ROME – Pope Benedict on Thursday urged European Union countries to respect the rights of immigrant communities, saying dialogue between members of different faiths was essential to avoid a rise of xenophobia.
Without explicitly referring to his rece
nt outreach to Muslims after he offended many in a speech in September which appeared to link Islam to violence, Benedict said Europe must make more effort to respect foreign customs and people’s rights.
“Today the ever more numerous arrival of immigrants and the multiplication of communities of a different culture or country of origin on the same soil makes it absolutely necessary in our societies (to have) a dialogue between cultures and religions”.
Benedict has had to patch up relations with Muslims after he offended many by quoting in a speech in September a 14th century emperor who spoke of the Prophet Mohammad’s “command to spread by the sword the faith he preached”.
He called on European countries to develop immigration policies which aimed for integration and ensured immigrants’ rights. “That is how one can avoid introspection, excessive nationalism and even xenophobia,” he said.
Politicians in many EU countries have recently expressed concerns about Muslim women wearing the veil in Europe, saying it can make integration more difficult. — Reuter