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Wednesday, 20 November 2002

UCA says Nile's comments undermine respect for faith and religious practices of Muslims in Australia

The leader of the Uniting Church in Australia today expressed concern that comments made yesterday by the Rev Fred Nile may give the false impression that Australian Christian community supports intolerance toward the beliefs and practices of Australian Muslims.

Reverend Professor James Haire, President of the Uniting Church in Australia, condemned the question put to the NSW Minister for Police in Parliament yesterday (Wednesday) by Rev Fred Nile, Christian Democrat MLC, asking whether the Minister would consider prohibition on the wearing of the chador on the basis that it could conceal weapons or explosives.

Professor Haire said that such a request is not supported in any way by the Uniting Church.

“Such remarks are inconsistent with the Christian gospel of freedom and peace and inconsistent with the position of the Uniting Church in Australia which is blessed by an excellent relationship with the Australian Muslim Community”.

“We support the right of Muslim women to wear whatever clothing they feel is appropriate in accordance with their beliefs.

“The Uniting Church opposes all forms of discrimination and seeks to uphold religious freedom in our country,” he said.

Professor Haire also expressed his concern at the linking of religion and ethnicity with violent acts, pointing out that terrorism has been condemned by Muslim, Jewish and Christian religious leaders.

Professor Haire said, “The Uniting Church in Australia is deeply committed to Australia as a multicultural country in which the beliefs and practices of people of all faiths are respected. Now, more than ever, it is vital to the future of our society that we live together in peace and with understanding.”

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