Joint Action to Harmonize Interfaith Relationships in Middle East

( [email protected] ) Jul 12, 2004 08:09 PM EDT

LONDON - Issued on July 1, a joint statement signed by various secular and faith-based UK agencies, has shown the determination and unity among humanitarians to promote a just peace in the chaotic Middle East. The participants include Action Aid, CAFOD (Catholic Agency for Overseas Department), Christian Aid, Islamic Relief, Jewish Council for Racial Equality (JCORE), Muslim Aid, Oxfam, Save the Children and World Jewish Aid (WJAID).

The Middle East has been long threatened by conflicts and violence between the Jewish, Muslim and Christian communities. There is especially a growing crisis of terrorist attacks since the September 11th incident, and many other bombings around the globe. The statement said “there has been a growing need to reaffirm fundamental commitments to international humanitarian law and basic codes of conduct for all.”

It was also stated: “we all fundamentally believe in a basic tenet of international humanitarian law as the foundation of our work - that civilians should be protected and aided.”

Looking upon the devastating humanitarian impacts of conflicts on ordinary people in many places around the world, the faith groups have gathered to make a “new commitment to the protection of civilians.” They believe that “their shared views provide a platform for wider dialogue and action.”

In the past 18 months, these Jewish, Muslim and Christian communities were brought together by an Interfaith Humanitarian Group. They have promised to meet regularly to identify more ways to work jointly in fighting for peace in Middle East.

A project entitled “Diversity and Dialogue” is going to be hosted by the Interfaith Educational Group. They are going to launch a joint education project in schools to increase a mutual understanding between different faith communities starting this coming September with the grant from the Department for International Development. The project will be focused in three regions in the UK - London, West Midlands and North England - working with 20 schools and community groups.

They stated that “the overall goal of the project is to tackle the global issues of poverty, conflict and prejudice, with young people from different communities.”

Moreover, the group recognizes the impact of the mainstream voice on the images of certain faith groups. Nowadays, focus has been put on Palestinian-Israeli hostility alone, however, the group intends to pursue a moderation from different perspectives. They call for and express the need for more people from the Jewish and Muslim communities who will speak in the media about antisemitism and Islamophobia.