Thursday, October 01, 2009

Another Saudi-sponsored "Inter-religious dialogue" conference

This time, it's in Geneva. I am not particularly impressed with the Inter-religious dialogue efforts to date. I suppose some conference invitees are thrilled with it because they get to press hands with heads-of-state, eat sumptuous food, and enjoy royal gifts. However, last year's conference ended on a sour note when the organizers tried to issue a final statement without approval of the attendees.

The authorized guidelines for the entire effort were settled at the June, 2008 Islamic Preparatory Conference on Religious Dialogue - the "Makkah initiative" referred to in the article. Among other things, these can be read as directing Muslim delegates to proselytize and not listen to others, and if they do listen to protect against "demoralization". link

Were these guidelines meant for real, or are they just pieces of paper necessary to pursue a genuine effort? In my opinion, this is the point where the Dialogue stalls.

Will taking the Dialogue to the grassroots by help it break through this barrier? Or will deeper roots will add to the intellectual inertia that prevents Dialogue from going forward. I think the latter is the case - and Abdullah Al-Turki, chief organizer of these conferences as head of the Muslim World League, knows this.

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