British police have said they are monitoring the internet for threats against the Pope and attempts to disrupt the papal visit in September.
Chief Constable Meredydd Hughes, who is co-ordinating the national police effort for the papal visit, said police were monitoring extremist websites and other media that appear to be targeting the Pope.
He was reacting to reports that an Islamist website has urged Birmingham Muslims to disrupt the papal Mass at Cofton Park.
Chief Constable Hughes said: “We are aware of this website and are monitoring it closely, as indeed we are monitoring all such websites and media.
“Although we are unable to discuss the content of individual websites, we will of course ensure that such measures are taken as to protect the Pope and all those who are coming to see him.”
Questions about the Pope’s safety arose last week after a post on the Leicester-based website suggested that Muslims in Birmingham use the opportunity of the papal Mass to protest against the Pope.
The website, called the Islamic Standard, urged Muslims to “tell the Pope just what they think of him after his insults against the Prophet Muhammad”.
It also said the Birmingham event was not only a chance to “challenge these evil words of this evil Pope” but that it was also a chance to “call people away from the shirk [idolatry] of worshipping the dead like the Catholics do, calling out to them for help and intercession”.
While most papal events were not being held in Muslim areas, the website said, the Birmingham event “brings the Pope and those who worship him into direct contact with the large Muslim population of Birmingham and offers them the perfect chance to learn about Islam and for the Muslims to forbid the munkar [denounced practice] of worshipping dead men and following the dictates of the sodomite, child-molesting Church of Rome.
“We at the Islamic Standard hope the Muslims of Birmingham take this duel opportunity to give Da’wah [witness] to these 80,000 travelling disbelievers, whilst at the same time telling the Pope in no uncertain terms what Muslims think of his evil slanders against the last Prophet of God and his message.”
Khalid Mahmood, the MP for Perry Barr, told the Sunday Mercury that he feared the post might incite violence and even cause riots on the day.
He said: “These supposed Muslims are doing all they can to incite violence. Sadly, if Muslims do turn up and preach at Catholics it could easily turn to violence.
“The police should look at the comments on this site because they can only serve to increase tensions and perhaps even cause riots on the day.
“This is just the warped product of warped minds and it reveals how ignorant they are about Islam.”