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    » 11/05/2008, 00.00

    VATICAN – ISLAM

    Muslim converts to Christianity ask religious experts at Vatican meeting for religious freedom



    An appeal by 144 people calls on experts engaged in talks not to forget the difficult predicament in which Christians live. Often treated as “outsiders and outcastes”, they urgently demand protection for the right to change religion.

    Rome (AsiaNews) – A group of 144 Christians, including 77 Muslims who converted to Christianity, have launched an appeal to Muslim and Catholics scholars who are currently meeting in the Vatican not to forget Christian minorities and new Christian converts living in Islamic countries. The petitioners, Catholic, Orthodox and Protestants from North Africa and the Middle Eat, want the meeting in the Vatican to agree to the following points:

    1.      that Islamic law does not apply to non-Muslims;

    2.      that dhimmi (or second class) status be abolished;

    3.      that the right to change religion be recognised as a fundamental right.

    The appeal that was sent to AsiaNews was also published on an Algerian Christian site, Notre Dame de Kabylie (in French).

    Those who signed the appeal are happy for the steps taken in the last few years and for the Letter signed by 128 Muslim scholars which many see as a sign that “Islam is not anti-Christian.”

    They stress however that the minority condition endured by Christians in Muslim countries, already influenced by the unbearable status of dhimmi (group protection extended by Islamic rulers to their non-Muslim subjects in exchange for paying a tax, which in effect denies them equal treatment in society), has worsened lately as a result of the rise of militant Islamism.  

    “As for new Christians or converts, they are denied the right to express their new religious identity unless they are prepared to run the risk of being called apostate, which, if they can, effectively forces them into exile,” the appeal said. 

    Those who signed the appeal want the meeting between the Vatican and Muslim scholars to focus on “three urgent topics”:

    1.      that Islamic law not be applied to non-Muslims;

    2.      that dhimmi status, which marginalises Christians and turns them into outcastes, no longer be acceptable and be abolished instead because like slavery it offends human dignity;

    3.      that the right to change religions be recognised as a fundamental right since it comes from God who does not force anyone to worship him.”

    To buttress its arguments, the appeal also points out that in the Qur’an there verses that are in favour of religious freedom even if some hadith call for the death of apostates.

    “Sadly, some states have incorporated the latter in their constitution (ex. Mauritania), which they enforce despite the 1948 Universal declaration of Human Rights.”

    In reaffirming the need for an Islamic-Christian dialogue, the signers of the appeal urge the experts “to take into account Christian communities who live in the said ‘Muslim’ world, or who hail from there. Leaving us out or forgetting about us can only be a sign of ignorance or a deliberate attempt to avoid the issues that cause problems. It is sad to say that current news reports unfailingly show that Christians in the Muslim world are in grave peril.”

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    See also

    06/11/2008 VATICAN - ISLAM
    Catholic-Muslim joint declaration
    The document that concludes the first forum organized by the pontifical council for interreligious dialogue and by representatives of 138 Muslim scholars, authors of the letter entitled 'A Common Word.'

    29/01/2008 INDIA – VATICAN – ISLAM
    In India Catholic scholars of Islam want to respond to the letter of the 138 Muslim scholars
    In a meeting held in New Delhi some 80 experts studied and discussed the letter 138 Muslims scholars sent to the Pope in order to find an answer. They express their appreciation for the document seen as an important “theological platform for building bridges.” One participant suggested translating the letter into Urdu.

    17/04/2009 ISLAM
    Islamic world discusses religious tolerance under Sharia
    At the end of the month, 200 scholars from 60 countries will discuss topics related to the development of the modern world in the light of Muslim law, like freedom of expression, abuse within the family, the protection of the environment, and finance.

    13/11/2014 VATICAN - ISLAM
    Catholic-Muslim dialogue: "It is never acceptable to use religion to justify" violence
    The Catholic-Muslim Forum releases a final statement following its meeting in Rome on 'Working together to serve others'. Young people should be educated to build "respect for others". Inter-religious dialogue is important "to overcome prejudice, distortions, suspicions, and inappropriate generalisations." Pope Francis encouraged participants in their efforts.

    27/02/2009 INDIA - VATICAN
    Kashmir: Young converts from Islam pray for Benedict XVI
    After a group of Muslims from North Africa and the Middle East, young converts from Kashmir join in the prayers for the pope launched by AsiaNews for this Lent. The three converts are offering their suffering and marginalization, together with the sacrifice of their father Bashir, murdered by Muslim extremists because he had converted to Christianity. There is also participation from Italy, where the humiliations suffered by John Paul II are also being remembered.



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