Thousands of Muslim converts to Catholicism and their allies have written an open letter to Pope Francis demanding to know why he praises Islam as a good religion and pointing out they risked their lives to become Christians.
The converts ask Pope Francis: 'If Islam is a good religion in itself, as you seem to teach, why did we become Catholic? Do not your words question the soundness of the choice we made at the risk of our lives?'
Muslims are forbidden from converting to other faiths under Sharia law and conversion is considered by some Muslim countries to be a crime punishable by death.
The letter, which first emerged on Christmas day in French and signed by only ten people, has now gained over 3,700 signatures, though it is not clear whether or not some are merely non-Muslim opponents of Islam.
The organisers say that they have written after repeatedly attempting to gain meetings with Pope Francis to discuss Islam and their predicament.
According to LifeSiteNews.com, the organisers are not commenting on how many Muslim converts to Catholicism have signed the letter, though they say the names of the former Muslim signatories and the associations to which they belong would be revealed to the Pope only, were he to ask.
They told the news website in a statement: 'As we said in the presentation of our letter, the ex-Muslims, in general, knowing themselves condemned to death by Islam, avoid making themselves known.'
The letter specifically raises the Pope's teaching on Islam in the 2013 apostolic exhortation Evangelii Gaudium (paragraphs 252 and 253), in which Francis wrote that 'authentic Islam and the proper reading of the Koran are opposed to every form of violence'.
The letter says: 'You do not like to beat around the bush, and neither do we, so allow us to say frankly that we do not understand your teaching about Islam.
'Because it does not account for the fact that Islam came after Christ, and so is, and can only be, an Antichrist, and one of the most dangerous because it presents itself as the fulfilment of Revelation (of which Jesus would have been only a prophet).'
The letter also raises comments by Pope Francis in August 2016 in which he appeared to compare 'Islamic violence' with violence by some individual Catholics.
He was asked why he never talks of 'Islamic violence' by a journalist aboard the papal plane in the wake of the brutal murder of Father Jacques Hamel, the French priest who was slain while celebrating Mass.
The Pope replied: 'I don't like to speak of Islamic violence, because every day, when I browse the newspapers, I see violence, here in Italy ... this one who has murdered his girlfriend, another who has murdered the mother-in-law ... and these are baptized Catholics! There are violent Catholics! If I speak of Islamic violence, I must speak of Catholic violence.'
The letter states: 'Islam prescribes death for apostates (Quran 4.89, 8.7-11), do you know? How is it possible to compare Islamic violence with so-called Christian violence?'
It continues: 'In accordance with His teaching (Luke 14:26), we preferred Him, the Christ, to our own life,' they add. 'Are we not in a good position to talk to you about Islam?...Where the Gospel proclaims the good news of Jesus' death and resurrection for the salvation of all, and the fulfilment of the Covenant initiated with the Hebrews. Allah has nothing to offer but war and murder of the "infidels" in exchange for his paradise.
'In fact, as long as Islam wants us to be its enemy, we are, and all our protestations of friendship cannot change anything.'
The letter does clarify that they it does not confuse Islam with ordinary Muslims, but also says that 'naiveté in the face of Islam is suicidal and very dangerous'.
It questions Pope Francis about his January 20, 2014, remarks for World Migrants and Refugees Day, in which he encouraged a primarily Muslim audience to find hope in the Qur'an.
It asks: 'That the Pope seems to propose the Quran as a way of salvation, is that not cause for worry? Should we return to Islam?'
The letter takes a stance against Islamic immigration, taking issue with Pope Francis for preaching 'the welcoming of migrants regardless of the fact that they are Muslims'.
It warns of impending danger from 'Islamization', stating: 'This is a matter of life and death, and any complacency towards Islam is treasonous. We do not wish the West to continue with Islamization, nor that your actions contribute to it. Where then would we go to seek refuge?'
And it cites 2 John 1:10-11: 'If anyone comes to you but refuses this Gospel, do not receive him among you nor greet him. Whoever greets him participates in his evil works.'
The signatories tell Pope Francis: 'Also, we do not understand that you are pleading for Muslims to practise their religion in Europe. The meaning of Scripture should not be supplied by the proponents of globalism, but in fidelity to Tradition. The Good Shepherd hunts the wolf, He does not let it enter the sheepfold.'
The letter requests a synod on the dangers of Islam, saying: 'In the interest of justice and truth, the Church must bring to light why the arguments put forward by Islam to blaspheme the Christian faith are false. If the Church had the courage to do that, we do not doubt that millions, Muslims as well as other men and women seeking the true God, would convert.'