From the UN, some notes on faith and tolerance

A bit more from the United Nations Interfaith Conference on Dialogue of Civilizations that we mentioned yesterday: While there has been some controversy about the event, spearheaded by King Abdullah of Saudi Arabia, it’s mostly been about irony and the tension between freedom of religion and freedom of the press (remember that Danish cartoon?). As the Canadian Press notes:

Abdullah warned delegates Wednesday that human beings must “live together in peace or harmony, or they will inevitably be consumed by the flames of misunderstanding, malice and hatred.”

“Terrorism and criminality are the enemies of every religion and every civilization,” he said, adding that they have appeared because the absence of tolerance. Abdullah said constructive dialogue can revive “these lofty ideals.”

The king made no mention of criticism from Human Rights Watch and others about Saudi Arabia’s “intolerance” in refusing to allow the public practice of any religion other than Islam and restricting those who do not follow the strict Wahhabi interpretation of Islam.

From here.

On Thursday, a declaration unanimously affirmed by the attending nations affirmed “their rejection of the use of religion to justify the killing of innocent people and actions of terrorism, violence and coercion which directly contradict the commitment of all religions to peace, justice and equality,” according to a Washington Post article that covered President Bush’s comments at the event. For his part, Bush offered:

“One of my core beliefs is that there is an almighty God, and that every man, woman and child on the face of this Earth bears his image,” Bush said. “. . . I know many of the leaders gathered in this assembly have been influenced by faith as well. We may profess different creeds and worship in different places, but our faith leads us to common values.”

The president also emphasized that democratic systems are best suited to encourage tolerance among different faiths. “We strongly encourage nations to understand that religious freedom is the foundation of a healthy and hopeful society,” he said.

From here.

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