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Annan urges Imams and Rabbis to spread peace

Annan urges Imams and Rabbis to spread message of peace

United Nations Secretary-General Kofi Annan today sent a strong message of support to an upcoming gathering of Imams and Rabbis, urging them to use their influence to overcome fear and foster cooperation.

“You know better than anyone that the problem is not the Torah or the Koran. Indeed, the problem is never the faith – it is the faithful, and how we behave towards each other. That is why gatherings such are yours, which bring together leading religious figures, both Jewish and Muslim, are so important,” Mr. Annan said in his message to the Second World Congress of Imams and Rabbis for Peace, to be held in Seville from 19 to 21 March.

“As teachers and guides, you can be powerful agents of change. You can inspire people to new levels of commitment and public service. You can help bridge the chasms of ignorance, fear and misunderstanding. You can set an example of interfaith dialogue and cooperation,” he said to the meeting, which is expected to draw some 150 Imams, Rabbis and other religious leaders from the Middle East Europe, and North America to promote dialogue and understanding between those religious communities.

The Secretary-General noted that today, large numbers of Muslims and Jews around the world view themselves as “victims” of one another, or of the larger forces of globalization. “We look to you to help overcome this sense of victimhood and exclusion,” he said. “Your communities have to be convinced that they need not be helpless bystanders in the changing world around them, but can be involved and constructive participants in it.”

The meeting, which is slated to address such issues as faith in secular societies and technology and morality, “can help chart a path of moderation for the devout, showing them that they can remain true to their convictions and beliefs while engaging fully in the changing world around them,” Mr. Annan said.

The conference, he pointed out, can make an important contribution to the “Alliance of Civilizations,” a UN initiative aimed at bridging divides and overcoming prejudices, misconceptions, and polarizations which potentially threaten world peace.

Wishing participants a successful Congress, the Secretary-General encouraged the Imams and Rabbis to spread the Alliance's message of dialogue and peaceful coexistence in their communities.

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