Monday, December 14, 2009

Taliban 'not all bad', says new Armed Forces bishop

The Taliban can be "admired" for their loyalty and conviction, the new Armed Forces bishop said yesterday.

Rt Rev Stephen Venner said the West's attitude had been "too simplistic" towards the Taliban - arguing against demonising the Islamic fundamentalist group.

The Church of England bishop, recently commissioned by Archbishop of Canterbury Dr Rowan Williams, said: "There's a large number of things that the Taliban say and stand for which none of us in the West could approve, but simply to say therefore that everything they do is bad is not helping the situation.

"The Taliban can perhaps be admired for their conviction to their faith and their sense of loyalty to each other."

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The bishop said he admired the sacrifices made by the British forces fighting in Afghanistan and some of the Taliban's methods were not acceptable.

He added that all the people of Afghanistan, including the Taliban, needed to be involved in a solution to the problems.

Colonel Richard Kemp, a former commander in Afghanistan, accused the bishop of naivety.

"We must understand our enemy but that is more of a military issue rather than a religious one," he said.

"There are elements in the Taliban who do not act from a religious perspective. Their creed and ethos is about violent oppression which comes from a politics of extreme religion."

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