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Iranian leader thanks Pope-- for something the Pope never said

October 07, 2010

President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad has thanked Pope Benedict XVI for denouncing an American fundamentalist pastor’s plan to burn the Qu’ran—although the Pope never made such a public statement.

In letter to the Pope, made public on his office web site, Ahmadinejad wrote: “I thank you for your stance in condemning the unwise act of a church in Florida, America, in insulting the word of God which hurt the hearts of millions of Muslims." The church in Florida actually backed away from its Qu’ran-burning plan.

The AFP story on the Iranian president’s message states that in September the Pope “denounced pastor Terry Jones' threat to burn the Muslim holy book.” In fact the Pontiff’s statement—which AFP accurately quotes—was delivered at a public audience on September 15, several days after Jones had announced that his congregation would not burn the Qu’ran. The Pope’s words referred not to the controversy in the Florida church, but to a violent clash in Afghanistan.

It is true, however, that the Pontifical Council for Inter-Religious Affairs had condemned the Qu’ran-burning plan as “outrageous,” in a statement released before the event was cancelled.


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