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Growing Tide Of Inter-Faith Intolerance

Annan Calls On Religious Leaders To Turn Back Growing Tide Of Inter-Faith Intolerance

New York, Sep 21 2006 2:00PM

Warning that growing tensions between major world religions could threaten stability, United Nations Secretary-General Kofi Annan today issued a ringing appeal for dialogue, cooperation and the abandonment of prejudice.

“Our global community is experiencing a period of sharply increasing intolerance, extremism and violence,” he said in a message to a high-level Conference on Interfaith Cooperation for Peace in New York, delivered by Carolyn McAskie, Assistant Secretary-General in the Peῡcebuilding Support Office.

“Recent developments in the Middle East have only fuelled this trend. Relations between adherents of major world religions have been particularly affected. If unaddressed, these may even threaten stability in many places.”

He called on participants to “help us unlearn our collective prejudices,” promoting contacts and dialogue among different societies.

“You can educate us to go beyond stereotypes of the other, to avoid simplistic categorizations that exacerbate misunderstandings, and to embrace the notion that diversity – in thought, in belief, and in action – is a precious gift, not a threat,” he said, stressing that the UN has always seen such dialogue as an important building block for peace.

Current disturbing developments are being driven by the growing tendency to articulate differences in terms of identity – be it religious, ethnic, racial, or otherwise – rather than in terms of opinions or interests, he said, stressing the participants’ role in reversing this trend.

Ends

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