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Cathedral Summit with Iranian Ayatollah Should Speak Out for Those Under Oppression, Says IRD

by Staff
March 3, 2010

WASHINGTON, ( -- The Episcopal Church's Washington National Cathedral will host a Christian- Muslim Summit featuring an Iranian Ayatollah March 1- 3 "for a candid discussion of matters affecting Christian-Muslim relations and peacemaking efforts worldwide." Institute on Religion and Democracy Religious Liberty Director Faith McDonnell is expressing concerns that the summit will be an exercise in capitulation and appeasement to Islamists.

Beginning March 1 with private meetings, the summit ends on Wednesday with a public dialogue. Moderated by Washington Post associate editor David Ignatius, the dialogue is restricted to invitees and to selected members of the media. There are four "Principals," including two Muslims, a Sunni, Professor Dr. Ahmad Mohamed El Tayeb, president of Al-Azhar University in Cairo and a Shi'a, Ayatollah Dr. Seyyed Mostafa Mohaghegh Damad Ahmadabadi, professor of law at Shahid Beheshti University in Tehran. His Eminence Jean-Louis Cardinal Tauran, president of the Pontifical Council for Inter-religious Dialogue, and Bishop John Bryson Chane of the Episcopal diocese of Washington are the Christian "Principals" in the summit.

IRD Religious Liberty Director Faith J.H. McDonnell commented:

"We do not know what will be included in the 'candid discussion of matters' at the Christian-Muslim Summit, but we do know what should be on the agenda. Peacemaking efforts would be furthered if both Sunni and Shi'a would denounce the global jihad against infidels that has been responsible for the death of millions around the world.

"In many Christian-Muslim dialogues, Christians avoid anything contentious, but they have a moral obligation to those oppressed by Islam to talk about everything that is contentious.

"The two countries represented by the Muslim Principals, Egypt and Iran, commit egregious human rights violations against Christians, converts from Islam, outspoken democracy and free speech advocates, women, and gays.

"Will Bishop Chane speak up for Egypt's beleaguered Copts and other Christians? Will he ask the participants from Al-Azhar University to denounce the gunning down of Coptic Christians as they came out of church on Christmas Eve or the Fatwa issued at Al- Azhar condoning the death of apostates? Will he and the other Christian participants challenge them to speak out for the persecuted in Iran?

"Nearby sidewalk demonstrations will be a 'summit' for those who have experienced that other side of Christian-Muslim relations, the martyrdom side. It will be a sight far more candid than what goes on inside the cathedral."

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