Carey dismisses 'simplistic' criticism of controversial speech about Islam

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The Independent Online

The former Archbishop of Canterbury defended a controversial speech yesterday after criticism from Muslims.

The former Archbishop of Canterbury defended a controversial speech yesterday after criticism from Muslims.

Lord Carey cited suicide bombers, Islam's "resistance" to modernity and the authoritarian regimes of some of its societies in a lecture he gave in Rome. He said Islamic societies had contributed little to world culture for hundreds of years.

The former Church of England leader said Islamic countries were often led by people who rose to power "at the point of a gun" and he accused its leaders of not doing enough to condemn suicide bombers.

After the lecture, on the eve of a Christian-Muslim seminar, he was accused of "recycling" old religious prejudices by Muslim leaders in the UK, but Lord Carey defended his speech on BBC Radio 4's The World at One programme. "It is meant to provoke a reaction. I look at the West and Christianity and am equally critical," he said.

"I think that a person looking objectively at the entire speech will see there's a balance there. To twist it as an attack on the Islamic world would be far too simplistic and it does suggest how polarised the world is at present. The positive is that I believe we can do more together: two great faiths, Christianity and Islam, working together against extremists."

Iqbal Sacranie, secretary general of the Muslim Council of Britain, was swift to dismiss the comments."In his myopic vision of the Middle East, Lord Carey shows little understanding of the role of Western powers in propping up regimes all over the world."

Manzoor Moghal, chairman of the Federation of Muslim Organisations in Leicester, said: "The archbishop has got it wrong. We condemn suicide bombers, we go on radio, on television, we have made statements. What more can we do? We cannot be responsible for the criminal actions of others."

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