Is­lam not ter­ror­ism: Pope

Lesotho Times - - International -

VATICAN — Pope Fran­cis says Is­lam could not be equated with ter­ror­ism and warned Europe was push­ing its young into the hands of ex­trem­ists.

“It’s not true and it’s not cor­rect (to say) Is­lam is ter­ror­ism,” he told jour­nal­ists aboard the pa­pal plane dur­ing the re­turn jour­ney from a trip to Poland on Sun­day.

“I don’t think it is right to equate Is­lam with vi­o­lence”.

Fran­cis de­fended his de­ci­sion not to name Is­lam when con­demn­ing the bru­tal ji­hadist mur­der of a Catholic priest in France in the lat­est of a string of re­cent at­tacks in Europe claimed by the Is­lamic State (IS) group.

“In al­most ev­ery re­li­gion there is al­ways a small group of fun­da­men­tal­ists. We have them too.”

“If I have to talk about Is­lamic vi­o­lence I have to talk about Chris­tian vi­o­lence. Ev­ery day in the news­pa­pers I see vi­o­lence in Italy, some­one kills his girl­friend, an­other kills his mother-in-law, and these are bap- tised Catholics.”

The pon­tiff was speak­ing af­ter Mus­lims at­tended Catholic mass in churches around France on Sun­day in sol­i­dar­ity and sor­row fol­low­ing the mur­der of the priest, whose throat was slit at the al­tar of his church.

In an echo of re­marks made dur­ing his five­day trip to Poland for a Catholic youth fes­ti­val, Fran­cis said re­li­gion was not the driv­ing force be­hind the vi­o­lence.

“You can kill with the tongue as well as the knife,” he said, in an ap­par­ent ref­er­ence to a rise in pop­ulist par­ties fu­elling racism and xeno­pho­bia.

He said Europe should look closer to home, say­ing “ter­ror­ism... grows where the God of money is put first” and “where there are no other op­tions”.

“How many of our Euro­pean young have we left empty of ideals, with no work, so they turn to drugs, to al­co­hol, and sign up with fun­da­men­tal­ist groups?” he asked.

— AP

Pope Fran­cis speaks to jour­nal­ists on board the flight from Krakow, Poland, to Rome, at the end of his 5-day trip to south­ern Poland on Sun­day.

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