Religious leaders decry attack on diplomat in Libya, urge understanding
Published: September 12, 2012
WASHINGTON (CNS) -- Religious leaders from across the spectrum were quick to condemn the hate message of an anti-Islam film and the violent attack it supposedly provoked Sept. 11 in which the U.S. ambassador to Libya, three other Americans and several Libyan soldiers were killed in the consulate in Benghazi, Libya. Such eruptions of violence supposedly in the name of religion "are a clarion call for people of faith to work together toward mutual understanding," said Bishop Gerald F. Kicanas of Tucson, Ariz., chairman of the board of Catholic Relief Services, the U.S. bishops' overseas relief and development agency. Ambassador J. Christopher Stevens, 52, and the others were killed inside the consulate, reportedly while trying to arrange for the building to be evacuated as protesters armed with guns and rocket-propelled grenades swarmed the compound. It was the second assault by a mob on a U.S. diplomatic post that day. Earlier, hundreds of people earlier swarmed the embassy in Cairo, pulling down the American flag and replacing it with an Islamic banner. Bishop Kicanas, who traveled to the Middle East recently in his capacity with CRS, told Catholic News Service Sept. 12 that such situations are reminders that "we need to understand what faith groups hold dear," and that violence in the name of faith is not in keeping with the teachings of Islam, Christianity or other religions. At a news conference the same day at which Muslim, Jewish and Christian representatives decried both the killings and the film, the Rev. C. Welton Gaddy, president of the Interfaith Alliance said: "Violence cannot be the basis for dialogue between the U.S. and the Arab world, and improved relations will be difficult until that is understood. At the same time, the anti-Muslim bigotry that has become all too pervasive in the United States is only amplified when it reaches the rest of the world and runs the risk of being perceived as the view of all Americans."
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