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London attack: faiths cannot wash their hands of atrocities, warns Archbishop of Canterbury

London attack: faiths cannot wash their hands of atrocities, warns Archbishop of Canterbury
The Most Rev Justin Welby cited the role of Christianity in the Srebrenica massacre

By Fariha Karim
The Times
June 6, 2017

Religious leaders must face up to the justification their faiths provide for atrocities committed in their names, the Archbishop of Canterbury has said.

The Most Rev Justin Welby said that failing to acknowledge the role played by Islam in such attacks was akin to failing to accept Christianity's role in the Srebrenica massacre.

More than 8,000 Bosniak Muslim men and boys were killed in the town in July 1995 by a Bosnian Serb army during the Bosnian civil war after the break up of Yugoslavia.

"We have got to say that if something happens within our faith tradition we need to take responsibility for countering that," the archbishop told BBC Radio 4.

Politicians should not just say "this is nothing to do with Islam", he added, saying that the ideological basis should not be overlooked.

"I don't think it is getting us anywhere, just like saying Srebrenica had nothing to do with Christianity," he said.

He also said that some of those dealing with the terrorism threat suffered from "a lack of religious literacy" and were unable to put themselves "in the shoes of religious believers".

He added that scriptures had "been twisted and misused" to justify violence.

Archbishop Welby told the Today programme: "From an outside perspective, one of the issues about dealing with Islam is that there is not much of a structure. There isn't a pope or a bishop that you can go to and say, 'these are the leaders'."

"There will always be particular groups which take views that are different from the mainstream but what is clear over the weekend is the extraordinary level of condemnation by every significant Muslim leader we know and every significant Muslim body we know."

Seven people were killed and nearly 50 injured when three terrorists drove a white van along London Bridge, rammed it into pedestrians and then leapt out and began indiscriminately stabbing people in and around Borough Market.

The archbishop said that all faith groups suffered from violent attacks. "We need to counter that within our own tradition and teach people why that is unacceptable," he said.

He said that to do this, the authorities -- secular included -- had to make greater efforts to understand "the basic tenets of the faith they are dealing with".

He added: "They are often people who are unable to put themselves in the shoes of religious believers and understand a way of looking at the world that says that this defines your whole life, every single aspect of who you are and what you are."

The archbishop said Christianity had a similar "dark side" which it is also important to face up to.


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