Catholics decry Muslim violence in Libya, Middle East
Cardinal Timothy M. Dolan of New York, president of the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops, noted the “urgency” surrounding the situation.
“Yesterday’s events in Libya and Egypt point to what is at stake,” he said. “We need to be respectful of other religious traditions at the same time that we unequivocally proclaim that violence in the name of religion is wrong.”
The cardinal’s comments came at a Sept. 12 international religious freedom symposium co-sponsored by the bishops’ conference, Catholic Relief Services and The Catholic University of America.
He observed that thousands of Christians are being forced out of Middle Eastern countries due to harassment and violence.
“As many Muslims and Jews will tell you, this is not good for the region,” he explained, noting that Christians are indigenous to the region.
“They contribute to the common good of their societies, and their presence enriches diversity and tolerance, and beyond tolerance, respect,” he said. “Their presence is good for all of the people of the Middle East.”
On the night of Sept. 11, an angry crowd stormed the U.S. consulate in Benghazi, Libya, killing four Americans, including U.S. Ambassador Christopher Stevens.
In the following days, violence has spread throughout the region. Much of the violence in the area appears to be in reaction to a low-budget video produced in the U.S. that mocks Islam’s Prophet Muhammad.
However, according to the Associated Press, a senior Libyan official has said that militants in that country may have used the film as a cover for a planned terrorist attack on the U.S. Consulate.
Unlike the other protests in the region, the crowd in Libya was heavily armed, reportedly using machine guns and rocket-propelled grenades to carry out the attack.
Protests have now been reported in some 20 countries. While some of these protests were primarily peaceful, others quickly turned violent in Middle Eastern nations including Yemen, Sudan, Tunis and Egypt. [More]