09/11/2010, 00.00
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Indian bishop: We will not burn the Koran, but Islam must be more tolerant

by Nirmala Carvalho
Interviewed by AsiaNews, Mgr. Cornelius Leo, Archbishop of Bhopal, condemns the "burn the Koran" campaign launched by American pastor Terry Jones. The prelate urges Christians and Muslims to isolate extremists who offend other faiths: "Having respect for religion means respecting the human being."

Mumbai (AsiaNews) - "The threat of the Florida pastor has created such a reaction among our Muslim friends and the Muslims were rightly offended.  In the same way, when some of their fanatical people do similar acts offending other’s religious beliefs, our Muslims friends should be able to also understand and feel for the hurt religious sentiments of the other religions" So says Mgr. Cornelius Leo, archbishop of Bhopal (Madhya Preadesh) regarding the "burn a Koran" campaign, which has caused widespread alarm around the world in these days.

Interviewed by AsiaNews, the bishop emphasizes that it is only thanks to the reciprocity that the foundations for trust and peaceful coexistence can be laid.

How have the Christian and Muslim communities of Madhya Pradesh reacted to the news of these days?

The announcement of the burning of the Koran has been denounced by Christian and Muslim leaders in our province, but in every region of India and the world. There are elements of fanaticism in all faiths. People of goodwill must not react to these provocations and reject any kind of fundamentalism.

In Madhya Pradesh, Christians and Muslims are a minority. What are the key elements for tolerance and mutual coexistence?

It is important for our communities to work together, not against the majority community (Hindus) and especially to isolate extremists. We do not live as a religious minority against the majority. Respect for religion means respecting the human being. In Madhya Pradesh, we have good relations with Muslim leaders, in fact many Muslims participated in the celebrations for the centenary of Mother Teresa.

Will this goodwill generated between the Muslim and Catholic Leaders be of any advantage to the Middle East Synod .

Mosques are being built all over the world and yet in the Middle East- Churches are not allowed , worship too has strict rules and regulations – and it is essential that our Muslim friends are aware of these things and the Spirit of Reciprocity should be the guiding principles for religious tolerance .

It is only through reciprocity that the foundations can be laid of mutual trust and peaceful coexistence for a new world order.

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