I recommend reading the Pope’s actual statement rather than reading any synopsis. Having said that, here is an analysis by Joshua Trevino (The Brussels Journal) and from the desk of Dan Murphy (The Christian Science Monitor).
The irony of Muslim extremist calling for suicide attacks against the pope should be lost on no one. The pope obviously was quoting a 14th Christian cleric and was not expressing his own opinion.
Some points of fact: Islam was created by the sword and spread by the sword. The ramifications of this we see today in Iraq. Sunnis and Shi’as kill each other as a direct result of a feud that began after the death of Muhammed and the struggle to nominate a successor. Hence the split into the Sunni and Shi’a sects, the most popular. There are others.
The vast majority of Muslims worldwide do not adhere to the violence advocated by Muslim Extremists. Their belief system has been hijacked by these Extemists / Conservative Muslims. Many writers do not like the use of the word, “hijacked,” as they state that Islam was founded on violence and parts of the Qu’ran advocate violence against the non-believer, therefore Extremists could not have hijacked a theology with violence since the theology itself was born of it. There is fear among Muslims that voicing opposition to the Extremists will mark them as targets. Perhaps I should say that the Moderate Muslim has grown spiritually beyond the violence from which they were begotten.
Islam has become defensive. Historically, they have been beset upon. The Crusades, the fragmentation of the Ottoman Empire after WWI, coupled with the partitioning of the Middle East after WWI, and assassination of Mohammed Mossadeq in 1953 have left a legacy of treachery, jealousy, animosity, and resentment within many Islamic cultures.
In this light, if we put ourselves in Muslim shoes, we can see a little bit why Muslims become indignant. Add into this the crusade-like references coming from the White House and the threat of a clash of cultures feel very real to them.
Islam is the world’s 2nd largest religion, after Christianity, with about 1.3 billion members. Indonesia, population 245 million (CIA.gov), is the world’s most populuous Islamic country.