5th Doha Conference for Interfaith Dialogue – Doha, Qatar
7 – 9 May 2007
I express my profound gratitude to His Highness the prince, the government of Qatar and the officers of this Doha Conference, represented by Dr Aisha El Mannai, president of the preparatory committee.
I have read the Ten Commandments and understood the divine commandment: “Do not kill.” It is an idea contained in the Compact of Medina, which organized the relationship between Muslims with non-Muslims in such a way as to protect the latter. In addition, I am well aware of the message of Christ and the ultimate importance he placed on the value of love.
In the twenty-first century, it is imperative to put these historical charters in practice. It is necessary to resist murder, massacre, torture and repression, as well as disdain for people who demand dignity and independence.
Despite the Ten Commandments, Christ’s message of the love of and the Compact of Medina, your son engaged in the killing of innocent people in our nation, so some of our children commit suicide to destroy the innocent of yours. Shall we repeat the same thing for five more conferences? Don’t we risk losing the public’s belief in the effectiveness of our cause?
I remember the words of her Royal Highness Sheikha Moza Bint Nasser, wife of His Royal Highness Sheikh Hamad bin Khalifa II, Prince of Qatar: “continuous dialogue is the key to discovering commonalities that will bring us together to overcome the prejudices that separate the East from the West.” She gave this message during an interview with Al Jazeera last Sunday, on the occasion of the opening of the conference.
Asking if dialogue is successful, Her Highness replied: “Unfortunately not, as the majority of such dialogues are confined to meetings in hotels where the words rarely reach beyond the rooms in which they are spoken.”
Certainly, we want the message of dialogue to spread far beyond the place we meet today. Therefore, we need to re-envision interfaith dialogue.
• Each of us must have the courage to displease his countrymen, even arouse their anger, by condemning both the injustice committed by some in Israel and the suicide killings that are rampant on our side.
• Dialogue should become a public affair and not a matter for the elite. We need to design a pact that states the ethical principles of dialogue, especially the avoidance of generalized judgments. It would be called the “Doha Pact” and all participants would promise to implement it, each within his own community and eventually on a larger scale.
• During many conferences, I spoke of the urgent need to hold a round table grouping top media professionals from the western media and the Muslim world to study a subject that has come to the forefront of the international scene in the last two years, how to balance freedom of expression with a sense of responsibility towards the potential victims of unrestrained self-expression?
When I call for a roundtable, that means I prefer them to general conferences where the oratory is used to defend a particular point of view, while a roundtable held between specialists, is more interested in systematically looking for solutions to a problem.
Finally, when it comes to differences among religious beliefs, the conflict is not there. Rather, the conflict comes from the character of political groups that mobilize religion to satisfy their appetites of hegemony through destruction.