Full Text: final communiqué from Istanbul interfaith meeting
(Vatican Radio) A two-day international interfaith conference in Istanbul, Turkey.
Held under the auspices of the Turkish Religious Foundation Center for Islamic Studies
and the Marmara University Institute for Middle Eastern Studies, and with the participation
of the new Secretary of the Pontifical Council for Interreligious Dialogue, Fr. Miguel
Ayuso, the conference explored Muslim and Christian perspectives on the Arab Spring
and peace in the Middle East. Please find, below, the full text of the final communique
published by the conference organisers.
Arab Awakening and Peace in the New Middle East: Muslim and Christian Perspectives 7-8
September 2012, Istanbul Final Communique
The Arab Awakening has been discussed
and debated by political leaders, policymakers, scholars, opinion makers and journalists
within and outside the region from different perspectives. This conference brought
together for the first time major Muslim and Christian religious leaders from the
Arab world, experts and opinion makers to discuss the role of religion in the new
Middle East. Discussions and debates recognized the problems and challenges ahead
and affirmed that in the new Middle East emerging political cultures should be
rooted in a national unity and identity based upon equal citizenship, and the recognition
of religious pluralism and cultural diversity. Rather than seeing diversity as
a problem, participants spoke of it as an asset and source of richness. Establishing
the rule of law is seen as critical in the protection of the freedoms of individuals and
diverse faith communities and groups. However different state systems might be, principles
of equality of citizenship, rule of law, and protection of liberties are the fundamental
foundations of strong and vibrant civil societies. Authoritarian regimes have too
often utilized religions for their own purposes. Thus, instrumentalized religions
can become part of the problem. However participants discussed the ways in which
religions can also be a powerful resource in the transformation of societies in
the new Middle East. Participants argued that discourses and languages used in
the media, popular culture, schools and religious centers are extremely important.
Religious leaders and decision makers should lead a process of reforming these
areas. This meeting is envisioned to be the beginning of a process of future workshops
to discuss and explore the implementation of reforms in emerging political cultures
in the Middle East.