Pope Francis speaks with media on the plane as he travels from Poland back to Italy, July 31, 2016. © Reuters
Pope Francis has criticized anti-Islam propaganda in the wake of the recent terrorist attacks in Europe claimed by the Daesh Takfiri terrorists, saying it is “unfair” and wrong to identify Islam with violence and terrorism.
“I don't think it is right to identify Islam with violence. This is not just and it is not true,” he told reporters on Sunday.
The pontiff was responding to a question about the killing on July 26 of an 85-year-old Roman Catholic priest by knife-wielding attackers who burst into a church service in western France.
The attackers forced the priest to his knees and slit his throat. Daesh claimed responsibility for the brutal attack.
The pope said every religion has its “small group of fundamentalists."
"We have them too,” he said, adding if he had to talk about “Islamic violence, he had to talk about Christian violence” too.
The leader of the Catholic church said Europe should look closer to home, describing social injustice and idolatry of money as among the prime causes of terrorism.
“Terrorism grows when there is no other option and when money is made a god and it, instead of the person, is put at the center of the world economy,” he said.
“I ask myself how many young people that we Europeans have left devoid of ideals, who do not have work, then they turn to drugs and alcohol or enlist in ISIS [Daesh],” he added.
European states have been grappling with a growing number of their citizens trying to join terrorist groups in the Middle East over the past few years.
Earlier in February, the European Union’s criminal intelligence agency said that up to 5,000 trained members of the Daesh terrorist group are at large in Europe.