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Philippine bishop predicts attacks on Christians if US invades Iraq

US President George W. Bush's ultimatum to Iraqi President Saddam Hussein was not a surprise, but a war on Iraq could result in "fearful and rampant terrorist attacks" in Asia, according to a Philippine bishop.

"We must now pray that the war will be short, the casualties few and the following terrorism quickly stopped," said Archbishop Fernando Capalla of Davao on the southern island of Mindanao.

The archbishop was speaking as President Bush told Saddam he had 48 hours to leave Iraq or face a US-led attack.

At least one Vatican official has expressed concern that a war against Iraq could be seen as a war on Islam and result in retaliation against Christians.

Archbishop Capalla said he was concerned that "Asia will feel a large share of the attacks since Muslims make up the majority of the population in the region."

The archbishop is a convener of a forum of Catholic and Protestant bishops and Islamic scholars in Mindanao, southern Philippines, which has a sizable Muslim population in an otherwise mostly Christian country. Several Islamic rebel groups in the southern Philippines have been fighting for an autonomous Muslim region.

Catholic News Service

20 Mar 2003