RABAT - Pope Benedict XVI pointlessly upset a billion Muslim faithful by launching an "attack" on Islam, according to Thursday's edition of the independent Moroccan daily "Aujourd'hui".

The newspaper urged the pope, as political leader of the Roman Catholic Church, to "quickly prove that his ambition is not to spark a war of religions by pointlessly upsetting almost a billion faithful".

The pontiff launched a thinly veiled attack on Islam and the concept of holy war or jihad in a speech in Germany on Tuesday, quoting a 14th-century Christian emperor who said the Prophet Mohammed had brought the world "evil and inhuman" things.

"Pope Benedict XVI has a strange approach to the dialogue between religions. He is being provocative," the paper said in its daily editorial column.

"The global outcry over the calamitous cartoons (of the Prophet Mohammed) have only just died down and now the pontiff, in all his holiness, is launching an attack against Islam," it said.

There was a wave of protests throughout the Muslim world after a Danish newspaper published cartoons of the Prophet Mohammed in September 2005 that were then reproduced by a string of other publications across Europe.

09/14/2006 11:07 GMT

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