The Turkish Foreign Ministry on Sunday condemned the statements of the Archbishop of Greece against Islam and Muslims.
Speaking about the catalytic role of the Church and its contribution to the Revolution of 1821, the Archbishop of Athens and all of Greece, Hieronymus II, noted in a television interview that “Islam is not a religion but a political party and political aspiration and its people are people of war, the people of expansion; this is a characteristic of Islam; it is mentioned in the teaching of Muhammad”.
In a statement, the Turkish Foreign Ministry stresses that “Islam is a religion of peace based on an understanding of tolerance and compassion that ensures the coexistence of different religions and civilizations.
“Under the conditions of pandemic that has encompassed the whole world, while everyone should strive for developing an environment of mutual respect and tolerance, defamation of our sacred religion is regrettable”, the statement reads.
It goes on to say that “these provocative expressions of Archbishop Ieronimos, which incite the society to hostility and violence against Islam, also show the frightening level Islamophobia has reached”, emphasizing that “such malign ideas are also responsible for the increase of racism, Islamophobia and xenophobia in Europe”.
The announcement concludes that this statement was a meaningful and unfortunate step towards undermining preparations for exploratory talks.
Archbishop Ieronymos’s statements about Islam were also answered by the head of the Directorate of Religious Affairs of Turkey, Ali Erbaş.
“I strongly condemn the baseless statements made by the Greek Archbishop Ieronymos in a recent interview, which are full of slander and target our beautiful religion, Islam and Muslims”, Ali Erbaş said.
“The statement of Archbishop Jerome provokes society and leads people to hatred, intolerance and violence against our supreme religion, Islam. It is very unfortunate and unacceptable that, at a time when the representative of a religion should encourage people in the world to live away from controversy and conflict and send messages of peaceful coexistence and tolerance, he should make such statements, which are not appropriate to his function. I also want to state that the Christian world should oppose this sick view. This kind of expression aimed at marginalizing Muslims fuels racism against Muslims and leads to attacks on their lives and places of worship”, Ali Erbaş stressed.
“The attitudes, reasons and positions that do not marginalize the other side in the history of mankind will always remain valuable and the common sense of the faithful will always prevail against such statements. The way to create peace, tranquility, prosperity, compassion, justice and virtue in humanity is not conflict, but the morality for coexistence. Islamic culture is a great culture that has always allowed people of different religions and cultures to live together for centuries and has given everyone the right to live according to their beliefs. “It is a religion of peace that aims to fulfill high values, such as justice, peace and prosperity”, pointed out the head of Turkey’s Directorate of Religious Affairs.
An announcement was also issued by the Press Office of the Archdiocese of Athens, following the reactions provoked by the statements of Archbishop Ieronymos.
“With what His Beatitude the Archbishop of Athens and all of Greece, Mr. Jerome, said in a recent television interview about our Church’s contribution to the Revolution of 1821, he meant nothing more than the perversion of the Muslim religion itself by a dragon of extreme fundamentalists, who sow terror and death throughout the world”, the announcement states.
“These are exactly the people the Archbishop was referring to, people who are instrumentalizing Islam and turning it into a deadly weapon against all those who have a different view from them, ‘infidels’, but even believers”, the statement continued.
“Both the Archbishop himself and all the metropolitans of the Church of Greece respect in practice all the known religions and treat all their faithful with Christian love and solidarity, which knows no discrimination, through all their actions and initiatives, especially in social and charitable sector. Furthermore, the example of the peaceful and harmonious coexistence and cohabitation of Christians and Muslims in Thrace confirms in the clearest way the truth of the matter”, concludes the announcement of the Press Office of the Archdiocese./ibna