Fear and ignorance about each other are the two factors that prevent the Muslim and Christian communities in the US from getting closer, says Joel C Hunter, an American Christian leader representing the Evangelical Church.

Hunter, who represents the National Association of Evangelicals, was in Doha attending the US-Islamic World Forum.

Talking to The Peninsula on the sidelines of the conference yesterday, Hunter said despite the widespread misunderstandings about Islam and Muslims, an atmosphere of dialogue is steadily emerging between the Muslims and the majority Christian community in the US.

“The 9/11 was a catalytic event that further strengthened the feeling of fear among the Americans about Muslims. On the other hand, it has triggered a lot of curiosity about Islam and Muslims,” noted Hunter.

He said, there are several radio stations in the US spreading hatred and animosity against Muslims.

“People listen to these radio programmes but they do not go and talk to his Muslim neighbour. The American public opinion is highly influenced by such programmes,” he said.

There are also some Evangelical Christian leaders, who have joined this anti-Muslim propaganda, but majority of the Evangelists do not support them. “The National Association of Evangelicals represents the large majority of Evangelists in the US and we have rejected such campaigns,” said Hunter.

There could be extremist elements among the Muslims as well. But both the communities should encourage dialogue and efforts to understand each other. Some Muslim groups like the [Council on American-Islamic Relations] have been working to create better relations between the Muslim and Christian communities, he added.


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