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Catholics and Muslims against religious discrimination

· Final Declaration at conclusion of annual meeting in Cairo, Egypt ·

The Joint Committee held its annual meeting at al-Azhar headquarters on Tuesday 23 and Wednesday 24 February 2010 under the joint presidency of Sheikh Muhammad Abd al-Aziz Wasil, Wakil of al-Azhar, and President of the Permanent Committee of al-Azhar for Dialogue with Monotheistic Religions, and Cardinal Jean-Louis Tauran, President of the Pontifical Council for Interreligious Dialogue.

The delegation of al-Azhar was composed as follows:

– Sheikh Prof. Muhammad Abd al-Aziz Wasil, Wakil of al-Azhar and President of the Permanent Committee of al-Azhar;

– Sheikh Prof. Omar al-Dieb Muhammad, Member of the Academy for Islamic Research and Member of the Permanent Committee;

– Prof. Dr Taha Mustafa Abu Kreisha, Member of the Academy for Islamic Research and Member of the Permanent Committee;

– Prof. Dr Abdallah Mabrouk al-Naggar, Member of the Academy for Islamic Research and Member of the Permanent Committee;

– Sheikh Ali Abd al-Baqi Shahata, Member of the Academy for Islamic Research and Member of the Permanent Committee.

Prof. Dr Mohammad al-Shahat al-Gendy, Member of the Academy for Islamic Research and Member of the Permanent Committee, and Prof. Sheikh Ali Muhammad Fathallah, Member of the Academy for Islamic Research, who were due to assist, could not take part in the meeting.

The delegation of the Pontifical Council was as follows:

– Cardinal Jean-Louis Tauran, President, Pontifical Council for Interreligious Dialogue;

– Archbishop Pier Luigi Celata, Secretary, Pontifical Council for Interreligious Dialogue;

– Mons. Michael Louis Fitzgerald, Apostolic Nuncio in Egypt;

– Bishop Botros Fahim Hanna, Vicar, Catholic Coptic Patriarchate, Cairo;

– Mons. Khaled Akasheh, Head Officer for Islam, Pontifical Council for Interreligious Dialogue;

– Mons. Bernard Munono Muyembe, Officer, Pontifical Council for Justice and Peace;

– Fr René-Vincent de Grandlaunay, op, Dominican Institute for Oriental Studies, Cairo.

The participants were received by the Grand Imam of al-Azhar Prof. Dr Sheikh Muhammad Sayyed Tantawi, whom Cardinal Tauran thanked for his condemnation of the violence in which six Christians and a Muslim policeman lost their lives in Naga Hamadi last Orthodox Christmas and for the expression of solidarity with the families of the victims and reaffirmation of the equality of all citizens in rights and duties, regardless of their religious belonging. Sheikh Tantawi declared that he only accomplished what he felt to be his duty in those tragic events.

The Committee, with the help of papers presented by Mons. Bernard Munono Muyembe and by Prof. Abdallah Mabrouk al-Naggar, examined the theme of “The phenomenon of confessional violence: Illuminating the phenomenon, its causes, and proposals of solutions with special reference to the role of the religions in this regard”.

The members of the Committee expressed their satisfaction for the atmosphere of mutual respect and friendship among the participants, which encouraged an open exchange of views.

At the end of the meeting the participants agreed upon the following recommendations:

1. to pay greater attention to the fact that the instrumentalization of religion for political or other ends can be a source of violence;

2. to avoid discrimination on the basis of religious identity;

3. to open our hearts to mutual pardon and reconciliation, necessary conditions for a peaceful and fruitful coexistence;

4. to acknowledge similarities and respect differences as a prerequisite for a culture of dialogue based on common values;

5. to affirm that both sides commit themselves anew to recognize and respect the dignity of every human being, without any distinction based on ethnicity or religious affiliation;

6. to oppose religious discrimination in all fields. Just laws should guarantee fundamental equality;

7. to foster ideals that call to justice, solidarity and cooperation to guarantee a peaceful and prosperous life for all;

8. to oppose with determination any action that tends to create tensions, divisions and conflicts in societies;

9. to promote a culture of mutual respect and dialogue through education at home, at school, in churches and in mosques, promoting a spirit of fraternity among all persons and communities;

10. to oppose attacks against religions in the mass media, especially on satellite channels, on account of the dangerous effect that such broadcasts can have on social cohesion and peace among religious communities;

11. to make sure that the teaching of religious leaders as well as the school text books and teaching do not contain statements or refer to historical events that directly or indirectly induce a violent attitude among followers of different religions.

The Committee agreed that its next meeting would be held in Rome, 23-24 February 2010.

Sheikh Muhammad
Abd al-Aziz Wasil
Wakil al-Azhar and President of the
Committee for Dialogue of al-Azhar.


Cardinal Jean-Louis Tauran
President of the Pontifical Council
for Interreligious Dialogue

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