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MECCA, Saudi Arabia (AFP) - Fear of the spread of Islam in non-Muslim countries motivates attacks on Muslims in the West, the imam of Islam's holiest shrine has told worshippers celebrating Eid al-Fitr feast.
"Did you wonder why this issue is raised every now and then?" Sheikh Saleh bin Humaid, who also heads the Saudi-appointed Shura (consultative) Council, asked at the Grand Mosque in Mecca, western Saudi Arabia.
He was referring to controversial remarks by Pope Benedict XVI last month in which he cited a 14th-century Christian emperor who said Islam's Prophet Mohammed had brought the world "evil and inhuman" practices "such as his command to spread by the sword the faith he preached".
The issue "was raised only because the hearts of observers among the adversaries are filled with resentment over the spread of this faith and its overcoming of all borders, barriers and blocks in all eras and under all circumstances," bin Humaid said.
"Copies of the holy Koran are a bestseller among non-Muslims in the world and the numbers of those converting to God's religion (Islam) are quickly multiplying" in Christian and other non-Muslim countries, bin Humaid said.
"Religious and political leaders there have warned against the victory of Islam and its expansion," he said.
Bin Humaid, who did not mention Western countries by name, cited what he said was a specialized study produced by "them" and which predicted that Islam would prevail.
The study "said that the future world order will be religious, and the Islamic order will prevail despite its current weakness because it (Islam) is the only religion that enjoys a comprehensive power", bin Humaid said.
This explains why "the symbols of Islam" are being abused and the Muslims' activities and charities are subjected to scrutiny and restrictions in non-Muslim countries, he said.
He was alluding to the clampdown on some Islamic institutions in the United States and other Western countries since the September 11, 2001 attacks on New York and Washington claimed by Al-Qaeda.