Tehran conference sets out stall for peaceful coexistence among religions

By agency reporter
December 17, 2008

Equal participation and shared responsibility in society are at the basis of a peaceful coexistence between Christians and Muslims, participants at an inter-religious symposium in Tehran, Iran, declared last week.

They highlighted the value of learning from each other's faith and criticized "irresponsible media" for presenting such relations mainly in terms of antagonism.

The 13-14 December 2008 symposium on "Religion and peaceful coexistence" was jointly convened by the Tehran-based Centre for Inter-religious Dialogue of the Islamic Culture and Relations Organization together with the World Council of Churches (WCC).

A joint communiqué summarizing eight points of agreement highlighted the co-existence between Christians and Muslims in Iran, as well as the value of dialogue, which "should not be confined to scholars and spiritual leaders," and of "learning about each other's faith".

The joint communiqué states: "Peaceful coexistence between Christians and Muslims should be based on their equal participation and shared responsibility towards society and each other. This includes recognizing and respecting one another's religious and civil rights, and taking a common stand whenever the rights of religious communities are violated and whenever irresponsible media try to present a distorted image of any particular religion, offending its symbols and followers."

The fifth of a series started in 1995, the symposium brought together six Christian representatives and some 15 Muslim scholars and spiritual leaders. Its opening session, broadcast by an Iranian TV channel, was attended by nearly 80 guests, including Iranian clergy and lay leaders, as well as scholars and university students.

For the first time, the symposium saw the participation of representatives from Iranian churches. A parallel programme provided an opportunity for the Christians from abroad to worship and maintain extensive contacts with local Christian communities.

The full text of the joint communiqué can be found here: http://www.oikoumene.org/?id=6527

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