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Pell comments portrayed as anti-Muslim slur

A prominent muslim leader responded to reported comments of Cardinal George Pell by asserting that Islam should not be compared with godless communism.

Cardinal Pell said in a speech in the US last month that Islam might this century provide the attraction that communism provided in the last.

Part of his speech, reported in Fairfax newspapers on Friday, said secular democracy tends to cause the revival of intolerant religion, because of the emptiness within it.

A spokesman for the Mufti of Australia Taj Aldin Alhilali, Keysar Trad, said Dr Pell's comments show he did not sufficiently understand the teachings of Islam.

Mr Trad said Islam was a religion which strongly believed in God.

He said Islam's holy book, the Koran, had a strong emphasis on the democratic process, with one passage recommending people consult over all their affairs.

Democracy was practised at every level of the faith, including choosing religious leaders, he said.

"Islam is not the new communism," he said.

Dr Pell, speaking at the Acton Institute for the Study of Religion and Liberty on 12 October, said democracy is not a good in itself.

He said lately there has been interest in the possibility of "Islamic democracy".

"It is still very early in the piece, of course, but the small but growing conversion of native Westerners within Western societies to Islam carries the suggestion that Islam may provide in the 21st century the attraction that communism provided in the 20th, both for those who are alienated or embittered on the one hand, and for those who seek order or justice on the other," Dr Pell said in the speech.

Communism slur upsets Muslims (The Age 12/11/04)

Muslim leader rejects Pell's comments (National Nine News/AAP 13/11/04)
Islam is the new communism: Pell (ABC Radio PM 12/11/04)
Terry Lane: Cardinal sins against democracy (The Age 14/11/04)
Pell says Islam could be the new communism (CathNews 12/11/04)
Democracy must change to counter Islam: Pell (The Age 12/11/04)
Acton Institute for the Study of Religion & Liberty
Why we need a better version of democracy (The Age 12/11/04)
Islam could be new communism, Pell tells US audience (Sydney Morning Herald 12/11/04)
Towards a transformative democracy founded on dignity (Sydney Morning Herald 12/11/04)
'Church growth centred on Jesus' (Catholic Weekly 14/11/04)

15 Nov 2004