Algerian Bishops Say Dialogue is Answer to Fundamentalist Terrorism

Country Suffered a Wave of Attacks between 1992 and 2000

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ALGIERS, Algeria, SEPT. 26, 2004 (Zenit.org).- The clash of civilizations is resolved with dialogue, says the archbishop of Algiers, whose community has experience a wave of Muslim fundamentalist terrorism.

Archbishop Henri Tessier’s appeal for dialogue resounded in the inter-diocesan assembly of the Church in Algeria, held on Saturday.

Algeria suffered fundamentalist terrorism from 1992 to 2000. However, most of the “international community did not seem to be particularly concerned about our sufferings,” the archbishop said on Vatican Radio.

“And when I speak of suffering, I am not referring only to that suffered by our small Church, but the suffering that afflicted the Algerian people as a whole,” he said.

In those years, 19 men and women religious were killed in the country, among them seven Trappist monks of Thibirine, and Bishop Pierre Claverie of Oran.

However, the Archbishop clarified, “the victims of terrorism have been above all the Muslims themselves: in Algeria, more than 150 Imams were killed, as well as hundreds of journalists, artists and writers.”

“The society has resisted and defeated this extremist interpretation. Now it is trying with difficulty to re-establish civil concord among the currents of thought, because it knows there is no other way.”

“Instead of considering the confrontation between Christians and Muslims as inevitable, as some affirm, we think it is more important to multiply the places of encounter,” the archbishop proposed.

“I would like to say to this part of the world that suffers because of the wave of terrorism, that there is no other answer other than the multiplication of friendships that transcend borders,” he added.

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