'Not my Pope' hashtag highlights French divisions

Pope on papal plane Image copyright FILIPPO MONTEFORTE/Getty

When Pope Francis made a comment about terrorism and Islam it was bound to get attention. However, the sentiments expressed by the man who has been described as the "world's most popular leader", was not welcomed by all.

Speaking onboard the papal plane as he returned to Rome from Poland, the Pope told reporters why he doesn't use the word "Islam'' when discussing terrorism.

"It's not right to identify Islam with violence. It's not right and it's not true,'' he said. "I believe that in every religion there is always a little fundamentalist group.'' And referring to organised crime in Italy, he added: "These are baptised Catholics. If I speak of Islamic violence, then I have to speak of Catholic violence.''

It was the mention of Catholicism that caught the eye of one French social media user @HaussmannParis who tweets extensively about Catholic issues and has written several critical blogs about Islam. @HaussmannParis - who Trending has approached for comment - was one of the first to use the hashtag #PasMonPape following the Pope's comments on Sunday (the tag has been used in different contexts before). It translates as "not my Pope". The hashtag within hours became the number one trend in France, which has suffered several Jihadist terror attacks in recent weeks.

Image copyright Twitter

As the hashtag gained traction it became clear that @HaussmannParis was not alone in thinking that the pontiff had betrayed the Catholic faith.

Image copyright Twitter
Image caption 'Traitor'
Image copyright Twitter
Image caption "I wasn't too fond of Pope Benedict XVI, but Pope Francis makes me regret that."

Some also used the tag #PapeDemission or "Pope Resignation".

Image copyright Twitter
Image caption "#PopeResignation Pope Francis gives speeches of submission to Islam which is unworthy of a pastor. Resignation or deposition by the Cardinals"

Some, like the man below - who was offended by the Pope comparing Islam to Catholicism - began offering tongue-in-cheek replacement suggestions.

Image copyright Twitter
Image caption "Quick, let's change the Pope, I have a candidate"

However, supporters of the Pope soon began to speak up. Samuel Laurent of Le Monde noted that "the hashtag #pasmonpape is made up of 90% of tweets which are mocking and condemning it".

Image copyright Twitter
Image caption "The fascistphere rages against Pope Francis. These people are to Christianity what jihadists are to Islam."

Many felt that Pope Francis's thoughts on unity and love were not a submission to Islam but an echo of the ethos of Jesus Christ. The cartoon below shows Jesus saying "Love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you", whilst the man in the suit, who presumably represents those who started the Pas Mon Pape tag, points at Jesus saying "Islamo-leftie" and "traitor".

Image copyright Twitter
Image caption "Hit with Pope Francis's words, the fascistphere no longer recognises its religion. #NotMyPope"
Image copyright Twitter
Image caption "I'm not Christian but I'm proud of Pope Francis and his message of appeasement and peace."

The Pope made his remarks as he was returning from a five-day-visit to Poland where he attended the church's World Youth Day.

On Saturday, during a visit to a church in Krakow, he prayed for the world to be spared from a "devastating wave of terrorism."

"There is war for the domination of peoples, he added, "Some might think I am speaking of religious war. No. All religions want peace; it is other people who want war."

Image copyright MAX ROSSI/Getty
Image caption Pope Francis exchanges gifts with Egyptian Grand Imam Sheikh Ahmed Mohamed al-Tayeb (L) at the Vatican in May 2016

This is not the first time the Pope has made high-profile gestures of solidarity with Islam. In May 2016 he invited a top Sunni cleric from Egypt to the Vatican, saying "the meeting is the message."

Similarly he invited a series of world religious leaders to an interfaith event following his inauguration in 2013. He began by addressing the Muslim leaders present saying: "I really appreciate your presence, and in it I see a tangible sign of the wish to grow in reciprocal trust and in cooperation for the common good of humanity."

Blog by Megha Mohan and additional reporting by Victoria Laurie

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