(NEW YORK 18 July 2008)—Religious leaders of different faiths from Religions for Peace forged a consensus to build peace in the Middle East and North Africa region. They launched the Middle East and North Africa/Religions for Peace.
“Dialogue is the choice of some, but needs to be the reality for all of us to promote peace in the Middle East,” said His Beatitude Michel Sabbah, the former Latin Patriarch of Jerusalem. The Council was launched at a meeting of 30 Muslim, Christian, and Jewish representatives at the Library of Alexandria in Egypt on 15 July 2008. H.B. Sabbah and Dr. Mohammad Al Sammak, Secretary General of the Christian-Muslim Committee for Dialogue, are Co-Chairs of the Council; both are members of the Religions for Peace World Council.
With representatives from more than 20 countries in the region, the Council will engage in a number of activities aiming at greater understanding between religions and communities. In its initial plan of action, the Council identified as priorities: the development of principles for true dialogue; promotion of education for better understanding of the three Abrahamic religions; and carrying out solidarity actions that may promote reconciliation. The participants agreed to give priority to help build inter-religious platforms in the countries in the Middle East and North Africa region.
Dr. William F. Vendley, Secretary General of Religions for Peace, commended the bold steps that were taken to form the Council. “Religions that cooperate effectively put common problems at the center of their concern and take action on them,” he said. “These include addressing poverty and social and political injustice. The launch of the Council is a significant step to mobilize the spiritual, moral, and social assets of the religious communities in the region for common action.”
Participants acknowledged that a number of inter-faith initiatives exist in the Middle East, and the Council will work to reinforce these efforts and, when helpful, facilitate cooperation among them.
Dr. Ismail Serageldin—Director of the Library of Alexandria, an Honorary President of the Religions for Peace World Council, and a member of the new Council—expressed his great optimism about the role the new Council can serve. “Amid the wealth, poverty, and injustice in the Middle East and North Africa region, the Council will make a difference,” he said.
Link : http://www.wcrp.org/news/press/middleast-council-071808