“We announce from Nazareth that we are oppose to the Pope’s visit. A person who cursed the prophet, who stood at the head of the effort to convert Muslims in Darfur, Indonesia and the Muslim world, attacked Islam, praised America and drew near and fraternized with the butcher of Gaza-is unwanted here,” the pamphlet reads.Bedein adds: "this group represents a small minority among the Muslim population of Nazareth. Most of the residents are pleased with the flourishing economy and the flood of tourists and look forward to the Pope’s arrival."
The supporters of the leaflet also voiced their opinions about those Muslims who intended to participate in any reception for the head of the Catholic Church.
“The mayor and his deputy will receive the Pope, but no sheikh or imam will dare do that — only crooks who disguise themselves as Muslims,” said one Islamic activist “When someone curses my father, I’m not willing to accept that, so I certainly won’t accept it when they curse the prophet.”
Israel halted construction of the mosque in 2002, its close proximity to the Basilica of the Annunciation being a source of contention between Muslims and Christians. Minister of Construction and Housing Natan Sharansky justified the move by stating that Muslim leaders had failed to honor prior agreements regarding the size of the proposed mosque, and that its presence was a source of intimidation to pilgrims and the wider Christian community.
"It is too bad that Sharon's government sacrificed the Muslims on the altar of the Vatican and Christianity," said Salman Abu Ahmed, head of the Islamic Movement in Nazareth and the city's deputy mayor. "We will continue to pray at the spot."