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WCC Criticizes Islamophobic Film, Calls for Mutual Respect

Contact: Juan Michel, +41-22-791-6153 +41-79-507-6363, media@wcc-coe.org

MEDIA ADVISORY, March 28 /Standard Newswire/ -- The movie Fitna, recently released online by Dutch parliamentarian Geert Wilders was criticized as "a clear case of Islamophobia" by Rev. Dr Shanta Premawardhana, director of the World Council of Churches' (WCC) Programme on Interreligious Dialogue and Cooperation. "Through graphic images the filmmaker depicts violent extremism without any attempt to distinguish it from mainstream Islam. Extremism is a problem for most religions and needs to be countered through interreligious dialogue," Premawardhana said.

Dutch church representatives have also voiced their criticism of the right-wing politician turned filmmaker, stressing that his views were opposed by most of the Dutch population, the ecumenical news-agency ENI reported today.

Seeking to encourage churches to initiate such dialogues, particularly in the interreligious environment of Europe, the Central Committee of the WCC in February issued a "Minute on our religious imperative to foster sensitivity and reconciliation in shifting society." It encourages churches to "actively generate a climate of deep respect" that would lead communities "not only from hostility to peaceful co-existence, but also to celebrations of our common life".

The Central Committee's statement also calls upon religious leaders "to work towards reconciliation and healing"; and urges Christian leaders "to speak directly, consistently and self-critically to their own communities, holding them to the highest ethical standards of loving one’s neighbour, and in extending a hand of reconciliation to communities other than one’s own, whenever a community, its people and their beliefs have been attacked or insulted."

Full text of the WCC Central Committee Minute:
http://www.oikoumene.org/?id=5617

Additional information: Juan Michel,+41 22 791 6153 +41 79 507 6363 media@wcc-coe.org

The World Council of Churches promotes Christian unity in faith, witness and service for a just and peaceful world. An ecumenical fellowship of churches founded in 1948, today the WCC brings together 349 Protestant, Orthodox, Anglican and other churches representing more than 560 million Christians in over 110 countries, and works cooperatively with the Roman Catholic Church. The WCC general secretary is Rev. Dr Samuel Kobia, from the Methodist Church in Kenya. Headquarters: Geneva, Switzerland.