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Vatican calls on Muslim leaders to condemn Islamic State

A man and three children in Iraq

Fleeing violence: A man and three children flee violence from forces loyal to the Islamic State in Sinjar, Iraq, on August 10.
Photo: CNS/Rodi Said, Reuters

THE Vatican called on Muslim leaders to condemn the “barbarity” and “unspeakable criminal acts” of Islamic State militants in Iraq, saying a failure to do so would jeopardise the future of inter-religious dialogue.

“The plight of Christians, Yezidis and other religious and ethnic communities that are numeric minorities in Iraq demands a clear and courageous stance on the part of religious leaders, especially Muslims, those engaged in interfaith dialogue and everyone of goodwill,” said a statement from the Pontifical Council for Inter-religious Dialogue released by the Vatican on August 12.

“All must be unanimous in condemning unequivocally these crimes and must denounce the invocation of religion to justify them,” the statement said. “Otherwise, what credibility will religions, their followers and their leaders have? What credibility would remain to the inter-religious dialogue patiently pursued in recent years?”

The same day, Egypt’s grand mufti Shawqi Allam said the Islamic State fighters did not represent Islamic values or Islamic law, reported the Middle East News Agency. It also reported that, during a meeting with Lebanon’s Prime Minister, the mufti said the militants’ crimes were a shame to Islam and Muslims, and that regional and international co-operation was needed to fight such groups.

The Vatican document noted that the “majority of Muslim religious and political institutions” had opposed the Islamic State’s avowed mission of restoring a caliphate, a sovereign Muslim state under Islamic law, to succeed the Ottoman Caliphate abolished after the founding of modern Turkey in 1923.

The Vatican listed some of the “shameful practices” recently committed by the “jihadists” of the Islamic State, which the United States Government has classified as a terrorist group. Among the practices cited:

• “The execrable practice of beheading, crucifixion and hanging of corpses in public places.”

• “The choice imposed on Christians and Yezidis between conversion to Islam, payment of tribute or exodus.”

• “The abduction of girls and women belonging to the Yezidi and Christian communities as war booty.”

• “The imposition of the barbaric practice of infibulation”, or female genital mutilation.

“No cause can justify such barbarity and certainly not a religion,” the document said.

“Religious leaders also are called on to exercise their influence with the rulers for the cessation of these crimes, the punishment of those who commit them and the restoration of the rule of law throughout the country, ensuring the return home of the deported,” the Vatican said. “These same leaders should not fail to emphasise that the support, financing and arming of terrorism is morally reprehensible.”


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