THE HAGUE, Netherlands [—] A Dutch Catholic bishop who once said the hungry were entitled to steal bread and advocated condom use to prevent AIDS has made headlines again, this time by saying God should be called Allah.
“Allah is a very beautiful word for God. Shouldn’t we all say that from now on we will call God Allah?” Bishop Tiny Muskens said in an interview this week. “God doesn’t care what we call him.”
The comments drew little support.
Muskens, bishop of the southern Diocese of Breda, previously created a stir by suggesting the hungry could steal bread to feed themselves. He also supported the use of condoms as a way of reining in the spread of AIDS and suggested popes have term limits of 10 to 15 years and an age limit of 85.
In the interview, Muskens said he had worked in Indonesia where God is referred to as Allah in Christian services.
But a spokesman for one of the capital’s leading mosques said he was not happy with the statement.
“We didn’t ask for this, a spokesman for the Moroccan Mosque in Amsterdam told De Telegraaf. “Now it is as if we have a problem between Muslims and Christians.”
Gerrit de Fijter, chairman of the General Synod of the Dutch Protestant Church, also rejected Muskens’ suggestion.
“I applaud every attempt to encourage dialogue with Muslims, but I doubt the sense of this maneuver,” De Fijter told De Telegraaf.
Speaking to a local television network Wednesday, Muskens said he was pleased his comments had sparked debate.