WCC sends message to UN over Afghan killings horror

By staff writers
6 Apr 2011

The General Secretary of the World Council of Churches (WCC), the Rev Dr Olav Fykse Tveit, has sent condolences to the UN, as it mourns the tragic loss of United Nations staff in Afghanistan in a violent response to the burning last month of a copy of the Qur'an in the state of Florida, United States.

As well as expressing horror at the murders, apparently conducted by Taliban extremists, the world churches' body - which works hard to promote positive relations between sincere people of different faiths, as well as different Christian convictions - deplored the degrading actions of Pastor Terry Jones in the USA.

“It is with great sadness that we received the news of the killing of eight staff members of the United Nations Operation Centre in the northern Afghan city of Mazar-i-Sharif,” Dr Tveit said in a letter addressed to UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon.

The letter also said that “the entire membership of the World Council of Churches (WCC) firmly rejects the actions of burning the holy [Qur'an] or any holy book and we feel deeply grieved by this reprehensible action conducted by a small group of people who manipulate others in the name of Christianity.”

The full text of the letter reads as follows:

It is with great sadness that we received the news of the killing of eight staff members of the United Nations Operation Centre in the northern Afghan city of Mazar-i-Sharif during a protest over the burning of a copy of the holy Koran by a US pastor in Florida. Your Excellency, I take this opportunity to extend our heart-felt condolences to you, all the staff and the families of your colleagues who were killed in the attack.

I understand that the victims of this attack had devoted their time and life to a mission of helping the Afghan people who are suffering in the midst of severe economic hardships and insecurity.

In targeting the UN Staff, the perpetrators have exhibited an abysmal disregard for the commitment of the UN and the international community, especially their efforts to help the people of Afghanistan. We condemn this senseless act of violence carried out against innocent workers of the UN ensuring a long lasting peace in Afghanistan. It is in every aspect unjustifiable and those responsible for this attack must be held accountable.

I would also like to take this opportunity to let you know that the entire membership of the World Council of Churches (WCC) firmly rejects the actions of burning the holy Koran or any holy book and we feel deeply grieved by this reprehensible action conducted by a small group of people who manipulate others in the name of Christianity.

The WCC is working at various levels to promote just peace, interreligious dialogue and harmony and stresses the importance of peace for all and urges all sides to reject violence and provocation.

On behalf of the WCC once again I offer our sincere condolences and offer our prayers.

Yours sincerely,

The Rev Dr Olav Fykse Tveit
General Secretary
World Council of Churches (http://www.oikoumene.org/)

[Ekk/3]

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