Not a Christian war on Islam, Carey tells Arabs

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The Independent Online

The Archbishop of Canterbury, Dr George Carey, broadcast on Arabic satellite television yesterday telling Muslims in the Middle East that the military action in Afghanistan was not a war between Christianity and Islam. His speech, he told viewers, was part of a bid to "deepen the dialogue" between the two faiths, after he gave his backing to the British and US campaign two days ago.

Dr Carey's message, shown on the Arabic station al-Jazeera from the Persian Gulf state of Qatar, told viewers he thought many Christians across the world were feeling vulnerable following the strikes against the Taliban, but that it was "sadly ... a necessary conflict".

In the broadcast, which was aslo on Radio 4's Today programme, about his plea for people of both religions to maintain good relations, Dr Carey said: "The effects of 11 September have made Christians in some parts of the world more vulnerable.

"Pakistan is an obvious example ... I must hasten to add here that in the Middle East, in Bahrain and Qatar ... Christians are welcomed, but certainly Christians are feeling that minorities in dominant Muslim lands, especially where there's been a history, do feel very, very unsafe indeed."Part of my message is that we must deepen the dialogue, care for one another. I talked about reciprocity, and the fact that we actually have good news from the United Kingdom.

"I have been involved in dialogue there for many years and there is very good news from the 1,500 mosques and the relationships are particularly good, and maybe this is something we can say to the rest of the world that Christians and Muslims can get on well together."

Dr Carey was keen to emphasise to Muslims both in Britain and abroad that the war against terrorism was not a conflict between two world faiths. He said he understood many young Muslims would have fears that could persuade them to think of joining the Taliban.

"Again I need to say here in the Middle East that is not being picked up in quite the same way," he said, citing a meeting with the Amir of Qatar, who is the present President of the Organisation of Islamic Conference, as a cause for optimism. "He is very fierce in saying that Christians and Muslims can get on together. I think the Muslims in Britain must address that question, and the leaders must listen to the young, and the young must listen to the leaders.

"We want young Muslims to feel at home in our country, to be part of our nation and to make their contribution to it."

He added: "The message we must give, communicate to young Muslims throughout the world is that we are not attacking Islam. This is not a conflict between two faiths."