[Letters] A wrong presidential message on sukukThe front page pictures that appeared last Friday in newspapers across Korea of President Lee Myung-bak and his wife kneeling at the National Prayer Breakfast portray an image of contriteness and humility. It’s almost as if President Lee was asking for forgiveness from the Protestant church after he became the target of criticism for supporting legislation that would give tax breaks to Korean companies that issue Islamic sukuk bonds. The pastor of Yoido Full Gospel Church, the largest Protestant congregation in the world, at first threatened to topple Lee over the issue, though he later backed away from that comment. Lee’s critics say allowing Korean companies to issue sukuk bonds would lead to the Islamization of Korea.
The size of his congregation, and Lee’s posture at a time when he risks alienating his Protestant base of support, make the Yoido pastor’s voice seem stronger. But Lee’s is the voice of global reality. We are inevitably moving toward a global society, and efforts to facilitate ties with Islamic banks are a step in the right direction.
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John Christopher Carpenter, a professor of journalism at Ewha Womans University