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LWF Head Urges Religious Leaders to Reject Islamophobia

( [email protected] ) Jul 04, 2009 08:19 AM EDT

The head of the Lutheran World Federation urged religious leaders from around the world to renounce Islamophobia during a conference convened by the president of Kazakhstan.

LWF general secretary the Rev. Ishmael Noko pointed to President Barack Obama and how he has avoided using “war against terror” language in his speeches to the Muslim world, according to Ecumenical News International.

Religious leaders should follow Obama’s example, Noko challenged, and also reject Islamophobia.

The Zimbabwean LWF leader was among more than 400 global religious leaders from some 60 countries who gathered for the Third Congress of Leaders of World and Traditional Religions in Astana, the capital of Kazakhstan. The first of such meetings occurred in 2003 at the initiative of Kazakhstan President Nursultan Nazarbayev. The second congress took place in 2006.

Religious leaders came from a wide range of faith traditions, including Islam, Christianity, Buddhism, Judaism, Hinduism, Taoism, Shintoism, and Zoroastrianism. During the July 1-2 gathering they renounced extremism, terrorism and other forms of violence in the name of religion. Participants also discussed how people from different religions can peacefully coexist.

“It lies in our hands to try and understand what creates differences between religions and to try and reduce these to the extent possible,” said Israel’s Shephardic Chief Rabbi Shlomo Amar during the congress, according to UzbekistanNews.net

Kazakhstan President Nazarbayev opened the congress on Wednesday, encouraging interfaith dialogue and the creation of a nuclear weapon-free world.

Israel President Shimon Peres, a Nobel Peace Prize Laureate, agreed with Nazarbayev in calling for the end to nuclear weapons, ENI reported.

Other Christian leaders who attended the conference included the Rev. Dr. Samuel Kobia, general secretary of the World Council of Churches; the Metropolitan of France Emmanuel of the Constantinople Orthodox Church; the Metropolitan of Astana and Almaty Methodius of the Russian Orthodox Church; and Cardinal Joseph Tomco, president of the Congregation for Professing Gospels from the Vatican.