THE Libyan leader's mid-week frontal attack on the Bible has continued to elicit strong responses from Christian and non-Christian leaders alike, with Archbishop Cyprian Kizito Lwanga describing Col. Muammar Gadaffi's views as provocative.
"Had the Christians said something similar [about] the Koran, there would be war," Dr Lwanga, who is the Catholic archbishop of Kampala, said during Good Friday prayers at Nakivubo Stadium. "But we need to forgive him and pray for his conversion."
Interestingly, Col. Gadaffi questioned the Bible's authenticity at the same Nakivubo Stadium in Kampala on Wednesday while leading celebrations to mark the birth of Prophet Muhammad.
The Libyan leader said that someone had deleted the name of Prophet Muhammad from the text of the Bible and as such it is a forgery. He thus called for the search of the genuine Bible.
But Christian leaders are having none of it.
"To say that the Bible is a forgery because Prophet Muhammad is not included [is] distorting religious facts," Dr Lwanga said. "The Koran came in 610 AD long after the Bible [had been written] in 1450 BC. How can we be blamed for not including what was not in existence?"
MP David Bahati (NRM, Ndorwa West), the secretary of the Uganda Parliamentary Fellowship, said yesterday that Col. Gadaffi's remarks were a direct attack on the principles of tolerance and co-existence.
"It is clear that Col. Gadaffi's views had nothing to do with the Muslims in Uganda and our people should ignore his remarks," Mr Bahati said. "We have lived together harmoniously and no one should promote disunity among our people."
Some Muslims appear to have also been taken aback by the directness of the Libyan colonel.
MP Ibrahim Kadunabbi (NRM, Butambala), the chairman of the Uganda Muslim Parliamentary Caucus, said: "As Muslims, we are mandated to reflect on our utterances, this is what religion says. It was crucial for Col. Gadaffi to first think over before saying anything like that to avoid causing problems."
Makerere University Chaplain Larry Kanyike dismissed Col. Gadaffi as a man ignorant of the subject he was talking about.
"Gadaffi attacked the Bible because he is a Muslim and assumes that other religions are secondary, which is not correct," Fr Kanyike said yesterday. "Gadaffi is a politician, not a biblical scholar.". . .
The Libyan's views have so roiled the waters that various Christian groups are falling over themselves in condemnation.
"This issue cannot be taken lightly," said the Rev. Canon Aaron Mwesigye, the provincial secretary of the Church of Uganda speaking on behalf of Archbishop Luke Orombi.
"For us in the Church of Uganda, we have already issued a statement on this matter. But again, under our umbrella organisation [the Uganda Joint Christian Council - UJCC] we are going to issue another statement on Tuesday on the same matter because we're deeply concerned."
Archbishop Orombi is reported to be on a working trip out of the country. Fr Kanyike of Makerere said calls being made by some sections of the Christian community for Col. Gadaffi to apologise "are useless because Gadaffi does not understand what he was talking about and you cannot base an apology on ignorance".
Several Christian leaders demanded an apology from the Libyans on the same day Col. Gadaffi spoke out.
The government, which appears to be feeling the heat generated by the President's guest who abruptly left the country on Thursday, is meanwhile keeping quiet hoping the furore will run its course and die out. . .
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