JOINT STATEMENT BY CHRISTIAN AND MUSLIM LEADERS

 Offensive and hurtful comments made by Mr Kyle Sandilands (KIIS1065) regarding the Virgin Mary.

On 18 September 2019, Mr Kyle Sandilands made deeply offensive remarks concerning the Virgin Mary and the faithful who believe in the Virginity of our Lady (Luke 1:27-35; Surah Maryam 19:19-22). These comments led to disruption in different Christian and Muslim communities and to a peaceful manifestation before the radio station on Monday 23 September 2019, reflecting the profound hurt of the manifestants and their supporters.

Many leaders of the Christian and Muslim faiths (see below) raised their concerns about these comments and declared their dismay and opposition to Sandilands’ mockery of religion, beliefs, and of those who hold those beliefs. At the same time, they affirmed that all Christians and Muslims view the Holy Virgin with great reverence and regard her as a role model, and the Christians venerate her as the Mother of God.

Mr Sandilands has stated that he is sorry that he made the comments, and that he had not intended to offend anyone, only to make them laugh. Though looked upon as a positive sign, the religious leaders felt that the offered apology falls short of what is acceptable. It certainly lacks the vigour of the initial comments. Hence, they expect a more comprehensive apology to be issued without delays, by both Mr Sandilands and the Radio Station management over the air, addressing the deep hurt caused by Mr Sandilands’ remarks, as well as advice of steps to ensure that similar incidents do not recur in the future.

In conclusion, the religious leaders stressed their respect for freedom of the press and freedom of speech but must convey their concerns and those of their respective communities about the mockery of religion, and of those who hold those beliefs. They invite Mr Kyle Sandilands and a representative from the radio management to meet for an open dialogue, as the best way forward.

______________________

The leaders of the Christian and Muslim faiths who met to discuss the matter were: Very Rev Fr Matthew Attia, Archbishop Basilios Kodseie, Sheikh Malek Zaidan, Archbishop Amel Nona, Bishop Robert Rabbat, Sheikh Yahya Safi, Very Rev Fr Tadros Simon, Sheikh Youssef Nabha, and Bishop Antoine-Charbel Tarabay.

 

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