Catholic Church seeks Pakistan interior minister's apology

Islamabad, Jan 18 (IANS) The Catholic Church in Pakistan has sought an apology from Interior Minister Rehman Malik for drawing a parallel between the Pope Benedict XVI and Tahirul Qadri.

Qadri, a politician and Pakistan-born Canadian cleric, delivered fiery speeches while leading tens of thousand of his supporters in Islamabad near Pakistan parliament during his three-day demonstration, seeking parliament dissolution as his chief demand.

In a statement Thursday, Senior Priest of the Catholic Church in Pakistan Fr Emmanuel Yousaf Mani demanded that Rehman Malik should immediately withdraw unnecessary and provocative remarks, Geo News reported.

"There is no comparison or link between the two personalities. While Pope (Benedict XVI) is an undisputed leader of the Catholic Church, the largest faith group in the world.

"The credentials of Dr Qadri are prerogative of Pakistanis and Muslims to ascertain. On the other hand the Pope has neither a political role nor ambitions in the 21st century states," said Fr Emmanuel Yousaf, who also a director of the National Commission for Justice and Peace.

"We as a Christian community of Pakistan feel deeply angered by such statements maligning the office and the position of Papacy. We demand an apology from Rehman Malik, who is otherwise assigned a responsible task and request him to avoid any such remarks in the future."

On Sunday, Malik had said the cleric was not aware of government's affairs and ridiculed Qadri for his getup and said the cleric looked like 'semi- pope'.

Qadri was speaking lies and his pack of lies would be issued in the shape of a whitepaper, Malik said while raising question as to how Qadri managed huge money.

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