Williams says terrorism is never justified

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The Archbishop of Canterbury yesterday urged people not to use religion as a reason to justify terrorism.

The Archbishop of Canterbury yesterday urged people not to use religion as a reason to justify terrorism.

Dr Rowan Williams, who was on a special visit to Egypt to heal religious rifts on the third anniversary of the 11 September attacks, said that people of different religions needed to move beyond "the way the faithless world thinks".

"We may rightly want to defend ourselves and one another - our people, our families, the weak and vulnerable among us - but we are not forced to act in revengeful ways, holding up a mirror to the terrible acts done to us," Rowan Williams said during a speech to religious leaders at a Sunni Muslim centre in Cairo.

"If we do act in the same way as our enemies, we imprison ourselves in their anger, their evil."

Dr Williams said that people of religious faiths needed to "find the common commitment not to use the name of God to justify violence and injustice."

He went on to speak about the 11 September terrorist atrocities: "Three years ago today, I was one of those who shared just a little in the terrible experience of the events in New York. I was in a building just a short distance from the World Trade Center that morning, and for a while I and my colleagues were trapped there. We were among those fortunate enough to be able to get out of the area just as the second tower collapsed and we saw at first hand something of the nightmare and the suffering of that day."

The Muslim Council of Britain said they "applauded" Dr Williams's remarks.

"At a time when there are significant elements on both sides who seem to be engaging in actions designed to create greater enmity and polarisation in our world, Dr Williams's words of sanity, by underlining the commonalty between the monotheistic faiths, are especially welcome," said Iqbal Sacranie, the chairman of the MCB.

Dr Williams's predecessor, George Carey, provoked outrage in March this year during a speech in Rome in which he linked Islam to violence, connecting the faith with authoritarian regimes in the Middle East.

Dr Carey later said his comments had been taken out of context.