2012-09-10 Vatican Radio
A two-day international interfaith conference in Istanbul, Turkey. Held under the auspices of the Turkish Religious Foundation Center for Islamic Studies and the Marmara University Institute for Middle Eastern Studies, and with the participation of the new Secretary of the Pontifical Council for Interreligious Dialogue, Fr. Miguel Ayuso, the conference explored Muslim and Christian perspectives on the Arab Spring and peace in the Middle East. Please find, below, the full text of the final communique published by the conference organisers.
The Arab Awakening and Peace in the New Middle East: Muslim and Christian Perspectives
7-8 September 2012, Istanbul
The Arab Awakening has been discussed and debated by political leaders, policymakers,
scholars, opinion makers and journalists within and outside the region from different
perspectives. This conference brought together for the first time major Muslim and Christian
religious leaders from the Arab world, experts and opinion makers to discuss the role of
religion in the new Middle East.
Discussions and debates recognized the problems and challenges ahead and affirmed that in
the new Middle East emerging political cultures should be rooted in a national unity and
identity based upon equal citizenship, and the recognition of religious pluralism and cultural
diversity. Rather than seeing diversity as a problem, participants spoke of it as an asset and
source of richness.
Establishing the rule of law is seen as critical in the protection of the freedoms of individuals
and diverse faith communities and groups. However different state systems might be,
principles of equality of citizenship, rule of law, and protection of liberties are the
fundamental foundations of strong and vibrant civil societies.
Authoritarian regimes have too often utilized religions for their own purposes. Thus,
instrumentalized religions can become part of the problem. However participants discussed
the ways in which religions can also be a powerful resource in the transformation of societies
in the new Middle East.
Participants argued that discourses and languages used in the media, popular culture, schools
and religious centers are extremely important. Religious leaders and decision makers should
lead a process of reforming these areas.
This meeting is envisioned to be the beginning of a process of future workshops to discuss
and explore the implementation of reforms in emerging political cultures in the Middle East.