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Arab leaders urged to mediate: CEN 2.19.10 p 8. March 2, 2010

Posted by geoconger in Church of England Newspaper, Islam, Politics, Washington.
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The Rt. Rev. John B. Chane, Bishop of Washington

Arab leaders must take the lead in ending the cycle of violence in the Middle East, the Bishop of Washington told the seventh US-Islamic World Forum meeting in Qatar this week.

“Arab leaders have to condemn violence and terrorism and make clear it is not appropriate and not helping anybody to find a way to deal with the complexities of the world around them,” Bishop John Chane told the Gulf Times following his presentation of a paper on the “role of religious leaders and religious communities in diplomacy,” in a closed session of the Feb 13-16 conference in Doha.

US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton and Turkish Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan joined Qatar’s Prime Minister Sheikh Hamad Al Thani in addressing the forum, while US President Barak Obama delivered a videotaped message broadcast to the gathering sponsored by the Washington think-tank, the Brookings Institution, and Qatar’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs.

President Obama acknowledged that “the United States and Muslims around the world have often slipped into a cycle of misunderstanding and mistrust that can lead to conflict rather than cooperation.” He called for “a new beginning between the United States and Muslims around the world, one based on mutual interest and mutual respect.”

Building upon remakes made in his 2009 Cairo speech to the Muslim world, President Obama stated the US was seeking to “promote education” exchanges, “broaden economic development”, “increase collaboration on science and technology” and “promote global health” within the Muslim majority nations of the Middle East, Africa and Asia.

In his address to the gathering, Bishop Chane argued that world leaders were wrong to ignore the religious dimensions of foreign policy issues, adding that religious leaders must be seen as equal partners in public diplomacy.

However, religious leaders also had a responsibility to speak out against violence and oppression in their own countries, and not foster sectarian interests, he said. The persecution of religious minorities must cease, and religious leaders should be at the forefront of those condemning attacks on ‘holy places’ as well as denouncing those who used religious passions to foment violence.

One area of particular concern for the religious communities was Gaza, Bishop Chane said. Christian, Jewish and Muslim faith leaders should take the lead in working out equitable strategies to address the Israel-Palestinian dispute, which sixty years of political dialogue had so far failed to resolve.

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