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21 December 2001

Violence is not grounded on religious texts
Seminar on Christian-Muslim dialogue makes suggestions for future agenda

cf. WCC Press Release, PR-01-47, of 13 December 2001
cf. WCC Press Update, Up-01-45, of 21 December 2001

The mutual interpretation of each other's religion, the discussion of the history of violence, the notion of Jihad and "just war" as well as the impact of global religious confrontation on local relations are among the main areas on which Christian-Muslim dialogue should focus in the future.

These, said Dr Tarek Mitri, team coordinator of the Inter-Religious Relations and Dialogue Team in the World Council of Churches (WCC), were the main proposals made on the final day of a seminar that brought together 45 scholars and leaders engaged in Christian-Muslim dialogue from the Arab world, the USA, Europe and Asia. The meeting was the last in a series of three on Christian-Muslim dialogue, held in Cairo, Egypt, 17-21 December.

"The seminar was an occasion to exchange information as well as to make an analysis of Christian-Muslim dialogue and to set the agenda for future work," explained Mitri. "It was also an occasion to assess the various initiatives in the area of Christian-Muslim dialogue," he added.

"The seminar made it very clear that we need to reflect on religion and violence, knowing very well that violence is not grounded in religious texts but in the history of people who interpret those texts. Therefore the discussion on violence needs to be a discussion on the history of violence, and it should not start from the assumption that it is religious tradition that legitimates violence," Mitri said.

The three meetings on Christian-Muslim dialogue were facilitated by the Middle East Council of Churches (MECC) and the WCC.

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The World Council of Churches is a fellowship of churches, now 337, in more than 100 countries in all continents from virtually all Christian traditions. The Roman Catholic Church is not a member church but works cooperatively with the WCC. The highest governing body is the assembly, which meets approximately every seven years. The WCC was formally inaugurated in 1948 in Amsterdam, Netherlands. Its staff is headed by general secretary Konrad Raiser from the Evangelical Church in Germany.