Pope urges Muslim leaders to condemn religious-based violence

 Pope Francis on Monday condemned the killings by Islamist militants in Paris last week and urged Muslim leaders around the world to condemn fundamentalist interpretations of religion which attempt to justify violence in God`s name.

Vatican City: Pope Francis on Monday condemned the killings by Islamist militants in Paris last week and urged Muslim leaders around the world to condemn fundamentalist interpretations of religion which attempt to justify violence in God`s name.

"Violence is always the product of a falsification of religion, its use a pretext for ideological schemes whose only goal is power over others," the pope said.

The Argentine pope, 78, made his comments in his annual meeting with diplomats accredited to the Vatican in a speech that has come to be known as his "State of the World" address.

Francis said the killings in Paris showed how the rejection of the beliefs of other people could lead to "the breakdown of society and spawning violence and death.

"We see painful evidence of this in the events reported daily in the news, not least the tragic slayings which took place in Paris a few days ago."

Seventeen people, including journalists and police, were killed in three days of violence that began on Wednesday with a shooting attack by Islamist militants on the political weekly Charlie Hebdo, known for its satirical cartoons about Islam and other religions. 

"I express my hope that religious, political and intellectual leaders, especially those of the Muslim community, will condemn all fundamentalist and extremist interpretations of religion which attempt to justify such acts of violence," the pope said in a section about the Middle East.

Francis has several times in the past months condemned Islamic State fighters who have killed or displaced Shi`ite Muslims, Christians and others in Syria and Iraq who do not share the group`s ideologies. 

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