New Zealand Churches Defend Islam

Leaders of the Anglican and Catholic churches in New Zealand have distanced themselves from upcoming anti-Islam conferences, saying the Muslim faith poses no threat to society.

New Zealand Churches Defend Islam

Leaders of the Anglican and Catholicchurches in New Zealandhave distanced themselves from upcoming anti-Islam conferences, saying theMuslim faith poses no threat to society, The Press daily reportedon Tuesday, March 27.

"They were saying this is dreadful stuff and weneed to take the lead on this," said Rev. David Coles, Anglican Bishop of Christchurch city, citing phone calls he received fromleaders of Anglican and Catholic churches across New Zealand.

The July Mosque and Miracles conferences will featurethree Christian pastors including Daniel Scot, who was tried under Australianreligious vilification laws in 2004, and Daniel Sheyesteh, an Iranian Christianconvert.

The speakers are expected to warn New Zealandchurch leaders about the alleged danger Islam poses to Western societies.

"It's very provocative and it often getsconfused with immigration issues," said Coles.

John Salmon, president of the Methodist church,agreed.

He said his church will not be attending theconferences as they do not see Islam, which has been in the former Britishcolony for over a century, as a threat.

The conference is organized by the Middle EastChristian Outreach (MECO), formed in 1976 through the merger of the ArabicLiterature Mission, Lebanon Evangelical Missionand Middle East General Mission.

On its website, MECO declaresd that "only thelove and forgiveness of God revealed in Christ can change hearts and bring adesire for real peace" in the Middle East.



The church leaders warned that the conference woulddamage the peaceful Muslim minority, estimated at nearly 17,000 or one percentof the total population.

"It's definitely dangerous to startstereotyping Muslims in this country," said Rev. Coles said.

Catholic Communications spokeswoman Lyndsay Freerstressed that Pope Benedict XVI and his predecessor, John Paul II, haveexplicitly showed respect of Islam and recognized that Muslims "worshippedthe God of Abraham as we do".

Senior pastor Murray Robertson of Spreydon Baptist,where the Christchurchconference will be held, said he was "horrified" at comments made bythe organizers.

Yet, he argued that the church is still obliged toplay host to the conference.

The Muslim minority has reacted angrily to theconference.

"It is fear mongering, Islamophobia,"Javed Khan, president of the Federation of Islamic Associations, has told ThePress.

"The organizers are prejudiced, biasedbigots."

Khan asserted that the Muslim minority has neverposed a danger to the New Zealander society.

Other Muslims leaders complained they were not eveninvited by the conference organizers to defend their faith.

"If they are going to criticize Islam, theyshould invite us to come and discuss it with them," said Mohammad Alayan,imam of Christchurchcity.

"What do you make of it other than blindhatred?"


Güncelleme Tarihi: 20 Eylül 2018, 18:16