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Christians, Muslims affirm common values

FILE - Egyptian Coptic Christians and Muslims raise a Cross and the Muslim holy book, the Koran, on the 13th day of protests in Tahrir Square. (AFP PHOTO/MOHAMMED ABED)

BEIRUT: Muslims and Christian leaders from across the Middle East and Denmark wrapped up a three-day conference on religious understanding Thursday in Beirut by highlighting values, such as mercy, respect and caring for the weak, which both faiths share.

The conference, entitled “Building Greater Understanding between Christians and Muslims,” was organized by the Muslim-Christian Contact Group of the National Council of Churches in Denmark and the Arab Group for Muslim-Christian Dialogue. It was supported by the Danish Foreign Ministry.

Reading the final statement, Reverend Riad Jarjour said the conference “had enhanced understanding between Muslims and Christians by focusing on common values which overcome religious and cultural differences.”

The statement said that during the conference, participants discussed issues of faith, common values, religious freedom, coexistence and dialogue between cultures.

Taking part in the conference were Muslims and Christians from Denmark, Lebanon, Syria, Jordan, Saudi Arabia, the UAE and Iraq. A follow-up conference will be held in Copenhagen Sept. 25-28.

Jarjour, who is general secretary of the Arab Group for Muslim-Christian Dialogue, said that participants agreed on a common message based on a number of principles.

“Christians and Muslims announce their belief in God, the one creator who unites us; this belief founds common space for dialogue in the future,” Jarjour said. “Muslims and Christians announce that our different concepts of God should not be a source for a lack of trust.”

Participants agreed that “the deep admiration of God invites us to love every person and respect his views and rights regardless of his religious and political beliefs.”

Muslims and Christians share the values of mercy, mutual respect and caring for the weak, said the participants, adding that the essential values of Islam and Christianity are a source of richness for their societies.

Anders Gadegaard, the head of the National Council of Churches in Denmark, said that the final statement of the conference is valuable. “We proved our ability to communicate and to enhance common values, it is important to acknowledge this.”

For his part, Asmat Mojaddedi, the chairman of the Muslim Council of Denmark, praised the “excellent climate for dialogue” that characterized the conference.

He said that ties were good between Muslims and Christians in Denmark.

“We live together like brothers despite the presence of extremists among Muslims and Christians which is historical,” he said.

The 2005 publication of cartoons of Prophet Mohammad by a Danish newspaper sparked controversy and anger in many Muslim communities.

Separately, conference participants visited Prime Minister Najib Mikati at the Grand Serail.

 
A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Daily Star on May 04, 2012, on page 4.

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