MADRID, Sept 23: Former Spanish prime minister Jose Maria Aznar on Friday defended Pope Benedict XVI’s comments about Islam, saying the pontiff had no need to apologise and asking why Muslims never did, according to newspaper reports published on Saturday.

“Why do we always have to say sorry and they never do?” Mr Aznar told a conference in the United States.

“It is interesting to note that while a lot of people in the world are asking the pope to apologise for his speech, I have never heard a Muslim say sorry for having conquered Spain and occupying it for eight centuries.”

He was referring to the Muslim conquest of much of the Iberian peninsula, which lasted from the eighth to the 15th century.

Mr Aznar, Spain’s right-wing prime minister from 1996 to 2004, took the country into the US-led invasion of Iraq, despite overwhelming public opposition.

His government was voted out of office following a terrorist attack in Madrid in March 2004, in part because of fears that his policies had made Spain more vulnerable.

Addressing Friday’s conference in Washington on ‘global threats’, Mr Aznar said: “We are living in a time of war... It’s them or us. The West did not attack Islam, it was they who attacked us.

“We must face up to an Islam that is ambitious, that is radical and that influences the Muslim world, a fundamentalist Islam that we must confront because we don’t have any choice.

“We are constantly under attack and we must defend ourselves,” he said.

“I support Ferdinand and Isabella,” he proclaimed, in reference to the medieval Catholic monarchs who drove Muslims out of Spain in 1492.

The pope sparked outrage across the Muslim world with a speech in his native Germany on Sept 12, in which he quoted a medieval Christian emperor as saying that the Islamic concept of jihad was ‘evil and inhuman’. —AFP

Opinion

Editorial

Population calamity
Updated 22 Jul, 2024

Population calamity

Pakistan can also control its growth rate by following the examples of its peers and implementing functional family planning programmes and campaigns.
Blow to occupation
22 Jul, 2024

Blow to occupation

THE International Court of Justice has delivered a legal blow to the decades-old Israeli occupation of Palestinian...
Seeking Priya Kumari
22 Jul, 2024

Seeking Priya Kumari

PRIYA Kumari — the minor girl who vanished on Ashura in 2021 while serving water at a sabeel in Sukkur district ...
Olympics contingent
21 Jul, 2024

Olympics contingent

FROM 10 in Tokyo the last time, it is now down to seven in Paris, and split across just three disciplines. When...
Grave concerns
21 Jul, 2024

Grave concerns

PUNJAB Chief Minister Maryam Nawaz’s open assault on the Supreme Court for ruling in favour of the PTI in the...
Civil unrest
Updated 21 Jul, 2024

Civil unrest

The government must start putting out fires instead of fanning more flames.