3 October 2006


Much of the recent and current reporting in the media, links the religion of Islam either directly or by implication with violence, terrorism, intolerance and discrimination. Even national and community leaders on occasions have been guilty of fuelling such prejudice by their comments.

Events which portray tolerance, mutual respect and co-operation are often not reported. A recent example of this occurred when the acts of violence by extremists carried out against Christian communities in the wake of the reported comments of Pope Benedict XVI received extensive coverage, but stories presenting a different picture were not.

Attacks against seven churches in the Palestinian territories were condemned by Palestinian political leaders and by a leading Muslim cleric the Grand Mufti of Jerusalem and the Palestinian Territories who unequivocally stressed that "these attacks go counter to the spirit and teachings of Islam and are contrary to the traditions of openness and oneness that characterize our Palestinian people, Moslems and Christians alike".

In Nablus, members of the Palestinian Legislative Council and hundreds of Moslems from the city and surrounding areas, including political and municipal figures and civil society leaders, congregated in the Churches till the late evening hours on Sunday September 17th to express their solidarity with the Christian community of Nablus and to send a clear message to the perpetrators of the attacks that they are there to protect the churches and to fend for their Christian brothers and sisters.

Religion has often been blamed as a source of much of the conflict that besets our world. But as the Muslim speaker at the recent Br Paul Noonan memorial lecture pointed out – what is needed is not less religion, but a better understanding and stronger commitment to authentic religious living.

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