Distinguish Muslim friends from enemies, says Pell

Distinguishing "Islamists" from the "many wonderful Muslims" he says he has met, Sydney Cardinal George Pell says that most victims of "extreme Muslims" are in fact Muslims.

Speaking at a "deliberative poll" organised by the Australian newspaper, Cardinal Pell also said that the Muslim community is overly sensitive and is the only migrant group to have plotted violence against Australia.

"In a democratic society, every group is criticised - Prime Minister (John) Howard said quite rightly last year that if Catholics rioted in Australia every time they were criticised, there would be regular riots," Cardinal Pell said.

"It's not appropriate that Muslims regularly reply to criticism with insults, denigration and evasions while avoiding the point of issue, and unfortunately we've seen too much of this from some Muslim public personalities."

"But there are Islamists who are at war with the Western world - most of the victims of these extreme Muslims are fellow Muslims," he said. "So its important to distinguish accurately your real friends from your enemies and from those who only seem to be friends."

According to Cardinal Pell's comments, integration is a "key tool" for a harmonious and secular democratic society.

"Equal rights however, carry with them equal responsibilities - problems arise when minorities demand special consideration that places them outside the law as it applies to other citizens," hesaid.

"Flexibility and adaptability are called for when refugees and immigrants arrive in our country but there is a limit in (adopting) minority demands beyond which a democratic host society cannot go without losing its identity."

Cardinal Pell also criticised the treatment of Christians in Muslim majority countries.

"I don't think we could be having a meeting like this in Pakistan or Saudi Arabia," he said.

"Christians are being harassed, they're being persecuted and even sometimes in the Sudan being sold into slavery. I would like to know where my Muslim friends stand on this issue."

The Australian reports that before the deliberative poll, 35 per cent told Newspoll that Muslims were a threat to the Australian way of life. However, following a weekend of deliberations, this fell to 21 per cent.

Those who believed Muslims coming to Australia had a bad impact on national security nearly halved from 44 per cent to 23 per cent. The 49 per cent who said the incompatibility of Muslim and non-Muslim values was a big contributor to terrorism fell to 22 per cent. Just under a third originally thought that Muslims who come to live here made Australia worse but this shrunk to just 7 per cent.

Organiser Pamela Ryan said last night the results showed how much ideas changed when people had the opportunity to learn about the issues and meet Australian Muslims.

Muslims are too sensitive, says Pell (The Australian, 5/3/07)
Blueprint for coexistence (The Australian, 5/3/07)
Muslims are too sensitive, says Cardinal Pell (New English Review, 5/3/07)

LINKS (not necessarily endorsed by Church Resources)
Cardinal George Pell, "Islam and Western Democracies" (Archdiocese of Sydney, 4/2/06)
Cardinal George Pell

Pell to join Muslim poll panel (CathNews, 1/3/07)
Pell affirms commitment to dialogue with Muslims (CathNews 8/5/06)
Pell says Catholics should read the Koran (CathNews 4/5/06)
Pell comments portrayed as anti-Muslim slur (CathNews 15/11/04)

5 Mar 2007

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