UN moot rejects use of religion to justify terrorism
Daily Times, November 15, 2008
UNITED NATIONS: Countries attending a UN inter-faith conference on Thursday rejected the use of religion to justify acts of terrorism, the killing of innocent civilians, violence and coercion.
A declaration agreed by participants from 80 nations at the high-level meeting – called ‘Culture of Peace’ – expressed concern over “serious instances of intolerance, discrimination, expressions of hatred and harassment of minority religious communities of all faiths”.
The participants also underlined the importance of promoting dialogue, understanding and tolerance, as well as respect for all religions, cultures and beliefs.
UN Secretary General Ban Ki-Moon read the declaration near the end of the meeting that was initiated by King Abdullah of Saudi Arabia and brought 14 world leaders to New York – including the US, Pakistani, Afghan and Israeli presidents.
“King Abdullah’s initiative has come at a time when the need for dialogue has never been greater,” Ban told a press conference. It has brought together people who might not otherwise have a chance to interact ... the challenge now is to go beyond words we have heard.”
British Prime Minister Gordon Brown said on Thursday the creation of a Palestinian state side-by-side with an Israeli state “can be achieved by goodwill”.
Many speakers spoke out against religious extremists and stressed the importance of tolerance and freedom of religion.
US President George Bush echoed this theme saying, “We believe God calls us to live in peace and to oppose all those who use His name to justify violence.”
President Asif Ali Zardari called terrorism, discrimination and violence against women ‘un-Islamic’. He urged all countries to unite behind an international agenda in which “hate speech aimed at inciting people against any religion must be unacceptable, (and) injustice and discrimination on the mere basis of one’s faith must be discouraged”. ap
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