"We as Christians of the East, as Christians of the Arab world feel hurt when things happen like this happen," said Fr. Jawad Alamat, a Catholic priest and National Director of the Pontifical Mission Societies of Tunisia, referring to the anti-islam film that has been blamed for deadly rioting and demonstrations by offended Muslims in more than 20 countries. Clashes on September 14 caused two deaths and fifty injured. One of the deaths occurred in Lebanon, when rioters encountered Lebanese security forces on alert during the visit of Pope Benedict XVI. In Tunis, the situation is still tense, especially near the U.S. Embassy.
Fr. Alamat did not address the political aspects of recent events but stressed that the West must learn to respect the feelings of other peoples and cultures, according to the FIDES news service. "As Arab Christians, our daily effort is to create a dialogue of life, which then becomes cultural dialogue and even theological with our Muslim friends. This effort we do as fidelity to Christ who wanted to talk to the whole of humanity," said the priest. "In the Western world, even among Christians, we instead feel fear in the Muslim world, with whom we live in brotherhood, fueled by enormous prejudices, because they take a dozen violent fundamentalists as representatives of the entire Arab world. So we should consider the whole Christian world in the light of the first crazy person that makes a foolish statement against Islam."
"As Arab Christians we feel hurt because of what is happening as and with Muslims. Religion is an integral part of our culture. The West has to understand it well and respect us " says Fr. Alamat. He added that the Pope's visit to Lebanon demonstrates the pontiff's commitment to dialogue with Islam. "The fact that there will be a common prayer between Christians and Muslims in the presence of the Pope is an important sign of dialogue and attention towards Islam," said Father Alamat.
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