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Iran seminaries shut in protest at Pope remarks

Religious seminary schools across Iran were closed on Sunday in protest at remarks by Pope Benedict XVI that linked Islam to violence, state media said.

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Iran seminaries shut in protest at Pope remarks
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TEHRAN: Religious seminary schools across Iran were closed on Sunday in protest at remarks by Pope Benedict XVI that linked Islam to violence, state media said.            

 

"All the seminary schools are closed to show their disgust at the outrageous and anti-Islamic comments made by the pope," state television said.        

 

It said that the heads of the main seminary schools in Iran's clerical epicentre of Qom "asked all scholars and theologians to gather for the protest which will be held (in seminaries) across the nation at around 10:00 am (0630 GMT)."        

 

In place of normal lectures, students were expected to listen to sermons by theologians damning the pope's speech and then collectively ask the pope for an unequivocal apology.       

 

The state-run IRNA agency said the order for the schools to be shut had come from the Grand Ayatollahs in Qom, the highest ranking of all Shiite clerics.           

 

In a speech in Germany, the pope spoke of a link between Islam and jihad, or "holy war", and quoted a 14th-century Byzantine emperor who said innovations introduced by the Prophet Mohammed were "evil and inhuman".            

 

The pope on Saturday apologised for causing any offence to Muslims but did not retract his remarks, arguing they had been misinterpreted.    

 

Several Grand Ayatollahs in Qom issued separate statements on Saturday urging the pope to apologise and increase his knowledge of Islam, Iranian media said.              

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