Cairo, Asharq Al-Awsat- Leaders of Egypt’s religious establishment are due to participate in the upcoming United Nations interfaith conference on Dialogue of Civilizations in New York, scheduled to be held on November 12-13.
The Egyptian delegation comprises of Dr. Muhammad Sayyid Tantawi, Grand Imam of Al-Azhar Mosque and Grand Sheikh of Al-Azhar University, and Dr. Ali Gomaa, Egypt’s grand mufti.
Dr. Tantawi emphasized that the Initiative’s significance will help build the foundations for dialogue between religions and civilizations, and in the process will lead to the enhancement of peace, safety and security between nations. He pointed out that Islam urged its followers to establish dialogue with followers of other religions to benefit from the virtues and values that these religions bring to humanity.
For his part Dr. Ali Gomaa stated that “the Egyptian government and its religious institutions are extremely keen to support and enhance Arab, regional and international efforts to spread the principles of coexistence, peace, love, tolerance and moderation among world nations.”
Dr. Gomaa, commended the efforts of the Custodian of two Holy Mosques, King Abdullah bin Abdulaziz Al Saud of Saudi Arabia for initiating the two-day conference and that this effort contributes to international security and peace. He urged participant leaders to take practical steps to issue an international declaration to respect religions and beliefs and to criminalize the exploitation of religion in igniting racial discrimination.
Dr. Goma’a added that the rhetoric that religions are the cause for the current disputes are incorrect, stressing that disputes are all political and that they are due to discrimination and injustice. Dr. Goama’a concluded that cultural dialogues as well as dialogues between different religions are indispensable tools to achieving international, regional and local peace.
Other high level guests attending the conference include; outgoing US President George W. Bush, Spanish King Juan Carlos, Kuwaiti Emir Sabah al-Ahmad al-Sabah, Lebanese President Michel Suleiman and Jordan’s King Abdullah.
The conference, which aims to promote dialogue among the world’s monotheistic religions, will be a follow-up to a similar conference held in Madrid in July.