President Chen Meets with Taiwanese Muslim Pilgrims
President Chen Shui-bian on January 23 met with local Muslim pilgrims who visited Mecca, Saudi Arabia in December for the annual Hajj pilgrimage. The president congratulated the pilgrims on successfully completing their pilgrimage and praised Taiwan's Muslim Association as an important asset for Taiwan. He noted that the association is instrumental in promoting frequent exchanges between Taiwan and the Islamic world, while also providing a window for communication between Taiwan and Islamic nations.
In remarks to the group, President Chen noted that Islam is the fastest growing religion in the world today and has a major influence on mankind. The core values of Islam are that there is only one god, that people should do good deeds, and that people should love their fellow men and other creatures. Over the centuries, Islam has made an enormous contribution to civilization, the president said.
In today's complex international environment, the complicated geopolitical and geo-social relationships in the Islamic world have become the focus of concern and attention throughout the world. Due to a lack of understanding, some people believe all Muslims are terrorists. President Chen said he personally believes that devotees must emphasize the principles of Islam that stress peace and love in order to enable others to understand the true nature of Islam.
President Chen furthermore said that Taiwan's Muslim Association is an important asset for the nation, noting that it not only has successfully promoted frequent contacts and exchanges between Taiwan and the Muslim world, but also serves as a window via which Taiwan and Muslim countries can communicate. In recent years, Taiwan has made significant progress in expanding affairs with the Muslim world, creating a win-win situation for all involved and also triggering more interest in Islam among the Taiwan population, he said. President Chen noted that approximately 60,000 people on Taiwan practice Islam. While this is not a large number, he noted that this group has helped to create a more diverse and richer culture on Taiwan. He said that Muslims here enjoy religious freedom and the government will pay close attention to the needs of the group, exhibiting its commitment to helping the religion to develop on Taiwan. He said he hopes in the future local Muslims will participate in Islamic-related international affairs and play an even more active role in helping to solidify friendships between Taiwan and Islamic nations.?@?@