JAKARTA, Indonesia

French President Emmanuel Macron’s statements associating Islam with terrorism was very inappropriate and left wounds on peace between religious communities, said an Indonesian Catholic pastor on Wednesday.

“Terrorism has nothing to do with any religion in the world, including Islam, because Islam is a religion of mercy to all creation,” Antonius Benny Susetyo told Anadolu Agency.

The Catholic leader said Pope Francis has emphasized that religion cannot be linked to violence or terrorism as it is a gift for peace and unity as stated in the Abu Dhabi Declaration — Document on Human Fraternity for World Peace and Living Together — signed in 2019 between Pope Francis of the Catholic Church and Grand Imam of Al-Azhar Sheikh Ahmed el-Tayeb.

The religious freedom advocate described terrorism as manipulation of religion by a handful of individuals to achieve their interests related to power.

“The controversial statement disrupted Muslims’ and Christians’ steps to build brotherhood and peace,” he added.

Pastor Susetyo also expressed his hope that country leaders all over the world would be careful in issuing statements and avoid unwise remarks linking terrorism to any religion.

“The struggle to strengthen humanity and justice between religious communities should not be tainted with such controversial statements,” he added.

Macron has sparked outrage across the Muslim world by accusing French Muslims of “separatism”, and describing Islam as “a religion in crisis”.

This coincided with the murder of a French teacher who showed cartoons of the Muslim Prophet Muhammad in a class. Macron paid tribute to him, saying “France will not give up our cartoons.”

Turkey, Iran, Pakistan, and several Arab countries have censured Macron’s attitude toward Muslims and Islam, with Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan saying the French leader needs “mental treatment”.

* Writing by Rhany Chairunissa Rufinaldo with Anadolu Agency’s Indonesian language services in Jakarta

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