Interfaith Moot Offers No Remedies Against Extremists

* Christian, Muslim leaders meet as part of four-day event to promote interfaith dialogue

* Final declaration states Muslims, Christians ‘affirm unity and absoluteness of God’

NEW HAVEN: A conference of Muslim and Christian leaders aimed at promoting interfaith dialogue ended on Friday without any discussions on the thorny issue of religious fundamentalism.

The four-day event, hosted by Yale University Divinity School, is the first of a series of Christian-Muslim talks to be held around the world. Future events will be hosted in Britain, at the Vatican, and in Jordan.

Around 150 religious leaders and academics gathered for the event – mainly protestant theologians and evangelical leaders on the Christian side, and Shias, Sunnis and Sufis on the Muslim side. Six Jewish guests were present as observers. “Practical issues included world poverty, the Iraq and Afghanistan wars, the situation in Palestine and Israel, the danger of further wars, and religious freedom,” said Prince Ghazi bin Muhammad bin Talal of Jordan.

Final declaration: The final declaration, approved by consensus, states that Muslims and Christians “affirm the unity and absoluteness of God. We recognise that God’s merciful love is infinite, eternal and embraces all things. This love is central to both our religions and is at the heart of the Judeo-Christian-Islamic monotheistic heritage”.

The final text of the meeting avoids mentioning Christian or Muslim fundamentalist ideologies, though the final declaration does “denounce and deplore threats made against those who engage in interfaith dialogue”.

A similar dialogue between Anglicans and Muslims is scheduled for October at Cambridge University in Britain, and between Catholics and Muslims at the Vatican in November. In March, there will be another conference at Georgetown University in Washington DC to look at social and political issues, and a final gathering will be held in October 2009 at the Royal Aal al-Bayt Institute for Islamic Thought in Jordan. afp