Singapore Archbishop Puts Asian Attacks in Perspective

Says Bombings Won’t Hurt Muslim-Christian Ties in Region

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SINGAPORE, OCT. 23, 2002 ( Archbishop Nicholas Chia of Singapore said he doesn’t think the recent attacks in Indonesia and the Philippines will have a negative effect on Christian-Muslim relations in the region.

It must be «made clear that the crime cannot be ascribed to Islam as a religion,» he said of the bombings at Bali and Zamboanga.

«There are some fundamentalist Muslim groups that want to break Islam’s relations with other religions, but we must avoid falling into the trap of identifying terrorism with Islam,» the archbishop added.

He said that it «is difficult to say whether this is part of a plan to destabilize South East Asia.»

In statements published by the missionary agency Fides, the archbishop added: «Bali, for example, was known as a very peaceful holiday resort. Such an attack can only have been carried out by people with no respect for human life. Perhaps the aim was to strike foreigners.»

The archbishop is convinced that the Church has an important role to play in the present situation.

«The Church must speak out courageously against terrorism and fundamentalism, while promoting dialogue and harmony and peace and brotherhood among all believers,» he said. «Today, in Singapore, we Catholics continue to hold meetings for dialogue. All is calm. The government has the situation under control.»

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