Shocking, isn’t it? “U.A.E. Official Attacks Zionism at Saudi Conference,” by Joseph Goldstein for the New York Sun, July 18:
MADRID “” The Saudi king’s talk of tolerance and moderation notwithstanding, the Jewish state is proving to be a divisive issue at the religious conference that the Saudi monarch has convened here. […]
But after a day’s worth of speeches by Christian, Jewish, Muslim, and Hindu leaders, in the middle of the fourth two-hour conference session, a government official from the United Arab Emirates urged Muslim leaders to avoid the company of Zionists.
“We have to distinguish between Judaism and Zionism,” the official, Izzeddin Mustafa Ibrahim, who is listed on the program as an adviser on cultural affairs to the president of the U.A.E., said. “Zionism is a political system. Judaism is a religion.”
He continued: “I can speak to pacifists but not bellicists, who are in favor of war.”
Mr. Ibrahim, a Muslim scholar of Christianity who said he has met with three popes in the interests of Christian-Muslim relations, then continued: “I have only one minute left,” referring to the amount of speaking time allotted to him, and finished off his statements with a broad appeal to begin a “Judaic and Islamic dialogue.”…
As for the Muslim World League and participants’ actual level of participation in crafting the closing document, here is more from the New York Sun in “Saudi King’s Religion Conference Ends on Sour Note,” also by Joseph Goldstein, July 18:
[…] After declaring that “Islam is a religion of moderation and tolerance” during the opening address of the conference Wednesday, Abdullah left Spain for a visit to Morocco and the conference continued without its sponsor.
The legacy of the conference will depend largely on what further steps, if any, Abdullah, who is now 84, takes to urge a reconciliation between the clerics of the Muslim world and their counterparts among Christians and Jews, participants say.
Abdullah has not announced any further plans to host or visit with non-Muslim religious leaders. Yet, the closing communiquÃ© issued by the conference participants yesterday did leave him with another opening: to seek a hearing before the United Nations.
The communiquÃ©, a four page final statement that condemns a list of woes ranging from terrorism to sexual promiscuity, also urges Abdullah to convene “a special UN session on dialogue” between religions.
The statement also declared:
“Terrorism is a universal phenomenon that requires unified international efforts to combat it in a serious, responsible and just way. This demands an international agreement on defining terrorism, addressing its root causes and achieving justice and stability in the world.”
And the statement urged people “to reject theories that call for the clash of civilizations.”
The statement does not mention any religions by name.
The final statement, which was read by an official with the Muslim World League, Abdul Rahman Al-Zaid, rankled several of the conference participants because it differed from an earlier agreed upon draft. Under pressure from a conference participant, William Vendley of Religions for Peace, a second version was subsequently drafted which attributed the communiquÃ© to the “conveners” of the conference and not the participants, as the earlier version had.
One complaint, which two participants voiced on condition of anonymity, is that the communiquÃ© called for the Muslim World League to select some of the delegates for the suggested upon United Nations conference on interfaith dialogue.
The major complaint of many participants was that the document appears to have been revised at some stage without the consent of members of a drafting committee. And the vast majority of participants never had a chance to review any version of the statement before Mr. Al-Zaid of the Muslim World League read it aloud.
“For us as participants from other religions this is not an acceptable procedure for adopting documents,” a Russian Orthodox priest participating in the conference, George Ryabykh, said.