pell rings a bell on islam

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    Islam should not be compared with godless communism, a prominent muslim leader said today after a Roman Catholic leader had equated the two.

    Cardinal George Pell, who is also Archbishop of Sydney, 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 today, said secular democracy tended 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 showed 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.

    "To draw parallels between Islam and a godless system is most unfortunate."

    Mr Trad said extremist terror groups branded as Islamic in the media did not act in accordance with Islam.

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

    He said lately there had 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.

    Dr Pell was in Rome today and unavailable for comment.

    - AAP

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