By Salah Sarrar
AGADEZ, Niger (Reuters) – Libyan leader Muammar Gaddafi said on Friday that it was a mistake to believe that Christianity was a universal faith alongside Islam.
“There are serious mistakes — among them the one saying that Jesus came as a messenger for other people other than the sons of Israel,” he told a mass prayer meeting in Niger.
“Christianity is not a faith for people in Africa, Asia, Europe and the Americas. Other people who are not sons of Israel have nothing to do with that religion,” he said at the prayer meeting, held to mark the birth of the prophet Mohammed.
Gaddafi, who is seeking to expand his influence in Africa, said his arguments came from the Koran. He led similar prayers last year in Mali.
“It is a mistake that another religion exists alongside Islam. There is only one religion which is Islam after Mohammed,” he said in the sermon, which was broadcast live on Libyan state television.
“All those believers who do not follow Islam are losers,” he added. “We are here to correct the mistakes in the light of the teachings of the Koran.”
Gaddafi also said it was a mistake to believe that Jesus had been crucified and killed. “It is not correct to say that. Another man resembling Jesus was crucified in his place.”
Libya grants financial aid to Islamic communities in Africa and elsewhere to build mosques, Islamic schools and facilities.
Libyan state television often shows Gaddafi meeting groups of African men or women telling him they converted to Islam.
The mass prayers, chaired by Gaddafi, came a day after Arab leaders wrapped up a summit in Saudi Arabia. Libya was the only Arab state to shun the gathering.
“Libya has turned its back on the Arabs … Libya is an African nation. As for Arabs, may God keep them happy and far away,” Gaddafi has said to explain his boycott of the summit.