Anglican leaders condemn anti-Islam film and violence

By Tarsila Burity
Posted Sep 19, 2012

[Anglican Communion News Service] Leaders across the Anglican Communion have spoken out about The Innocence of Muslims, a film containing anti-Islam content that has so far triggered protests, violence and death in countries like Libya and Egypt.

Both Anglican and Roman Catholic archbishops in New Zealand have condemned the film, its message and its promotion, alongside the Federation of Islamic Associations president and the city of Wellington’s Regional Jewish Council chairperson, Race Relations commissioner and local bishops.

According to Anglican Taonga magazine, the group labelled the film (which openly defames the Islamic prophet Muhammad) as “irresponsible” and “inflammatory,” saying it was dishonestly made and presented, and designed to mislead, provoke hate, and cause harm.

“We call on all faith communities in New Zealand to remain calm and to strive to foster mutual understanding, counter hate, and promote dialogue, within and between our communities,” they said.

In the Middle East, the Most Rev. Mouneer Anis, president bishop of the Province of Jerusalem & the Middle East & bishop in Egypt (one of the countries directly affected by protest and violence), has said that the response to this film was out of proportion and led to the death of innocent people, like the U.S. ambassador in Libya. “We here made it clear that we Christians reject this kind of provocative film”, he said.

As an attempt to avoid future hostility, Anis united with fellow bishops and has written a letter to Ban Ki-Moon, secretary general of the United Nations, asking for a declaration that outlaws “intentional and deliberate insulting or defamation of persons (such as prophets), symbols, texts and constructs of belief deemed holy by people of faith.”

European Anglicans have also responded to the video. Bishop Pierre Whalon of the Convocation of Episcopal Churches in Europe denounced the film by issuing a statement from Paris on Sept. 17.

“This crude bit of anti-Islam propaganda is nothing more than hate speech, and in France and several other European countries the producers would be facing charges. In the United States, it is famously illegal to cry “fire” in a crowded theater — freedom of speech does not cover every expression,” he said.

Whalon, who is also a signatory to the Call and Commitment to Action of the Christian-Muslim Summits, urged religious leaders to continue to work together for calm, especially in those nations where Christians are a vulnerable minority.

“The real purpose of this “film” seems to be to inflame Christians against Muslims in general by presenting hateful lies as fact. By depicting the Prophet in the worst possible terms, it also seems to have been created in the hope of inciting riots by angry Muslims. Sadly, this is its only success.”

According to Whalon, those who planned and created the film would have much to answer for when they came before the judgment seat of God. He added that Christians and Muslims alike should continue to work to defeat attempts of extremists of every religion to create fear, hatred and violence. “Only love can cast out fear,” said Whalon.

Earlier today, the British Broadcasting Corporation (BBC) announced that French embassies and schools will have to be closed across 20 countries, after a French satirical magazine published cartoons mocking the prophet Muhammad.


Comments (5)

  1. Jim McCurtain says:

    Are we getting ahead of ourselves here. How about condemning the violence and hatred by the radical Islamist before we blame it on some two bit internet movie clip. It’s kind of like blaming the victim rather than the perps. Aside of that there is more coming to light that a bunch of the violence was planned before the movie clip ever came out…some of it was as a demand to free the blind Sheik who first attempted to blow up the WTC in 1993. Again, let’s not blame the victim when radicals attack.

  2. I am glad that the Anglican leaders have spoken their mind about it. The church is always a love group that runs counter to the hate groups. Both Christians and Muslims should work together to counter the forces of evil hiding behind their banners and using the name of God in vain.

  3. Father Les Singleton says:

    I am glad the Anglican leaders at long last are saying CHRISTIANITY DOES NOT HATE ANOTHER RELIGION.
    For far too long, a two bit preacher with a world wide megaphone voice has been doing things and saying things that I think are despicable and that others find sacrilegious and blasphemous. Now, the oyster does have a pearl: the rantings of one has occasioned much interfaith work and understanding among the many in Alachua county (Gainesville area) Florida.

  4. Lelanda Lee says:

    I agree with Bishop Pierre Whalon that hate speech designed specifically to inflame violent reactions cannot hide under the umbrella of freedom of speech and remain undenounced. The fact that the actors involved have stepped forward to express their regret that they were tricked by an unscrupulous individual to participate in this film, because they were lied to and hired under false pretenses, speaks volumes about the hate-filled intentions of the filmmaker.

  5. Peter Cabbiness says:

    The film, though irresponsible and reprehensible, did not lead to the death of the U.S. Ambassador in Libya. The tragedy was a direct result of a focused and directed terrorist attack combined with the failure of U.S. security measures that were in effect at the time. In the end, I am confident that our well trained and properly utilized covert special forces will exact a heavy penalty from those responsible. Our Muslim “friends” around the world have underestimated the strength, tenancity, character and will of our Nation. The “sleeping giant” lesson learned by our previous foes is not understood by those in power in the Islamic world but this will likely change as history continues to unfold. Gettysburg, Manassas, Antietam, Normandy, Iwo Jima, Hiroshima, Nagasaki,……….once the tipping point is reached, we will prevail.

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