Christian, Muslim and Jewish faith leaders spoke out on Wednesday to condemn unreservedly ’The Innocence of Muslims’ and the violence that has led to tragic deaths around the world.
The joint statement was issued by Archbishop John Dew (Catholic), Archbishops David Moxon and Brown Turei (Anglican), Bishops Justin Duckworth and Richard Randerson (Anglican), Federation of Islamic Associations President Anwar Ghani and Wellington Regional Jewish Council Chairperson David Zwartz, supported by Race Relations Commissioner Joris de Bres.
They said that “The film, ‘The Innocence of Muslims’, was dishonestly made and presented, and designed to mislead, provoke hate, and cause harm. We unequivocally condemn the making and promotion of this irresponsible and inflammatory film and the resulting violence, which has seen the loss of innocent lives”.
“We call on all faith communities in New Zealand to remain calm and to strive to foster mutual understanding, counter hate, and promote dialogue, within and between our communities”.
Media for Christ, a New Zealand website, has been attacked because it shares a name with the US-based group that reportedly produced ’The Innocence of Muslims’ and it pops up at the top of many internet searches for that name.
The NZ Media for Christ says it is is not in the business of hate speech, but instead concerned with disseminating “Christian material – from godly apologists, evangelists, preachers and prophets – to be shared with the church at large”.
And they’ve added a message on their front page confirming that they have nothing to do with their American namesakes.
The Human Rights Commission, the Anglican and Catholic Bishops, the New Zealand Federation of Islamic Associations and the New Zealand Council of Christians and Jews are all supporters of the Statement on Religious Diversity (2007) which affirms that “the right to freedom of expression and freedom of the media are vital for democracy but should be exercised with responsibility.”