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Head of Chinese Islamic Association Prays for World Peace
The head of the Islamic Association of China on Sunday called on the United States and its allies to put an immediate stop to the war in Iraq and to return to the path of seeking a peaceful solution to the Iraqi issue, and in this way avoiding further harm to the Iraqi people.

Imam Chen Guangyuan, president of the Islamic Association of China, expressed his indignation and condemnation with regard to the military action against Iraq by the United States and some other countries in his interview with Xinhua on Sunday.

Islam stands for peace, and 20 million Chinese Muslims love peace and oppose war, Chen said, adding that the Chinese government's stance and opinions on the Iraq issue represent the wishes of all Chinese people, including Muslims.

The 70-year old Imam stressed that Muslims consider peace a blessing and war an evil, given that Chinese Muslims have seen their life improve in a peaceful and stable China. He singled out China's Western Development strategy, which he said has benefited 70 percent of the country's Muslims, where people enjoy peace and stability.

The United States and some other countries ignored UN efforts aimed at averting war and started military operations against Iraq. "I am very sad. The facts have proven that the war is not in accordance with international law and has been strongly rejected worldwide, including by the citizens of the countries involved in the war," Chen said.

"We Muslims are firmly opposed to this war," Chen declared.

Following the start of the war, some 200 teachers and students of the Institute of Islamic Theology held a seminar during which they expressed their full support for the Chinese government's principled stance on the Iraq issue.

In Niujie Street area, a major residential area for Muslims in the Chinese capital of Beijing, Muslim people prayed for peace on Friday, wishing for an early end to the war. Mosques and Islamic associations across the city have convened meetings to discuss the situation in Iraq, to express their support for the government's stance, to condemn the war and to express their wish for the restoration of peace in the region.

"As an imam and the head of the Islamic Association of China, I am gravely concerned about the actions of the US and its allies in Iraq and hope that the issue can be settled within the framework of the United Nations. Most importantly, the war should in no way hurt innocent people," Imam Chen said.

China's 20 million Muslims love their country and their religion. They hope the US-led alliance will stop the war soon, because this is the wish of people worldwide, including Muslims, Chen noted.

The president said Chinese Muslims sincerely pray to Allah to bless the world with peace and tranquility and to deliver the Iraqi Muslim brothers and sisters from the war as soon as possible.

(Xinhua News Agency March 25, 2003)

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