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Pastor 'will oust president' over bonds
Former presidential supporter theatens campaign if sukuks plan goes aheadTax breaks on Sharia-compliant paper enrage Korean Protestants
- Stephen Hong, Seoul
- February 28, 2011
Protestants in South KoreaÂ are fiercely opposed toÂ a government move to attract investment from the Middle East by offeringÂ tax exemptions on the bonds.
AÂ billÂ toÂ grant the exemptions was introduced during the provisional session of the national assembly which began on February 18.
Reverend Cho Yong-gi, who contributed to President Leeâ€™s election campaign, issued his warning during a church service on February 24.
Protestants, including the conservative Christian Council of Korea, say the bill favors Muslims too much and will even encourage Islamic extremists to invest in the country.
The Protestant stance, however, has drawn widespread criticism.
In a statement also on February 24, the Korea Institute for Religious Freedom, an NGO which promotes the separation of religion and state, said Protestants have exceeded their authority.
Newspapers have also spoken out against Protestant arguments.
In an editorial on February 25, the Seoul Sinmun daily, called Reverend Choâ€™s position â€śradical and very critical," also urging Protestants to keep church and state separate.
Meanwhile, Father John Song Yong-min, secretary of the Korean bishopsâ€™ committee for promoting Christian unity and inter-religious dialogue, has warned the government that Protestantsâ€™ â€śintolerant attitudesâ€ť could lead to conflict with Muslims if the bill is passed.
The Protestant Church in Korea has been greatly influenced by the American Evangelical Church, which does not allow compromise in faith and salvation, and which also has an â€śinherent fearâ€ť of Islam, Father Song said today.
The government, so far has dismissed criticism of the bill, saying tax exemption on sukuks is in line with legislation covering other foreign currency bonds.