Cairo- Social and religious figures partaking in al Azhar’s peace forum in Cairo, Egypt denounced all damaging actions made by extremist groups in the name of self-styled religion.
Forum attendees urged swift action on restoring the tolerant and forgiving image of Islam and all religions, a fact which is being wrongly altered by terrorists. Religions promote coexistence and leaders of faith have a key role in relaying the true teachings of religions to the public, the seminar highlighted.
A consigned charter which absolves religions from terrorism is expected to be released at the concluding events of the forum.
The objective of the conference, held Thursday through Friday, is to address “a message to the whole world” to “call for peace between religious leaders, societies and all the countries of the world,” the office of grand imam of Azhar, Sheikh Ahmed Mohamed al-Tayyeb said.
Sponsored by Tayyeb, the first conference was held at a Cairo hotel on Thursday and attended by a number of religious leaders from around the world, led by Pope Francis II and Pope Benedict XVI.
The Egyptian Islamic seminary has observed that “human society is currently experiencing overwhelming crises threatening our existence and destroying the essence of human life” and the “bloody, armed conflicts” that have resulted “contradict sublime religious values and humanitarian ideals.”
“Considering the expansion of the circle of wars and violence and the rise in terrorism and sectarianism, the voice of reason calls us to do our best to eliminate the causes of suffering and to seek the means of cooperation rather than seeking conflicts …,” the seminary states.
Azhar is making efforts to consolidate peace and security around the world and is keen on openness and dialogue with the world’s religious institutions, Tayyeb told Asharq Al-Awsat.
“The peace conference aims to send a joint message–rejecting all reasons leading to intolerance and hatred, and the anchoring values like compassion, mercy, peace and dialogue between people,” Tayyeb said.
Observers commentated with the conference being in keep with efforts spent by the Grand Sheikh of Azhar Tayyeb and the Chairman of the Muslim Council of Elders who are co-organizing the event missioned with spreading the culture of coexistence and achieving peace for all mankind, observers added.
The forum addresses a wide-ranging number of issues including obstacles to peace and misinterpretation of religious texts and its impact on global peace. Other topics on the agenda of the two-day event include effects of poverty and diseases on peace as well as peace culture in religions — realities and hopes.
In his speech at the first day of the forum, Jim Winkler, the general secretary of the National Council of Churches in the US, described the conference as an important forum for “creating understanding and continuing coexistence” among people of the world.
Winkler praised Azhar’s efforts for advocating rights of minority Christians in Egypt and the Middle East.
“There is no way to win over terrorism, which has spread in some parts of the world, other than by disseminating a culture of peace and affinity,” head of Egypt’s Coptic Orthodox Church Tawadros II told the conference.
He accused countries, which he did not name, of supporting terrorist groups for political gains.
“The world has to move swiftly to dry up all military and financial sources of terrorism,” the Coptic pope added in an address read on his behalf by Bishop Pola.
In his speech, Muslim World League Secretary-General Dr. Mohammed Abdul-Karim Al-Issa stressed that achieving peace concerns the Islamic nation and all other religions.
He pointed out that promoting world peace around the world is the desired objective. Issa added that we live at a time overwhelmed with pain, as Takfiris, exclusionary rhetoric, and racism against Islam star the international stage.
Pope Francis and Dr. Al Tayyeb’s speeches on Friday will close the conference taking place at Azhar’s Centre for Conferences on its university campus.