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Wednesday, 3 October, 2001, 15:23 GMT 16:23 UK
Religious leaders seek end to terror
Religious leaders at the Rome summit
'Christians and Muslims should repudiate violence'
Christian and Muslim leaders have gathered in Rome to seek ways of preventing attacks similar to those against New York and Washington through better mutual understanding.


Religion must never be used as a reason for conflict

Pope John Paul II
The summit brings Roman Catholic, Protestant and Orthodox clerics together with prominent Muslims from Egypt, Saudi Arabia, Syria and Iran.

Pope John Paul II also said on Wednesday religion could not justify conflict and both Christian and Muslims should repudiate violence.

"Christians and Muslims, together with the believers of all religions, are called to firmly repudiate violence and build a world that loves life and grows in justice and solidarity," he said at his weekly general audience.

Parrallel diplomacy

The meeting was set up by the small Roman Catholic Sant'Egidio community based in Rome, which specialises in parallel diplomacy.


We must be on guard against all simplifications and never identify one religion as the source of evil and violence

Cardinal Carlo Maria Martini
It has a remarkable record in bringing together parties at war in developing countries, particularly in Africa, says the BBC's Rome correspondent.

The Archbishop of Milan, Cardinal Carlo Maria Martini, said it was important not to identify members of other religions as evil.

"We must avoid going after scapegoats," said the archbishop, who is seen by many progressives as a possible successor to the Pope.

"Terrorists must be identified and disarmed but that cannot be done if an entire culture, or religion or nation is held responsible.

"We must be on guard against all simplifications and never identify one religion as the source of evil and violence," he said.

Peaceful religion

Among Muslims taking part in the meeting are the Grand Mufti of Egypt and the President of the World Muslim Council from Saudi Arabia.


We will not accept that a great religion, practised in a great nation, is branded as the religion of violence and terrorism

Yusuf Al-Qaradawi,
Islamic theologian

Yusuf Al-Qaradawi, an Islamic theologian and director of the Sunna Research Centre in Qatar, said that in the wake of the attacks the world had to avoid what he called "a return to the old crusades".

"We will not accept that a great religion, practised in a great nation, is branded as the religion of violence and terrorism because of the actions of a few people," he said.

Mr Al-Qaradawi said that those who carried out the attacks in New York and Washington were the products of a "deformation" of Islam.

See also:

03 Oct 01 | Americas
US shores up Muslim support
03 Oct 01 | UK Politics
Asylum and hate law to be overhauled
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