquered, and the second part of the prophecy remains, that is, the conquest of Romiyya. This means that Islam will return to Europe. Islam entered Europe twice and left it”¦ Perhaps the next conquest, Allah willing, will be by means of preaching and ideology. The conquest need not necessarily be by the sword”¦ [The conquest of Mecca] was not by the sword or by war, but by a [Hudabiyya] treaty, and by peace”¦ Perhaps we will conquer these lands without armies.
Note what he says about the Treaty of Hudaibiyya, which Islamic apologists routinely present in the West as something perfectly on the up-and-up, but note that he says twice that the Islamic conquest of Rome would only perhaps come without violence. He leaves the door to violent jihad in Rome spectactularly ajar.
“Vatican Security Worries Over bin Laden Tape,” by Ian Fisher for the New York Times (thanks to all who sent this in):
ROME “” The Vatican on Thursday rejected an audiotaped accusation from Osama bin Laden that Pope Benedict XVI was leading a “new Crusade” against Muslims, but Italian security officials were concerned about the threats included in Mr. bin Laden’s new message.
“These accusations are absolutely unfounded,” the Rev. Federico Lombardi, the pope’s chief spokesman, said in a telephone interview. “There is nothing new in this, and it doesn’t have any particular significance for us.”
The audio message attributed to Mr. bin Laden was released Wednesday night and was addressed to “the intelligent ones in the European Union.” It was posted on a militant Web site on Wednesday, and an English transcription was distributed Thursday by the SITE Intelligence Group in Bethesda, Md., which tracks postings by Al Qaeda on the Internet.
The audiotape listed broad grievances, but specifically mentioned the pope, and coincided with the busiest week of the year at the Vatican, the week leading up to Easter Sunday. The pope, who turns 81 next month, will appear at several public events, including the annual Good Friday procession of the Stations of the Cross at the Colosseum.
In the five-minute message, the speaker said there would be a “severe” reaction against the publication in Europe of cartoons many Muslims considered offensive to the Prophet Muhammad. He said the cartoons “” one reprinted last month in Denmark, more than two years after they were first published there “” “came in the framework of a new Crusade in which the pope of the Vatican has played a large, lengthy role.”
Without naming any specific action or target, the speaker said, “The response will be what you see and not what you hear, and let our mothers bereave us if we do not make victorious our messenger of God.”
Father Lombardi dismissed the accusations, noting that the pope had condemned the cartoons several times and stressed that “religion must be respected.”…
That’s a pity. Because religion should be respected, but what should be the penalty for not respecting it? And what happens when Muslims begin to assert that respect for Islam requires Christians to make impossible concessions?