Al-Qaida in Iraq warned Pope Benedict XVI on Monday that its war against Christianity and the West will go on until Islam takes over the world. Extremists said the pope's comments proved that the West was in a war against Islam.
Al-Qaida in Iraq and its allies said Muslims would be victorious and addressed the pope as "the worshipper of the cross," saying "you and the West are doomed as you can see from the defeat in Iraq, Afghanistan, Chechnya and elsewhere. ... We will break up the cross, spill the liquor and impose the 'jizya' tax, then the only thing acceptable is a conversion (to Islam) or (being killed by) the sword."
"You infidels and despots, we will continue our jihad (holy war) and never stop until God avails us to chop your necks and raise the fluttering banner of monotheism, when God's rule is established governing all people and nations," said the statement by the Mujahedeen Shura Council, an umbrella organization of Sunni Arab extremist groups in Iraq.
Another Iraqi extremist group, Ansar al-Sunna, challenged "sleeping Muslims" to prove their manhood by doing something other than "issuing statements or holding demonstrations."
"If the stupid pig is prancing with his blasphemies in his house," the group said in a Web statement, referring to the pope, "then let him wait for the day coming soon when the armies of the religion of right knock on the walls of Rome."
In Iran, supreme leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei used the comments to call for protests against the United States. He argued that while the pope may have been deceived into making his remarks, the words give the West an "excuse for suppressing Muslims" by depicting them as terrorists.
"Those who benefit from the pope's comments and drive their own arrogant policies should be targeted with attacks and protests," he said, referring to the United States.
Attackers hurled firebombs at seven churches in the West Bank and Gaza Strip over the weekend, and a nun was shot to death in Somalia.