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Religious summit discusses peace, justice
Religious leaders are meeting to discuss the ways in which Christians and Muslims can work together to achieve peace. (The Daily Star/Mahmoud Kheir)
Religious leaders are meeting to discuss the ways in which Christians and Muslims can work together to achieve peace. (The Daily Star/Mahmoud Kheir)
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BEIRUT: A three-day Christian-Muslim summit kicked off in Beirut Monday, with participants discussing ways to achieve peace and justice between Muslim and Christian communities.

Christian and Islamic representatives from around the world are taking part in the summit which convenes under the theme “Christians and Muslims Building Justice and Peace Together in a Violent, Changing World.”

Speaking during the opening session at Mohammad Al-Amin Mosque in Downtown Beirut, Sheikh Malek Shaar, the mufti of Tripoli and the north, called on attendees to work on achieving peace.

“You are invited today to translate your ideas, knowledge and theories in dialogue ... to make peace which will only prevail through our religious and human values,” he said.

Shaar said that Islam does not impose peace by force, but through fostering religious faith among people, nations and societies.

A similar summit was held at the National Cathedral in Washington in March 2010.

The overall goal of the second summit is to issue a call “to and from” the religious communities of the participants as well as to governments and civil societies across the world to “take effective and just action in response to discrimination, marginalization and violence against religious communities, whether or not they might be a majority or minority population.”

Former President Amin Gemayel voiced his confidence in what he called the Lebanese coexistence formula – the blueprint of “unity and stability.”

“I believe that the Lebanese formula is paying the price of its success rather than its failure,” he said. “Had the Lebanese formula been a failure, then all the forces of extremism, racism, atheism and totalitarianism would not have joined forces to undermine it.”

Gemayel said that the success of the Lebanese formula gives Christian-Islamic dialogue the opportunity to make progress. “This dialogue wants a practical experience to refer to.”

The Kataeb (Phalange) Party leader said that dialogue between Islam and Christianity should not have the aim of eliminating a conflict between them.

“The major confrontation should pit Christians and Muslims against the world of atheism on one side and the world of extremism on the other,” Gemayel explained.

He said that Christian-Islamic dialogue should aim to reach common ground through intellectual currents which bring together Christian and Islamic societies.

Zahle Bishop Issam Darwish, who delivered a speech on behalf of Greek Catholic Patriarch Gregorios III Laham, warned that a “destructive” Islamic-Christian struggle would break out in the world if Christians ceased to exist in the Levant.

“Coexistence is the future of these countries [in the Levant] and Christians are an important element ... there is no coexistence without Christians.”

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Daily Star on June 19, 2012, on page 3.
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