Melbourne Muslim leader challenges Pell to debate

Challenging claims earlier this year by Cardinal George Pell that the Koran is full of "invocations to violence," a Melbourne Muslim leader has said that the Bible is full of lechery and drunkenness and that he would not want his enemies let alone his children to read it.

The Herald Sun reports the Islamic Information and Services Network President Abu Hamza has called Cardinal Pell a "clown" for his comments that the Koran incites violence.

Mr Hamza told his followers the Bible, particularly the Old Testament, was full of murder and seemed to condone rape.

Cardinal Pell's comments were made in a speech on Islam delivered to US Catholic business leaders in February but controversy erupted when media outlets picked up the story following its publication on the Sydney archdiocese website in May.

The Cardinal replied from the Vatican this week: "I am not sure how much Mr Hamza's comments improve the situation, but there are no teachings of Jesus, unlike Mohammed, which advocate violence against followers of other religions."

In the sermon, Mr Hamza told his assembly that the Bible's Old Testament said rape was punishable only by demands for financial compensation of "50 silver pieces" and marriage. He said Cardinal Pell should be ashamed of his ignorant attack on Islam.

Dr Pell has twice in recent times made comments on Islam and extremism, saying he found numerous examples of violence in the Koran.

Mr Hamza said: "He said something that has made the Muslims very angry. This ignorant man does not know Christianity, let alone Islam."

One of the Islamic Information Service's stated objectives is to promote dialogue between religious faiths, and Mr Hamza challenged Cardinal Pell to debate whether Christianity or Islam more readily incited terrorism, the Herald Sun reports.

Religious leaders go head to head (Herald Sun 26/7/06)

LINKS (not necessarily endorsed by Church Resources)
George Pell - An ignorant archbishop (Islamic Information and Services Network of Australia) | IISNA
Cardinal George Pell, "Islam and Western Democracies" (Archdiocese of Sydney, 4/2/06)
Cardinal George Pell

Pell affirms commitment to dialogue with Muslims (CathNews 8/5/06)
Pell says Catholics should read the Koran (CathNews 4/5/06)
Pell comments portrayed as anti-Muslim slur (CathNews 15/11/04)

26 Jul 2006