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Last Updated: Sunday, 11 April, 2004, 02:09 GMT 03:09 UK
Cardinal criticises Muslim 'silence'
Archbishop of Westminster
The cardinal has often courted controversy
The head of the Catholic Church in England and Wales has echoed criticism of Muslim leaders for not doing enough to denounce acts of terrorism.

Cardinal Cormac Murphy O'Connor told the GMTV Sunday Programme he agreed with comments made by the former Archbishop of Canterbury, Lord Carey.

Last month, Lord Carey said not enough moderate Muslims condemned attacks carried out "in the name of Allah".

Since then, Muslim leaders have urged mosques to help police fight terrorism.

When Lord Carey said too few Muslim leaders clearly condemned the evil of suicide bombers, Muslim leaders accused him of "religious prejudice".

Building bridges

But the cardinal said: "I think what he said was fundamentally true."

"He had highlighted something that needed to be highlighted."

He said the former archbishop, who had made his comments on the eve of a seminar between Christians and Muslims in New York, had contributed a lot of his life to building bridges between the two faiths.

You've got to tackle... the root cause of terrorism
Cardinal Murphy O'Connor

Cardinal Murphy O'Connor also called on the West to tackle the gross poverty and inequality which was the root cause of terrorism.

"If the western world were to devote itself in a very real and sacrificial way to helping the two thirds of the world and especially those parts of the world that live in gross poverty, and did it in a way that actually denied themselves, then I think we'd have a more peaceful world."

He said part of the terror threat came out of countries that felt they had not been treated justly.

Lord Carey caused outrage with his lecture in Rome last month when he said regimes in Islamic countries were often authoritarian and committed to power and privilege.

Muslim leaders

He added people looked to Muslims to condemn suicide bombers and terrorists who destroyed innocent lives.

But apart from a few courageous examples, very few Muslim leaders clearly condemned the evil of suicide bombers, he claimed.

Muslim Council of Britain secretary general Iqbal Sacranie has said he was dismayed by Lord Carey's comments.

Speaking last month, he said: "One is surprised to find Lord Carey recycling the same old religious prejudice in the 21st Century."

The media often ignored statements condemning terrorist acts, Mr Sacranie added.

Soon afterwards, the Muslim Council of Britain took the unprecedented step of writing to every mosque, urging people to help in the fight against terror.


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