religious diplomacy

An increasing number of organizations have in recent years begun to advocate collaboration with religious leaders in order to resolve conflicts. Former French foreign minister Jean-Marc Ayrault and the Sant’Egidio community signed an unusual agreement on April 18. The convention explicitly recognized their “long-term collaboration” in various fields including interreligious dialogue, conflict prevention and the hosting of refugees.

As Imam Omar Shaheed looked out at the 150 people who packed the Columbia Museum of Art’s auditorium Sunday night, he was struck by one thing. “We’re all different religions, but we have a humanity,” he said. “That’s really standing out.” Shaheed, imam at Masjid as-Salaam in Columbia, was part of the panel at “Dinner and Dialogue: Understanding Islam.” The discussion that was part of the event answered questions about the tenets of Islam, the most common misconceptions about the religion and the similarities between Islam, Christianity and Judaism.

The ambassadors of countries with embassies in Turkey attended an iftar (fast-breaking) dinner Tuesday evening hosted by the ruling Justice and Development Party (AK Party) in the capital Ankara. [...] Saudi Arabia's Ambassador to Turkey, whose country spearheaded efforts to isolate Qatar over what it calls support for extremists, was seated near Qatari Ambassador as both envoys briefly engaged in a warm conversation, according to a journalist from Hürriyet daily who attended the dinner.

The day before President Trump met with Pope Francis, Cardinal Peter Turkson juxtaposed the president’s speech in Saudi Arabia with what the Pope said in Egypt. Taking to Twitter, he wrote: “Pope Francis & Pres Trump reach out to Islam-world to exorcise it of [religious violence]. One offers peace of dialogue, the other security of arms.” [...] Yet the Ghanaian cardinal, Francis’ chief “minister” for matters of peace, suggesting that the “peace of dialogue” is the path to be preferred over the “security of arms.”

Secretary of State Rex Tillerson has declined a request to host an event to mark Islam's holy month of Ramadan, two U.S. officials said, apparently breaking with a bipartisan tradition in place with few exceptions for nearly 20 years. Members of Congress, Muslim civil society and community leaders, diplomats from Muslim countries and senior U.S. officials usually attend the State Department Ramadan event, a symbol of the U.S. government's diplomatic efforts with Muslim countries and people.

Israel has announced a series of goodwill gestures for Palestinians ahead of the Muslim holy month of Ramadan a day after it warned Gaza's already meager electricity supply could be further reduced following a spat between Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas and Hamas. Maj. Gen. Yoav Mordechai of the Israeli defense body said in a statement Friday the goodwill measures include access for 100 Gaza residents to attend prayers at Al-Aqsa Mosque in Jerusalem each Friday throughout Ramadan. West Bank crossings will open longer it also said.

This week’s PD News focused on President Trump’s trip overseas, from the importance of Saudi Arabia to Melania Trump’s international debut as First Lady. 

“This visit comes where Egyptians are wounded because of what happens, wounded in their hearts and when a Pope comes is to consolidate and give his solidarity to all the people,” said Rafik Grish, Coptic Catholic church spokesman. [...] Pope Francis will visit Cairo’s largest Coptic cathedral to pray for the 28 people killed in a Christmas season blast last year.

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