Bishop Tiny Muskens (Courtesy Radio Netherlands Worldwide)
Catholic churches in the Netherlands should use the name Allah for God to ease tensions between Muslims and Christians, says a Dutch bishop.
Tiny Muskens, the bishop of Breda, told the Dutch TV program “Network” Monday night he believes God doesn’t mind what he is called, Radio Netherlands Worldwide reported.
The Almighty is above such “discussion and bickering,” he insisted.
Muskens points to Indonesia, where he served 30 years ago, as an example for Dutch churches. Christians in the Middle East also use the term Allah for God.
“Someone like me has prayed to Allah yang maha kuasa (Almighty God) for eight years in Indonesia and other priests for 20 or 30 years,” Muskens said. “In the heart of the Eucharist, God is called Allah over there, so why can’t we start doing that together?”
Muskens thinks it could take another 100 years, but eventually the name Allah will be used by Dutch churches, promoting rapprochement between the two religions, he said, according to Radio Netherlands.
However, a survey published today in the Netherlands’ largest newspaper, De Telegraaf, showed 92 percent of the more than 4,000 people polled oppose the bishop’s view, the Associated Press reported.
Some letters to the paper were filled with ridicule for the bishop.
“Sure. Lets call God Allah. Lets then call a church a mosque and pray five times a day. Ramadan sounds like fun,” wrote Welmoet Koppenhol.
The chairman of the Protestant Church in the Netherlands, Gerrit de Fijter, told the Dutch paper he welcomed any attempt to “create more dialogue,” according to the AP. But he said, “Calling God ‘Allah’ does no justice to Western identity. I see no benefit in it.”
A Muslim spokesman, for Amsterdam’s union of Moroccan mosques, said Muslims had not asked for such a gesture from Christians, the AP reported.
Tensions with the Netherlands’ 1-million-strong Muslim community have been high since the 2004 murder of filmmaker Theo Van Gogh by a Muslim avenging a film critical of Islam.
Last week, politician Geert Wilders talked about banning the Quran, shortly after the head of a group of former Muslims, Ehsan Jami, compared Islam’s prophet Muhammad with al-Qaida leader Osama bin Laden.
Muskens made similar remarks several year ago about using the name of Allah, Radio Netherlands reported. He also suggested replacing the national Christian holiday Whit Monday – celebrated the day after Pentecost – with an Islamic religious day.
The bishop also has offended Muslims, saying in 2005 Islam was a religion without a future because it has too many violent aspects.
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