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     Home > Synod >  2010-10-16 11:19:32
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Intervention of Mons. Cyrille Salim BUSTROS, Archbishop of Newton of the Greek-Melkites (USA)

Muslims repeat to those who wish to listen: “ Islam is the religion of tolerance”. And they base this slogan on the famous phrase from the Koran: “There shall be no coercion in matters of faith” (2, 256). On one hand and in principle, the assertion of tolerance is clear in the Koran. On the other hand, and in fact, the laws of all the Arab countries, except for Lebanon where one is allowed to change religion, threaten death to all Muslims who convert to another religion. We ask here: where can tolerance be found? How to reconcile tolerance as the clear principle in the Koran with the threat of death to those who dare to think about changing religion?
This law which threatens death is based, it is said, on a supposed “hadith” of the Prophet Mohammed saying: “Whoever changes his religion, kill him”.
How can we get around this? The only way, it seems to me, is dialogue with enlightened Muslims to see the need to interpret Muslim laws in their historical context, and to show that this “hadith”, either does not come from the Prophet, but from a “Khalife” who, at the time of the Muslim conquests, invented this “hadith” to protect Muslim society, or, if it comes from the Prophet, it should be interpreted in its historical context. And the principle of tolerance clearly stated in the Koran must go through all established laws which ensued for historical reasons. Today’s Muslim society has nothing to fear from the passage of some Muslims to Christianity. The first principle of all societies is the equality of all citizens before the law. The respect for the conscience of each individual is the sign of the recognition of the dignity of the human being.
The XXIst century began unfortunately by being the century of the conflict of civilizations. It is our duty, Christians and Muslims, to work together to transform it into a century of cooperation of civilizations to promote human rights and universal peace in the whole world.

[00084-02.03] [IN063] [Original text: French]


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