DAKAR (Reuters) – World Muslim leaders on Friday condemned extremism and terrorism as incompatible with Islam and proposed a high-level international meeting to promote a “dialogue of civilizations” with the Christian world.
Leaders of the 57-nation Organization of the Islamic Conference (OIC), which represents 1.5 billion Muslims from across the Middle East, Africa and Asia, made the “Dakar Declaration” after a two-day summit in Senegal’s capital.
“We continue to strongly condemn all forms of extremism and dogmatism which are incompatible with Islam, a religion of moderation and peaceful coexistence,” the declaration said.
“We believe that it is important to plan along such lines a preparatory phase by organizing a major international gathering on Islamic-Christian dialogue that involves governments among other players,” it said.
The U.S. envoy to the OIC, Sada Cumber, said he saw the Islamic body moving to defuse a potential clash of civilizations stoked by Western fears over Islamic terrorism and Muslims’ anger at perceived insults against their faith.
“The Islamic Ummah (community) is moving in a moderate direction and almost on a progressive path, we’re all moving in the same path,” said Cumber, who was appointed by President George W. Bush last month.
Cumber said the risk from religious bigotry and extremism came not so much from a clash of civilizations, as from “a clash of ignorance on the part of Muslims to learn more about America and us, the Americans, to learn more about Islam.”
Muslim leaders acknowledged the challenge.