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Middle East and North Africa Religious Leaders Reject Violence Commit to Cooperation among Muslims, Christians and Jews to Build Peace

A TIO Report

 Faiths of the Middle East Unite for Religious Freedom

Faiths of the Middle East Unite for Religious Freedom

Marrakech, Morocco -- Senior religious leaders from across the Middle East and North Africa rejected violence and called for deepened multi-religious collaboration as the region undergoes historic transformations. They committed to stand in solidarity with all vulnerable communities, to advocate for full religious freedoms across the region and to call on all religious believers to become a united force to help ensure that governments honor the full rights, protect and serve all of their citizens without exception.

The religious leaders—coming from Egypt, Iraq, Jordan, Kuwait, Lebanon, Morocco, Palestine, Saudi Arabia, Sudan, Syria, Tunisia, and Turkey—were convened by the Religions for Peace Middle East and North Africa Council, a body led by religious leaders from the region. They were joined by representatives from the United Nations (UN), the Organization of Islamic Cooperation (OIC) and the Islamic Education Scientific and Cultural Organization (ISESCO).

The participants reiterated the urgent need for the historic faiths in the region—Islam, Christianity and Judaism—to work together for the common good of the people in the region. Respecting their religious differences, they pledged to work together to promote and protect the fundamental dignity and religious and other rights of all people, including those who are not followers of their historic faiths.

The religious leaders were united in their call for the rejection of the misuse of religion as well as their respect for religious freedom across the region. H.E. Ufuk Gokcen, Ambassador of the OIC to the United Nations, noted that “the commitments of the religious leaders could be helpfully aligned with the recent political consensus achieved in the United Nations Human Rights Council resolution 16/18. That political consensus—endorsed by the gathered religious leaders—recognizes that the incitement to imminent violence based on religion or belief should be criminalized.

The Director General of ISESCO, Dr. Abdulaziz Othman Altwaijri, condemned the manipulation of religion for political ends. He cautioned against those who justified violence in the name of religion by misinterpreting scriptures out of their historical contexts.

Religions for Peace International Secretary General Dr. William Vendley stated that “the religions of the region can and must help to shape the common future of the region.” “Religious leaders across the world are in solidarity with the Religions for Peace MENA Council and they will work actively to support its leadership in protecting human dignity and advancing the common good in the region.”

[Read full summary of conference]